3 March OS 2016 – First Wednesday of Great Lent, Holy Martyrs Eutropios, Cleonicus and Basiliskos
A few more thoughts on why it is important to read the Orthodox Old Testament, as we enter Great Lent and immerse ourselves in the Old Testament readings of the daily services:
This question, “Which is the real Old Testament?” is central to the understanding and defense of the Faith, because only the Septuagint contains the fullness of the prophetic witness to Jesus Christ. Look at the table in this article by Fr. Joseph Gleason which lays out key passages in the OT that refer to central Christian doctrines, their fulfillment in the NT, and their complete absence or disfigurement by the Masoretic text compiled by anti-Christian Jewish scholars long after the time of Christ: https://theorthodoxlife.wordpress.com/2012/03/12/masoretic-text-vs-original-hebrew/ Yet it is this Masoretic text that was embraced by the Protestant Reformation and forms the basis of almost all modern translations! Is it little wonder that so many Protestant sects have Judaizing tendencies, or that modern scholarship denies the Incarnation and saving Passion of the Lord?
We should keep in mind several realities:
- When the Lord Himself or the Holy Apostles quote the OT, they are quoting the Septuagint almost every time. Thus the Septuagint is the Old Testament endorsed by Jesus Christ Himself. Since the Septuagint is therefore divinely attested, is it surprising that the Orthodox Church considers it to be divinely inspired?
- What is called “Judaism” today is not the religion of the Old Testament. “Judaism” is a post-Old Testament heresy, a denial of the entire meaning of the Old Testament. It is a heresy created by the rabbinical authorities who deny the divinity, the messiahship, and the saving death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, which is the core of the message of the entire Old Testament! The authoritative book of “Judaism” is not the Bible, but the Talmud, a vast collection of rabbinical commentaries and arguments about the 613 laws in the books of Moses, written after the time of Christ. Where the Talmud disagrees with the Bible, Judaism always sides with the Talmud. It is precisely the originators of the Talmudic tradition who were arguing with the Lord in those marvelous Gospel passages we read at the Bridegroom Services during Holy Week, and who were a key part of the power structure that engineered His judicial murder. Their spiritual descendants created what became known as the Masoretic text precisely to deny the truth about Jesus Christ. How can a Christian ascribe authority to this text?
- The religion of the Old Testament is Orthodox Christianity. The Church is the New Israel; She is the organic continuation and fulfillment of the Church of the Old Testament. Since She alone preaches the true meaning of the Old Testament, She alone can claim the title of the preserver of the religion of the Old Testament, not in its ritual details, but in its spiritual essence.
- The Fathers of the early centuries based their arguments for the divinity and messiahship of Jesus to a great extent on the Old Testament! Both the Hellenized Jewish Christians of the early centuries of the Church and educated “Greek” (i.e. non-Jewish) inquirers and proselytes were intimately acquainted with the Greek text of the Old Testament. Way back in the 3rd century BC, one of the reasons that Ptolemy Philadelphus sponsored the Septuagint translation was that not only did his Jewish subjects need it, but that also pagan wise men were very interested in it. The early Apologists, such as St. Justin Martyr, assumed that educated people in their milieu were familiar with the Old Testament. Later, a great deal of the polemic involved in the great dogmatic controversies of the 4th and 5th centuries, especially Arianism, centered precisely around key Old Testament passages. To acquire the mind of the Fathers, we have to acquire a Scriptural mind, and this includes an immersion in the Old Testament.
Holy Prophet Moses, and all ye Holy, Righteous Ones of the Old Testament, pray to God for us!