NR. 4 – 2017

Rezumate Studii Teologice 2017.4

Pr. Constantin PREDA Sfântul Ioan Cassian și lectura duhovnicească a Scripturii (Lectio divina)

Summary: St John Cassian and the spiritual lecture of the Holy Bible (Lectio divina)

The spiritual lecture of the Holy Bible (lectio divina) assisted and enabled by the Holy Ghost, by askesis and prayer was first mentioned by Origen. Then, almost all the other Holy Fathers both of the Western and the Eastern Church practiced this method called lectio divina or θεῖα ἀνάγνωσις. Their practice has been the foundation of the subsequent commentaries on the Holy Scripture, commentaries that were structured as homilies or exhortations addressed to the faithful. Moreover, it was a means of maintaining a continuous relation with God through the Holy Scripture. In the Christian practice, spiritual meditation or contemplation commences by memorizing and repeating the biblical texts. In this particular way, biblical texts become nourishment of the soul, which fathers describe by the metaphor of „chewing”.

This practice of meditation, was taken over from the Desert Fathers of the Egyptian monasticism. It was very common among monastic groups where Psalms were memorized and then freely recited as a means to create a state of prayerfulness. St John Cassian thought that reading and meditation on biblical texts are part of the ascetic effort that every monk must undertake, alongside manual labour and askesis, in order to cleanse the thoughts and make the mind focus on God’s words. Lectio is in fact a preparation for the contemplation of God through a state of constant prayer. The monastic community around St John Cassian knew the Psalms entirely, but felt the need to be pervaded by their spiritual and mystical depth, which could not happen in their memorizing practice. Through meditation, the mystical knowledge of God helps one to have a more profound understanding of the Holy Bible, and can turn a simple reading into genuine prayer. Thus, the distinction between meditation, psalmody and prayer becomes irrelevant. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, there is a distinction between memory (memorization) and intellegentia (the act of understanding), exemplified by the works of the bee and the ant (Prov 6, 6-8).

The image of the spiritual honey and the pair bee / ant have been widely used both in the Western and Eastern Christianity. St John Cassian, borrowing this metaphor of the ant (πρακτική) joining the bee (θεωριτική), expresses the high altitude of spiritual behaviour, in which true monk engage every day with the working of virtues, in order to reach spiritual contemplation of God. Meditation also aims to facilitate the understanding of what has been memorized. Memoria scripturarum is an exercise (πρακτική) or training (ἄσκησις) or in Latin scientia prima. Therefore, through continuous contemplation of the biblical teachings, the monk truly fights against his passions and sinful thoughts. Saint John affirms in this respect: «That is why we must always remember the words: „Guard your heart above all!” (Prov 4, 23 – LXX)», and according to the first commandment of God, we should focus on the mind to fight our passions. Let us not indulge our body and soul in insensitivity, otherwise the snake of our passions will kill with its poisonous bite our enslaved mind. Saint John insists on the twofold aspect of the spiritual life: practice and contemplation.

Firstly, we engage the practical level of cleansing ourselves from passions and sins; only then can we accede to contemplation which is a deep understanding of the divine mysteries. St John Cassian adopted the Evagrian terms πρακτική and θεωριτική and used them in his 14th Dialogue where he described the monks’ relation with the Holy Bible. His conception is influenced by the Alexandrine exegetical school, which regarded the Holy Bible as the source of all theological gnosis. Here we can see that there is a divine order (τάξις) that has to be followed. This order is suggested by the Holy Bible itself. On the first level it has four targets: to destroy, to scatter, to eradicate and to eliminate the evil inside, while the second level of the spiritual life is dedicated to building and edifying the spiritual life. Comprehending the biblical text means grasping its depth, its profoundness through the guidance of the Holy Ghost, beyond any rational knowledge. The 9th Spiritual Conversation shows very accurately how a monk can receive, under special circumstances, the gift of immaculate prayer, contemplating in the uncreated Light of God, the glory of our Saviour Jesus Christ. The progress in virtues is the true way to reach the proper understanding of the Holy Bible, and this is more than academic erudition. St John Cassian explains the term „understanding” as referring to spiritual knowledge (spiritualis intellegentia), by using three Greek terms: ἀλληγορία, τροπολογία, ἀναγωγία. These three terms, to which we add historia, define the four layers of meaning or interpretative levels of the Holy Scripture. Only by giving up pride and egocentrism can one reach the understanding of the Word – the Incarnate Word, Jesus Christ. Only the humble heart can be granted access to a spiritual reading of the Holy Scripture. The first step of lectio divina is to discard any material concern or preoccupation.

The second one is the cleansing of the reader, of the hermeneut, while the third step already grants a full and deep understanding of the Holy Bible and from this moment on the reader can become a temple of the true knowledge of God. In brief, this is the journey from reading to spiritual life of which St John Cassian speaks of, in his Spiritual dialogues. However, we should not forget the fact that the true comprehension of the Holy Bible belongs only to the ones that lead a spiritual life and are advanced in its practice. Those reach new meanings and knowledge about the biblical text through meditation and Jesus prayer. Those are the spiritual men who, unlike the carnal and material men, gain a spiritual, not earthly, understanding of the Scriptures. According to the Fathers of the Desert, lectio divina is a lecture that can occur only by the work of the Holy Ghost in one’s heart. The shift from text exegesis to a spiritual understanding of it, as well as the shift from the literal to the spiritual level of the Holy Scripture, can only occur by the mystical work of the Holy Ghost. We owe to Saint Cassian the description of the path towards embodying and conveying the Word of God, by imitation of early Egyptian monasticism related to the spiritual exegesis of Scriptures. This gift is beyond our rational knowledge of God, hence its decisive role: it can be assimilated only by spiritual hermeneutical approaches – a feature of sanctity.


Pr. Ilie MELNICIUC-PUICĂ Textul biblic înscris în iconografia ortodoxă

Summary: The use of Biblical text in Orthodox iconography

The relationship between iconography and biblical inscription, insistently present in church paintings, implies knowledge of the quoted sources, a model of the saint represented by means of colours and symbols, as well as a „key” interpretation of these defining elements. The Holy Scripture uses verbal imagery and words that involve dynamism. Considered as revelatory unity, the Old and New Testament Scripture is the message of God, explained to the reader, through the moralizing catechesis and the anamnetic visual message. The reader is invited to develop and evaluate certain comparisons in the text-assembling process. In the evaluation process, the intertext that is evoked thus becomes part of a process of dialogic interaction. Any intertext, whether an allusion or a direct quotation, is intended for the reader to recall the precursor text in the reading process. But the use of intertextuality calls for dialogue between the current use of the new text and the precursor text. The biblical text can be quoted with a third purpose: to „reproduce” – in a festive manner – an authoritative fragment; to „illuminate” in a typological sense an event of the past, re-enacted and accomplished at present; and to „learn” heuristically, to clarify for centuries what an author expresses imprecisely to his contemporaries.

In Epistle 2 Corinthians, the Pauline argument is centered around the revealing experience that Moses had on Mount Sinai (Ex 34, 29-35). The apostle Paul provides a special interpretation to the text of Ex 34, 34 in 2 Cor 3, 16 stating that Moses was turning back to the Lord, the veil was removed as a description of what happens when someone „returns” to the Lord who is also the Spirit. Another instance of biblical quotation can be found in Rom 12, 9 when Paul quote Deut 32, 35 (LXX), understanding the object of divine vengeance as those who are outside the people of God, not of the enemies of the Israelites in Moses’ time. In Paul’s interpretation Deut 32 represent a text indicative of the rules of conduct for Christian churches, which he conceives as God’s people. In this sense, Paul’s interpretation continues to be eschatological and Christological since Jesus Christ remains the standard by which Paul identifies God’s people. In the history of the Orthodox Church there have been moments to emphasize the interdependence between biblical text and iconography.

The collection of Hermeneia / Painter’s Manuals or interpretation of the painting attributed to Dionysius of Fourna identifies with sobriety an interpretation of Byzantine art in a general hermeneutics, along with biblical or liturgical disciplines. We can define the Hermeneia of Byzantine painting as a study manual, but also a guide for the Church painters, which finds a middle way between the canonical rigidity and the interpretative freedom of the plastic artist. Important sections of this painting manual refer to the biblical text, concerning the text near the face of the saints. The icon, as a way of preaching the Gospel, is the same as all the other cultural vehicles, none of which is more important than the approach of God’s word, because it works on the most important aspect of man, the visual sensorial stimulus. Pope Gregory said: «What Scripture is to the learned, that is the icon for the ignorant. Through it, even those who are devoid of teaching see what they have to follow: it is the reading of those who do not know the letters». The statements made by St John of Damascus, St Germanos of Constantinople and the author of the writings of an Elder on the Holy Icons, that «the icons sum up the Scriptures» will be elaborated on or commented in the Councils of Hieria (754) and Nicaea (787).

The Hermeneia of Byzantine painting, providing the prescriptions for the typical iconographic painting of the church steeple’s the vault, places the prophets in the third row after the representation of Jesus Christ Pantocrator and the angelic hosts: «And below them, around them paint the prophets. And underneath the prophets, at the base of the tower, write this troparion: „The strengthening of those who hope in You, Lord, strengthens Your Church, which Thou hast earned with Thy blood»”. Among the prophets, Moses was quoted as an example in this research. A religious leader and military commander challenged by Jewish factions but defended by God’s mighty hand, Moses lived more than 1,500 years before Jesus Christ the Saviour. Prophet Moses is celebrated in the Orthodox Church on September 4th. His call takes place in the Sinai desert when he sees the burning bush and hears the voice of the Lord. The first five books of Scripture are ascribed to the Prophet Moses, and excerpts were received by the New Testament, by the Jewish tradition and introduced by the Church of Christ in hymnography and iconography. Their hymnographic presence is provided by the first two chants of Moses, among the nine recorded at the end of the Book of Psalms of David: Ex 15, 1-10 and Deut 32, 1-43. The iconographic representation indicates the title or function of the sacred person portrayed, the person’s name, and in the case of a phylactery page, it contains a defining text, which shows the saint that praises God. The Hermeneia of the Byzantine painting ascribed to Dionysius of Fourna, describes the manner of painting the prophet Moses: «with gray hair and a little beard, saying: „Rejoice, O ye nations, with his people: for he will avenge the blood of his servants»” (Deut 32, 43a – KJV). The text on the half-rolled scroll does not contain the beginning or end quotation marks, it does not contain punctuation, it is written in capital letters, letter next to the letter, as in the writing of a biblical codex. Moses’ name appears in early biblical manuscripts, written in abbreviated form when it is in relationship with God.

In Hermeneia mentions we can infer the biblical source of this text. It is noted that Deut 32 has been used in Christian worship since the 5th century as an appendix to the David’s Psalms, in the section known as Moses’ Songs. The reason for which only Deut 32, 43 is used is not highlighted in this study, being predicated on Scripture’s inerrancy. The study goes on to examine the interdependence between text and image from the perspective of the iconographer who amplifies in his painting the minimal data provided by the Hermeneia of Byzantine painting. We also infer the existence of the liturgical ecclesial theology, which contains the biblical fragments and traditional values. For the believer who contemplates church painting, often the biblical text included remains secondary. Another open question is why the Christian would decipher the name of the holy person, his ministry, and the title of the scene in general.

So it is relevant that Moses’ entire name is written on the left of his face. The second part of the verse reminding of vengeance («and will render vengeance to his adversaries, and will be merciful unto his land, and to his people» – Deut 32, 43b – KJV) must not appear on the prophet Moses’ written message. Due to the freedom assumed by church painters, sometimes we find icons that combine Greek writing with Slavonic or local writing. In this way, the iconographer displays his vast biblical knowledge, while pointing out that the icon addresses not only the worshipper but also the interested reader. In its Marian interpretation, the Hermeneia says: «Moses, holding a bush in his hand, says in a paper, „I pray thee, I pray thee, O virgin, God of Mother, for I see the foreign miracle»”. The Mariological text is a hymnographic adaptation, with a biblical subject (referring to Horeb’s vision recorded in Ex 3, 1-3), allegorically identifying the bush not consumed by fire, with the Holy Virgin Mary. In this case the Patristic interpretation exceeds the literal signification of the biblical text. The inscribed text which the prophets bear for the believers to read, helps preserve the tension between «already» and «not yet» identified in the eschatology of the Church as the interpenetration between time and eternity, between the saints in the church militant, and the saints glorified in the Kingdom of God.


Pr. Cezar HÂRLĂOANU — Dinamica Scripturii în context liturgic. Facerea 2, 24

Summary: The dynamics of the Holy Scripture in a liturgical context. Genesis 2, 24

The discussions upon the relationship between the text of the Holy Scripture and the living liturgical practices of the Church have become increasingly intense in the recent times. One can state that the divine worship is contained in the biblical text and the text of the Holy Scripture is revealed in the liturgical space of the Church. The present text aims to address the relationship between the Scripture and the liturgical life of the Church from the first one of these perspectives. The study intends to analyse how the text of the Gen 2, 24 («therefore shall a man leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife and the two shall become one flesh») is reflected in the mystery of the Matrimony and the motivation of its presence in this context. The preference for this text is given by the frequency of its occurrence within the Matrimony Service (where it appears three times). The present investigation, which focuses primarily on just a part of the abovementioned bible verse, namely the phrase «cleave to his wife» aims to highlight some of these meanings. The original text uses the Hebrew verb dabaq which, according to specialized dictionaries, signifies joining, sticking, adhering, pursuing or gathering. The choice of this verb is not at all accidental since there is a whole series of feelings or actions meant to describe the characteristics of such a relationship. The text does not contain any connotation of romantic or declarative love but has practical ones: the furthering away of the offspring from their parents with the precise purpose of establishing a family and a relationship of a man with his chosen wife. It also shows the physical love between two opposite sexes, but also the concrete preference for a particular person. The union of the two is the natural consequence of how Eve, the first woman, was created. Her origin in the first man’s rib already indicates a full union of the two. The fact that the woman was created from the Adam’s rib shows the intimacy between the two, and also their belonging to each other. But the use of dabaq not only indicates a physical and spiritual unity but opens the perspective of a complex relationship between the man and the woman.

In addition to the source text already mentioned (Gen 2, 24), dabaq is also used in two other contexts with similar nuances: Gen 34, 3, and 3Kings 11, 2. The text in the Book of Kings has clear erotic connotations, related to the intimate relationships. Interestingly, for both the author of the sacred text and the historian Joseph Flavius, the gravity of Solomon’s sin was given by the marriage to women of a different people, and not by the numerous wives and relationships he had. In a similar sense dabaq is used to show Shechem’s feelings towards Dinah (Gen 34, 3). The two texts mentioned here make it clear that the union of man and woman also has meanings that emphasize the physical intimate relationship, based upon a sexual attraction, in order to fulfill a command that was primarily given in Heaven. The attraction is the one that gives birth to desire, and it is the desire that constantly seeks to acquire the thing or the person that it feels attracted to. In this sphere, dabaq is used in the expression «tongue sticks to the palate of the mouth». It mainly appears in books with a poetic content, since being thirsty for something or someone is essentially an expression belonging to the sphere of the literary creation. Of the three texts suggesting the thirst for a certain person, perhaps the most powerful one is in the Lam 4, 4: «the tongue of the one who sucks sticks to the palate of the mouth because of the thirst». The adherence of the tongue to the palate, as a manifestation of the thirst, also appears in the book of Psalms, in two of the most famous psalms: 21 (22 TM) and 136 (137 TM). Ps 136 recalls the singing of those who are already in Babylon’s captivity, showing love and attachment to the citadel of David. The second psalm that we are discussing in this context is Ps 21 (22 TM), 16. The idea of the thirst that the verses analysed in this context convey emphasizes the strong need to quench thirst, the need to feed the desire. Some texts that speak of the tongue’s cleaving to the palate can be interpreted as evidence of silence, not of thirst. In Job (Job 19, 20) it is stated that «their tongues were sticking to the palate of their mouths». The second text emphasizing silence belongs to the prophet Ezekiel (Ezek 3, 26), who had witnessed the Babylonian exile. When it appears within the family, silence is born first of all because of the love the family members bear toward each other.

When a man unites with someone he is no longer alone. The unity creates in man the sense of belonging, in the sense that the wife belongs to her husband to the same extent as the husband belongs to his wife. The idea of identifying oneself with a person or thing is emphasized in the Hebrew Bible text by the use of the same term dabaq. Man can belong to a family, a people or a faith. He can feel tied, attached to any of these, and insofar as he belongs to such a category, he really identifies himself with it. When man possesses a certain thing, he feels the need to defend it. The same happens when he belongs to a certain group, he identifies himself with; he will always want to defend at all times the group to which he belongs. The biblical text also speaks of this connotation of the verb dabaq. This is best noticed in the relationship between Ruth and Boaz. The protection is also shown in suggestive images by associating it with the leviathan, an animal generally identified with the crocodile. The crocodile’s scales, says the book of Job, cling to one another, are kept together and do not split (Job 41, 17), providing the crocodile with protection against other animals, man and even the weather. A similar picture is presented by Ezekiel (Ezek 29, 4) to describe the armor with which God endowed the leviathan. A loving husband never gets tired to protect the one he chose to be next to him, just as his wife does not hesitate to do the same. The power of the family comes from the unity of the two spouses, in the likeness of the crocodile scales which form a resilient armor by sticking together. The unit provides power where it is needed. The Old Testament draws attention to four texts in which the connection established by dabaq seems impossible to destroy without the use of force or violence. The first of these is found in Job’s book (Job 19, 20) and speaks of the union of flesh, bones and skin. The second text that speaks of the union of skin and bones is found in Ps 101, 5 (102, 6). The extremely strong connection that the union of bones, flesh and blood designates shows the naturalness of the relationship between man and woman through the mystery of the Matrimony.

If the detachment of the bones from the meat and skin is either a proof of illness or torture, or occurs as a natural consequence of death, in the same way, the divorce of the spouses becomes an unnatural event. The separation of the husband from his wife is either proof of violence against the unity of the family, or it appears as a disease that affects the body of the two and its unity. Located in the realm of inter-human relationships, dabaq postulates the existence of fidelity as an aspect of the relationship between the two persons. It is much more visible and powerful in the description of the relationships between Ruth and Naomi, her mother-in-law. Another context in which dabaq is manifest is the decision of Judah’s tribe to be on the side of David during the revolt of Sheba, the son of Bichri (2 Sam 20, 1-2). The two above-mentioned texts discuss the issue of loyalty as a relationship within a covenant. The challenges and attempts to which the couple is subjected show the power of the union of the spouses. Fidelity makes its presence felt especially through trying times. The love that unites is more necessary during the moments when family unity is threatened and challenged. The undermeaning of the notion of loyalty obliges one to live permanently in the pledge with a certain person or God. In the context of the Philistine-Israeli conflict, the action by which the Philistines pursue King Saul in order to capture and kill him is expressed by the verb dabaq. The three biblical references (1Kings 31, 2, 2 Kings, 1, 6 and 1Chr 10, 2), as this episode about the death of the first Israelite king is rendered in three scriptural contexts, they all use the same verb to describe the fact that Saul had been pursued by the Philistines. Taking into account that the pursuit results in the death of those who are pursued, the question of the connection between the above texts and Gen 2, 24 is natural.

A man joining his woman, a wife joining her husband implies that one follows the other one as shown earlier. The two follow each other with all the determination they are capable of. This is not related to the ability to spy on the other in order to discover his / her weaknesses. It involves an attachment so strong that does not allow the attention to be drawn from each other. And behind what is there for everyone to see, the careful love of the husband and wife is concealed. The end of life is not forgotten in emphasizing the idea of union, of communion. In many of the texts already presented, the presence of death is suggested. Perhaps the most powerful is the pursuit and union of death in a text in the book of the prophet Jeremiah (Jer 42, 16). The paradox of using the verb dabaq in such contexts that point to the strong experience of death is also revealed in the book of Psalms (118 / 119, 25; 43 / 44, 25 / 27). The union of man and woman presupposes that they remain in this covenant until the moment of death. The union of man and woman in the privacy of the family is accompanied by the two on the road that ends with the physical death. As it is placed in the sphere of inter-human relations since the act of creation, the verb dabaq still finds more powerful connotations by its reporting to God. The context is given by the prescriptions of the Mosaic Law that required the Israelites’ attachment to the God of the covenant. Ever since Sinai, God had asked the Israelites for a complete adhesion to Him. The Deuteronomy resumes this issue of the relationship between Israel and the God of the covenant. Of the seven occurrences of dabaq in the Deuteronomy, four refer to the option for Yhwh by the sons of Israel. As much as man follows God, he sees the divine glory, he begins to know His works, he realizes his own unworthiness and begins to fear. The fear of making mistakes and losing the Lord brings to the soul of man the desire to serve and to observe the commandments that regulate his relations with the divinity. The union of man and woman, as prophesied by Adam, cannot ignore the idea of divinity. God cannot be excluded from the union of the two because He is the initiator of that bond, but also the One who brings the man and the woman to existence. The development of the creative act of the first men, briefly narrated in Gen 1, places God at the origin of the union between man and woman. The union of the husband and wife thus involves the union of the two, who are one body, with the Lord.

Looking at the attachment to God as a total surrender of man to God, then the relationship between the two acquires spiritual, connotations. It is what the Psalmist observes, «I have stuck onto thy testimonies, O Lord, let me not be ashamed» (Ps 118 / 119, 31). The same Psalm, also used in the funeral service, becomes a declaration of love for God. The spiritual aspect of the union between man and God is confirmed by the Lord Himself who uses it to describe the relationship between Him and Israel: «As the waist is close to the thighs of men, so have I brought all the house of Israel, and all the house of Judah, said the Lord» (Jer 13, 11). The text is essential because of the presence of the verb dabaq, only in this case God is the subject who initiates the action. In other cases, man or a plague is the subject that determines the action of the verb dabaq. This is the only time the God has the initiative of action. Man does not stick to the Lord, but the Lord is the one who is heading toward His people. He invites Israel into His intimacy, giving Israel the opportunity to unite with Him. The spiritual aspect of the union between man and God points to the spiritual life that man and woman share together. The union referred to in the text of Gen 2, 24 is revealed as an invitation to communion in the intimacy of God: Adam and Eve unite before God. The two are called to overcome their own limitations and to fulfill the purpose planted in them by the act of creation: the likeness to God. The acquiring of the text and updating it in the service of the Matrimony demonstrates the call to the holiness addressed to the bride and groom. The spouses sanctify each other and their relationship is the most sincere and powerful work of holiness. The union between husband and wife becomes a prayer springing out of love. That is why God also prefers to use as the model of the relationship between Him and His people, between Christ and the Church, precisely the relationship between spouses within the family. The spiritual value of the family is to place God at its foundation and make Christ the focus of its own life. One can conclude that the text of Gen 2, 24 belongs to the category of the referential texts for what follows afterwards. The prophetic meaning that the Holy Spirit imparts to this text shows it as the founding essence of the other families. Gen 2, 24 becomes the type of the future families, so that all the other families, from then on and until the end of the ages, embrace «cleaving to his wife».


Pr. Ion REȘCEANU — „Chipurile Vechiului și Noului Testament” – o evaluare din perspectiva contribuției aduse de Sf. Antim Ivireanul studiului biblic în epocă

Summary: „Images of the Old and New Testament” – an Evaluation from the Perspective of the Contribution of St Anthimos the Iberian to the Biblical Studies of His Time

The work of St Anthimos the Iberian has stirred along the years the interest of researchers, especially during the period when we celebrated 300 years from his martyrical death, in 2016. His writings were approached especially from the perspective of his historical, cultural, artistic, theological-homiletical, pastoral, doctrinal etc. contribution. From the perspective of the biblical studies, however, his works, both printings – Greek-Romanian Gospel (1693), Psalter (1694) and the New Testament (1703) – and manuscripts containing his own studies – the Didache or Images of the Old and New Testament – which offer various possibilities of scientific approach, have been unfortunately poorly explored. Only the Didache was investigated for the manner in which the biblical text was used, but the study was developed only from a philological perspective. Instead, the work Images of the Old and New Testament, integrally reproduced after the original text and illustrated for the first time in Romania in the book of Fr. Archim. S. Boghiu, was hardly tackled in the theological literature. This is precisely the reason why this study undertakes a general assessment of this work from the perspective of the Biblical Studies. Firstly, we considered necessary an approach of this work in the cultural-ecclesiological context of its time, in order to observe more easily those defining elements that can reveal the contribution of St Athimos the Iberian to the development of the biblical study of his epoch.

Thus, we note the stage that was reached in terms of knowledge and interpretation of the biblical text in Romanian in the context of the theological culture of that time, but also the integration of Saint Anthimos in the cultural-ecclesiological environment of Wallachia. Regarding the efforts to translate and distribute the text of the Holy Scripture during the second half of the 17th century we remarked that, after a first Transylvanian stage of translation of the biblical text (the New Testament – 1648 and the Psalter – 1651) done by Silvestru [Sylvester] the Hieromonk, originating from Wallachia, under the guidance of Saint Metropolitan Simion Ștefan, follows the Moldavian stage of metropolitan Dosoftei, who printed the versified Psalter (1673), the Slavonic-Romanian Psalter (1680) and the Paroemia („Parables”) (1683). Then followed the Wallachian stage which produced the translations of the Gospel by Iordache Cantacuzino (1682) and the Apostolos [Epistle Lectionary] (1683) under the supervision of metropolitan Theodosius, redactions of the text of the Old Testament by Nicolae Milescu (mss 4389 and 415) and finally the translation of the Bible of Bucharest by the brothers Radu and Șerban Greceanu – a text corrected by metropolitan Mitrofan – a moment which marks the ending of this national project, though not a premeditated one, to translate into Romanian the entire biblical text.

The main part of the study is centered on the contribution of St Anthimos the Iberian to the printing and distribution of the biblical text in Romanian. St Athimos the Iberian is himself an integral part of this import of the Greek cultural dowry via Constantinople into Wallachia at the end of the 17th century. He was brought to Bucharest by prince Constantin Brâncoveanu as a typographer at the recommendation of Patriarch Dositheos of Jerusalem. Saint Anthimos’ personality was fully formed when he joined this cultural-ecclesiastic environment and through his typographical activity, became involved in the efforts to promote the Orthodox life and doctrine. The first work with a biblical character printed by St Anthimos the Iberian is the Greek-Romanian Gospel Book (Bucharest, 1693). It contains excerpts of the Gospel in parallel text, Greek and Romanian. The reason why Saint Anthimos, together with the other scholars that were involved, made this decision is not hard to understand. As shows the foreword by Șerban Greceanu, through the printing of the Greek-Romanian Gospel Book they wanted the text in Romanian to be verified and confirmed through the presentation in parallel with the Greek original text. The second book printed by St Anthimos the Iberian is the Psalter that was issued in Bucharest in 1694.

However, Saint Anthimos considered the New Testament published in Bucharest in 1703 as the most important book that he ever printed, as he wrote in the dedication to the ruler Constantin Brâncoveanu. Being a rather large book and probably out of already, the Bible of Bucharest could be easily supplemented by the New Testament, printed for the first time separately in Wallachia. The efforts of St Anthimos the Iberian to circulate the biblical text more easily among the clergy and faithful would be fulfilled through his sermons (Didache), which he sounds, like none other, on the text of the Holy Scripture. Of the works that were preserved in manuscript from Saint Anthimos, the oldest one is Images of the Old and New Testament, also known by the name Genealogy of Jesus Christ or Radoslovie. This was written in Târgoviște in 1709, dedicated to ruler Constantin Brâncoveanu. The work has a marked historiographic character, being written according to the model of the chronographs of the time, in which biblical history mingles with the lay history of the ancient world. However, as opposed to these elements of early biblical historiography to the detriment of the lay ones, the purpose of the author was the one presented in the title of the work, that is to bring into light the figures of the biblical characters, whose acts needed to be emphasized, also taking into account the historical context of the time that they lived in; as one would have expected in such a writing, the main sources used by Saint Anthimos are the Holy Scripture and the chronographs of the time.

He also quotes from the popular tradition, as in the case of the legend of the wood of the cross, or from the apocryphal literature, in the case of the Sibylline prophecies. He prefers especially valuable historical or theological sources, and so he refers to the works of Philo, Josephus Flavius or Strabo. But the fundamental source remains the Holy Scripture and, especially, the Old Testament, based on which he develops most of his dissertation. We note the akribeia of St Anthimos the Iberian evinced in the quotation from the biblical text that he uses in his historical depictions, or in the specifications that he deems necessary to present. As a matter of course, Saint Anthimos took special interest in the genealogical lists that he found within the pages of the Holy Scripture, to which he permanently referred and which he wished to place in perfect agreement with the biblical history through the explanations that he offered. Taking into account all the things mentioned above, we reach the conclusion that the function given by Saint Anthim to his work is a historical one, but its purpose is pastoral-formative, targeting directly the person of ruler Constantin Brâncoveanu and indirectly the aristocracy of the country. On the other hand, he also tried to open for the Romanian theological culture the perspective a profound theological approach of the Holy Scripture from a historiographic, isagogic and exegetic point of view.


Pr. Cosmin PRICOP Acta Johannis, untersucht aus der Perspektive des Wohnens Jesu

Rezumat: Acta Johannis, analizată din perspectiva „locuirii” lui Iisus

Studiul de față pornește de la constatarea, susținută de stadiul cercetărilor prologului ioaneic și în special ale textului de la v. 14, potrivit căreia menționarea locuirii Logosului nu reprezintă un element secundar față de afirmația cu privire la Întruparea Lui și posibilitatea vederii slavei Aceluiași, ci constituie o informație prețioasă cu privire la modalitatea prezenței Lui în lume și în oameni. Această accentuare recentă a importanței conceptului teologic de „locuire” este întâlnită mai ales în cercetările lui Jörg Frey, profesor de Noul Testament la Universitatea din Zürich, care conectează conceptul respectiv la orizontul religios al Vechiului Testament (referatul biblic al creației, descoperirea de la Muntele Sinai și mai ales imnul înțelepciunii din Isus Sirah). Insistența lui J. Frey în legătură cu locuirea Logosului se justifică și din perspectiva cercetărilor recente întreprinse în ceea ce privește prologul Evangheliei după Ioan în general și v. 1, 14 în special. De exemplu, cea mai nouă cercetare a istoriei receptării v. 1, 14 a fost realizată de Christian Uhrig, care își începe analiza cu Sf. Ignatie al Antiohiei, continuă cu Epistula Apostolorum, Sf. Justin Martirul, Sf. Meliton de Sardes, Sf. Irineu al Lyonului, Clement Alexandrinul, Sf. Ipolit Romanul, Origen, Sf. Dionisie din Alexandria, Sf. Petru Alexandrinul, Sf. Metodiu de Olimp și încheie cu Eusebiu din Cezareea. Cu toate acestea, cercetarea lui Ch. Uhrig nu se concentrează asupra întregului v. 14 al cap. 1, ci acordă atenție exclusiv Întrupării Logosului, conform textului «ὁ λόγος σὰρξ ἐγένετο». Și de aici reiese pe bună dreptate că forța de atracție a conceptului teologic al Întrupării Logosului a determinat indirect o abordare mai superficială a continuării «καί ἐσκήνωσεν ἐν ἡμῖν».

Exprimarea oarecum abstractă din prologul Evangheliei după Ioan cu privire la locuirea Logosului este receptată ulterior de literatura și / sau discursurile ulterioare, care încearcă o explicitare a termenului, conferindu-i valențele unui adevărat concept teologic. O asemenea receptare a locuirii se regăsește și în scrierea apocrifă Faptele lui Ioan (Acta Johannis). În ciuda nuanțelor gnostic-valentiniene evidente, care au făcut ca această scriere să fie respinsă și chiar condamnată, valoarea ei pentru studiul receptării textelor sau termenilor teologici nou-testamentari rămâne incontestabilă. Punctul de plecare pentru ilustrarea acestei locuiri îl constituie, în scrierea mai sus menționată, modalitatea de înțelegere a prezenței Logosului Iisus Hristos. Dacă locuirea Lui era pertinentă în contextul vieții Sale pământești, după Înălțarea la cer această locuire capătă nuanțele unei adevărate provocări. Mai locuiește Logosul și după Înălțarea la cer în / între oameni? Cum se realizează această locuire? Cum poate fi accesată prezența Lui de către creștinii începând cu a doua generație, care nu au avut posibilitatea întâlnirii directe și trupești, fizice cu El? Se creează o scindare din acest punct de vedere între creștinii primei generații și cei de după aceasta? Sunt, în definitiv, toate generațiile următoare defavorizate de lipsa contactului direct cu Învățătorul?

Soluționarea acestor întrebări deosebit de importante pentru viitorul mișcării inițiate de Iisus Hristos prin propovăduirea Evangheliei Lui este creionată, în Faptele lui Ioan, prin intermediul accentuării ambivalenței prezenței Logosului, a omniprezenței Lui și, nu în ultimul rând, a multiplicării toposurilor de manifestare ale Acestuia. Ambivalența prezenței și manifestării Logosului, așa cum este aceasta descrisă chiar de Apostolul Ioan conform cărții Faptele lui Ioan, se referă la materialitatea, corporalitatea și totodată spiritualitatea, imaterialitatea Lui. Uneori Apostolul Ioan întâlnește un trup material, solid, iar alteori constată că substanța trupului lui Iisus este imaterială și necorporală. În același timp, Iisus îi apare uneori ca un om obișnuit, iar alteori neobișnuit, ca Cineva care atinge cerul cu capul său. Textele sugerează o anumită alternanță între cele două modalități de manifestare și / sau prezență a Logosului, în sensul că imaterialitatea nu este concomitentă corporalității, cel puțin în viziunea Apostolului Ioan. Cu alte cuvinte, Iisus, Logosul, este când imaterial, când material. O ilustrare potrivită a acestei concluzii se regăsește în descrierea momentului Schimbării la Față, cu toate că aici ambivalența materialitateimaterialitate este înlocuită de ambivalența umanitate–supra-umanitate sau lumesc–supra-lumesc. După menționarea urcării lui Iisus pe munte însoțit de cei trei apostoli cunoscuți și din relatările Evangheliilor sinoptice (Petru, Ioan și Iacov) și după amintirea momentului rugăciunii lui Iisus, care ar apropia varianta relatată în Faptele lui Ioan de textul Evangheliei după Luca, se menționează că Ioan se apropie pe furiș de locul în care Iisus se ruga. Apostolul Îl observă pe Iisus golit de ceea ce vedeau la El în mod obișnuit și nici măcar ca un om obișnuit, ci ca un uriaș, al cărui cap lovește cerul. În fața acestei priveliști, Ioan este cuprins de frică și țipă, întrerupându-L pe Iisus din rugăciune. Acesta se întoarce către Ioan, dar aparent își reia vechea înfățișare. Rămâne deschisă întrebarea legată de intenția clară a lui Iisus de a se feri de ochii ucenicilor în momentul în care Își revelează partea supra-omenească a înfățișării. Conform sugestiilor textului, receptarea acestei laturi se întâmplă mai degrabă accidental. Puținele momente în care Ioan poate contempla apariția neobișnuită a lui Iisus au legătură cu observarea în secret a Învățătorului, ceea ce poate conduce mai departe la concluzia potrivit căreia cunoașterea părții supranaturale, supra-firești a Logosului de către învățăceii Lui este deocamdată nedorită de către Iisus.

În continuare se remarcă o constanță în ceea ce privește menționarea ubicvității Logosului. El este prezent peste tot, în toate și cu toți cei care Îl cheamă. Interesantă este în acest sens mențiunea faptului că o receptare adecvată a acestei omniprezențe nu se realizează cu ochii, degetele sau cu un oarecare organ al trupului, ci numai printr-o așezare duhovnicească temeinică («μή δακτύλοις, μηδὲ στόμασιν, μηδὲ γλώσσῃ, μηδ᾽ ἑνὶ ὅλως σωματικῷ ὀργάνῳ, ἀλλὰ τῇ ψυχικῇ διαθέσει»). Această funcție spirituală are rolul unui receptor al prezenței Logosului, iar atunci când omul devine conștient de această posibilitate a accesului la prezența Lui, nu poate face altceva decât să privegheze. Pe de o parte, ubicvitatea Logosului se manifestă în toți cei care suferă pentru numele Lui și pentru Evanghelia pe care o propovăduia. În momentul în care este chemat prin rugăciune, nu ezită să Își facă simțită prezența. Pe de altă parte, această omniprezență a lui Iisus nu trebuie înțeleasă, conform Faptelor lui Ioan, doar ca întâlnirea cu o persoană distinctă, ci și ca activarea prezenței Logosului în fiecare om care crede. Foarte interesant apare, în contextul omniprezenței, accentul pe care îl primește calitatea Lui de Dumnezeu, chiar dacă aceasta nu este suficient explicitată și nu este identică neapărat cu înțelegerea actuală, prelucrată a dumnezeirii lui Iisus Hristos. Într-una dintre predicile pe care le rostește în fața comunității de credință din Efes, Apostolul Ioan încheie menționând că Cel pe Care Îl vestește nu este un simplu om, ci un Dumnezeu neschimbabil, de neînfrânt, atotputernic și mai tare decât toți îngerii și eonii.

Punctul culminant al referatului îl constituie înțelesul omniprezenței (și) ca multiplicare a toposurilor în care Logosul Se face accesibil. În cadrul celebrului Imn al dansului, Iisus afirmă că nu are (doar) o casă, ci mai multe case, nu (doar) un templu, ci mai multe temple, iar nu (doar) un loc, ci mai multe locuri. Întrebarea care se naște firesc în continuare este următoarea: dacă Iisus afirmă, potrivit scrierii Faptele lui Ioan, că el nu are doar o casă, doar un templu sau doar un loc, atunci cine are numai o casă, numai un templu și numai un loc? Care este elementul de legătură al afirmației din cadrul Imnului? La o primă vedere afirmația ar putea fi pusă în legătură cu ceea ce se afirmă în fragmentul §37-§45 despre distrugerea templului lui Artemis din Efes. Astfel, Iisus nu are doar un singur templu, așa cum are Artemis în Efes, ci mai multe. O a doua manieră în care se poate soluționa chestiunea în cauză poate fi identificată în recursul la vocabularul particular ioaneic, dar și general nou-testamentar, cu privire la manifestarea și prezența lui Dumnezeu. Aici poate fi amintit textul de la In 2, 18-21, unde Evanghelistul oferă o interpretare paralelă a templului, prin aceea că îl transferă asupra trupului lui Iisus. În al treilea rând, dinamica dintre singularitate și multiplicitate constatată mai sus poate trimite cu gândul la o posibilă polemică existentă între contextul ioaneic originar oficial și comunitatea, respectiv comunitățile în care apare scrierea Faptele lui Ioan. Interpretate din această perspectivă, cuvintele pot fi înțelese și în sensul că nu există doar o variantă oficială a comunității de credință legitimată ioaneic, ci pot exista mai multe variante de comunități, care la rândul lor se legitimează de la aceeași sursă.

Această dinamică dintre singular și plural în ceea ce privește prezența și manifestarea Logosului poate fi înțeleasă și în direcția unei așa-zise democratizări, pornind de la templul din Ierusalim din vremea lui Iisus, trecând la trupul lui Iisus înțeles ca templu și ajungând la multiplicarea duhovnicească a acestui templu în multe alte temple, care foarte ușor pot fi asociate cu trupurile creștinilor care cred și Îl primesc să locuiască. Astfel, convingerea unui oarecare monopol pe care îl putea avea manifestarea trupească a lui Iisus Hristos, după modelul monopolului templului iudaic din Ierusalim, este suprimată, conform Faptelor lui Ioan, de perspectiva încurajatoare pe care o transmite și care probabil rezolvă o dilemă reală nu foarte simplu de soluționat în acel context. Implicațiile unei asemenea înțelegeri a manifestării Logosului privesc de fapt întreaga creștinătate până astăzi și mai departe.

Finalmente, locuirea Logosului este explicitată în Faptele lui Ioan și în sensul că Acesta devine un loc de odihnă pentru alții, respectiv pentru cei care cred în El («κινηθεὶς σοφίζειν † στρωμνήν με ἔχεις ἐπαναπάηθὶ μοι»). Se deschide astfel o nouă perspectivă în ceea ce privește înțelegerea locuirii Logosului, în sensul că aceasta nu presupune doar dinamica în care Iisus este oaspetele și credincioșii sunt gazdele, ci și o alta, în care locuirea devine o împreună-locuire, o odihnire în El. Această odihnire apare mai ales ca o încheiere a unui proces de cunoaștere și descoperire a identității Logosului, în special sub aspectul Pătimirii Sale.


Diac. Olimpiu-Nicolae BENEA Perspective hermeneutice ortodoxe în interpretarea Epistolei către Coloseni

Summary: Orthodox Hermeneutical Perspectives in the Interpretation of the Epistle to the Colossians

The study starts from the premise that any interpretation of a sacred text must serve, firstly, to the spiritual edification of the Church, and secondly, it must be relevant in the context of the contemporary exegetical debates. The hermeneutical perspective in the interpretation of the Epistle to the Colossians must underscore both the historical status of the text of the Holy Scripture and the dynamic status. The inner dynamics of the revealed Word will bring the person that comes closer to it, in a sacramental context of interpretation, not exactly before the text of a human author or hagiographer, but in front of the ultimate Author, God. The purpose of this study is to present briefly some of the important themes that pose challenges for the Orthodox contemporary hermeneutics and exegesis, with respect to the Epistle to the Colossians. The contemporary approaches on the interpretation of the Epistle to the Colossians propose a discourse focused on three essential aspects. Firstly, a search for the meaning close to the meaning given by the author – an approach focused on the author; secondly, finding the meaning of the text – an approach focused on the text; and thirdly, finding the meaning regarding the knowledge of the direct and indirect audience – an approach focused on the reader.

In this study the author proposes an integrated approach (synchronic and diachronic) which brings together all the results of the research regarding the methodology of approach to the sacred text. Firstly, the author deals with the problem of the historical context and that of the addressees of the epistle. In general, the contemporary biblicists claim that the Epistle to the Colossians is a pseudo-epigraphic or deutero-Pauline one. Their argument to this respect is the text from Col 1, 2 („a literary fiction”) which leads to the idea that the mentioning of Colossae is purely spiritual. Some biblicists claim that Laodicea, mentioned in Col 2, 1 and Col 4, 13, 15-16, was the real destination of the Epistle to the Colossians. Such a theory is based on the information given by the Roman historian Tacitus (Apr. 55-117) who mentions the fact that Laodicea was afflicted by a powerful earthquake in 60-61 AD. But Eusebius of Caesarea (265-340) describes the event of an earthquake that took place in 65 and which destroyed not only Laodicea but also Colossae and Hierapolis. These stories, as well as other historical testimonies attest to the existence of the town of Colossae, famous for its textile industry.

The following analysis point refers to the philosophy of Colossae. Biblicists wonder: what is the heresy from Colossae? The proposals may be divided into five distinctive categories: 1) Jewish Gnosticism, 2) Gnostic Judaism, 3) Mystical Judaism, 4) Hellenistic syncretism and 5) Hellenistic philosophy. The problem is how to integrate all that HolyApostle Paul says about these heresies into a coherent system. One may remark the fact that there is a close relationship between the text of the Epistle to the Colossians and the text of the Old Testament. And this remark leads to the conclusion that the Church in Colossae was formed both of Hellenistic Jews converted to Christianity, and of pagans «fearing God», active participants in the Judaic synagogue, also converted, joined by new converts during the missionary activity of Epaphras. Thus, the Epistle of Holy Apostle Paul answers a doctrinal error which, in the light of the allusions from the Old Testament that we have mentioned, was not at all foreign to the Judaic practice and understanding of the Septuagint. The problem of the paternity of the Epistle to the Colossians arises many controversies. Comparing the Epistle to the Colossians with the early Pauline epistles, the specialists reach different conclusions in their works: either differences, or similarities in style, syntax and theology. The internal evidence of the epistle, regarding its paternity, leads to the conclusion that the Epistles to the Colossians and the Ephesians can be best understood as expressions of the thinking of a single author who reiterates, more or less, the same ideas in two contexts that are not very different and for rather different addressees. The relationship between the Epistle to the Colossians and that to Philemon is a powerful argument for the Pauline character of the Epistle to the Colossians.

The external evidence – both patristic testimonies and those of the manuscript 𝔓46 (200 AD / 80 AD) – may confirm the conclusion regarding the Pauline character of the Epistle. From a literary point of view, the fact that this Epistle lacks some of the inconsistencies in expression, repetitions and stylistic peculiarities, the Epistle to the Colossians is considered by most biblicists a single literary unity. Most of the researchers maintain the unity of the Epistle to the Colossians, suggesting, at the same time, the use of some traditional materials such as the Christological hymn in Col 1, 15-20, the code of family relationships (Haustafel) in Col 3, 18 – 4, 1 and the lists of vices and virtues in Col 3, 15-21. The epistolary analysis of the Epistle to the Colossians is determined by the standard aspects of a Pauline epistle: the greeting (Col 1, 1-2), the prayer of thanksgiving and petition (Col 1, 3-23), the corpus of the epistle (Col 1, 24-4:9), in which we have an introductory part (Col 1, 24-2, 5), a part containing the debate (Col 2, 6-4, 6), and a final part (Col 4, 7-9), concluding with the ending of the epistle (Col 4, 10-18). But this epistle has been examined from several angles. W. Bujard undertook an analysis of the rhetorical aspects of the Epistle to the Colossians. J.P. Heil proposes a different approach, that of a literary-rhetorical analysis of the Epistle to the Colossians, focusing on its chiastic structure. P. McKeown proposes an analysis of the discourse that the Holy Apostle Paul used in order to give structural coherence to the component parts of the Epistle to the Colossians. G.T. Cristopher proposes a chiastic structure for the central part of the Col 2, 16 – 3, 17.

The purpose of the Epistle to the Colossians has been defined in various ways, depending on the biblicists’ views. Some of them emphasize the fact that Apostle Paul answers doctrinal errors, others that he encourages his readers to continue their relationship with Christ, the Lord (Col 2, 6). The author’s view on the purpose of the Holy Apostle Paul in writing the Epistle to the Colossians is based on the premise that Apostle Paul, being the founder of the Church from Colossae, was deeply preoccupied with its growth in terms of spiritual maturity of the Christians in this town. The purpose of Apostle Paul is on the one hand the intention to reiterate the Apostolic Tradition preached, regarding the divinity and supremacy of Christ, and on the other hand, to focus, through their prayer for the Apostle, towards the «mystery of Christ» for Whom he suffered in chains. The hymn in Col 1, 15-20 is the fundamental text that provides the grounds for the refutation of the heretical teachings in Colossae. The Christological hymn starts in Col 1, 15, where there is an intentional change of the style used by the author until then. If the fragment from Col 1, 3-14 contains „typical stylistic features of the epistle as a whole (participial constructions, scarce presence of the infinitives, growth in the number of synonyms, presence of several constructions of the genitive, repetitions), in Col 1, 15-20 these are missing”. The hymn is a distinctive creation. In the first part of the Christological hymn (Col 1, 15-20) we are led to focus on the role of Christ within creation; the Christological statements may be thus understood from the perspective of salvation. The present study intends to be a challenge for the Orthodox hermeneutics regarding the interpretation of the Epistle to the Colossians. It is necessary to have an isagogic perspective as well on the Epistle to Colossians, which, together with an exegetical and theological analysis of the text and with a critical apparatus specific for the biblical research, may determine future profound approaches of the biblical text from this Epistle of the Holy Apostle Paul.


Cristinel IATAN — Crearea lumii și a omului – Perspectiva biblică patristică și cea biblică modernă. Repere fundamentale

Summary: The Creation of the world and man – The patristic biblical perspective and the contemporary biblical approach. Some fundamental concepts

The present study aims to summarize the fundamental elements of the patristic teachings regarding the creation of the world and man, and comment on the modern approach in the contemporary biblical research. In order to understand the meaning of Gen 1, we must first answer to some major questions. Who do those writings address? The Israelites, i.e., those living in the times of the Old Testament? The Christians living in the first centuries? Or the Christians of today, who hold another vision of the created universe based on the new discoveries of science? Obviously, the answer is a nuanced one. We do not imagine today that we can claim the earth is in the centre of the universe, and the sun is rotating around the earth. This vision is an anachronistic one and is not found in the pages of Holy Scripture. What does this mean? That the Holy Bible is wrong? Obviously, the answer is negative. The Scripture speaks to all people, to their own understanding, and contains hidden meanings that will be revealed later on, in the writings of the Holy Fathers. The creation of the world and man is expounded in the text of Gen 1 primarily according to the people’s understanding of that writing, and does not attempt to be a scientific one, in the strict, modern sense. The ancient ones had their „science” obtained from the contemplation and observation of the universe and of the laws by which universe is governed and it was bound indissolubly to their faith. Their science came from faith. It is well known that the Israelites did not talk about „how” or „from what” God made the world, but rather about „why” he had done it.

On day one God created the heaven and the earth. For early Holy Fathers who read and interpreted the Septuagint (LXX), things were obvious, for the first verse expresses the omnipotence of God, which brings matter to existence by the uttered word. God created heaven and earth through his Word. The Holy Fathers had before their eyes the Septuagint translation when they commented on the Old Testament, and implicitly on the account of Creation. As we are aware, the Greek language vocabulary is „more” philosophical than the Hebrew vocabulary, which allowed them to develop the idea of ​​creation out of nothing (ex nihilo). The patristic approach is therefore one who asserts creationism, but which does not deny the functional approach (see Augustine, St Ephraim the Syrian, St John Chrysostom, etc.). The verb „to create” (Heb. bārā᾿), used by the biblical author in verse one, chapter one of Genesis doesn’t say anything clear about a material origin of the world, but mostly addresses a functional origin and God’s exclusive activity in creation. It is used 48 times in the Old Testament with reference to the creation of heaven and earth (Gen 1, 1; 2, 4; Isa 42, 5; 45, 8; 45, 18; 65, 17-18), sea monsters (Gen 1, 21; Ps 104, 30), man / human beings (Gen 1, 27; 5, 1; 5, 2; 6, 7; 12, 1; Isa 45, 12; Mal 2, 10), Sabbath day (Gen 2, 3), wonders (Isa 34, 10), something amazing (Num 16, 30), pure heart (Ps 51, 10), north and south (Ps 89, 12), heavenly beings (Ps 148, 5), smoky cloud (Isa 4, 5), stars (Isa 40, 26), ends of the earth (Isa 40, 28), rivers flowing in the desert (Isa 41, 20), Jacob (Isa 43, 1), those who calls Him by name (Isa 43, 7), Israel (Isa 43, 15), darkness (Isa 45, 7), disasters (Isa 45, 7), new things (Isa 48, 7; Jer 31, 22), blacksmith (Isa 54, 16), destroyer (Isa 54, 16), prayer (Isa 57, 19), Jerusalem (Isa 65, 18), Ammonites (Ezek 21, 30), the king of Tyre (Isa 28, 13, 15) and the wind (Am 4, 13). J. Walton says that in the case of the Hebrew verb „create”, all the grammatical objects presupposed by his action are not easily identifiable in material terms, and especially we have no clear example in which it is used and requires a material ontology, many of them being ambiguous in meaning.

Instead, many of the created objects require a functional understanding, and the most „literal” interpretation of these passages we can afford must be a functional one. So, from a functional perspective, the verb „to create” means „to organize”. The earth was in a non-functional state. On the second day, God made the firmament. It was created to separate the waters from above and the waters from below (vv. 6-8). The term firmament in Hebrew רָקִיעַ (rāqîa’) has the original meaning of metal beaten with a hammer in order to turn it into a metal foil (Isa 39, 3). So the firmament was probably conceived of as a transparent metal sheet, to separate the water of the ocean from the water of clouds. The actual meaning and exact nature of firmament is hard to establish. St Basil the Great introduced the possibility of the existence of two firmaments, one under the sun – the condensed air, and the second that held the clouds under it. From a functional perspective, when he created the firmament God created the proper space for people to live in. The firmament served as a mechanism by which precipitations were controlled. Therefore, for common Israelites what the important aspect was the purpose of this firmament, and not its material nature.

On the third day, there was no new material creation, but God only organizes and gave functions to things that he had already created. Giving functions was synonymous with „to create” in the minds of ancient Israelites. On the fourth day, although the orientation towards functionality is still visible in the background, now God arranges or installs the first „functionaries” (Sun and Moon) to operate according to the functions He created on the first three days. At a literary level, Gen 1 describes eight creative acts of God during the six days of creation, in which we easily observe the „functional” nature of creation: function and „functionality” (or „form” and „fulfilment”). The fifth day is the counterpart of the second day of creation. On the second day the waters of the land were delimited, whereas now the waters and the land are populated by animals, they receive the „functionaries”, i.e. fish swimming in the waters underneath the firmament and the birds flying on its surface (v. 20) while about the above waters it is not said whether or not have any functionaries. The sixth day marks the pinnacle of the ontological-material divine creation. Now both the animals living on the earth and man do not act as actual functionaries, as the Sun and the Moon of the fourth day which fulfil the functions of creation on the first day, but only perform their own functions in the space created on the third day, to multiply and fill the earth (vv. 24 and 28).

Man is seen as the king of creation, and according to Holy Fathers he has the image of God, but needs to work to assume the likeness of God (St Gregory of Nyssa). After completing all His creative work, God admired creation and the order in the universe (Gen 1, 31), and on seventh day He rested. According to the common views in ancient Near East, the deity rests in the temple after it orders the universe. Rest, as a cessation of the ordering process (either as a result of a conflict with other deities or not), is actually an expression of the fact that the deity takes control of things in order to maintain order in the cosmos, its safety and its stability that can be threatened by the forces of primordial chaos. As for patristic exegesis, things are seen either typologically or functionally (St Ephraim the Syrian, St John Chrysostom). Gen 1 doesn’t say anything explicitly about ex nihilo creation, but this doesn’t mean it denies it. The modern exegesis follows broadly the lines of patristic exegesis, i.e. the literal and ontological-material approaches, but gradually in biblical research gains the upper hand and becomes dominant the functional approach of the biblical text, which takes into account the place, time and audience to which the writings of the Old Testament were addressed – the ancient audience that had a different view of the world than the Greek (or modern, scientific) vision. Let’s not forget that the Old Testament belonged to an age when „creation out of nothing” actually meant the establishment of creation, the assignment of functions to all created things and God’s administration of the world. God is the Creator, not because he brings things to existence, out of nothing, but especially because he orders them, giving them significance (life). So, „to create” in the Greek mind has ontological-material connotation, but in the Hebrew mind, it has ontological-functional connotation.

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