NR. 3 – 2015

Rezumate Studii Teologice 2015.3

Pr. Nichifor TĂNASE „«Fața strălucitoare» și paradoxul revelator. Caracterul theopathic al omului. Perceptibilitatea de către simțurile omenești (καθαρσις – φωτισμος – θεωσις) a luminii Feței lui Hristos, în pofida naturii sale necreate și incomprehensibile”

Summary: „The shining face” and the revealing paradox. Man’s theopathic character. The perceptibility by human senses of the Light of Christ’s face, despite its uncreated, ineffable nature

The present study dwells on the alleged „absence of Christology” („the missing piece”) from the Desert spirituality – an absence not remarked or accounted for until now, by the recent studies on late Antiquity. However, the „Desert Fathers’ Christology” is found by St Gregory Palamas in the hesychast theology of the uncreated light, experienced by the desert ascetics in their own bodies. This light of Christ, shining forth on their radiant faces, reveals that Christ is present within the ascetic; He is interiorized and His presence is revealed somatically (in «the face»), although it is apophatic (since the light thus experienced is „uncreated”, and also because it is „hidden”). A line of research that has gained prominence in contemplative theology and spirituality has entailed a hermeneutic trajectory: 1) the theology of the Old Testament glory (Kabod) – the so-called „hidden-revealed” or „nature-activities” dialectics; 2) the New Testament δόξα, the glory (= θέωσις, understood in Pauline key as Christification); 3) the pre-Nicene Christology (an eikon-ic Christology, of the «Face of the Father»); 4) the ascetic philosophy of the Desert Fathers (= the „apophatic-hidden” Christology of the «shining face»); 5) the Syrian theology of „clothing in Christ / light”; 6) the Dionysian mystical theology (= the veils of „theurgic rays”); 7) St Gregory Palamas’ hesychasm (= the Taboric light as uncreated energy). The original element in our study is the fact that our analysis has led to considering the light on the „shining faces” of the Desert Fathers, as uncreated light and revelation of a covert (apophatic) Christology, in a pre-Nicene theological key. A determining role was played by the Palamite-hesychast theological writings, according to which the light radiating from the saints’ faces 1) is uncreated, and 2) evinces the inward presence of Christ, Who is identified with His light, while He Himself is the „deifying factor” of this light radiating from the shining faces of the Desert Fathers (Anthony, Silvanus, Sisoes, Pambo).

All studies concerning late Antiquity ignore this visionary experience, which they reduce to a mere biblical metaphor of the „divine” light (as Western exegetes term it, rather than „uncreated”!), in the „hagiographic” descriptions of saints’ lives. This reluctance has its roots in Evagrius’ theology, which cautioned against the risks of seeking visionary experiences, as the respective light might have belonged to deceitful demonic appearances. Another reason lies in the hesychast controversy, more precisely St Gregory Palamas’ distinction between nature and energies and theology of the uncreated light, long discredited in the Western world as innovative-heretical, rather than being valued as traditional-patristic. The conclusion derived from the commentaries of modern exegetes, who see in late Antiquity spirituality nothing more than a “„conflict of authority” (a political-mystical amalgamation), is the following: the latest studies on the Desert Fathers’ theology had been centered exclusively on the Christian paideic value provided by their exemplary ascetic life (in contrast with the pagan „holy man”, which simply marked a change in paradigm, or the continuation and passing down of „spiritual authority”). According to these exegetes, the mystagogic element (wrongly identified with asceticism) is missing. More recent studies speak of the „clothing in the body” (Hannah Hunt) or a discovery of the „actual self” (Peter Brown), as true forms of theologizing and spirituality with the Desert Fathers. Here is a certain pseudomorphosis introduced in the Orthodox theology along the thought lines of Merleau-Ponty or Foucault. One exception, so far, is the Golitzin-Orlov position; however, their theologizing – much too indebted to Judaic mysticism – sees in the radiance the Desert Fathers’ shining faces only the splendor, or glory (kabod) of Adam’s face before the Fall (= the undistorted image of God). As we see it, however, this „radiant face” experience denoted not only the regaining of Adamic splendor, but also the union with Christ that exceeds the edenic, pre-Christian, still imperfect state. Thus, the Desert Fathers’ Christology is a covert, hidden one (in an „apophatic light”), as Christ’s presence is „interiorized ascetically”. A correction of the Golitzin-Orlov position (= „the temptation of Judaic theology”, another quasi-pseudomorphosis in the Orthodox theology) lies in the fact that in the case of the Desert Fathers there is no „Mosaic Christology” or Christology of the „pre-incarnate Logos”, but they profess a Christology that is at the same time sacramental and hesychast, or contemplative. The visionary experience is the sight of the Christ in His body which He took on by the Incarnation, then was crucified, resurrected and ascended – or, in other words, was pneumatized, filled with the divine energies and not a mere „form (μορφή) of light”. The Christological reality of the uncreated light shining on the faces of the Desert Fathers (sometimes, corroborated by the testimony of a third person, who provided an objective attestation of this theophanic reality), proves the truth of man’s union with God (θέωσις) – a truth defended by all monastics throughout the history of the Church, and culminating in the proclamation of the dogma of this light (φῶς) during the so-called Palamite controversy and in its aftermath.

The present study dwells on the contemplative experience of the Desert Fathers – their experience of physical radiance manifest outwardly, identical to that of 14th-century Athonite hesychast monks of late Byzantium. One’s clothing in saintliness, in the „visible” glory of the Transfiguration, is integral part of the likeness to God which one acquires. This radiance of the «unveiled face» (2 Cor 3, 18) reveals the divine energy of Christ, «the brightness of God’s glory and the image of His person” (Heb 1, 1-2). This is (or here lies) the Desert Fathers’ Christology. „The shining face” is the hesychast veil (καταπέτασμα) covering deification and the so-called „aesthetics of apophaticism”, simultaneously hidden and revealed by the veil of Christ’s uncreated light, which surrounds the figure of the ascetic. The most important landmarks in the discovery of Desert Fathers’ Christology are the following:

1) The connection made between the theology of the Kabod and θέωσις in most contemporary studies of biblical theology (see, for instance: D. Kupp, F. Mathewes-Green, M. Gorman, N.T. Wright, C. Newman, D. Renwick, B. Blackwell, L. Belleville, M.D. Litwa, Ch. Barina Kaiser, Ph.P.-L. Viguier, M.G. Kline). The Holy Apostle Paul speaks of the Savior’s „ability” to „radiate” divine light „by His own power”, whereas other Old Testament illumination instances – such as Moses’ – could only „reflect” this light: «For God, who said, „Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ» (2 Cor 4, 6). This deification experience is also described: «And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit» (2 Cor 3, 18). Thus deification through the contemplation of God becomes an immanent, mystical event. This aspect of deification, as transformation in glory, includes both an inward quality of spiritual knowledge, and an outward radiance. Christification is thus both an ascetic, inward experience, and an exterior-somatic mystical manifestation.

2) Bewilderment over the Desert Fathers’ Christology (only seemingly missing, actually) was also mentioned by W. Harmless in his monograph Desert Christians, where he noted that the Apophthegmata say nothing on Christology, nor do they touch on, or encourage this theological matter. The same author finds „intriguing” the possibility of an „intentional omission”.

3) In the Triads 1, 2, 2 and 2, 3, 9, St Gregory Palamas states that «as we have the light of the Father shining on the face (πρώσοπον) of Jesus Christ, this treasure held in earthen vessels, that is our bodies», we must keep our mind within our body. He thus linked Pauline Christology (2 Cor 3, 18 – 4, 7) to the experience of the Desert Fathers (drawing a theophanic line Moses – Stephen – Arsenios) by which they «were visibly transformed by the divine light», which is «the uncreated radiance of God» – a divine energy accessible to the senses. Thus it is only by having Christ illumine from within us, that His manifestation is not something exterior to us, but it is an inner Transfiguration occurring within us – as prove the «shining faces» of ascetics (Pambo, Silvanus, Sisoes, Seraphim of Sarov, Sophrony Sakharov or Paisios the Athonite). God transcends the senses but nevertheless knowing Him is experiential, as the contemplation of hypostatic light is real, not symbolic.

4) The next step in developing a Christology of the Desert Fathers by means of the theology of uncreated light was taken by the Dionysian Christology (a „metaphysics of light”) as points out Hieromonk Al. Golitzin, as well as Charles M. Stang and István Perczel. According to the Orthodox theologian, the apophatic (covert) Christology of the experience of light – ἐξαίφνης («sudden») –, as recorded by both Paul (Acts 9, 3 and 22, 6), and Anthony (VA 10, 12) or Evagrius («the blue sapphire of the mind» – Gen 24, 10), is the same as that of Dionysian theology in Ep. 1 and 5: the deifying Light is Christ Himself. Hieromonk Al. Golitzin finds that it is Christology which actually underlies the experience of uncreated light. St Gregory Palamas himself deems the Taboric light as „enhypostatic”, that is, without a hypostasis of its own, as Christ is its Hypostasis (Triads 3, 1, 28 and 3, 1, 16). Thus, the „radiance of saints’ faces” is due to the fact that the human nature is transformed in Christ: it partakes of the divine attribute of glory. The saints’ bodies become pneumatized: Christ imprints His divine light onto the ascetic, who shines with and in the glory of Christ. Of course, this presupposes operating the distinction between God in se and ad extra, respectively. God can only be known by experiencing His presence, which is Light. The patristic term „mystical” means „hidden”: God is hidden in His light. Consequently, the light is presence (shekinach) as immanent transcendence, or as tension between the hidden transcendent and the revealed things. The light carries the presence of Christ, which casts away demons and fills the weakened ascetics’ bodies with the power of this light. Thus Christ is «the radiant light» (φέγγος) of the Father and a visible appearance of the invisible Father (Clement of Alexandria) or «Visibile Patris Filius» (St Irenaeus of Lyons).

5) St Anastasius of Sinai, in his Guide Along the Right Path 8, 4 and 13, 8, commenting on the „sons of God” (Gen 6, 2), asserts that Seth’s «radiant face» was actually was the edenic, pre-fall figure which Adam recognized in his son (which was why he named him Seth-Resurrection). Thus the body also is part of this figure, defined by the presence of grace, the radiance and light of the Most Holy Spirit surrounding the face and body, as Apa Aphou also states.

6) St Anastasius of Sinai encouraged reflection on the assertion: «Seeing you, I see the face of God!», the words with which Theophilus of Alexandria greeted the enraged crowd of monks. This formulation attests to a pre-Nicene Christology where the Son is the eternal icon or „form” and the „image” of the Father (Clement of Alexandria). On the other hand, Theophilus’ statement also implies the acknowledgement of a Christological-mystagogic authority, as the genuine monks united with God reflected the Face of Christ, ascetically interiorized and somatically visible in their „shining faces” (of which Theophilus was certainly aware). Modern exegetes regard this as a mere political game, as capitalizing on spiritual authority.

7) A scholar researching 14th-century hesychast theology was surprised to find it contained in nuce the notion of uncreated light, put forth since late Antiquity (St Irenaeus of Lyons, Clement, Evagrius, St Macarios and the pre-Nicene Christology in general, as brilliantly demonstrated by Arkadi Choufrine (in his 2002 monograph, published by Peter Lang). But again, none of the experts in the Desert Fathers’ ascetic theology employs the concept of uncreated light; at best, they describe the light shining on the ascetics’ faces as „divine light” (Orlov, Golitzin, Giulea) which, depending on the interpretation given to it, may or may not signify the same (for instance, in the opinion of some, the created grace is also a „divine” light, but not un-created).

8) B.G. Bucur notes that the Christology of the „Face”, one of the earliest building blocks of Christian doctrine, never became an important element, but was replaced by a more precise vocabulary, defined as a result of the Christological controversies of the 3rd and 4th-centuries. He emphasies the emergence of a Christology „of the face” with Clement of Alexandria or Aphrahat, the Persian sage. As our investigations demonstrate, the Christology of the face was subsequently developed in the theology of the icon. In the life to come, Father Stăniloae states, „the divine energies will be concentrated in the human face of Christ”.

9) „The radiant face” is an iconostasis behind which there is the inward presence of Christ. The temple is the ascetic’s body, while the heart – the spiritual core of the human being – also has an iconostasis behind which Christ enters on Baptism, as a Forerunner (St Marcus the Ascetic). According to the Eastern tradition, Father Stăniloae pointed out, the iconostasis symbolizes the distinction between nature and energies, between transcendent and immanent, as well as the experience of the apophatic turned immanent in the uncreated light of the energy-pervaded face. The Mesopotamian mystic John of Dalyatha – R. Beulay says – is the one who operated the distinction between the divine glory (revealed) and the divine nature (always hidden), six centures prior to the distinction between nature and energies, made by St Gregory Palamas.

The nature of Moses’ shining and the radiance visible on his face, due to his direct contact with God (Gen 34, 29), evince the real presence of God. As all believers meet God directly (with unveiled faces) through the Spirit, they reflect this luminous glory like mirrors and are themselves glorified in the process (from glory to glory). However, this transformation in glory is not only a noetic one, but also a bodily one, as it is a visible manifestation. Noetic illumination is associated with partaking of the divine glory in 2 Cor 3-4, and it is correlated with the somatic experience of the glory in 2 Cor 4, 16 – 5, 5. But Luke is the only evangelist to employ the term «glory» (δόξα), mentioning that Jesus and the three apostles had «climbed the mountain» in order to pray there (Lk 9, 29-31). This is one detail in the hesychast spiritual tradition, which has been much insisted on, since the appearance of light as a culmination of times of intense prayer attests to the deification of human nature. This light is the enhypostatic symbol – the uncreated radiance and splendor of God, a divine energy. This manifestation of Christ in His divine nature is not, however, alien to us. It can be interiorized and appropriated by means of ascesis and prayer.

Deification is described both as «transformation in glory» (2 Cor 3, 7-18), and as somatic experience of the glory (2 Cor 4, 16 – 5, 5). Thus, one cannot separate the transformation in Christ (Christification) from deification. Deification as transfiguration in glory (or glorification) is both an inward quality of spiritual knowledge, and an outward radiance that includes the body and the face. Transfiguration thus becomes an inner experience, and the noetic-gnoseologic process of contemplation generates the ontological process of mirroring: because or faces are unveiled, we are able to contemplate the glory of God (τὴν δόξαν Kυρίου) as if in a mirror and we are transformed (μεταμορφούμεθα) acquiring the likeness to Christ (κατὰ τὴν αὐτοῦ εἰκόνα) with ever-increasing glory (ἀπὸ δόξης εἰς δόξαν). In the case of the Desert Fathers, deification acquires an anthropological dimension as Christification, and is achieved through a face-to-face encounter with Him. In other words, this is both a theological theme, and a spiritual tenet; both a process of divine economy and a process by which this economy operates within a believer (cf. Russell 2009, p. 21). To St Gregory Palamas deification is also a supernatural gift transforming body and mind, and rendering visible the divine (Triads 3, 1, 33). Any degree of likeness is gained by the radiant presence of God within man, as „mutual interiority” (D. Stăniloae). In the persons of the saints, this communion is expressed in the fact that God’ s glory is „reflected” by their faces, anticipating the life to come (P. Nellas).

According to an aesthetics of apophaticism (= „deification-Christification”), the body partakes of the uncreated light. Consequently, the ability to reach God through the senses suggests a rehabilitation of the human person as a whole, operating not only at intellectual level but also in the actual body, which „perceives” rather that „intuits” the identity of God (H. Hunt 2012, p. 152). Participation (partaking) means, according to the Greek-Byzantine theological tradition, that God is actively at work in His creation. This is how we must understand the statement of St Gregory Palamas, who deems that such „transcendent activity (energeia) is adapted to the created alterity” (T. Tollefsen, 2012). We mention that the Macarian homilist, who theorized on the mystagogic experience by which one «becomes all eye, face, light» (Homilies 1, 2), is the first to relate the «shining face» to the divine uncreated light, the same as the light in the life to come, where everything will be deified and pneumatized, as God is all in all. Thus the authority (ἐξουσία) of the Desert Fathers is derived from the presence within them (ἐνουσία) of the light of Christ, the seal of the Spirit, exaggerating the similarity between the „holy man” of Late Anquity and the desert ascetics. Another pseudomorphosis, introduced along the lines of thought of M. Foucault and P. Brown, lies in the search for the „actual self” (Hannah Hunt et al.) in the non-Christological, non-mystagogical, pagan-paideic asceticism.

Hence the original character of our research into the Desert Fathers Christology as expressed in the concept of «shining face», explaining why the ascetics’ bodies radiate light, as proven by our investigations carried out over three years, and aiming to integrate the hesychast Byzantine spirituality into the ascetical-mystical, contemplative tradition of the Desert Fathers. Those who oppose this Christological intuition of the „missing piece” in the Desert Fathers’ theology invoke the anachronism in interpreting the Desert Spirituality in light of Gregory Palamas’ hesychast theology. However, throughout the Holy Tradition, the Holy Fathers mutually interpret and support each others in their lines of argument, according to the hermeneutic principle of „mens patrum” (see St Maximus the Confessor’s Ambigua). The present paper dwells on the interpretation given by St Gregory Palamas to the mystical experiences undergone by Anthony, Pambo, Silvanus and Sisoes according to the logic provided by the doctrine of uncreated light and the distinction between „nature-energies”. Orthodox scholars should not confine their theological discourse to the context of the 4th-5th centuries, ignoring the subsequent terminological clarifications introduced by the Councils. The risk they run (by undertaking a historico-critical text exegesis) lies in adopting the non-patristic, pseudomorphotic language of the new heterodox western exegeses.

The first to explicitly relate the Transfiguration to deification is St Andrew of Crete. According to him, transfiguration is the revelation of Christ’s deified humanity. During the hesychast controversy, St Gregory Palamas defended the reality of the encounter with God, experienced by those monks who had reported a sight of the divine light as the result of intense praying. Light is nothing but God’s uncreated radiance, that is, divine energy perceptible by senses. Participation is characteristic to the theological thought of Greek-Byzantine tradition, indicating the fact that God is actively present and working in His creation. In light of our assertions, the interpretation of Old Testament theophanies as revelations of the pre-incarnate Logos, theophanies whose effect is the luminous transformation of the one contemplating them, who regains the lost adamic splendor of the face (tzelem), cannot be rejected or denied. However, it is a completely different thing to apply in a reductionist, unilateral manner this interpretation to the New Testament post-resurrectional theophanies of the Christian era. Although there is continuity between these two forms of theo(christo)phanies, both their contents and forms are much richer for the children of the New Testament, after the Resurrection and Ascension of Christ. The relationship between Old and New Testament realities can be expressed as follows:

The Old Testament theophanies of the pre-incarnate Logos The Christophanies after the Resurrection and Christ’s ascension to Heaven in the body
ΕΞΟΘΕΝ (illumination from without) ΕΝΤΟΘΕΝ (illumination from within)
1.a. The luminous form (μορφή ) of the pre-incarnate Logos 1.b. The pneumatized body (σάρξ) of Christ, the Son of God, incarnate, dead, resurrected and ascended to Heaven in His body
2.a. the lost Adamic glory, or splendor (כָּבוֹד – kabod) of the face (צֶלֶם – tzelem) 2.b. The grace (χάρις) of the Holy Spirit, which brings about deification (θέωσις)

 Pr. Pavel ROTARU Experiența comuniunii cu Dumnezeu în Rm 8, 1-17 (II)

Summary: The Experience of Communion with God in Rom 8, 1-17

St Paul’s masterpiece – The Epistle to the Romans – is undoubtedly one of the most significant books of the entire Holy Scripture and Rom 8, 1-17 is situated at its very core. The present study, entitled The Experience of Communion with God in Romans 8, 1-17, is primarily a work of biblical exegesis and theology. Its purpose is to analyze the biblical text indicated in the title, in order to identify and expound St Paul’s theological vision on man’s spiritual experience of communion with God the Father, through Christ, in the Holy Spirit. The necessity of such work is obvious when one takes into consideration a clear disregard for Pauline biblical studies in the modern Orthodox academic theology. For example, the latest commentary on Romans written by a Romanian Orthodox theologian is Epistola către Romani by V. Gheorghiu, the second edition being published in 1938. New studies or commentaries that should tap into the great progress in international biblical studies of the last century are needed. A further point that should be made is that the „Babylonian captivity” of the Orthodox „school theology” of the 19th and 20th centuries has had two negative effects: biblical studies remained fixated on less important aspects as „author”, „paternity”, „authenticity” and the Bible was reduced to a sort of bank of arguments for the different theses of the systematic theology. The coherence of the biblical theological message – in its own right – and the specific terminology of the Bible were thus many times neglected. In such a context, a clear and urgent task of the modern Romanian biblical studies is to recover the theological themes and language specific to the various authors of the Bible.

At the same time, this study is not just a strictly conventional exegetical work as one would usually find in the field of modern international biblical studies. Unlike the general approach of modern biblical criticism, the current text constantly relates St Paul’s theology and spirituality to the Eastern Orthodox ecclesiastic theology and spirituality. The Pauline text is evaluated not only in the light of other anterior or contemporary texts (from inside or outside the Bible), but also in the light of posterior texts (patristic, philocalic, liturgical and even modern theological) from inside Eastern theology. The reason for such methodological approach is the conviction – or hermeneutical presupposition, for that matter – regarding the fundamental continuity of spiritual experience present in Christ’s Church from the apostolic times to modern Orthodoxy. Far from misinterpreting or distorting the Gospel of love preached by Jesus of Nazareth or the charismatic and eschatological collective enthusiasm of the primitive Christian community, the liturgical, mystical and doctrinal Christian Tradition is the one that made possible the same living personal relationship between man and God offered to the Apostles in the day of Pentecost. The deepest possible cohesion is to be found in the Holy Scripture, in the Liturgy of the Church and in the Philokalia of the Fathers. As a consequence of that, the approach of our biblical studies should manifest a unified theological perspective able to surpass the limitations (including the doctrinal ones [J. Dunn]) of modern biblical criticism.

The first chapter of the text considers Rom 8, 1-17’s belonging to the Epistle to the Romans. Rom 8, 1-17 is not an independent text, disconnected from the rest of the Epistle. St Paul wrote the Epistle in a particular historical context and he had a precise purpose. In between two major phases of his apostolic activity (cf. Rom 15, 19-24), St Paul has to convey the financial aid of the various churches to Jerusalem, in order to help the „poor among the saints” (cf. Rom 15, 25-26) and, equally importantly, to consolidate the unity of the Church. It is imperative that, in this Epistle, addressed to a most significant community, St Paul explains as deeply as possible the Gospel that he preaches. He has to protect the Gospel from biased and invalid accusations regarding its relationship with the Mosaic Law (cf. Rom 3, 31). Taking into account the fact that both in Jerusalem (cf. Acts 21, 20) and in Rome (where the first missionaries had been, most probably Jewish Christians from Jerusalem) the Mosaic Law was held in high regard, St Paul feels the need to stress that the Gospel does not overthrow the Law, but, on the contrary, upholds the Law (cf. Rom 3, 31). In fact, only in Christ the Law finds its fulfillment (cf. Rom 8, 1 and 4), and the only experience that truly unifies the Jewish and the Gentile Christians (both present in Rome) is their being in Christ (cf. Rom 8, 1).

If the first chapter is more historically oriented, the second chapter is primarily theological. If christocentric soteriology (J. Fitzmyer) represents the best point of access to the universe of Pauline thinking, man’s experience of communion with the Holy Trinity (i.e., man’s being adopted by God the Father, through Christ, in the Holy Spirit) is – in the opinion of the author of this study – the essence of St Paul’s theology (cf. Rom 8, 14-17). Special attention is given to Pauline pneumatology, as the presence and work of the Holy Spirit in the new life of the Christian is especially stressed by St Paul in Rom 8, 1-17. On the basis of these clarifications, the issue of the structure of The Epistle to the Romans is then addressed. After stating, in the first three chapters of the Epistle, the anthropological premise of the fallen humanity, St Paul declares, starting at Rom 3, 21, the salvific Christ event. The climax of the theological section of the Epistle is the eighth chapter, in which St Paul describes, in lofty terms, the new life in the Spirit – the spiritual condition of the believers, the state that anticipates the eschaton. The next three chapters discuss – given the historical context of the Epistle – the situation of the people of Israel in the economy of salvation, while the last chapters are hortatory and practical. An important excursus at the end of the second chapter of the text situates the Pauline theology in a mystical perspective. There is a deep continuity between St Paul theological view and the Mystical theology of the Fathers. We should not shy away from calling St Paul a great mystic. Another issue that is discussed is the identity of the „I” in the seventh chapter of the Epistle; the conclusion is that the „I” represents the man subjected to the Mosaic Law but without Christ. The third chapter focuses on the first segment of Rom 8, 1-17, more precisely on Rom 8, 1-4. St Paul has a clear view of salvation history, whose turning point is Golgotha and the empty tomb. There is, thus, a fundamental postulate in Pauline theology – that of the Christ event, the death and resurrection of the Savior with its spiritual influence in the life of the believers. For St Paul, the new – present and future – spiritual condition of the man in Christ is based on the past happening of the death and resurrection of the Savior (event that is also central in the Liturgy of the Church). The hint about the expiation of the sins of humanity in Rom 8, 3 is important. Christ’s sacrifice is the fact that „now” opens up the perspective of a new and eternal life, as the believers are freed by the Spirit from the slavery of sin and death (cf. Rom 8, 2). An inaugurated eschatology is to be found in Pauline theology, firmly confirmed by the Liturgy and spirituality of the Eastern Orthodox Church. The relationship between the Mosaic Law and the Christ event is also discussed in detail: the deep intention of the Law is fulfilled in the new situation of the believers under the influence of the Spirit. Fundamentally, third chapter approaches the entire topic of man’s salvation in terms of a personal inter-relationship between God and man, on the basis of Fr. Dumitru Stăniloae’s interpretation of the sacrifice of Christ.

The fourth chapter discusses Rom 8, 5-13. This fragment of the Epistle is, obviously, very rich from a pneumatological point of view. The entire new life of the believers is penetrated and sustained by the Holy Spirit. It is, however, necessary that the believers continue to «set their minds on the things of the Spirit» (Rom 8, 5). Far from becoming an impossibility, sin and death cannot be avoided unless the spiritual mindset is retained through spiritual struggle. St. Paul’s spirituality displays a nuanced dialectics between the indicative and the imperative of the new life (cf. Rom 8, 9 and 8, 12-13). According to St Paul (and according to the Spiritual Fathers of the Church as well), the key to victory in the spiritual struggle is man’s partaking of the Spirit: only «by the Spirit» one can «put to death the deeds of the body» and «live» (cf Rom 8, 13). The best commentary on the Pauline texts about the life in the Spirit may be the lives of two of the greatest saints of the Church, St Seraphim of Sarov and St Silouan the Athonite. It is perfectly natural and legitimate to read Rom 8, 5-13 in the light of these two ascetic „lives” and in the light of the pneumatological dimension of the Liturgy of the Church. Unlike the rigid and scholastic discourse of the „school theology”, the Pauline discourse is flexible and dynamic; in Rom 8, 10-11, St Paul introduces without any discontinuity the theme of the resurrection of the body – through the Holy Spirit. Although it is intensely pneumatological, the Pauline discourse does not deny Christ’s centrality in the lives of the believers. The Spirit makes possible Christ’s interiority in the believer. Again, the mystical, philocalical or neptic tradition of the Church seems to be the best guide in understanding what St Paul means by the formula «Christ in you» (Rom 8, 10). Another point of the fourth chapter that should be called attention to is the doctrinal usefulness of the texts of the Church Fathers. While a lot of doctrinal confusion is to be found in otherwise advanced and practical modern academic commentaries, St John Chrysostom and Hesychios of Sinai carefully distinguish between Christ and the Spirit. The present study argues that such distinctions are perfectly in line with St Paul’s theological and spiritual perspective.

The fifth and final chapter aims to identify the theological and spiritual implications of Rom 8, 14-17. This text focuses on the experience of adoption of the believers by God the Father. This experience is Pneumatological because the Holy Spirit effects it (cf. Rom 8, 14-16), and it is Christological because the believers are brought into the state of children (or sons) of the Father, receiving – together with the Son – the love of the Father (cf. Rom 8, 17). A central element in Pauline discourse is, in Rom 8, 15, the cry «Abba!». When excellent scholarship is applied (J. Jeremias or J.P. Meier), it becomes obvious just how important this word is for New Testament theology. The entire misleading presupposition – found all too often in modern biblical criticism – of a cleavage between the historical Jesus and the Apostolic Church is ruined if the meaning of this word and of its utilization by Jesus and the Early Church is perceived. For Jesus, this appellation (cf. Mk 14, 36) expresses his communion with the Father; into this communion he introduces his disciples by authorizing them to use this word (cf. Lk 11, 2). For St Paul, the adoption of the believers is based on the relationship between the Father and the Son (cf. Rom 8, 29-30). Every man is created in God’s image, but only in Christ and the Holy Spirit man becomes an adopted child of God. Extremely useful is – in this respect – the testimony of the Anonymous Hesychast: the believer has a real access to God the Father in the mystical tradition of the Church.

It is the opinion of the author of the current text that a better understanding of the Pauline theology of adoption depends on a mature employment of the iconomical Triadology of Fr. Dumitru Stăniloae. It is to be acknowledged, of course, that Fr. Stăniloae’s perspective represents an advanced level of complex theological development. A highly consistent continuity between St Paul the Apostle and Fr. Stăniloae regarding man’s access to God the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit should, however, be noted. The core of Fr. Stăniloae’s theology is the extension of the loving relationships between the divine Persons to humans. Man’s union with God, or man’s communion with God consists in man’s participation through the Holy Spirit in the communion of the Holy Trinity as an adopted child of the Heavenly Father and as a brother of Christ (cf. Rom 8, 29). Finally, the last chapter also discusses the issue of the believers’ participation in the suffering and the glorification of Christ (cf. Rom 8, 17). The experience of the divine glory is one of the most fascinating themes of biblical theology and the one in which the continuity between biblical theology and patristic theology (with its focus on deification and vision of God) is most obvious. In fact, the entire study confirms the place of the Bible (of which The Epistle to the Romans is highly representative) in the Church. The Bible is a book of the Church and expresses the spiritual experience of the Church. The entire tries to argue for a fundamental continuity of experience from St Paul the Apostle, through the Fathers of the Church to modern day Orthodoxy. What the theology of the Church does over the centuries is to express in words, sometimes identical and sometimes different, one and the same experience of man’s communion with the Holy Trinity.

Protos. Hrisostom CIUCIU Problematica termenului Αρπαγμος (Flp 2, 6) în cercetările biblice actuale și traducerile lui în limba română

Summary: The issue of ἁρπαγμός (Philippians 2, 6) in today’s Biblical Studies. Its translations into Romanian

The present study is centered on a highly debated issue of Biblical Studies today, namely the term ἁρπαγμός (robbery, KVJ; an object of rapine; a thing to be grasped; something to be used to his own adantage; seizing – according to various other Bible translations into English). It is part of an equally debated excerpt: Phil 2, 5-11, known as the Christological hymn, or Carmen Christi. In itself, this piece of text continues to raise countless questions of exegetic interest, mainly due to its complexity; however, the difficulties lie not only in the realm of exegesis or theology, but also that of philology, stylistics or semantics. Obviously the most difficult term within this excerpt is ἁρπαγμός (rapine). The study includes both an exegetic and a grammatical investigation, also providing an oultine of the research conducted so far; the critical approach is added an Orthodox commentary, which is an original one in the field of Romanian Biblical Studies. The final part of this work dwells on the Romanian (divergent) translations of the term ἁρπαγμός, suggesting alternative versions. The author examines the meaning of the term ἁρπαγμός, starting from some major studies published in the West. The most important exegetic study is „Ἀρπαγμός, and the meaning of Philippians 2, 5-11” by N.T. Wright, which provides a detailed overview of the investigations into the meaning of ἁρπαγμός, as well as a systematic presentation of their results. For a philological analysis, the author taps into two equally important sources: „Further Reflexions on Philippians 2:5-11”, by C.F.D. Moule, and „The Harpagmos Enigma: A Philological Solution”, by R.W. Hoover. Alongside the collection of essays „Where Christology Began” (R.P. Martin and B.J. Dodd, eds), these allow a clear, succint view on Western academic debates on Phil 2, 5-11.

The analysis of ἁρπαγμός is not confined to a discussion on its translation as „rapine”, as currently no other opinion is put forth, although in its final part the paper argues against its translation as „lessening”, a translation provided by the Synodal Bible (1994), but mainly dwells on the connotations of this translation, more exactly its possible meaning (or meanings). The connotations are involved by the Latin translation (rapina), lending itself to multiple interpretations and adopted by academic biblical terminology as the most illustrative version. The semantic range covered by this term includes two categories, determined by the active and the passive voices, respectively. While the first category (the active voice) contains only raptus, the second category (the passive meaning) encompasses the others, that is res rapta (something seized by force, obtained by force, and already in the possession of the respective person), res rapienda (something to seize, that might be seized, but is not yet in the possession of the respective person), and res retinenda (something to cling to, or something providing advantages, and already in possession of the respective person). Following a detailed analysis, the study reaches the conclusion that the most accurate translation of this term is the Orthodox one, based on St John Chrysostom’s interpretation which merges two meanings: res rapta and res retinenda. He states that Christ did not deem His identity with God to be obtained as an act of „seizing” (res rapta), because He possessed His divinity from eternity, and when he undertook His kenosis, this was an act of free will, without clinging to His status (res retinenda), as any usurper would have done.

The grammatical analysis of this term is another important part of the present study; the difficulty lies in the differences between the grammar rules in Romanian and Greek, respectively, as well as the semantic and stylistic aspects which play a very important role in this case. Starting from the original Greek text, the author notes that the major point is the emphasis laid on the term „(an object of) rapine / seizing” (ἁρπαγμός), or the phrase „being in the form of God” (KJV) / „being in very nature God / exactly like God” (according to the various Bible translations) (τὸ εἶναι ἴσα θεῷ). This analysis leads to a simpler, more balanced approach, based on the argument put forth by Father D. Stăniloae, who asserts that one should abandon any grammatical subtleties, which can only complicate things, and confine oneself to the plainness of the original text, always bearing in mind the author’s intention as the context reveals it. Father D. Stăniloae says: „Let us state emphatically «rapine», as the Apostle puts it, and retrieve the function of the noun phrase «being in the form of God (KJV) / being in very nature God», as the original text has it. Let us thus say: «did not deem his divinity as an object of rapine» and the actual meaning will become clear. The Son did not interpret His divinity as an act of seizing, of robbery, of constraint. Divinity lies elsewhere, namely in love”. This interpretation solves the problem of possible ommissions in the phrasing – a hypothesis put forth by many commentators – and is in agreement with the general meaning of the entire fragment.

The final part addresses the translation of ἁρπαγμός as it appears in the Modern Synodal Bible (Biblia Sinodală Modernă), because it puts forth the most questionable Romanian Orthodox translation of the term. Since this is the text currently read in the Romanian Orthodox Church, one may consider that this translation is credited as the most correct version. This edition translates ἁρπαγμός as „lessening”. This translation choice was supported in an article written by Rev. I. Mircea in 1982 (Studii Teologice, 34, 3-4, pp. 159-167), where he attempted to explain why the 1979 edition had altered the translation of ἁρπαγμός from „rapine / seizing” to „lessening”, although he admitted the latter did „not seem to be the most appropriate” term. The paper examines the arguments and proves them to be erroneous; it ends by proposing the return to the correct translation of ἁρπαγμός as „rapine”, paying attention to the connotations it implies. Also, the paper discusses further versions of this term in various other Romanian translations, and brings arguments in favor of the correct choice. An original aspect of this work lies in its overview of contemporary Biblical Studies, as well as the Holy Fathers’ exegetic approaches, attempting to merge the methodologies of both.

Andrei DRĂGULINESCU Vederea dumnezeiască din capitolul al VI-lea al cărții lui Isaia

Summary: The Divine Vision in Isaiah 6

Based on the original text (Masoretic and Septuagint, respectively), as well as a number of translations in several modern languages, the main differences are highlighted between the various translations and the wording and semotaxis of Isa 6 are examined. Concerning Isa 6, 1, all translations (from Hebrew) are very similar. A major difference appears, though, in the translations from the Septuagint. Since the Greek translation uses the term δόξα (glory), whereas the Masorets have וְשׁוּלָיו (his robe), onefinds, both in the Bible of 1688 and in the Bible of 1914, instead of «the train of his robe filled the temple» (and the texts with equivalent meaning in the other translations that we analyzed), the versions: «full is the house of His greatness» (the Bible of 1688) and «full is the house of His glory» (the Bible of 1914), respectively; a difference can also be noted between these two editions of the Bible: the first (1688) prefers the version «greatness», whereas the second one chooses «glory». An explanation proposed by the researchers for the option of the translator of Septuagint to use the word δόξα is „to correct what he considered to be a flagrant anthropomorphism”; therefore, in the opinion of these authors, it is very unlikely that the translator of Isaiah had in front of him a different original text; moreover, it seems that he had a special appreciation for the word δόξα. Another significant difference is that between the final part of the verse in Septuagint (LXX) and in the Masoretic Text (MT) (LXX: «the house [was] full of His glory»; MT: «the train of his robe filled the temple»). MT depicts God as an oriental sovereign in majestic robes, surrounded by his court, whereas LXX preferred to replace this concrete image with a revelation of the more profound meanings, of theological significance.

In verse Isa 6, 2, the Hebrew text and the analyzed translations, that follow closely the Masoretic Text (ממעל לו), present the seraphim as being higher than the throne of God, sitting «above Him». On the other hand, the two Romanian translations from the Septuagint under discussion adopt the version: «around Him», faithful to the Greek text (κύκλῳ αὐτοῦ). The fact that, in the Septuagint translation, the seraphim sit around God and not above Him, as in the Hebrew Text, is – in the opinion of some researchers – an option that the translator made deliberately, because he did not consider appropriate for the seraphim to be depicted as sitting higher than the Lord God. Two remarks can be made concerning the verse Isa 6, 6. The first is that the beginning of the verse is, in all versions: «Then one of the seraphim…» (or, even more simple, in the Bible of 1688 and in the Bible of 1914: «And…»), with the exception of the translation LSG (L. Segond): «Mais…» («But…»). Very interesting is the fact that the GALA version is the only one that follows the LSG translation: «But a seraph came…», which makes us state that, most likely, V. Radu and G. Galaction had in front of them this French translation and were influenced by it in many places. The second remark refers to the difference between the translations from MT and from LXX. In the former ones, the seraph comes flying to Isaiah; in the latter, the seraph is sent to the prophet. Thus, emphasis is laid in the first case on the image that one can easily visualize with one mind’s eye, of the flying seraph approaching Isaiah with the coal, whereas the translations from LXX insist on the fact that the seraph was sent by God, obeying to His will when he cleanses the lips of the prophet.

Verses 9-10 contain one of the most obvious differences between LXX and MT in this chapter (together with the one in v. 1: «His glory» / «His robe»). This difference is maintained and easily observable in all the analysed translations. Thus, in MT the verbs in this verse are imperative: God commands to the prophet to harden the hearts of the people. LXX translators chose to avoid an erroneous interpretation of this section and opted for transferring the verbs to indicative, obtaining thus: «because the hearts of this people has become dull…» When these verses were cited in the New Testament, LXX translation was used, where the focus falls on the hardening of Israel. Another significant difference is found in v. 12, which is very similar in all translations from MT, but fundamentally different from LXX. this is illustrated by means of a comparison between GALA translation (from MT) and the Bible of 1914 translation (from LXX). GALA: «Since God shall cast out the people and great shall be the desolation in the midst of this land». Bible of 1914: «And after that God shall make people lives long and those remaining on the earth shall multiply». As one can easily remark, in the former case it is a message that refers to a great destruction, whereas in the latter it is a message of hope, totally opposite to the one in MT. In LXX version: «καὶ μετὰ ταῦτα μακρυνεῖ ὁ θεὸς τοὺς ἀνθρώπους καὶ οἱ καταλειφθέντες πληθυνθήσονται ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς». This is therefore the third major difference between the two versions (MT vs. LXX) noted in Isa 6.

The last verse (Isa 6, 13) is also the most difficult and obscure verse of the chapter. As a consequence, many translators have striven to offer a free translation instead of a literal one, with the purpose of clarifying the meaning. Also, a lot of researchers have endeavoured to discover the original meaning of the Hebrew text, proposing various translations of this verse and to this day there has been no consensus regarding the correct translation or, at least, the closest to the original. We resorted again to a comparison between GALA and Bible of 1914 translations, which show in a most clear way the difference between a free translation which attempts to clarify the significance of the obscure section (GALA) and a literal one which tries to come as closer as possible to the original text (Bible of 1914). GALA: «And if a tenth shall remain, even that shall be put to fire, but such as the terebinth and the oak, whose stumps, when the tree is cut down, remain in the earth. From the remaining stump a holy seed shall rise». Bible of 1914: «And still there is a tenth in it and again shall be plundered, as the terebinth and as the acorn when falling from its shell, holy seed its state». The form of the verse in the translations from MT, starting with a conditional sentence («And if…») suggests the fact that it is an extension of what had just been said previously. Therefore, the meaning would be that, after the destruction and the complete depopulation of the land, described in verses 11-12, the remnant («a tenth») that shall survive will also be further exposed to destruction, like the terebinth and the oak. A final important aspect concerning this verse lies in the fact that the last three words from MT were omitted in LXX translation, most likely as a cause of scribes’ error, but appear in other Greek versions (Symmachus, Theodotion, Aquila). Even the Romanian translations from Septuagint contain this addition, because of the fact that the Bible of 1688 had as a source for the translation the Frankfurt Bible (1597), which contains a version of Septuagint that also includes some foreign insertions, some taken from the other Greek versions aforementioned.

The question is whether Isaiah begins his prophecies with the vision of chapter 6 from the year when King Uzziah died, or this moment is just a turning point in the evolution of a prophetic mission that had started much earlier. A supporter of the latter theory is J. Milgrom, who based his argument mainly on the issue of repentance, analysed comparatively at the prophets Amos and Isaiah. J. Milgrom asserts that Isaiah calls to repentance only two times throughout his book, in the first two chapters (therefore much earlier than the facts mentioned in chapter 6): in Isa 1, 16-20 and in Isa 2, 5. After that, Israel shall be cleansed by means of the death of the iniquitous, and the remnant that shall survive will go through a cleansing repentance that will make them worthy to inhabit the New Zion. The conclusion of the cited author is that this evolution of the concept of repentance implies that the sequence contained in Isaiah between Isa 1, 10 and 6, 13 is chronological. This would mean that, since chapter 6 opens up with the year when King Uzziah died, then the prophecies from the previous chapters were made earlier, therefore during the time of the reign of this king. Since the calling of the people to repentance is contained in the first chapters and nowhere else, this would imply that the sequence Isa 1, 10 – 2, 21 would be – in the opinion of J. Milgrom – the real beginning of the book, and chapter 6 could not contain the inaugural vision of Isaiah, but it would be in fact the climax of the initial period of his prophetic mission, the moment in which the prophet sees his hopes of the return to God of his people irredeemably crumbled to dust and the menacing end becomes something irrevocable not only for the iniquitous leaders, but also for the entire people.

As K. Berkey stressed in her commentary, the most striking characteristic of this chapter consists in the fact that the prophet Isaiah, first of all, has the experience of seeing God. Isa 6 is almost unique from this reason in the canon of the Hebrew Bible. The only exception, very significant as a matter of fact, is the one represented by the prophet Ezekiel, who in the course of an entire chapter (Ezek 1) describes the appearance of God and of the heavenly beings that accompanied Him. What the prophet Isaiah saw (like Ezekiel) is not, obviously, the essence of God, which is inaccessible (Ex 33, 20: «there shall no man see Me, and live»), but His glory (kābôd – כָּבוֹד).

In order to provide an answer to the question regarding the way in which the seraphim were understood in the Old Testament (OT), as compared to the one in which they are understood today, K.R. Joines starts from the two verses in Isa 6 in which the seraphim are described as having six wings, with which they cover their faces and feet and fly. The author remarks that this is the only place in the OT where the word „seraph” (plural: śerāphīm – שְׂרָפִים) appears. In the Hebrew text of the OT, the same word (but singular: śārāph – שָׂרָף) occurs seven times and each time it designates a type of serpent; only in Isaiah it appears in the plural form and refers to a being close to Yahweh. Mentioning all these occurrences of the term in the OT, K.R. Joines concludes that a „saraph” is – in the OT sense – a snake, and in Isaiah it can also have wings (like the seraphim in Isa 6). Emphasizing that the time passed between the first and the last mention of the word „saraph” in the OT does not exceed one hundred years, the author considers very unlikely for this word to have changed its meaning for Isaiah in such a short time span. Worth mentioning is the remark of Al. Mihăilă, referring to the aforementioned places in which the word „snake” appears. Every time, LXX translates this word by the usual term „ὄφις (snake)”, with one exception, Isa 6 (in all occurrences in this chapter), where LXX translates merely by directly transliterating the Hebrew word, „seraphin – σεραφιν”. Thus one can see clearly the intention of the LXX translator to draw a marked separation line between the heavenly beings (seraphim) in Yahweh’s suite and the other cases that refer to snakes.

As concerns the significance of the coal approached by the seraphim to the lips of the prophet, it is certain that Jews did not know coal in its sense of today (that of a sedimentary rock formed by the incoalation of vegetal residues), therefore what they designated by this word is actually charcoal (wood coal obtained by wood smouldering). It is well known that, in the Byzantine Liturgies, the priest utters these words: «Behold, this hath touched my lips, and taketh away mine iniquities, and purgeth away my sins». These words of the priest are an echo of those uttered by the seraph that cleansed the lips of the prophet. St John Damascene ascribes to the coal taken by the seraph an Eucharistic symbolism. In the hymnography of the Church, the coal is a symbol of Christ Himself, whereas the tongs with which it was taken by the seraph from the altar symbolize Virgin Mary. St Basil the Great, commenting these verses, showed that the coal is Christ and the tongs represent the measure to which everyone of us can receive into us Christ – the live coal.

If we make a comparison between the Hebrew Bible and other religious texts from Antiquity, we could find several similarities or even overlapping between the concept of a Divine Council in Israel and that of the surrounding populations. The Divine Council, in the Ugarit writings, was composed, as it seems, of four ranks. On the highest were El and his wife Athirat (or Asherah). The second one was the place of their royal family («the sons of El» – «the princes»). One of the members of this second rank had the position of a viceroy of El and – although being under El’s authority – he received the title of «the most high». The third rank was reserved to some other deities, whereas the lowest one included the messengers, who were ministering spirits. In the scenes representing the Divine Council in Ugarit, the inferior deities have in their attribution some spheres of authority and are sometimes depicted as fighting against El. It is however difficult to establish an analogy between this structure and the one of the Divine Council in the mentality of the biblical Israelites. In spite of the fact that, among the average people – influenced by the idolatrous populations with which they came into contact – there is a likelihood for Yahweh to have been viewed as having Asherah as a wife, in no circumstances it cannot be asserted that the same mindset also belonged to the prophets or to the other biblical writers. The correspondent of the viceroy from the Ugarit writings represents the most significant difference between the Divine Council in Israel and in all the other nations. Thus, in Israel this position of authority was possessed not by another god, but by Yahweh Himself, but in another form. This „hypostasis” of Yahweh is of the same Essence with Him, but is a second Person, a distinct one – appearing in the Hebrew Bible under the name of the Angel of Yahweh. Although Yahweh is one of the Elohim, He is however unique among them. «The sons of God» from «the council of the holy ones» meet «in the skies», therefore the other Elohim obviously could not be human beings (as one can clearly ascertain from the Ps 81 and 88), but heavenly beings.

In MT, the messenger of God – the prophet Isaiah – plays an active role in hardening the hearts of the people and in their blinding, so that, after the decision of destruction and devastation is made, Israel will not repent. The exegete J. Krašovec showed that such statements cannot be construed literally, since otherwise they would contradict the kindness and justice of God and would open the way for adopting the doctrine of predestination. G.V. Smith considered, in his commentary to Isa 1 – 39, that the analysed section focuses on the idea that, for God, nothing can be further from His mind than the wish for His people not to repent and heal; on the contrary, He wants to convey the message that now the time of repentance has passed and the time of judgement has arrived. Thus, innumerable times the Judean people rejected the call to repentance that God addressed them, letting the punishment to justly descend upon them. G. Wong showed that, by means of the words «Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes» (Isa 6, 9, in KJV translation), God does not tell Isaiah that this would be the purpose of his preaching, but instead the ascertained result, in the sense that the people, although hearing the call to repent, shall refuse to respond to it in the affirmative. As a matter of fact – remarked the same interpreter – how can one conciliate an exegesis, according to which God would want to harden the heart of the people in order for them not to repent, with all the other verses in Isaiah in which God is shown as desiring the repentance of the people (Isa 1, 19-20; 2, 22; 9, 13; 22, 12-13; 30, 15; 55, 6-7)? R. Chisholm considered, along the same line as many other exegetes of the excerpt, that here it is practically an obvious irony. The imperatives are used in a rhetorical manner, as an anticipation of the response that Isaiah shall receive from the people when he announces them the message received from God.

6.13 is the one that has raised the most translation problems and exegesis difficulties out of all verses of Isa 6. Notwithstanding this fact, the Holy Fathers did not interpret this verse (with a single exception, to our knowledge, namely the commentary of Eusebius of Caesarea), which renders the work of the biblical exegete even more difficult. The proposals of new translations for this verse were prompted by the discovery, in 1947, of the first seven from the Dead Sea Scrolls, now famous. One of these manuscripts, known by the indicative 1Qlsa, contains the entire book of Isaiah in Hebrew, being also the oldest extant manuscript of the book of the OT prophet. What is remarkable from the point of view of the problem that we approach here is that in Isa 6, 13, as opposed to the MT, where the version bm appears, in 1Qlsa we find bmh (thence the emendation in Bāmāh – high place). A first exegete who tried a reconstruction of the Hebrew text with the aid of 1Qlsa, where we have the version mšlkt and bmh, instead of the two hapex legomenon from MT bšlkt and bm, was W.H. Brownlee, four years after the discovery of the manuscript of the book of Isaiah, therefore in 1951. The version that this exegete proposes is to associate bmh with msbt (the latter translated by the researcher to «the sacred column of a high place»), whereas the phrase «as the terebinth» was shifted in his translation after mšlkt, for poetic parallelism reasons. A second exegete who proposed a new translation to the analyzed verse was F. Hvidberg, who considered that those masseboth from the sacred places and their holy seed were the spirits of the foreign gods, who will be destroyed together. A third interpreter, S. Iwry, proposes another translation of this verse, thus: «Like a terebinth, or an oak, or an Asherah, when flung down from the sacred column of a high place». A fourth commentator, W.F. Albright, proposed in 1957 another version, in which by two emendation he put again the text in a poetical form: «Like the terebinth goddess and the oak of Asherah, / Cast out with the stelae of the high place».

As one can observe, there is no consensus among the researchers, each one proposing his own version, fairly different than those of the others. Moreover, a fifth exegete whose opinions are analysed in this context, also an author of a very detailed study concerning the problem of the translation of Isa 6, 13, U. Worschech, distanced himself from the opinion of the aforementioned researchers – in fact, the only one that they have in common – which states that the verse refers to a high place, in which people performed sacred rituals in honour of some pagan deities. U. Worschech’s conclusion is that everything points to the reference to a species of a tree, so that – he considers – it would be a proof of inconsistence to translate, in the given context, msbt with „pillar”, „monument” or „menhir”, about which absolutely no mention is made, neither in v. 13, nor anywhere else in Isa 6. U. Worschech concluded: „The broader connotation of msbt meaning «stem» or «stump» is therefore indicated by the context on the basis of the earlier references to trees”. In these conditions, the translation proposed by the German exegete is the following: «And though there is in it a tenth, / in turn it shall be devoured; / like the terebinth and the oak, / of which at felling there remains a stump, / a holy seed comes from its stump».

The books of NT contain multitudes of references to the book of the prophet Isaiah, in general, and to the sixth chapter, specifically. Thus, even direct citations appear, in which the Holy Apostle Paul and even Christ Himself cite from Isa 6, explicitly mentioning that the respective fragment belongs to the book of this prophet. There are also several themes and ideas specific to the book of Isaiah (including the analysed chapter) that appear, sometimes, in forms of a striking resemblance, which proves undoubtedly the thorough knowledge of the book of the prophet by the NT authors, so much so that to enable the accomplishment of some paraphrases and rewording of the Isaianic OT material. Moreover, a recent study revealed for the first time much more profound similarities than it was generally believed between Isa 6, 1-8 and the first chapter of the Gospel of Saint Luke. The author of the study, K. Berkey, remarked: „Like the first chapter of Luke, Isaiah 6 is also a prophetic call narrative that takes place in the temple, involves an angelic encounter, and explores the themes of silence and language”. With this, the present paper covers only a small gap in biblical exegesis – particularly the one consisting in the biblical exegesis of chapter 6 of the prophet Isaiah. But the book of the „Evangelist of the Old Testament” comprises numerous other chapters that imperiously require an extended analysis, at least of the extent of the present study. Hopefully in the near future, such studies will appear, not only for the book of the prophet Isaiah, but also for all the books of the OT and the NT, both analyses at an academic level and popularization works, on the one hand in order to raise the biblical study to the stage and extension presented in the prestigious papers abroad and on the other hand to make accessible the commentaries of the Holy Fathers of the Church to the books of the Holy Scripture, prompting the readership to know the Bible as thorough as possible and, above all else, to put its precepts into practice, for the enlightenment of people’s souls and for achieving bliss in the eternal communion with these Holy Fathers and with all Saints, in the Kingdom of God.

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