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.