NR. 2 – 2012

Rezumate Studii Teologice 2012.2

Corneliu CONSTANTINEANU — Narrative Interpretation in the Pauline Writings (II): Christological References and Narrative Motifs in Romans 5-8

Rezumat: Interpretare narativă în scrierile pauline (II): referințe hristologice și elemente narative în Romani 5-8

Articolul „Narrative interpretation in the Pauline writings (II): Christological references and rarrative motifs in Romans 5-8” construiește pe metoda narativă de interpretare în scrierile pauline și oferă o analiză exegetică a pasajului din Epistola către Romani 5-8, cu un accent deosebit pus pe referințele hristologice și elementele narative din acel text biblic.

În lumina argumentului Apostolului Pavel pentru dinamica complexă prin care credincioșii sunt incluși „în Hristos”, prin Botez, semnificând o împărtășire și participare reală a credincioșilor în aceeași narațiune hristică, acest studiu arată modul în care Apostolul Pavel folosește anumite referințe hristologice și elemente narative din istoria răscumpărătoare a lui Hristos tocmai pentru a-și atinge și susține scopul propus. Mai exact, prin includerea cititorilor epistolei în narațiunea reconcilierii divine prin Hristos, Apostolul Pavel dorește să ilustreze adevărul că ei sunt acum o parte integrantă din istoria în curs de desfășurare prin care Dumnezeu continuă să împace lumea cu Sine.

Articolul începe cu o discuție scurtă despre contextul general al Epistolei către Romani urmată de o prezentarea succintă a argumentului teologic al capitolelor 5-8 în structura epistolei, după care începe exegeza propriu-zisă. Din analiza atentă a textului reiese clar că apostolul folosește anumite elemente din narațiunea lui Hristos la care face dese aluzii: 4:24-25; 5:6-11, 15-21 (vv. 17, 19, 21); 6:3-11 (vv. 4, 7, 9); 7:4; 8:3, 31-39 (vv. 29, 32). Cel mai clar și des folosit element din narațiune lui Hristos este cel referitor la moartea Sa, care este prezentată atât ca o expresie a iubirii divine, cât și ca dăruirea de sine și voită a lui Hristos pentru umanitate. Reconcilierea rezultată astfel a fost un har, un dar nemeritat oferit celor răzvrătiți. Hristos este prezentat, de asemenea, ca Domn al întregii realități, ceea ce oferă încredere credincioșilor care trec prin persecuții și dificultăți. Un alt element narativ crucial pe care Apostolul Pavel îl accentuează este ascultarea lui Hristos. Aceasta este prezentată în contrast cu neascultarea lui Adam prin care a intrat păcatul în lume. Iisus, al doilea Adam, a fost însă ascultător în toate lucrurile față de Dumnezeu și a adus astfel răscumpărarea întregii creații.

Argumentul propus de autor în acest articol este acela că Apostolul Pavel folosește în mod intenționat narațiunea lui Hristos, în special acele aspecte din narațiune care descriu dragostea lui Hristos și dăruirea de sine, credincioșia și ascultarea Sa, tocmai pentru a le oferi credincioșilor din Roma un model de urmat și o baza nouă pentru viața lor. Apostolul Pavel le arată că, în virtutea încorporării credincioșilor „în Hristos”, ei sunt acum parte din aceeași narațiune/istorie a răscumpărării lumii și că sunt împuterniciți să trăiască o viață nouă ca popor al lui Dumnezeu. În felul acesta, se arată cum narațiunea lui Hristos este folosită de Apostol pentru formarea morală a comunității, pentru modelarea identității, valorilor și a practicilor credincioșilor din Roma, în lumina a ceea ce a făcut Hristos. Narațiunea lui Hristos funcționează ca fundament pentru răscumpărare, dar și ca model pentru viața nouă a credincioșilor.


Pr. Ioan C. TEȘU — Metafizica suferinței

Summary: The metaphysics of suffering

The actuality and universality of human suffering is one of the most painful truths of human existence; man’s life may be described as a constant struggle against physical and moral afflictions, hardships, suffering and pain, illness and death. In this respect opinions, beliefs, behaviours and conduct range from denial and rejection, to despair and despondency or, on the contrary, acceptance in the Christian spirit, understanding their deep significance and consequently facing and overcoming them with dignity and and spiritual loftiness. Therefore Orthodox spirituality has developed a teaching full of Christian optimism and trust in God’s assistance, which lends hardships, pain and suffering a positive and salvific quality.

A major truth stressed by the Holy Fathers of Eastern Orthodoxy, in discussing this issue and meditating upon its spiritual significance, is the fact that suffering is neither wanted nor intended by God, but has afflicted the created nature and human life as a consequence of the ancestral sin and is enhanced by personal sins. Suffering should not be sought nor asked for, but once it has entered one’s life it should be accepted or, as the God-inspired Fathers teach, one should develop a „philosophy of suffering”, that is, strive to avoid it through discernment and watchfulness, bodily and spiritual self-control; however, once we experience suffering, we should find its salvific dimension, identify its causes, and attempt to manage it or limit its effects; when this is no loger possible, we should bear it patiently hoping for the assistance and reward of our Heavenly Father.

The general purpose of all „unwanted” suffering in this life is turning from sin to virtue, from spiritual death to spiritual life. A genuine „martyrdom of consciousness”,a „school of Christian virtues” and „laboratory of salvation”, „unwanted” suffering and pain is a path towards the recovery of spiritual health, lost through the sickness and blindness, through ontological damage caused by sins and passions, as spiritual disease and forms of spiritual cancer. According to St. John Chrysostom, afflictions and hardships are „good teachers”, awakening people from their self-contentment and complacency and occasioning self-knowledge and insight, as well as the opportunity to discover God, the Supreme Healer, the Source of mercy as well as comfort for body and soul.

Orthodox spirituality also teaches us that God never allows us to suffer beyond our endurance, which means that all suffering is bearable; however the „limit of bearability” or ability to accept, stand and overcome suffering differs according to each person’s psychological structure, character and temperament, and especially spiritual beliefs. However hard and long our suffering may seem, it never goes beyond the human capacity to endure. What makes it seem easier or, on the contrary, terrifying, is our perception of it, our spiritual state accompanying it. Moreover, as St. Isaac the Syrian points out, God grants the afflicted man a special „gift” – „the spirit of grace”, proportionally with the hardships. Its results are varied and multiform: it helps us receive or accept suffering without revolt, bear it patiently, it strengthens our hope in the aid of God and our neighbours, it prompts us to repent, weep and shed spiritual tears, it enables us to hope for help and reward from our Heavenly Father; in brief, it grants the suffering man the strength of a rock before the waves of life.

Present suffering is also proportional with one’s personal sins or virtues, so that the most afflicted ones are either the most sinful or the most righteous. For the latter hardships are greater and frequent, testing their love of God and the rich spiritual world. To both the former and the latter, earthly pain and suffering are not signs of God’s punishment and „wrath” and even though they are called the „Judge’s Stick”, they prove divine love and wisdom, and express God’s all-merciful love for world and man – the king and priest of the created world, his dearest creature.

Ultimately, pain, suffering and illness may be considered enemies of our present life. Although unwanted, they enter it sooner or later, when we are not ready or prepared for such a „visit”. Once we set out together down the narrow and harsh road to salvation, we should attempt to transform suffering – if not into a friend, at least into an ally, grasping the deep salvific significance of all life events, be they good or bad, enabling us to find happiness; however, not a bodily, transient happines, but spiritual, eternal bliss.


Ciprian STREZA — Boala și suferința în tradiția liturgică a Bisericii

Summary: Illness and suffering in the liturgical tradition of the Church

Illness and suffering are closely related to post-adamic human existence. To every person, they represent meaningful experiences that challenge one’s inner resources, faith and the relationship with God. Modern society, however, perceives suffering as a repugnant reality; nowadays, the industry of affluence and instant gratification has engulfed all aspects of human existence, while biological life, psychological and physical health, the pursuit of pleasure and analgesia seen as a value of civilization and goal of society – these are the ultimate values sought by man, who expects salvation from medicine and turns the physician into the new priest of modern times.

Due to the major impact of illness and suffering on human life, the Church attaches great importance to them, including them in its theologizing as well as its religious services, in order to help man understand and overcome them through communion with the crucified and resurrected Christ. Man can be healed from the afflictions of his body and soul by participating in the liturgical life of the Church and by relating these important experiences to God, as the only answer and solution to human problems. The Church also teaches man that nothing can be overcome unless it is first accepted. Thus man discovers that the meaning of suffering is that of partaking of the passions of Christ, and then suffering becomes a ladder ascending towards heaven.

The meaning of illness and suffering must be understood, so that man may accept this harsh reality of life. Thus, the Church’s rich euchological tradition concerning the healing of disease and suffering contains the entire patristic theologizing about the emergence of illness and suffering in man’s life, as well as their cure through the work of the crucified and resurrected Christ. He is the only „Doctor of bodies and souls” who, by means of the matter employed in the Holy Mysteries, touches the ailing man and grants him the healing of both body and soul.

Patristic tradition shows that by His sacrifice, our Saviour abolished the tyranny of the devil, sin and death, but did not suppress the possibility of man’s sinning and falling prey to the devil’s temptations, thus allowing human free will to choose between good and evil and strengthen communion with God. Illness and suffering remain in man’s life, as consequences of his sin, even after the Resurrection; however they acquire a new meaning, because they are no longer punishments but instruments of divine pedagogy, by which man becomes closer to God and his faith is strengthened.

As early as the apostolic times, the Church imbued its prayers for the sick with the hope of resurrection and eternal life, relating any prayer for the sick to the celebration of the Holy Liturgy. The eucharistic gathering (synaxis) has been, since the very beginnings, the core of Christian worship, onto which were grafted all the sacramental works of the Church. The Holy Mysteries have always been celebrated within the Holy Liturgy, in full awareness of the invisible presence and agency of Christ through them. The Church celebrated a single extended Liturgy by which man’s entire life was called to saintliness and partaking of the grace of the Kingdom.

In the Mystey of Holy Unction, the prayers for the sick do not necessarily require bodily healing and good health, but rather the ailing person is entrusted to the mercy and care of God, who in His providence knows all that one needs for acquiring eternal bliss and salvation. This is why the early Church celebrated this Holy Mystery together with the Mysteries of Penance and Eucharist, with a common goal: man’s sanctification as body and soul, by partaking of the pure life of Christ. The hardships allowed by God, illness, suffering, afflictions, become signs of „divine visitation”, of God’s attention and care. By participating in the dynamics of Christ’s life, by reiterating the Savious’ life sacramentally, ethically and ascetically, every Christian may state together with the Apostle to the gentiles: „Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church” (Col 1,24).

To any Christian, suffering is an occasion to deepen his communion with Christ, for our Saviour ceaselessly assumes the pain and suffering of all people, to the end of times, as sufferings of his mystic Body; thus He becomes even closer to the human soul thirsting for salvation and the bliss of eteral life. Thus the Mystery of the Holy Unction should not be perceived as a „thaumaturgical”, magical or medical act, but rather as a living way of coming into contact with Christ, Who imparts His life to the members of His Body, to strengthen their communion with Himself.


Monica OPRIȘ — Metodologia cercetării pedagogice în domeniul educației religioase. Specific, particularități, dificultăți

Summary: The methodology of pedagogical research into religious education. Characteristics and challenges

Pedagogical research into religious education is relatively new to Romanian theology, since the communist regime completely forbid it for obvious reasons: the Church was the only factor overtly opposing the official, atheist doctrine. Communist authorities were less apprehensive about liturgical or systematic theology, however in the educational realm any novel perspectives able to open new vistas on the world or interdisciplinary collaboration – mainly with humanities – were hindered drastically.

Due to the openness to various fields of research, reached in the 1990s, the collaboration between theology and pedagogy has proved to be extremely important, with mutual benefits. Pedagogy immediately perceived theology as an essential support in reaching the ethical goals pursued by education; theology in its turn found pedagogical research to be one of the most challenging as well as most useful approaches with a view to adjusting religious education provided by school and Church to the realities of Romanian educational system, at the turn of the millennium.

The present study dwells on conceptual and pedagogical aspects of the teaching-learning method, the assessment method and the research method; the way in which research methodology is part of the common educational core of education sciences; presenting the methodological system used in religious education research; stressing the opportunities provided by the method of self-observation and observation, as well as a set of limitations and difficulties in choosing the research methodology.

The concept of pedagogical research methodology has the same semantic root as that of didactic method, namely it designates the choice of a path to reach a particular educational goal. Therefore, a method’s worth is demonstrated by the results achieved in a particular context or for a particular problem. If there is no method valuable in itself, we may however assert that each of the research paths currently recommended by education sciences has a regenerative potential for the respective field.

The methodological system is designed around the concept of „research data”, which must be collected, measured, processed and interpreted, according to the topic approached by the researcher and the objectives and the hypothesis/hypotheses put forth. Thus the taxonomy of research methods is centered on these activities. Among the methods employed to collect research data we mention: the self-observation method, the (systematic) observation method, the method of observing as a participant, psychological-pedagogic/ didactic experimentation, the inquiry method, the interview method, the analysis of portofolios/ products of students’ activity, the method of investigating curricular documents and other school documents, the method of tests and other written assessment means, the method of case studies and the sociometric methods. The assessment system for research data includes: recording, classifying and ranking them; the system of mathematical-statistical processing and interpretation of research data includes: organizing, systematizing and presenting the data, determining statistical indices and mathematical-statistical methods to study the interrelations of phenomena. The present study, as mentioned above, dwells on two of these methods, due to the specific aspects of research into religious education.

The method of self-observation involves insight into one’s own emotions, thoughts, states of mind, responses, expectations, wishes, behaviours, undertaken both by the subjects under investigation and the researchers, depending on the manner of applying the method; the data so collected are processed/interpreted in the light of the research objectives. Including self-observation among research methods is accounted for by the fact that personality development must comprise self-knowledge, to allow formative relationships with other persons.


Octavian GORDON — „«Bucură-te, cea plină de daruri!» Note critice și traductologice pe marginea epitetului mariologic κεχαριτωμενη”

Summary: «Rejoice, highly favoured one!» Critical and Translation Notes on the Mariological Epithet Κεχαριτωμένη

In the present study we tried to analyse the Bible hapax legomenon «κεχαριτωμένη» (Lk 1, 28) not only from the perspective of its manuscript transmission within the frame of the biblical literature or from a hermeneutical point of view, but also from the perspective of its liturgical integration and use in the Eastern Church. The starting point of our research was the simultaneous existence in the liturgical Romanian actual practice of at least three different equivalents of gr. κεχαριτωμένη: plină de dar (litt. ‘full of grace’), plină de daruri (litt. ‘full of gifts’) and plină de har (litt. ‘full of grace’)[1]. Our investigation showed that, from the beginning of the Romanian literature, i.e. from the 16th century onwards, there are more than a dozen of more or less functional Romanian equivalents of this mariological epithet.

In the first part of the present study, we pointed out that the whole verse Lk 1, 28 needs to be revisited from the textual criticism perspective. The history of the biblical text transmission is not as clear as presented in the Nestle-Aland critical edition(s) of the New Testament or in Metzer’s Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament. In the case of the verse Lk 1, 28 in its relation to Lk 1, 42, our evidence and perspective raise a question not only over the certainty of the philological solution proposed by the most trusted (in the academic field) New Testament edition, but also over the methodology of the western textual criticism itself. Even within the frame of the same methodology, the most honest answer – from a philological point of view – concerning the “original form” of Lk. 1, 28 would be, on the basis of the evidence we dispose of, the acceptance of two textual traditions with equal statute, and not the rejection of the one preserved in the Eastern Church, on the reason that the sequence «εὐλογημένη σὺ ἐν γυναιξίν» is considered to be an “interpolation”, taken from Lk 1, 42. Moreover, if the biblical textual criticism would take into consideration the interdependence between the biblical text and the hymnographical texts – which is a matter of fact in the Eastern thought, spirituality and liturgical reality – the balance would incline for and not against the long reading of the verse Lk 1, 28.

As a secondary conclusion related to the verse Lk 1, 28, we proved that the gr. Χαῖρε is not “a call for action”, as Răzvan Perșa argues, but a typical Hellenistic salutation formula addressed by the Archangel Gabriel towards Virgin Mary.

The main body of our analysis reviews the main Romanian equivalents of gr. κεχαριτωμένη, as they appear in the biblical, but also in the liturgical texts. As for the biblical texts, it was important and relevant to make the difference between the biblical corpora as such (early and modern editions or manuscripts of the Bible and of the New Testament) and the biblical liturgical corpora of texts, i.e. biblical texts with liturgical functionality, which are gathered in corpora such as Evangheliar (Gospel Book) or Cazanie (Gospel fragments with explanations, used with homiletic purposes). The massive presence of gr. κεχαριτωμένη in the other liturgical texts, in the Liturgy itself, but mainly in the hymnography, called for the investigation of other liturgical books, such as Horologion, Hieratikon, Menaia, Octoechos, Pentecostarion or Byzantine music collections.

The analysis shows that, at the beginning of the Romanian ecclesiastic literature (be it biblical or liturgical), there is no direct reference to the Greek original. The first Romanian equivalents of gr. κεχαριτωμένη are dependent on the Church Slavonic obradovannaa and blagodatnaia. The most popular equivalent, which is doubtless directly related to sl. blagodatnaia, is ceea ce ești cu (bun) dar dăruită, or simply dăruită. This translation, which is, in our opinion, the closest to gr. κεχαριτωμένη, has survived up to nowadays, in many of the liturgical texts. In the second half of the 17th century, the expression plină de dar was created, obviously translated from the Latin original gratia plena. The Western (mainly Calvinist) influence on the early Romanian ecclesiastical texts is to be seen also in other aspects related to the first printed Romanian biblical corpora. The expression plină de dar, created in the biblical domain (perhaps by Nicolae Milescu) and taken over by the famous Șerban’s Bible (1688), spread also in the liturgical texts, supposedly with the influence of Antim Ivireanu’s printed liturgical books, although, as we have already stated, the older expression, ceea ce ești cu dar dăruită, continued to be used in many of the liturgical texts. We also advance the hypothesis that somewhere in Antim Ivireanu’s time – in any case at the beginning of the 17th century – a Romanian Church literary language was canonized and continued to be used, with rather small internal adaptations, up to nowadays within the Orthodox ecclesiastical milieu.

In the meanwhile, a new expression in Romanian is created, plină de daruri[2], supposedly on prosodic reasons requested by the Byzantine metric.

Later on, from the middle of the 19th century onwards, the New Protestant milieus (specifically the British Bible Society) propose, on one hand, the replacement of the traditional polysemantic dar with har (closer to gr. χάρις), which led automatically to the replacement of the whole expression plină de dar with plină de har, and, on the other hand, new translations of the gr. κεχαριτωμένη, such as Cornilescu’s paraphrase căreia ți s’a făcut mare har, which is still used in the Protestant and New Protestant milieus. Hence, a confessional split appeared in the 19th century, after about three centuries of ecclesiastical Romanian language unity. Even in the Transylvanian area, where there were controversies between the Orthodox and Greek-Catholic Churches, there is no evidence of confessional ecclesiastical language up to the second half of the 20th century. The Roman‑Catholic Church used the Latin language in the ceremonies until after the 2nd Vatican Council, when the Roman-Catholic (but since then also the Greek-Catholic) milieus have tried to create and to develop an ecclesiastical jargon for themselves, obviously influenced by the Latin terminology and avoiding the traditional ecclesiastical terms and expression, most of them of Slavonic origin, used by the Orthodox Church.

Perhaps under the pressure of the academic theological environment, the word har, and consequently the expression plină de har, promoted by the Protestant milieus, has been introduced also in the Orthodox texts, from the 2nd half of the 20th century (precisely in 1964) onwards. But this aggiornamento of the Orthodox liturgical language has not been made with consistency, so that the older (canonized) expressions plină de dar and (in some hymnographical texts) plină de daruri are still to be encountered in many places of the liturgical books officially issued in the Romanian Orthodox Church. This bookish unsteadiness is doubled also by the fact that the ecclesiastical corpus did not embrace this innovation. The traditional canonized expressions plină de dar and plină de daruri are hard to be excluded from the liturgical practice, as long as they are supported by specific music compositions, which are well-known and are constantly sung in the churches by the whole community of believers.

It is difficult (and it was not our purpose here) to outline the theological reasons on the basis of which the liturgical text accepts and promotes “injuries” of the “original” biblical text, such as plină de daruri in comparison with plină de dar or even with its Greek equivalent κεχαριτωμένη. Nevertheless, we are certain of one thing: once accepted by the ecclesiastical corpus, they become liturgically (and hence ecclesiastically) functional.

[1] In Romanian, har and dar are synonyms in the Church language, with the meaning ‘grace’ (gr. χάρις). But dar has also the meaning ‘gift’ (gr. δῶρον).

[2] ‘Daruri’ is the plural of ‘dar’ with the meaning of ‘gift’ (gr. δῶρον) or ‘charisma’ (gr. χάρισμα), which made possible the integration in the Orthodox liturgical texts of the expression plină de daruri with reference to Virgin Mary.


Dumitru-Mitruț POPOIU — Metoda istorico-critică și cea semiotico-critică în cercetarea biblică germană contemporană

Summary: The Historical-Critical and the Semiotical-Critical Methods in Contemporary Biblical German Research

Method is the procedure employed by any investigation. It ensures clarity and order in the interpretation process, which is supposed to be an objective approach, in order to render research universally applicable. Theology, whose aim is salvation as intersubjective relationship among persons, is a highly difficult research field since spiritual processes cannot be assimilated through textbook prescriptions. However, the argumentation of the truths of faith follows precise steps, which can be taught. Therefore, research methods are necessary in order for theology to maintain the dialogue with other sciences.

As early as the first Christian centuries, there were theological schools employing the allegorical or the literal method to interpret the Holy Scripture; throughout the times, newer methods emerged and borrowed procedures employed by various humanities. Today’s Western theology uses a dozen methods, all attempting to reduce the subjectivity of the exegetic endeavor, by various means.

Early 21st-century German biblical exegesis is still largely indebted to the historical-critical method, still applying the research procedures used since the 18th-19th century, borrowed from linguistic and historical studies. German conservatorism concerning exegesis is justified by the purpose of research, which is essentially an identitary one. Protestant theology, adhering to the sola scriptura principle, mainly aimed to give up the Christian traditions accumulated throughout centuries, blaming them for allegedly falsifying Christianity. Therefore, its biblical research was interested in the scientific reconstruction of the early Christianity universe, deemed as the only one to contain the authentic teachings of Saviour Jesus Christ.

Since the Enlightenment times, the promoters of the historical-critical approach have analyzed the shaping of the biblical text, in the context of ancient cultural creations. Their approach was rather historical-literary than theological, and involved four steps. Textual criticism intends to ascertain, as exactly as possible, the original biblical text, based on the oldest and most credible manuscripts, while literary criticism aims to reconstruct the hypothetical original text by separating it from subsequent interpolations. Formal criticism analyzes the biblical language, on the basis of which it ascertains both literary micro-genres (miracle stories, parables, dialogues) and macro-genres (Gospels, epistles, prophetic writings) employed by the authors of biblical texts; finally, recension criticism interprets the text’s genesis. Information on the genesis of Israel or that of the Roman Empire are also highly relevant for the genesis of the New Testament.

The main objective pursued by historical-critical method, however, is not to examine the text but to reconstruct early Christianity based on this investigation. During the first three exegetical steps (analysis) and the fourth one (synthesis), the biblical text undergoes such great transformations, that its integrity is affected and one can hardly find any of coherence in the theological message of the Holy Scripture. This is not the main objective, since to the exegetes the biblical canon, established only in the 3rd-4th centuries, is merely a necessary instrument for deciphering a message that is perceived as lost, but retrievable through reconstruction.

The historical-critical method focuses on the history of the biblical text’s evolution, while the semiotical-critical method is based on the theory of communication. Research no longer aims to reconstruct the universe of early Christianity, but rather to understand what the biblical text conveys to every reader.

To semiotical-critical exegesis, each word of a text is a sign employed to communicate, having a meaning only in relation to other signs. A sign is always associated to a reality it defines (the object) and an interpreter. The triad object-sign-interpreter is essential in communication, and the absence of one of these elements renders communication impossible.

Semiotical exegesis ignores the history of text development and even the author’s intention loses its centrality. From the outset it acknowledges that there are several possible interpretations, since a text is never read passively, but reading is an interactive process presupposing the reader’s cooperation. Reading implies the encounter between the discursive universe of the author and that of the reader, so it provides much more than mere information; this type of exegesis no longer questions the reality, credibility or veracity or the narration. Each text opens up a world that may be different from the reader’s; however in order to understand it the reader must accept the text as it has been written by its author, without passing any axiological judgments. The exegete does not ignore what is unusual, but rather accepts it and attempts to understand the effects entailed on the reader by his accepting the world described in the respective text.

To interpret the signs composing a text, as well as their interrelationships, semiotical-critical exegesis presupposes three steps. Intratextual analysis aims to ascertain the significance of the information within a particular text, to identify the type of action, the characteristics of the protagonists, as well as their relation, through syntagmatic, syntactic and pragmatic devices. Intertextual analysis starts from the premise that any text is always related to other texts. This approach is taken only when one analyzes the special meaning which a text or term might acquire by reminding of other texts. From the intertextual perspective, two texts have a different meaning when analyzed in interrelationship, than they have separately. For instance, the prophetic excerpts quoted in the Gospel according to Mark refer to the prophet Isaiah, which emphasizes the coherence and continuity between the Old and the New Testament.

Finally, extratextual or intermedial analysis deals with the non-verbal elements described by a particular text, and ascertains how they may alter the significance of reading. This approach provides biblical research with historical and cultural information, which constitute the universe of the text and do not obscure the Scripture, as historical-critical exegesis does.

Each of the two methods of theological research has numerous advantages, as well as disadvantages. The hermeneutical endeavor of an Orthodox theologian attaching great value to patristic tradition, could hardly adopt one of the methods exclusively. However, the upside of the semiotical-critical method is its attempt to understand what the Scripture offers to its readership, without questioning the veracity and authenticity of some fragments. Thus it avoids the risk of becoming a purpose in itself. By focusing on the Scriptural text and not on the history of its evolution, this method facilitates the interdenominational dialogue on biblical studies.


Cezar UNGUREANU — Expresii antinomice în antropologia paulină. O perspectivă teologică asupra textului din 2 Co 4, 16

Summary: Antinomic Phrases in Pauline Anthropology. A Theological Perspective on 2 Co 4, 7-18

The present article addresses the antinomic phrases in Pauline anthropology. Such a phrase contains the antinomy: ὁ ἔξω ἄνθρωπος – ὁ ἔσω ἄνθρωπος (2 Co 4, 16; Rm 7, 22; Ef 3, 16). Our objective is to demonstrate that the conjunctional structure ἀλλ᾽ εἰ καὶ in 2 Co 4, 16 does not make suffering a sine qua non condition for the renewal of the inward man. The method employed is the analysis of textual structures facilitating the correct understanding of the relationship inward/ outward man.

The occurrence of antinomic structures in the fragment 2 Co 4, 7-18, and even 5, 1-10, marks a section dominated by eschatology. In order to emphasize the contrast between the antithetical terms, St. Paul constantly employs the adversative conjunction ἀλλά. Thus, we reject any suggestion that the author of this epistle suffered gnostic or dualist influences; on the contrary, the conjunction ἀλλά introduces a simultaneity relationship between the terms it relates.

In the fragment 2 Co 4, 16-18 which is the most relevant for the present study, St. Paul approaches a number of interdependent themes. V. 16 formulates a unique anthropology in the entire New Testament, and v. 17 reiterates the paradox of achieving God’s glory by accepting the suffering (2 Co 3, 18), while v. 18 stresses the eschatological contrast between what is visible and transient, versus what is invisible and immutable. From the perspective of the entire section, the fragment of 4, 16 has a transitional character because on the one hand, it sums up the content of 4, 7-15, and on the other hand, it represents the beginning of the section 5, 1-10, which discusses the eschatological metamorphoses which the human person will undergo. We have analysed verse 16 using three approaches:

The philological approach is centered on the conjunction εἰ καὶ, which the experts have investigated from the following standpoints:

– Normally, the presence in the protasis of the preposition εἰ + the indicative mode of any tense (διαφθείρεται), followed in the apodosis by the conjunction „then” + a verb in any mode and any tense (ἀνακαινοῦται), introduces a type I conditional clause. Daniel Wallace and James L. Boyer consider the construction εἰ καὶ to be a conditional clause; in their study they provide the list of the 308 conditional clauses in the New Testament. The logic of the conditional clause subordinates the idea in the apodosis, to the achievement of the notions formulated in the protasis. It is a construction type: if A, then B.

– A significant category of scholars considers that the juxtaposition of the conjunctions εἰ καὶ introduces a concessive clause. However, by its nature the concessive sentence is a conditional one, in which the apodosis is achieved irrespectively of the fulfilment of the condition formulated in the protasis. In this case, the Romanian translation of the phrase should be rendered by the construction „even though/whether”. The logical scheme of the concessive clause is: whether A or non-A, then B.

The exegetical approach focuses on the possible implications of the antinomy inward man/outward man, as well as the terms connecting them. Both the past century scholars and the contemporary ones equate the outward man with the visible, sensible, or physical dimension of the human person which may also be an instrument by which God’s power operates. Defining ὁ ἔσω ἄνθρωπος either as alter ego, or as man’s soul or a Platonic expression of Christian lifestyle is still open to debate by specialized literature. Anyway, the similarities in Ef 3, 16 and Rm 7, 23 with both the issue of the first epistle’s author and the controversy of the Ego in Rm 7, 7-25, in the second epistle, render a holistic approach of the texts very difficult.

The theological approach aims to provide a conclusion concerning the type of clause (conditional or concessive), based on the theological themes present in the text. Our option, in agreement with that of most scholars, deems the conjunctional construction ἀλλ᾽ εἰ καὶ in v. 16 as peculiar to a concessive clause. Also, the double occurrence of the preposition ἀλλά in the Greek text enhances its concessive character. Thus the meaning of the text is: however, even though/ even if the outward man is wasting away, still, our inward man is renewed day by day.

The importance of 2 Co 4, 16 is proven by two strong arguments: Firstly, in the Pauline thought, the reality of a Christian’s transformation is not presented as a future event (cf. Flp 3, 21), to occur after man’s earthly life comes to an end; it is a present, ongoing event. Secondly, this is a fundamental turning point in the view on life from a Christian perspective. Suffering as a result of bodily frailty and weakness, becomes the means by which God’s power is manifest in our life and implicitly in the world (cf. 2 Co 12, 9). Clearly, thus the theological issue finds a solution in the realm of Christian ethics, because the difficulty of this fragment pertains to its actual achievement, rather than its discoursive clarification.

In conclusion, the presence in v. 16 of the conjunctional structure ἀλλ᾽ εἰ καὶ introduces a concessive clause by which the renewal of the inward man does not exclusively depend on suffering. Our tenet does not deny that suffering contributes to the inner man’s transfiguration; on the contrary, it has a very significant role (cf. 4, 17). However, man should not intentionally seek suffering or even maim himself (like Evagrius Ponticus and Origen), but accept the Cross because it is given by God. Afflictions are characteristic to the fallen world, so that they appear in Christian life as a consequence of sin, independently of man’s will.

In brief, the message of the biblical text could be formulated as: Suffering should not be sought, but accepted!


Ciprian Iulian TOROCZKAI — Antropologia teologică a lui Ioannis Zizioulas: Câteva considerații critice și răspunsul la ele

Summary: Ioannis Zizioulas’ theological anthropology: criticism and response

The present study provides the first thorough presentation, in the Romanian theological realm, of the anthropological stance adopted by Ioannis Zizioulas (born 1943), currently the metropolitan of Pergamon, and maybe the most influential contemporary Orthodox theologian (both in the Orthodox theological milieu and the ecumenical one). It is a critical presentation, that discusses the criticism against him, formulated by Edward Russell, Lucian Turcescu and John Breck, as well as the response it elicited – not from metropolitan Ioannis Zizioulas himself, but from two of his supporters: Alan Brown and Aristotle Papanikolaou.

Speaking about metropolitan Ioannis Zizioulas’ notion of person, Edward Russell considers that it differs from the modern interpretation of the self. He goes on with a number of critical remarks: in the opinion of E. Russell, I. Zizioulas does not take seriously enough the importance of sin, the suffering and the corporeal structure of the human being. He downplays the physical dimension of our existence as creatures, and is thus unable to grasp the implications of the doctrine of sin and the „theology of the Cross”. His view is balanced by Luther’s notion of the person as simul iustus et peccator, both righteous and sinful. (Only this vision can compensate the eschatological „overemphasis” of the Greek theologian.) Pointing out that, according to Zizioulas, one becomes a person only in ecclesia, E. Russell asks: Can we become persons only if we participate in the right type of relationships, with the right persons? What is the role of social-historical factors in shaping the person? Can those who are extra ecclesia deemed to be persons? All these questions are raised because of Zizioulas’ too marked distinction between the „biological hypostasis” versus the „ecclesial hypostasis”, as remarked other exegetes of his works, too (cf. Ioan I. Ică jr.).

Turcescu considers that Ioannis Zizioulas, despite acknowledging his dependence of the Cappadocians’ thinking, failed to understand them completely, and his view evinces certain „flaws”: firstly, Zizioulas thinks that the person should not be understood as an aggregate of natural, psychological or moral attributes, that are somehow „possessed” or „contained” by the individuum, because the person is a unitary whole; then, the individual is something „partial”, the subject of „addition and combination”, while the person is free from such limitations of the „self” as individualization, understanding, combining, defining, describing or use; finally, Zizioulas disagrees with the stance adopted by the Western culture and philosophy, resulting from a synthesis of the anthropologies put forth by Boethius and Augustine; namely, this stance equates the person with the individual/personality – „a unit endowed with intellectual, psychological and moral qualities underlying conscience”. He disagrees because a person „wants something more: to exist as a concrete, unique and irrepeatable entity”. The assertions of the Greek theologian cannot stand close examination. For example, when Zizioulas criticizes the individual, he has in mind the contemporary philosophical, social and political individualism, that is, a mindset unknown to 4th-century Cappadocian Fathers. They did not concern themselves with the distinction between person and individual, but they attempted to solve other problems, such as the relationship between nature and person. Conclusion: despite an apparent patristic coherence, the anthropological view of I. Zizioulas is nothing but a „wrong interpretation of Cappadocians’ theology”!

John Breck took this dualist view on the person to the ultimate consequences. The reputable Orthodox bioethician noted that, far from being a purely theoretical discussion, the criticism formulated by L. Turcescu against metropolitan Zizioulas is deeply relevant for the person, since the inception of human development: the person as an embryo. If persons are defined relationally, or exclusively by their ecclesial membership, this could justify a woman’s rejection of an unborn child, by denying his personality. Thus, until the unborn child begins to „exist” as a person, abortion would not be immoral, as it would not be deemed as killing a person. However, the embryo must be acknowledged not only the status of a human being, but also that of a person, even at the early stages of its existence, because it is a unique hypostasis existing in relationship with others, and in communion with God. This means that aborting a foetus, or destroying an embryo’s life in order to obtain stem cells, is just as wrong as killing a baby or an adult.

This criticism was answered by Alan Brown and A. Papanikolaou. The former addressed mainly methodological issues, questioning the alleged compliance with the patristic tradition of the Orthodox who had criticized Zizioulas: L. Turcescu, A. Louth or J. Behr. According to him, they were influenced by the Western thought (namely the post-liberal Anglican theology) even more than Zizioulas, whom they accused of relating more to the contemporary existentialist philosophy than the Cappadocian patristic thought. On the other hand, resorting to patristic authority should not turn into methodological absolutism, positing a single correct interpretation, and invalidating while all the other ones – including that of Ioannis Zizioulas.

Aristotle Papanikolaou’s answer to the criticism against the personalist conception of metropolitan Ioannis Zizioulas addresses the content, rather the form of this criticism. In his book, Papanikolaou makes an elaborate comparative analysis between the notion of person according to Vladimir Lossky and Ioannis Zizioulas, respectively, revealing their similarities and differences. The greatest merit of metropolitan Zizioulas’ anthropology, especially in today’s secular, reductionist context, lies in the inherent optimism of overcoming the tragedy of human limitation and death, by the theological definition of man as a person (hypostasis), thus as a reality characterized by dynamic movement (ekstasis) and free communion, without effacement of the self.

Regarding L. Turcescu’s criticism against the conceptions of Zizioulas, he demonstrates that the particular combination of a number of attributes, resulting from the „division of nature” upon creation, may render a person unique, but not irreplaceable. Death makes all creatures „replaceable” entities, by destroying the elements that make them up, while their reconstruction presupposes acquiring another quality – which is not possible by oneself, but only in relation with the „Other”, with a superior existence: God’s eternal love, to whom each human person is unique and irreplaceable.

Our study ends with a possible explanation for the conclusions reached by I. Zizioulas and a discussion of the different views of two Cappadocian Fathers, St. Basil the Great and St. Gregory of Nazianzus, concerning the relationship between the divine nature and Persons.

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