NR. 4 – 2011

Rezumate Studii Teologice 2011.4

Alexandru PRELIPCEAN — O scurtă introducere în critica textuală: mărturii directe și indirecte ale textului Septuagintei

Summary: A brief introduction to textual criticism: direct and indirect testimonies of the Septuagint

Romanian Biblical Theology has paid rather little attention to the important research undertaken by textual criticism. Unfortunately, our knowledge of text analysis and its investigation methods is acquired only via the study of Occidental materials. This is the main reason that prompted us to address the topic of textual criticism in our paper. The direct and indirect testimonies brought by the text of the Septuagint (LXX) are extremely important, as they self-evidently speak of the inspiration of LXX, often questioned within the Roman-Catholic and Protestant pale, although this theological belief has resulted in numerous transcriptions and the perpetuation of this Greek form throughout the centuries.

For the study of Biblical theology, textual criticism plays a major role. Namely, the investigation of text history, both of the Hebrew version of the Old Testament (MT), and its Greek version (LXX) still raise many questions, despite the numerous studies on this difficult topic. On the other hand, most contemporary researchers consider that LXX was based on a „proto-LXX”, that is, a single original text from which derived all the manuscripts we now know. Certainly, LXX text has undergone physical and (in)voluntary alterations. Remarking the differences in the Greek text, some Jewish scholars, such as Aquila, Simah and Theodotion, attempted what in modern terms we may call a „revision” or, rather, an „ameding” of this text. In the 3rd century A.D., the great scholar Origen as well as Lucianus became the main „agents” of this textual „revision”. We may say that these revisions either brought the Greek version closer to the Hebrew one, or distorted it. However, we must point out that these textual „emendations” also had positive consequences. Which were they? Firstly, the intervention on the text must not be seen as a distortion but, on the contrary, as a means or a primary source of knowledge of those times’ exegetical activity. Another important benefit are the secondary elements, which can highlight the Judaic mentality in a Hellenized space, because it was not hard to learn the language in which the texts had been written, but on the contrary, it allowed the studying, learning and analyzing, beyond the literal approach, of the peculiar thinking of every nation, as it was reflected by the writing, the elements which the text itself stresses.

The editors of the LXX devised various notation systems that often differ, although they concern the same manuscripts, interpolations, subdivisions, etc. For a correct analysis of these testimonies, we have investigated the papyruses, the uncial codices, the foreign versions of the LXX text (the „daughter” versions), as well as the Patristic quotations which, on the one hand, refer to LXX, its text and the way it was passed down, and on the other hand speak of its inspiration. We then present the above-mentioned Judaic revisions (Aquila, Simah, Theodotion), as well as the Christian revisions (those of Origen and Lucianus, as well as Hesychius).

Our presentation does not claim to be exhaustive, but it is intended as a concise presentation of the topic approached, as accurately as possible, and also as an investigative instrument for Romanian textual criticism, which unfortunately has yet to be employed by Biblical theology, much more used to commenting on a particular topic of the Old and New Testament than discussing the „technicalities” of a text.

LXX is not merely a book we all know as the Holy Scripture. It is also a text, with a long, peculiar history, with versions and revisions. What the present study highlights, is the importance of knowing these direct and indirect testimonies of the sacred text. A few concluding remarks are necessary: 1. The manuscripts and papyruses are not merely materials to be examined and analyzed, but also „eye witnesses” of the process embodied by the LXX; they are living, unquestionable testimonies of the text we now use so extensively; 2. The translations from, or based on, the text of LXX highlight the importance of the sacred text. Each nation wanted to have the divine message in its own language, in order to make it accessible to the people who would not be concerned with philological-theological controversies, but simply wanted to know the message conveyed by God; 3. Patristic quotations have a double role: firstly, to render the LXX text and secondly, to provide arguments about the inspiration of LXX; 4. Judaic revisions best reflect the activity of the Jews who, since the very beginning, undertook numerous revisions of the sacred text in order to bring it closer to the remote original; 5. The Christian emendations were not intended to create a new sacred text, but on the contrary, to provide a text as close to the original as possible. The versions produced by Origen and Lucianus (maybe Hesychius, too) were the texts most frequently used in liturgical practice and on other occasions, in the Christian Church, after the 3rd century.

Given all the above-mentioned remarks, we may assert that the philological and theological history of LXX text is tantamount to the theological and philoogical history of what the entire world now generically calls the Bible or the Holy Scripture.


Ilie CHIȘCARI — Metoda istorico-critică în exegeza Noului Testament

Summary: The Historical-Critical Method in the New Testament Exegesis

The Holy Scripture may be analyzed from various standpoints and by means of various methods. The present study briefly presents one of these methods, which is employed in the investigation of the Scripture as an objective foundation for any exegetical analysis of a biblical text: the Historical-Critical Method. This approach to the biblical text has developed progressively, by combining and logically structuring several metods (synchronic and diachronic), which originally developed in independent, even opposite directions, each attempting to become ultimate solutions in the study of the Scripture.They were re-arranged as a sequence of complementary methodological steps of a single composite method, forming the current structure of the historical-critical analysis. The present paper addresses the following steps in the historical-critical method, applied to the study of the New Testament, in general, and the Holy Gospels in particular: Text Criticism, Source Criticism, Form Criticism, Genre Criticism, Tradition Criticism, and Redaction Criticism.

One of the basic premises of any exegetical endeavor is ascertaining the original text, as accurately as possible; therefore the first step in biblical exegesis is the reconstruction of the New Testament text as close to the original as it is possible. This is the object of Text Criticism (Textkritik). After a general presentation of the various categories of biblical accounts and the main classes of codices, we present the most common causes that have produced the differences among textual variants, as well as some of the main rules which the exegete must follow during this stage of research.

After ascertaining the critical text, the next step in the historical-critical exegesis is establishing the sources used by New Testament writers in their works, by identifying certain clues that separate the original material from the context in which it has been included. This is the object of Source Criticism (Literarkritik), which aims to identify the literary characteristics of a text, in order to determine its dependence on other texts and ascertain the way in which the biblical author used the available information in writing his own text.

Because human language, by its nature, relates the contents of any notion (be it expressed in thought, in speaking or in writing) to a particular form, the following step in the historical-critical analysis is identifying the literary form of the biblical narrative, by means of Form Criticism (Formkritik). In the case of biblical texts, the term „form” designates all formal elements provided to the author by the language and literature of a cultural context, and which he employs to express his thought and present it. This includes, on the one hand,  the linguistic elements (phonetics, grammar, syntax, style), as well as the literary ones  (formal structures pertaining to the dramatic, narrative and rhetorical aspects of a writing).

The offshoot of the above-mentioned methods in biblical exegesis is Genre Criticism (Gattungskritik), that is the study of suprapersonal literary dependences, manifest through the existence of typical, normative literary patterns called „literary genres”. While „form” is an aggregate of formative and formal elements of a single, particular text, the „literary genre” is the ideal, hypothetical form reconstructed on the basis of similarities between individual „forms” identified in concrete texts. In the genre criticism stage, the exegete must attempt to identify the genre whose form is the closest to the text being investigated.

Every literary form indicates a particular reality it was born from, a primary setting in life (Sitz im Leben) to which it remains connected. After ascertaining the literary genre to which a textual form belongs, the exegete must investigate the community that has bequeathed that material, and from which it has been obtained and included among the New Testament writings. This is the object of Tradition Criticism (Traditionskritik). This method investigates, through the analysis of literary forms, the origins and history of pre-literary (oral or written) tradition of New Testament writings. This step of research thus aims to retrace the course of the Saviour’s teachings and the testimonies to His deeds, since they occured to the moment of recording them in the holy Gospels.

The last step is Redaction Criticism (Redaktionskritik), which aims to identify and evaluate the intervention of every evangelist on the sources they employed, when they wrote the holy Gospels. The evangelists not only conveyed and recorded particular information, but also interpreted it. Thus they acted as theologians, who recorded the tradition concerning the Lord’s words and deeds, adding the testimony of their own faith. The present study aims to explain: the traditions as recorded in the biblical books, the theological stance that motivated certain choices of the author, as well as the historical context in which he wrote.

The results of the historical-critical analysis of  a New Testament text must be: a critical version of the analyzed excerpt, a number of hypotheses concerning the literary sources of the text, ascertaining its form and literary genre, reconstructing the circumstances from which the respective tradition originated, and identifying the intervention of the Gospel author. However, the historical-critical method with its components does not suffice for understanding the respective text, but it must be integrated into the broader context of biblical exegesis. It represents the first step, putting forth some working hypotheses as plausible as possible, to be used in subsequent interpretations of the theological truths contained by the New Testament.

Even though the historical-critical method employs the instruments of non-theological disciplines, such as literature or history, the endeavor of the exegete must not be historical but theological. The purpose of his analysis is not merely to discover the historical reality underlying the texts, but to employ the information thus obtained, in order to better understand the theological truths expressed by the Scripture. The historical-critical method is merely an instrument of biblical exegesis, not its goal. Using this method is effective only when faith completes it. This is the path always followed by the Church in interpreting the holy writings and this is the research „method” proposed by patristic exegesis. As the New Testament contains the God-inspired words, it must be read and interpreted in the same Spirit in which it was written. The goal of exegesis is not limited to understanding and conveying Christ’s revelation, but it must be to confess it. While using all the instruments provided by philology, literature, history or any other discipline, the exegete must always bear in mind St. Paul’s words: „Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter, but of the Spirit” (2 Co 3:5-6).


Corneliu CONSTANTINEANU — Narrative Interpretation in the Pauline Writings (I): Methodological Considerations

Rezumat: Interpretare narativă în scrierile pauline (I): considerații metodologice

Articolul prezintă evoluția dezvoltările recente  în studiile exegetice pauline cu un accent particular pe abordarea narativă în interpretarea scrierilor pauline. Se argumentează că această interpretare narativă, relativ nouă pentru scrierile pauline, aduce o contribuție semnificativă la teologia paulină. Pentru o înțelegere adecvată a metodologiei narative aceasta este prezentată într-un cadru mai larg al dezvoltărilor recente semnificative în studiile pauline cuprinzând următoarele: depășirea căutărilor pentru centrul teologiei pauline; noua perspectivă în studiile pauline; dinamica complexă a teologisirii la Apostolul Pavel; intertextualitatea – folosirea Vechiului Testament în epistolele pauline; teologia și etica la Apostolul Pavel; dimensiunea socială și politică a scrierilor pauline; abordări narative în interpretarea scrierilor pauline. După această încadrare necesară, articolul oferă o descriere a metodologiei în interpretarea narativă la Pavel trecând în revistă cei mai importanți proponenți ai acestei metode precum și contribuțiile lor semnificative în acest domeniu: Richard Hays, Norman Petersen, N.T. Wright, Ben Witherington, Stephen Fowl, Sylvia Keesmaat, Katherine Grieb and Douglas Campbell.

În continuare, sunt prezentate definițiile și elementele narative esențiale pentru o abordare narativă a scrierilor pauline. Suntem de părere că pentru o analiză narativă a textelor pauline nu este nevoie să adoptăm o definiție strictă și fixă a „povestirii” sau o teorie narativă anume. Ca urmare, în loc să impunem o definiție absolută a „narațiunii” și să căutăm elemente narative recognoscibile care să se potrivească într-o structură sau formulă prestabilită, argumentăm pentru identificarea acelor „caracteristici narative” într-un text paulin prin care o anumită narațiune este evidențiată și recunoscută de către cititori. Printre aceste caracteristici care sugerează o narațiune se află o dimensiune personală transmisă mai ales de activitatea participanților, care de obicei întreprind acțiuni, adesea legate unele de altele, și cărora li se întâmplă anumite evenimente. Aceste acțiuni și evenimente adesea se desfășoară pentru a dezvălui o intrigă, care mai apoi adoptă o structură problemă-soluție. De aceea narațiunile sunt tipuri de texte folositoare în special pentru că ne oferă relatări despre comportamente, acțiuni, istorie și/sau realizări, ale oamenilor (sau, mai exact, ale personajelor narațiunii).

Se demonstrează că această metodă de intepretare narativă are cel puțin două rezultate benefice pentru cei ce studiază teologia apostolului Pavel. În primul rând, recunoașterea faptului că teologia Apostolului Pavel presupune o substructură narativă sau un „univers simbolic”, o istorie mai largă a scopurilor mântuitoare ale lui Dumnezeu cu omenirea, o istorie care și-a atins punctul culminant în istoria răscumpărătoare a vieții și lucrării lui Iisus Hristos. Un alt rezultat semnificativ al intepretarii narative este acela că ne ajută să înțelegem mai bine relația intrinsecă dintre teologie și etică în scrierile pauline și faptul că nu putem studia pur și simplu pe una fără cealaltă decât riscând să îl înțelegem greșit pe Apostolul Pavel. Teologia și etica sunt atât de împletite în srierile pauline încât trebuie să le păstrăm împreună: indicativul și imperativul, credința și practica, teologia și etica nu sunt separate în gândirea Apostolului Pavel și ele trebuie să fie ținute împreună pentru o înțelegere adecvată și corectă a teologiei pauline. O abordare narativă în interpretarea scrierilor pauline ne ajută să facem acest lucru.


Dumitru Sorin STOIAN — Elemente de „introducere formală” în istoriografia bisericească elenă în secolul al XX-lea

Summary: Elements of a „Formal Introduction” to 20th-Century Greek Church Historiography

On the definition and object of this discipline, the definitions given by the Greek historians discussed here share a number of common traits: (a) Church History is a science; (b) all authors indicate the same object of Church History, a discipline that systematically and objectively investigates and presents the emergence and evolution of the Church (most authors approaching this aspect provide details on the object of this discipline: the territory spanned by the Church, the evolution of dogmas and ritual, the evolution of Church leadership, the Church-State relationships, etc.); (c) differentiation between General Church History and the local (or particular) one.

We note the definition given by Gh. Konidaris for its concision: Church History is „the science presenting in a genetic, systematic and objective manner, the events in the domestic and foreign development and the activity of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, established by Christ and His apostles”.

Three types of Church History periodization are employed:

– into two periods, with two proponents: a) I. Anastasiou, who puts forth a periodization based on the Great Schism (1054); b) Vl. Feidas, who proposes the end of the iconoclastic era as the milestone separating the two periods.

– into three periods, with two proponents: a) F. Vafeidis, who suggests as milestones the year 700 (St. John Damascene and St. Boniface) and the fall of Constantinople (1453); b) V. Stefanidis, whose milestones are the Great Schism on the one hand, and the fall of Constantinople (in the East) respectively the Reformation (in the West), on the other hand;

– into four periods, with three proponents: a) K. Kontogonis, with the following milestones: Constantine the Great (313), Photius (857) and the fall of Constantinople (1453); b) A.D. Kyriakos, with the same milestones; c) Gh. Konidaris, indicating as milestones the Quinisext Council (691), the Tridentine Council (1563) and early 19th century (cca. 1800).

A number of common chronological milestones can be identified:

– the reign of Constantine the Great;

– late 8th century (the Quinisext Council according to Gh. Konidaris; The 6th Ecumenical Council in the view of I. Anastasiou; the year 700 according to F. Vafeidis);

– the patriarchate of Photius (857);

– the Schism becoming definitive – the mutual excommunications (1054);

– the fall of Constantinople (1453);

– the Reformation (sometimes considered a milestone together with the fall of Constantinople, as with V. Stefanidis).

There are also specific chronological milestones:

– the end of the iconoclastic period – Vl. Feidas;

– the Tridentine Council – Gh. Konidaris;

– the year 1700 (the reign of Peter the Great in Russia) – F. Vafeidis;

– early 19th century (the year 1800) – Gh. Konidaris.

The above-mentioned authors also agree on the sources of Church History. Their texts indicate the same sources: the Bible, the canons of the Holy Apostles and of the ecumenical and local councils, the papal decrees and bulls, the writings of the Holy Fathers and the other Church writers, other commentaries, texts, coins, buildings, etc..

The relationship with secular history and the scientific character of Church History are topics approached by most of the authors we have analyzed; all of them, including the late 19th-century ones, strongly assert that Church History is part of general history (historia profana), of the history of civilization, and not „a history with a difference”. The argument is that Church History has the same contents and employs the same methods as secular history. The authors also invoke the impartiality and objectivity required of a Church historian. Moreover, the investigation and description of historical events must be scientific, that is, based on the analysis, critique and interpretation of sources. Causality and internal relationships among events are emphasized; Church historians must not confine themselves to enumerating dates and events, but they also have to explain and interpret them.

Regarding the application of the methods of historical sciences to the study of Church history, some authors recommend caution, taking into account the particularities of Church History. Thus, V. Sfefanidis indicates three reasons why the genetic method cannot be applied to Church History in an absolute, undifferentiated manner: (a) firstly, the great personalities who have influenced the course of history, because they determine the evolution; (b) secondly, the fact that in the history of mankind there are some „universal, absolute” truths (the notions of honesty, good and truth); (c) thirdly, the fact that the genetic method cannot shed light on certain essential aspects in the history of early Christianity (events, teachings, institutions).

Vl. Feidas also asserts that „the unilateral limitation brought about by autonomous, or independent, historical-philological investigation into the sources … would result… in useless, circumstantial historicism. Ignoring or misunderstanding the ecclesiological hypotheses and criteria, confirmed by concrete historical events, restricts the globality of perspectives on original church events and, consequently, fails to render their real significance along the genetical lines of historical developments”. The historian concludes: „the secular and theological character of any church event cannot be reconstructed simply by a rigorous application… of the usual methods employed by historiography (the historical-literary or the synthetical historical-genetic method), since every church event must be placed in its organic context and its proper origins, thus evincing its general historical dimensions”.

Two late 19th-century authors (A.D. Kyriakos and F. Vafeidis) mention reverence for the Christian Church among the necessary qualities of a church historian. In mid-20th century, Gh. Konidaris resumes this idea, but asserts that it is only a historian with a theological background that can fully understand the history of a religious institution such as the Church.


Emil IVANOV — Iconographic Interpretations of Theological Themes in Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite and in St. Gregory Palamas and the Reception of These Themes by Meister Eckhart

Rezumat: Interpretări iconografice ale temelor teologice ale lui Pseudo-Dionisie Areopagitul și Sf. Grigorie Palama și asimilarea acestor teme de către Meister Eckhart

Odele singulare închinate de Pseudo-Dionisie Sfintei Treimi, „Triadă suprafiinṭială, Dumnezeire mai presus de orice substanță, cunoștință și bunătate, Călăuzitoarea creștinilor către Înțelepciunea dumnezeiască”, realitate supraesenṭială, incomprehensibilă și insondabilă, au fost transpuse mai târziu la nivel iconic-iconografic. Compozițiile înfățișând Sofia-Înțelepciunea lui Dumnezeu sunt un exemplu grăitor. Diseminarea acestora în special în sec. al XIV-lea trebuie pusă în relație, neîndoielnic, cu difuzarea teologiei isihaste. Asemenea reprezentări sunt frecvente în Bizanț și în Bulgaria medievală; cel mai adesea, Înțelepciunea dumnezeiască este personificată – întruchipată de o femeie sau un înger șezând la rotundă masă festivă, în jurul căreia forfotesc slujitorii. Scenele din biserica Sfânta Sofia din Ohrida (1235), din bisericile mănăstirilor din Gračanica (1321) și Dečani (de la jumătatea sec. al XIV-lea) transpun corect dogma hristologică prin redarea nimbului însoṭit de literele O Ω Ν („Eu sunt Cel ce sunt” (Fc 3, 14). Privitorul stabilește firesc relaṭia cu iconografia medievală a Născătoarei de Dumnezeu – Rugul aprins, flancată de puterile netrupești, fiind astfel evidentă legătura cu Ierarhia cerească a lui Dionisie. Uneori, Mântuitorul este înfăṭișat în compoziṭiile murale de tipul Înṭelepciunea dumnezeiască ca Înger al Înṭelepciunii supreme (bisericile Sfânta Sofia, 1235; Sfântul Clement, 1294/5, din Ohrida; mănăstirea Gračanica, 1321), în vreme ce într-un alt caz (Turnul Hrelyo din mănăstirea Rila, 1336), Sofia este prezentată ca o muză din Antichitate, în jurul căreia se află toate sferele lumii create despre care raṭiunea umană are cunoștinṭă: puterile cerești, profeṭi, evangheliști, apostoli, filosofi și muzicieni din Antichitate, personificări ale anotimpurilor. Toṭi înconjoară într-o solemnă procesiune masa Înṭelepciunii dumnezeiești ca pentru a primi Sfânta Euharistie de la Izvorul-Hristos.

Ideea dionisiană că tot ceea ce există constituie un întreg armonios, ordonat de Dumnezeu și strict ierarhizat, și revelaṭia sa privind lumea puterilor netrupești au fost transpuse iconografic încă din sec. V-VI (mausoleul Gallei Placidia, San Vitale, Sant’ Apollinare in Classe – Ravenna). Fragmente de pictură murală de secol XII cu reprezentări angelice s-au descoperit în bisericile Sf. Gheorghe din Sofia, în Kurbinovo (Macedonia), Sf. Sofia din Kiev. În secolele XIII-XIV reprezentarea Ierarhiei cerești a devenit parte componentă a compoziṭiei mai complexe numită „Liturghia cerească”, zugrăvită în cupolă (mozaicurile din biserica Maicii lui Dumnezeu din Palermo, 1143, baptisteriul bazilicii San Marco din Veneṭia, 13th c.) sau în absidă (biserica din Staro Nagoričino, Macedonia, 1316-1318). După sec. al XV-lea, simbolismul acestei teme iconografice se resimte chiar mai puternic în iconografia rusă medievală a „Născătoarei de Dumnezeu – Rugul aprins” (icoană de la mijlocul sec. al XVI-lea din mănăstirea Cyrillo-Belozersk).

Potrivit Sfântului Dionisie, ierarhia bisericească este o reflexie a celei cerești, fiind compusă din nouă tagme grupate în trei triade. În iconografie, treptele ierarhiei bisericești sunt deja evidente în scenele înfăṭișând Înfricosătoarea Judecată, iconografia îmbogăṭindu-se ulterior fără a se îndepărta de osatura tematică reprezentată de opera Areopagitului. Cele mai cunoscute exemple sunt: miniaturile care decorează codicele grecesc 74 (sec. XI) păstrat în Biblioteca Naṭională din Paris, mozaicul de pe peretele vestic al bisericii din Torcello (sec. XI), două icoane sinaite (sec. XII), picturile murale ale bisericii Panagia Mavriotissa din Kastoria (sec. XII), Kvarke Kilisse – Cappadocia (1212), peretele sudic al bisericii Chora (Kariye Camii, 1315-1320). Grupuri de ierarhi, după descrierea lui Dionisie, întâlnim în registrul superior al compoziṭiilor de tipul Adormirea Născătoarei de Dumnezeu (Staro Nagoričino, 1316-1318) și Mănăstirea Marko (cca 1375), Ierarhia cerească (Turnul Hrelyo din incinta Mănăstirii Rila, 1335), Răstignirea Domnului (icoana realizată de Anastasi Ivanovici, Moscova, 1806), Sofia – Înṭelepciunea divină (Turnul Hrelyo al mănăstirii Rila, mijlocul sec. al XIV-lea), Sinaxa Arhanghelilor (Novgorod, cca 1500) și în scenele Apocalipsei.


Gabriel HEREA — Simbolul în icoana de tradiție bizantină – note hermeneutice

Summary: Symbol in the Byzantine-Tradition Icon – Hermeneutical Notes

After a long period when the religious humanist painting was deemed an „icon”, we now witness a revival of the Byzantine art tradition. Iconographic programs, composition sketches, as well as artistic elements of the Palaiologan and post-Byzantine period are borrowed and adapted for liturgical use in the newly-built churches. Beside the attempt to recover the religious art peculiar to the Christian Orthodox culture, an intellectual effort is necessary in order to regain the spiritual significace of the symbols employed in Byzantine art, as well as the liturgical connections between hymnography and iconography. The present study is the result of our investigation into the „symbol” given artistic expression, and its use and usefulness in Byzantine-tradition art.

The New Testament revelation equally resorts to Word and image. The Incarnation of Lord Jesus Christ and the wonders that accompanied his preaching and that of the apostles confirmed the revelation of the Word. Thus the icon naturally belonged to the Christian culture. Based on Christ’s Incarnation and supporting the revealed Word, the icon is in itself a means of conveying the revealed Truth and a component of the Holy Tradition, together with the liturgical, exegetical and canonical texts.

The difficulties in understanding the icon arise from the long period while it was culturally inactive. The humanist decadence triggered by the Italian Renaissance swept the entire area of Christian culture, eliminating from religious art many of the composition techniques and symbolic elements employed by the Byzantine art. Fortunately, the literary texts of the Holy Tradition, as well as the biblical text, have been preserved and are the authentic sources that reveal the spiritual signficance of the icon.

Our study starts from the „symbol” and its inherence to Christian culture, as the most important elements of the icon are symbolic.  Therefore, the endeavour to rediscover the  significance of Byzantine-tradition compositions must start here. Emphasizing the symbolic quality of the icon, Eugene Troubetzkoy stated: „Iconography offers the image of a future humanity, fully reintegrated into the Church. Such representation is necessarily symbolic, not realistic, simply because we have not yet reached full sobornicity”. The chapter entitled „the Symbol and the Christian culture” dwells on the symbolic quality of the mission God has assigned to man. The first Adam failed in his role as an intercessor for the communion of the created world with the Creator; but the New Adam, Jesus Christ – God and man, fulfilled it.

The chapters „The advent of the symbol as artistic image” and „Types of symbolic analogon in the Byzantine icon” undertake a technical approach to the genesis of symbolic elements employed in iconography, based on the theoretical writings of Gabriel Liiceanu. This approach is useful because understanding the differences between the „mimetic analogon” and the  „symbolic analogon” determines the capacity to interpret the symbolic icon. In the Byzantine art we identify (1) symbolic elements that appear by emphasizing or distorting the natural traits of the iconic sign; (2) symbolic compositions that appear by the intersection of historical and ideological perspectives; (3) symbolic elements that appear by separating a fragment from a whole and loading it with the significance of the whole; and (4) geometrical symbols. Starting with these chapters, the results of our investigation are illustrated with medieval iconography. Most of these examples belong to the Moldavian cultural space, but the same art elements and symbolic compositions can be found across the entire area of Byzantine and post-Byzantine art.

Historians of culture and religious expession have thoroughly investigated the role played by the symbol in various human communities. The conclusions reached by Mircea Eliade or Jean Chevalier on the function of symbol also apply to the Byzantine-tradition icons. We present and illustrate the conclusions of our research in the chapter entitled „Functions of the symbol and of the icon”.

To begin with, we mention that the symbol’s range of functions operates in the context of the cultural milieu from which the significance of the symbol originates. This is why we speak of  „living symbols” and „dead symbols”. As far as the icon is concerned, clearly it is a living symbol as long as it finds itself within a Christian environment that acknowledges it as a worship item.

As the symbol delves into various levels of reality, the icon explores transcendence, from indicating it to confessing human impossibility to go beyond the sight of the light of uncreated energy. The gold background of icons on wooden panels, as well as the halos on the frescoes, signify the ultimate encounter between immanence and transcendence, the highest degree in the contemplation of God.

Exploring transcendence is not a mere intellectual exercise, but the premise for spiritual fulfillment. Thus, the icon mediates between the sensible and the intelligible, in order to achieve the spiritual unification of these two existential levels. The archetype of this mediation is the Incarnation of Lord Jesus Christ. The icon’s role as a mediator between the intelligible and the sensible is rooted in the Incarnation. The proof of an intentional use of the mediating symbol in medieval iconography is the insertion of elements signifying monarchy in the composition of the Descent of the Holy Spirit and other iconographic themes illustrating our study. 

Endowing the characters in the elite of Christian society (emperor, patriarch, bishop, etc) with the symbolic traits of mediators, and using these symbols in court ceremonial, church ceremonial and iconogaphy, became a means of structuring society around God. The composition of The siege of Constantinople at Moldovița is an iconographical epitome of the symbol’s role as a structuring element of the Christian community. Church order and the Christian’s position within this order are premises for the spiritual order. The Byzantine icon supports a rigorous endeavour of spiritual ordering. The ontological role of the symbol is to achieve unity and maintain communion. Liturgical hymnography and iconography heavily exploit this function of the symbol, using literary metaphors and art elements that signify the ordering of the sensible and the intelligible kosmos around Jesus Christ Pantocrator. The liturgical unification thus achieved is supported by the configuration of the artistic composition according to the rules of „relation perspective” technique, which is peculiar to the Byzantine-tradition icon.

Symbolic expression, in all its aspects, is an essential component of human culture. It is a natural consequence of verbal language and rational thought, and is employed in all realms of human activity. Like all the other „powers”, or gifts, given by God to man, symbolic expression has a  spiritual role. We may say it is man’s ability to see God in his creation; it is man’s chance to grasp „God’s intention”, even in the fallen matter. It is the only way for nature to become a ladder to the gateway to heaven, a material tool for spiritual edification. We ackowledge the symbol as a useful and necessary means, contributing to the liturgical unity between the sensible and the intelligible, underlying and supporting this communion in the expectation of full eschatological unity.


Dorin OPRIȘ — Cercetarea experimentală în domeniul educației religioase, între necesitate și etică

Summary: Experimental research into religious education, between necessity and ethics

The double subordination, to the Church and state, of the religious education carried out in schools, requires bringing the research into this field into agreement with scientific standards, however observing the aspects that pertain to man’s twofold capacity as a child of God and a being able to be educated towards reaching out to Him, since birth to the end of life.

The hypothesis underlying the present analysis concerns the possibility and opportunity of experimenting with religion teaching, given that it is a method characteristic to positive sciences and on the other hand that it is necessary for the  discipline that teaches Christian doctrine and its experience in the Church, to join the efforts made by humanities to enrich their contents and instruments by resorting to the research carried out via pedagogical experimentation.


Florin STAN — Modalități de cultivare a motivației creștine a copiilor și a tinerilor. Repere practice de abordare misionar-catehetică

Summary: How to Cultivate the Christian Motivation of Children and Youth. Practical Guidelines for a Catechetical-Missionary Approach

The Romanian Orthodox Church is nowadays challenged to intensify its missionary and catechetical activity among children and youth. Orthodox theological writings have addressed priests, catechists and even missionaries, but practical directions on how to generate and cultivate the Christian motivation of children and youth, through catechetical or missionary activities, are still largely needed.

The present study aims to respond to this practical need that is increasingly felt within parishes. The language used is easily accessible, despite the twofold (theological and psychological) approach, as I have opted for an integrative manner of applying the latest research in the field of educational psychology. I have resorted to this twofold approach, for several reasons: 1) insufficient catechetical and missionary expertise of the Church in its interaction with children and youth, a situation generated by secularization and the dramatic downplaying of the traditional role of the Christian family in conveying the elements of faith; 2) the positive educational experience of public education; 3) insufficient intuitive traditional knowledge of children’s and teenager’s physical-psychological traits caused by acute, deep impairments in the normal pace of human development; 4) the attempt to bring an indirect contribution to the „renewal of the Orthodox anthropological view” (Rev. Ion Bria).

The first part of the study briefly presents the „motivation” concept, its role, as well as the factors contributing to its emergence and development. Motivation develops according to two factors: internal factors, both innate traits (age, temperament, gender, general health), and acquired ones (values, beliefs, knowledge, self-perception, worldview, the perception of one’s own efficiency, etc.), as well as external factors, namely general or particular contextual influences such as: social-cultural environment, family, education, etc. Then we provide a rough categorization of the stages in the motivational development, accompanied by practical suggestions for a catechetical-missionary approach to each period.

As there is no innate, general motivation (drive), but only a circumstantial, particular one, as teachers, catechists and missionaries we are interested in identifying the factors that may contribute to the emergence and development of children’s and teenagers’ spiritual motivation. Therefore we have attempted to ascertain and describe the main factors involved in acquiring both academic and spiritual performance, which are actually the same. Among the many factors engendering Christian motivation, we mention the most important ones: goal, confidence, affectivity, interests, needs.

We must take into account the spiritual maturity, interests and needs of those whom mission and catechesis address, so that they can understand correctly the pedagogical message of the kenosis and Incarnation of the Son of God. Creating and cultivating a positive atmosphere during mission and catechesis is a proof of appropriating the fruits of the Pascal event, while the eschatological orientation is a fundamental premise for real communion with Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit.

Although external, contextual and social-cultural factors have a major role in engendering Christian faith and its motivational support, they are not analysed in the present study but will be tackled in a future one.

Missionary practice is now expected to follow the missionary-catechetical guidelines indicated by the present study and provide new particular examples to enrich the invaluable Orthodox expertise offered by the Holy Scripture as well as hagiographic literature.

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