scripture


December 19, 2012 + The Practical Reading of the Scriptures Delights the Soul

by St. Nicodemos of the Holy Mountain, A Handbook of Spiritual Counsels, The Classics of Western Spirituality, p. 190.

If you love to enjoy true and complete delight from the Scriptures, seek to read them not merely with simple understanding, but with deeds and practical realities. Moreover, seek to read them not merely for the mere love of learning but also for the sake of ascetic endeavors and discipline, as St. Mark wrote: "Read the words of Holy Scripture with an eye to practical applications and not merely to he puffed up by any fine thought that you may receive from Another Father said: "This is why the lover of knowledge must also be a lover of discipline and practical application. For knowledge alone does not give light to the lamp." You will receive this light if you contemplate on the content of Scripture and realize that it was written to correct you and not the others, as again St. Mark said: "The humble person who has a spiritual life reads the Holy Scripture and understands everything to refer to him and not to others.” For this is true wisdom, fear of God, and avoidance of evil: “Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding” (Job 28:28). St. Gregory the Theologian also wrote: “The first wisdom is a praiseworthy life purified by God.”

July 4, 2012 + How to Read the Bible (Part 2)

from Orthodox America, Issue 4, Vol. 1, No. 4, October, 1980
by St. Justin Popovich

Prayerful Preparation

Just as important as knowing why we should read the Bible is knowing how we should read the Bible.

The best guides for this are the holy Fathers, headed by St. John Chrysostom who, in a manner of speaking, has written a fifth Gospel.

The holy Fathers recommend serious preparation before reading and studying the Bible; but of what does this preparation consist?

First of all in prayer. Pray to the Lord to illumine your mind--so that you may understand the words of the Bible--and to fill your heart with His grace--so that you may feel the truth and life of those words.

Be aware that these are God's words, which He is speaking and saying to you personally. Prayer, together with the other virtues found in the Gospel, is the best preparation a person can have for understanding the Bible.

How We Should Read the Bible Prayerfully and reverently, for in each word there is another drop of eternal truth, and all the words together make up the boundless ocean of the Eternal Truth.

The Bible is not a book, but life; because its words are spiritual life (John 6:63). Therefore its words can be comprehended it we study them with the spirit of its spirit, and with the life of its life.

It is a book that must be read with life-by putting it into practice. One should first live it, and then understand it.

June 27, 2012 + How to Read the Bible (Part 1)

from Orthodox America, Issue 4, Vol. 1, No. 4, October, 1980
by St. Justin Popovich

The Bible is in a sense a biography of God in this world. In it the Indescribable One has in a sense described Himself. 

The Holy Scriptures of the New Testament are a biography of the incarnate God in this world. In them it is related how God, in order to reveal Himself to men, sent God the Logos, Who took on flesh and became man-and as man told men everything that God is, everything that God wants from this world and the people in it.

God the Logos revealed God's plan for the world and God's love for the world. God the Word spoke to men about God with the help of words insofar as human words can contain the uncontainable God.

All that is necessary for this world and the people in it--the Lord has stated in the Bible. In it He has given the answers to all questions. There is no question which can torment the human soul, and not find its answer, either directly or indirectly in the Bible.

Men cannot devise more questions than there are answers in the Bible. If you fail to find the answer to any of your questions in the Bible, it means that you have either posed a senseless question or did not know how to read the Bible and did not finish reading the answer in it.

What the Bible Contains

In the Bible God has made known:

1) what the world is; where it came from; why it exists; what it is heading for; how it will end;

2) what man is; where he comes from; where he is going; what he is made of; what his purpose is

how he will end;

June 13, 2012 + The Psalter According to the Seventy

The Psalter According to the Seventy: The Use of the Septuagint by the Early Church
by Fr. A. James Bernstein
from
AGAIN Magazine, September 1992

What Old Testament text did early Christians use when they prayed the Psalms? Many are surprised to learn that the official text was not the Hebrew or Masoretic text which forms the basis of most modern English translations today. In order to understand why, it is necessary to know something of the background of the text of the Old Testament. 

At the time of Christ, the Apostles, and the early Church, Hebrew had long since ceased to be the commonly spoken language, even among the Jews.  Although Jesus understood Hebrew, He would have spoken Aramaic – the common language of Palestine – with His disciples. Jesus and His disciples were probably familiar, at least to a certain extent, with Greek, the common language of the Roman Empire. 

Because Greek was the most widely spoken and read language of the empire at large, a translation of the Hebrew Old Testament into Greek had been accomplished, according to tradition, by seventy translators, in the city of Alexandria, during the third century before Christ. The name Septuagint means “according to the seventy.” The Septuagint, or LXX, was without question the most common text of the Scriptures at the time of Jesus and the Apostles. It was the Old Testament of the early Church.

September 7, 2011 + My Bible, My Friend

by V. Rev. Fr. James Meena
from The Word, September 1987

In the Gospel of St. Matthew, we hear Jesus quote the ancient scripture from the prophesies of Isaiah and from that moment on, He began to preach this message: “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is close at hand,” (4:12-17). Those particular words have stirred up some anxiety and fear in the hearts of people without warrant for many years. Jesus was not threatening us, nor should we interpret this statement, as do some of our fellow Christians, as being just a precautionary admonition, “repent or else,” because the scriptures are filled with “or elses.” It was not necessary for Jesus to come and to utter another one. What He was saying is, in effect, prepare yourself for it because there is no way that you can enter into that kingdom so long as you bear in your conscience the brands of sin and guilt for having transgressed the commandments of God.

Now Jesus, though He is the Son of God, was steeped in scripture. All throughout the testaments of the four evangelists, we find Jesus quoting the scriptures and it is necessary for us to learn from His example that it is necessary for us to be able to understand scripture, not merely to memorize chapter and verse, for Jesus simply stated: “The prophet Isaiah said,” and He knew that the people to whom He was speaking understood because they knew the scriptures. It is necessary however for us to know the spirit of scripture, its teachings, its intent.

The History of Our Salvation: Reading the Old Testament During Lent and Holy Week

Introduction

O almighty Master, who hast made all creation and by thine inexpressible providence and great goodness hast brought us to these all−revered days, for the purification of soul and body, for the controlling of passions and for hope of resurrection, who, during the forty days didst give into the hands of thy servant Moses the tablets of the Law in characters divinely traced by thee: Enable us also, O good One, to fight the good fight, to complete the course of the fast, to preserve inviolate the faith, to crush under foot the heads of invisible serpents, to be accounted victors over sin; and, uncondemned, to attain unto and worship the holy resurrection. For blessed and glorified is thine all−honorable and majestic name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages.1

From the first Presanctified Liturgy of the Lenten season, the Old Testament is offered to us for instruction and inspiration, and revealed to us as our guide through the forty days−those forty days which we keep in memory of Moses’ sojourn on Mount Sinai, during which God gave into the hands of His servant the tablets of the Law in characters which He Himself divinely traced. This is, of course, a reference from the Book of Exodus. The second Old Testament citation in this prayer hearkens from the earliest chapters of the Book of Genesis, in which God curses the
serpent who has just led Adam and Eve into temptation:

On your belly you shall go, and you shall eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel. (Genesis 3:14−15)