The Eastern/Greek Orthodox Bible: New Testament

In a recent comment on his blog Esteban Vázquez linked to The Eastern/Greek Orthodox Bible: New Testament which is available to download as a PDF file.  I’ve been skimming through this volume and it looks wonderful.  The translation seems pretty good, the notes are plentiful, and there are very nice introductory sections.  Here’s John 1:1 with the accompanying footnote:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was {what} God {was}.

Ἐν ἀρχῃ̂ ἠ̂ν ὁ λόγος, καὶ ὁ λόγος ἠ̂ν πρὸς τὸν θεόν, καὶ θεὸς ἠ̂ν ὁ λόγος. This second theos could also be translated ‘divine’ as the construction indicates a qualitative sense for theos. The Word is not God in the sense that he is the same person as the theos mentioned in 1:1a; he is not God the Father (God absolutely as in common NT usage) or the Trinity. The point being made is that he is of the same uncreated nature or essence as God the Father, with whom he eternally exists. This verse is echoed in the Nicene Creed: “God (qualitative or derivative) from God (personal, the Father), Light from Light, True God from True God… homoousion with the Father.”

There are also a number of appendices, most notable are Appendix C: John 1, 18: Jesus as ‘God’ (pp. 466-7) and Appendix D: John 15:26 — The Filioque Controversy (pp. 468-83).  I’ve only glanced at them but hopefully I’ll be able to give them a thorough reading by the weekend.  Interestingly Appendix C cites an unnamed non-Trinitarian critic as saying: “Trinitarians do not mean what they say and they do not mean what they say.” (p. 466)  I’ve heard two people say exactly this phrase: (1) Greg Stafford and (2) Andew Corban.  Both Stafford and Corban (who is a disciple of Stafford) are Jehovah’s Witnesses and have made this statement in various debates with Trinitarians.  I wonder if one of them is the critic that Fr. Cleenewerck had in mind.

The appendix on the Filioque looks to be quite informative and thorough (and I’m sure quite biased toward my own position).  One question/statement toward the end of the appendix stood out and is worth considering: 

Is it not conceivable that the filioque is the symptom of lingering Modalism and ‘crypto-triple autotheism?’ This heretical drift, presented under the label of ‘historical trinitarianism’ is especially noticeable among Evangelical Protestants. (p. 482)

As to the question I’d answer with a resounding yes!  As to the statement I’m left with little choice but to agree (see e.g., Gerald Bray’s “The Double Procession of the Holy Spirit” in JETS 41/3 (Sept. 1998): 415-26).  In any event, I’m very glad to have come across this resource and I look forward to obtaining a print copy as soon as possible (but at $27.50 for the paperback and $37.50 for the hardcover that might be a while).

B”H

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17 thoughts on “The Eastern/Greek Orthodox Bible: New Testament

  1. Just noticed this audio program that might interest you. “The Filioque: Does the Holy Spirit Proceed from the Father & the Son?” with Peter Bender of the Concordia Catechetical Academy.

  2. I love your Trinitarian bent, Nick. Until I met you, I was neutral on the subject. I’m still neutral, but now I realise it’s resolution is important. So I’m gonna pick your brain.

    “Interestingly Appendix C cites an unnamed non-Trinitarian critic as saying: “Trinitarians do not mean what they say and they do not mean what they say.” “

    Did you mean ‘Trinitarians do not say what they mean and do not mean what they say’? And, what do they say, and what do they mean?

    Is it not conceivable that the filioque is the symptom of lingering Modalism and ‘crypto-triple autotheism?’ This heretical drift, presented under the label of ‘historical trinitarianism’ is especially noticeable among Evangelical Protestants. (p. 482)

    Is this saying that, because the filioque conflates Father and Son, it is saying ‘One God, Two Aspects’? Because I can see this. But I don’t see how a Trinitarianism filioque doesn’t do the same thing.

    I don’t understand how it can be seen as any type of autotheism.

    And, to be honest, I haven’t seen modalism in display Evangelical churches, although I admit I haven’t been looking for signs.

  3. Damian: I actually didn’t notice that. That’s Fr. Cleenewerck’s typo (I think it’s a typo) but yes, that’s what I’ve heard said and what I assume he meant. As to the question, the argument runs something like this: Trinitarians don’t believe that the Father or the Son or the Holy Spirit is God, but rather that they are Persons of God. If you want to hear it in action then check this out (fast forward to 20 minutes into the debate to hear Andrew Corban say this in his opening argument).

    Concerning the Filioque, yeah, something like that. One of the biggest objections is that it’s contrary to what the Bible says, but in its contrariness it does conflate Father and Son in a way that any modalist would happily accept.

    The thing about autotheism and the filioque being a symptom of it is this: if the essence/nature/being of God is taken to be the source of the Spirit’s procession (which in Evangelical theology it is) then the result would be to say that the Spirit proceeds from both Father and Son since both Father and Son are autotheos, i.e., the Spirit proceeds from the common divine essence/nature/being. There are some serious problems with this I think, most obvious is that the Spirit is also said to be autotheos and would therefore proceed from himself. One of the central debates (and this is something that the appendix notes) is whether or not the Spirit proceeds from the person of the Father (and the Son) or the essence/nature/being.

    And trust me, it’s in display in abundance. Start looking for it and you’ll see it all over the place.

  4. And while on the subject of the typo, it bears noting that the document now available for download is the last draft of the project; the final version will be available, together with the Old Testament, at the end of this year (which when those so inclined should buy the volume, unless they have money to burn ;-) ). I will alert Fr Laurent regarding this.

  5. Esteban: I followed the other link in your recent comment to that post and it all came flooding back. I can’t believe I didn’t check the links over a year ago when you first posted them, or perhaps I did and just forgot (although I doubt it given that such a project is a memorable one). So if I come across any errors I’ll send them to you, okay?

  6. One of the biggest objections is that it’s contrary to what the Bible says.

    I wasn’t aware that the bible made explicit reference at all.

    There are some serious problems with this I think, most obvious is that the Spirit is also said to be autotheos and would therefore proceed from himself.

    But surely this problem occurs no matter which person (Father or Son or both) the Holy Spirit proceeds from?

    One of the central debates is whether or not the Spirit proceeds from the person of the Father (and the Son) or the essence/nature/being.

    If I’m following, if it proceeds from the person of the Father, than Filoque is incorrect. If proceeds from the essence, than it is (but there is the problem of the Holy Spirit proceeding from itself.

  7. Damian: John 15:26 makes explicit reference: “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth (ἐκπορεύεται) from the Father, he shall testify of me…” (KJV)

    But surely this problem occurs no matter which person (Father or Son or both) the Holy Spirit proceeds from?

    Yes, hence the problem with saying that the persons are autotheos.

    And you are following.

  8. Nick You say that the Filioque is not Biblical however what is probably more correct is John 20:22 God the Father sends the Holy Spirit to the Church through the Son. I know I have mentioned the Council of Florence to you before and this understanding although never received by the Eastern Catholic Church is still a more Biblical understanding than Filioque I wonder how Protestant thinkers consider this move, I myself in reciting the Creed use `through and` in reference to the Holy Spirit. I agree that there is a distinction relating God and Person. If you get chance get hold of Alan Torrance work`Persons in Communion` in which he explores person in the work of Barth and Zizioulas.
    Damian The spirit does not proceed but is spirated only the Son procedes from the Father sorry to be technical but in work of the Trinity the correct usage of terminology is essential or as most people you end up in heresy.

  9. Andrew: As you’re aware, the controversy is over the Spirit’s procession. I have no problem agreeing with Athanasius when he says: “And the Holy Spirit is always the Holy Spirit, whom we have believed to be of God, and to be given from the Father through the Son.” (Ad Ser 4.6) But this is more nuanced and palatable than saying that the Spirit proceeds from the Father AND the Son.

    But a quick correction to your comment to Damian. According to both John 15:26 and the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed the Spirit does proceed from the Father. John 15:26 uses the verb ἐκπορεύεται* and the N-C Creed uses ἐκπορευόμενον.** Both the Vulgate and Latin text of the N-C Creed use procedit.

    Aquinas said:

    Now, procession cannot belong to the Father and the Son, or to either of them…consequently that procession belongs to the other person who is called the person of the Holy Ghost, (ST Pt. 1, Q. 30, art. 2)

    * indicative present middle 3rd person singular
    ** participle present middle accusative masculine singular

  10. Nick: I think I getcha.

    Thanks, Andrew (and thanks Nick’s correction of Andrew).

    Now I ask the stupid question: What does it actually mean for the Holy Spirit to proceed from the Father?

  11. Damian: I suppose the existential answer to that question is that it’s a matter of order. But proceeds means to come forth from and it matters what we believe about this because it matters how we view the way that the persons of the Trinity relate to one another.

  12. I understand that it’s important. I have trouble envisaging what ‘coming forth’ means in a Trinitarian context. It’s probably just one of those mysteries, like the Trinity itself, that we’re not supposed to get our fingers on.

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