This paper examines the positions of the Greek-speaking Orthodox Churches concern- ing Russia’s ongoing war against Ukraine. Apart from being informative, the paper raises the theological question about whether the Churches’ various stances follow Christ’s commandment to spread his teaching to the world and to what degree they are compatible with relevant New Testament texts. After navigating through and commenting on the relevant statements of the Patriarchates of Constantinople, Al- exandria, and Jerusalem, the Autocephalous Churches of Cyprus and Greece, and the Holy Community of Mount Athos, two New Testament texts that represent different approaches to political power, namely Rom 13:1–7 and John’s Revelation, are briefly examined. The paper establishes that the positions of the Greek-speaking Churches vary between general anti-war statements and concrete condemnations of the Russian invasion and its direct or indirect support by the Russian Orthodox hi- erarchy. However, nationalism, as well as church-political opportunism, seem to be more or less inherent phenomena in all contemporary national Orthodox Churches. Hence, finally, it is up to the faithful, not just to Church hierarchies, to discern evil and speak out against injustice.
Abstract. This study discusses the problem of the incompatibility between ethnocentric tendencies within the national Orthodox churches and the New Testament teaching on nonviolence. The three main parts outline the relevant New Testament teaching (1) in the four Gospels and the book of Acts, (2) in the Pauline epistles, and (3) in John’s Revelation. The study concludes that in the New Testament texts, there is no room for the justification of violence on the part of Christ-followers against their opponents. Quite on the contrary, the New Testament views the world as having the potential to become ecclesia, and the “other” as a possible sister or brother in Christ. Unfortunately, this fundamental New Testament teaching is often forgotten in modern-day Orthodoxy, notwithstanding its claims for unbroken continuity with the apostolic tradition. As an example, the Greek-Orthodox church oftentimes emphasizes national identity and heroism over ecclesial faith and ethos. Although understandable, such ethnocentric tendencies clearly contradict the New Testament witness and should be abandoned.
CHRISTOS KARAKOLIS: The Preexistence of Jesus in Mark’s Gospel from an Old Testament Perspective
Despite the fact that the Gospel of Mark does not clearly refer to the pre-existence of Jesus Christ, there are significant indications that it is both implied and presupposed. Among the various theories relevant to this issue one can discern the interpretation of Mark 1:2-3 as a passage referring to a heavenly dialogue between God and His Son prior to the beginning of John the Baptist’s preaching in the world, the preaching that will prepare the course of the Son of God in the world.
Following the interpretation of Mark 1:1-3 a translational deficit is highlighted that comes from the non-clarification of the identity of these two heavenly discussants. Although, some translations highlight the fact that in v.2 the conversing subject is indeed God, there is no translation that names the other conversant. This is, indeed, a necessary aspect that should be presented in a dynamic translation so that the reader will be able to un- derstand from the onset the Christological teaching of the Gospel of Mark.
Romans 6,1-14 is central to Pauline thought, both in the letter to the Romans and in the Apostle’s theology as a whole, and this is the reason for its multifaceted history of interpretation, influence, and reception. While this text has many interpretative and hermeneutical dimensions, in this essay we will select an exegetical approach, with emphasis on the detailed examination of its structure, flow, terminology, and theo- logical content. Due to its particular theme, we will mainly focus on the interplay between the terms and theological ideas relating to the concepts of death, life, and resurrection, while also linking christology, ethics, and soteriology to each other.
Die Programmschrift Sola Scriptura Ökumenisch ist weltweit der erste Versuch, Ökumene konsequent aus dem gemeinsamen Bezug auf die Bibel als wegweisender Richtschnur für individuellen Glauben und institutionelle Gestaltung von Kirchen im Kontext offener gesellschaftlicher Konflikte der Gegenwart zu denken. Erstmals werden 10 Thesen zum Verständnis und zur Funktion einer Schriftauffassung im Zeichen von Sola Scriptura publiziert, die gemeinsam von einem evangelischen, einem römisch-katholischen und einem orthodoxen Bibelwissenschaftler formuliert wurden. Sie sind sich darin einig, dass allein die Schrift richtig verstanden eine frohe Botschaft für alle bezeugt und nur die gemeinsame, erwartungsvolle wie kritische Hinwendung zur Schrift tragfähige Ökumene ermöglicht. Diese ist die Basis dafür, biblische Einsichten in die Ermöglichungsbedingungen gemeinschaftlichen Lebens in die globalen und lokalen kirchlichen und gesellschaftlichen Konflikte der Gegenwart einzubringen.
The present paper aims to investigate the characteristics of the kingdom of God and the ethical presuppositions for entering it. The study is limited to the witness of the synoptic gospels. The approach to the issue at hand is a synchronic one based on the method of reader-response criticism. Concretely, the gospels are read through the lens of an assumed ancient reader of the synoptic gospels who is well-versed in Greek literature and compares the concept of the kingdom of God with the one of Athenian democracy according to Pericles’s Epitaph in Thucydides.From an ethical point of view, the kingdom of God exceeds by far even the ideal democracy. Contrary to the latter, the kingdom of God is entirely peaceful, treats all its citizens as equals, invites all human beings to enter it but leaves them free to decide for themselves whether or not they wish to.
The only fight its prospective citizens have to give is against demonic powers and their own negative inclinations. Differently from Pericles’s Epitaph, in God’s kingdom, active love towards all, enemies included, is the quintessence of ethics. To receive God’s kingdom, human beings have to love God more than anything else and their neighbor like themselves. They also have to be forgiving, self-denying, and self-sacrificing without expecting to be rewarded in the present world. On their way to the kingdom of God, they belong to those mourning, crying, and being persecuted. Earthly honor does not matter at all; the sinners, the poor, and the outliers are the first to enter the kingdom.
In sum, the ethical standards for belonging to God’s kingdom are much higher than those of the citizens of the Athenian democracy. Most importantly, though, the ethics of God’s kingdom is founded on faith in Jesus Christ, the true Son of God, whose earthly presence inaugurates his and his Father’s kingdom.
Fasting is undeniably one of the religious practices that form the identity of the members of the Orthodox Church. Among other points, the official document on fasting of the Holy and Great Council of Crete focuses on the need for the local Churches to apply the principle of oikonomia when necessary. However, in the pertinent argumentation, there is hardly any reference to the relevant witness of the New Testament. The present paper attempts to fill in this blank by presenting St. Paul’s teaching on abstinence from idol food as an important contribution to this discussion.
While Paul is not interested in the practice of fasting per se, he is concerned with the problem of believers eating or avoiding idol food. According to him, Christians with a strong conscience should feel free to consume idol food. However, they also have to take into account their brethren with a weak conscience who think of such practice as participation in idolatry. If necessary, the first ones should be even prepared to give up their right of eating meat so as not to scandalize the latter. It is then clear that St. Paul understands abstinence from food as a condescension to spiritual weakness.
Contemporary civilization has created new serious health disorders, which are partly due to modern-day eating habits. For this, as well as for other reasons, many Christians nowadays cannot and should not be fasting in the traditional way. Taking into consideration the Pauline testimony, the historical diversity of the practice of fasting, as well as the complexity of contemporary problems, an individualized understanding and application of both akribeia and oikonomia is required. In addition, Church members should be encouraged to reach spiritual maturity, so that they are able to take responsibility for both their spiritual and their physical health.
In the interconfessional theological dialogue between the Orthodox and the Roman-Catholic Church, there has been much discussion about the famous passage 16:16–19 of Matthew’s Gospel. However, not much attention has been paid to the testimonies of other New Testament books about the Apostle Peter’s person, work, and historical impact. This paper examines the narrative character of Simon Peter in John’s Gospel to contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of the great apostle’s historical significance in early Christianity. In our analysis, we make use of the narrative-critical method focusing on the comparison between Simon Peter and the Beloved Disciple. This approach opens a window to how the Johannine community evaluated Peter’s person and significance at the time of the composition of the Fourth Gospel, and, thus, helps us better understand the biblical foundations of the theological debate on the papal office.
The time of Photios the Great was crucial for the Jewish-Christian relations. The Byzantine Empire exited the iconoclastic controversy in 842 AD, for which the Jews had been partly held responsible. In 861 AD, the Byzantines attempted to approach the Khazars, who had largely embraced Judaism. Furthermore, starting in 872, emperor Basil I made a series of attempts to convert the Byzantine Jews to Christianity.This historical background is reflected by the numerous references to the Jews in Photios’s works. Photios generally utilizes acute anti-Jewish rhetoric, through which he seems to be seeking to construct a unified Christian identity following the iconoclastic divide. It is noteworthy, however, that Photios focuses his anti-Jewish rhetoric on the events of the New Testament, while he avoids referring to the Jews of his time and thereby inciting tension towards them. He also makes positive remarks about Jewish believers and states his faith in the eschatological conversion of all Jews to Christianity. While Photios addresses his sermons and writings to an exclusively Christian audience, the discourse of modern-day Church is de facto addressed to humanity as a whole. Therefore, our Church should rather adopt a rhetoric of reconciliation, promote a sincere theological discourse, and transcend all sorts of stereotypes. The theological dialogue between the Byzantines and the Khazars, inspired by Photios the Great, is a valuable precedent in this endeavor.
As a rule, exegetes consider John 5:14a merely as the geographical and chronological setting for Jesus' admonition to the previously lame man in 5:14b. However, by combining the methodological approaches of narrative criticism and history of tradition, some implicit narrative and theological motifs are revealed. These relate to the emotional state and way of thinking of the healed man as a narrative character, as well as to the theological meaning of his encounter with Jesus in the Temple-area. Mutatis mutandis, by noticing these implicit motifs, the implied readers can potentially understand this encounter as being in line with the Old Testament Temple-epiphanies.
One of the most important challenges of contemporary Orthodox theology is the possibility of creative dialogue with the methods and the results of modern New Testament scholarship. This paper claims that a combination of the Orthodox theological tradition and New Testament scholarship is not only possible but indeed necessary. Since the first centuries, the Church Fathers have been studying the New Testament by a variety of approaches using the methodological tools of their respective era. The Church Fathers have considered the New Testament as being a book written by inspired human beings and witnessing the divine revelation. During the middle and later Byzantine period, the patristic biblical exegesis has gradually gained so much authority and importance that it became normative for all later interpretations. One could characterize the patristic interpretation of the Holy Scripture during the first Christian centuries as a “canon after the canon.” Modern-day New Testament scholarship is also not free of problems with regard to both method and content. From an Orthodox perspective, this is due to the fact that it often exceeds its own limits by trying to access the uncreated divine reality by using created scholarly methods and categories. The Church Fathers have avoided this inconsistency by developing and following a “double theological methodology,” namely distinct approaches to the created reality and the uncreated one. Just like the Church Fathers made use of the philosophical and theological language and methods of their own time, nowadays Orthodox Theology can significantly profit from the use of the methods and results of New Testament scholarship. This is the only way for it to provide convincing answers to contemporary questions. Such a practice would be an adoption of the true spirit of the Church Fathers, as opposed to merely citing their texts that refer to a different time and focus on different problems from our own.
This study attempts to analyse the narrative function and the theological significance of Jesus’ mother for the overall theology of the fourth gospel, mainly based on the exegetical method of narrative criticism.In the first part, the problem of the anonymity of Jesus’ mother in juxtapposition with the anonymity of the beloved disciple is dealt with. The second part consists of a detailed exegetical approach to the narrative of Jesus’ first sign in Cana within the Johannine narrative context as a whole. On this basis, in the third part a response to further relevant questions about the significance of Jesus’ mother according to the overall fourth gospel’s witness is attempted. The article is concluded with a summary of exegetical and theological positions, including a hypothesis about a possible Johannine background of the current Orthodox understanding of Theotokos.
Καρακόλης, Χρήστος. “Κριτικές εκδόσεις και μετάφραση της Καινής Διαθήκης”. In Η μετάφραση της Βίβλου στην Εκκλησία και στην Εκπαίδευση: Αφιέρωμα στα 25 χρόνια από την έκδοση της Νέας Μετάφρασης της Καινής Διαθήκης στη Νεοελληνική Γλώσσα, 27–37. Αθήνα: Ελληνική Βιβλική Εταιρία, 2015.
In the gospel of Mark (6:14-29) the death of John the Baptist is reported in the most detailed fashion, compared to its synoptic parallels. In fact, this is the only extended story in the second gospel that interrupts the gospel’s linear narrative flow by referring to a past event. On the basis of stylistic, structural and narratological observations the present study attempts to illuminate the narrative function and the christological significance of this story by examining the relationship of Mk 6:14-16 to 8:27-29 and 9:9-13, as well as the relationship of 6:17-29 to the Marcan passion narrative. The study concludes that from a narrative, as well as a christological perspective, the second evangelist presents the death of John the Baptist as decisively pointing towards Jesus’ passion.
Karakolis, Christos. “Resümee der Diskussionen”. In Einheit der Kirche im Neuen Testament. Vorträge des Dritten ostwestlichen Symposiums europäischer Neutestamentler, St. Petersburg, 24–31.08.2005, 277-287. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2008.
Καρακόλης, Χρήστος. “Το ιερό μυστήριο του Βαπτίσματος και οι μυστηριακές λατρείες”. In Χριστιανική Λατρεία και ειδωλολατρία: Πρακτικά Στ´ Πανελληνίου Λειτουργικού Συμποσίου Στελεχών Ιερών Μητροπόλεων: 20–23 Σεπτεμβρίου 2004, 199-226. Αθήνα: Κλάδος Εκδόσεων της Επικοινωνιακής και Μορφωτικής Υπηρεσίας της Εκκλησίας της Ελλάδος, 2005.