What counts as “historical” in the mind of the first century and what counts as “historical” in the mind of the 20th or 21st, are very different things. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that the first century mind was not capable of conceiving what we think of as “historical.” And this is a extremely essential part of understanding the Scriptures, as well as acquiring an Orthodox mind. . .
God is a poet. The world is His poem. It often needs to be read poetically in order to be understood. Protestants and modernists want the world (and God) to be prose. It is not.What this writer deems the difference between a secular viewpoint and understanding of history and the mind of a first century person like St. Paul sounds awfully close to what most skeptics of Scripture and its story say. In fact, I would suggest that this author has fallen into the trap of becoming exactly what he is trying to avoid. He has tossed out historicity as a modern concept and therefore ended up right where the higher critics of the 1800s and forward have left us -- with a story that does not need to be and certainly does not claim to be true in order for us to benefit. In the modern critic, morality is what is left when you sift all of history from the Biblical message. In this Orthodox writer's viewpoint, allegory is what is left when you dispense with the messy business of truth and fact and history.
The life of an Orthodox believer includes struggling to acquire the mind of the fathers, which includes losing the mind of modernity. In that mind, I would generally say, the “historical” character of the Exodus (or other stories), in a precise, objective form just doesn’t matter, inasmuch as it’s the wrong question asked by a wrongly shaped mentality. That doesn’t mean nothing happened. The assertion that the Exodus is nothing more than pure fiction is both wrong and implausible.
It sounds like a spiritual high road but it is in essence a dark detour that will inevitably lead to a dead end. The thing begins with St. Paul's words to Corinthians (1 Cor. 10:1-11) in which it certainly sounds like St. Paul presumes that the Exodus account is factual, historical, and true. The questioner protests because surely everyone believes that this is mythistory, not history. Well, it certainly does sound like St. Paul presumes that the Exodus account is factual, historical, and true. And it certainly does sound like Jesus presumes such, along with the historicity of Adam and Eve and God's ordered creation of all that is. What is even more compelling is the way St. Paul treats the resurrection of Jesus (1 Cor. 15) in which not only is the factual, historical, and truthful nature of Christ's resurrection affirmed but the apostle insists on this fact, history, and truth hangs the whole balance of Christianity!
There are those who insist that trying to hold on to the historicity of the creation account and Adam and Eve as well as a host of other things deemed mythistory by the modern mind is a troglodyte mentality -- uniformed, uneducated, unsophisticated, and untenable! The truth is that we hold to the truthful, factual, historical character of the Biblical record and its content not because we are incapable of higher intellectual thought but because these are the claims of Scripture itself and ultimately of Jesus Himself and one cannot pick and choose truth and fact and history without losing the whole forest for the sake of a few suspect trees.
Believing the creation account of Genesis or the Exodus or the miracles of the Old Testament is a small thing in comparison to believing the greater thing -- that the Son of God was incarnate of a Virgin, that He willingly suffered in our place to carry the burden of our sins into His death so that by His resurrection we might be raised from the death of sin to new and everlasting life. Every other claim of Scripture pales in comparison to the mystery of Christ. It is the most untenable fact and truth of Scripture! If we have problems with lesser things, we shall surely have a great impediment to believing the greater.
Both the papists and "Orthodox (ie, papists with beards)" have swallowed higher criticism hook, line, & sinker - all this while claiming to be guided by some "apostolic tradition." Anyone with any familiarity with these two false churches will view this article as SOSDD.
Who is the Orthodox writer?
Once again, I think you are missing the point: The Western mind thinks in linear terms, and breaks down prose vs poetry, it's an all or none, logical way of thinking. For those of us who have learned the discipline of thinking with more of an Eastern mind (I say "more of" because I, too, was trained in Western thinking, especially in my medical training and teaching, but I have deliberately worked to discipline my mind to think in a more "global" way) there is no need to reconcile seeming idiosyncrasies in texts, to "line up" seeming discrepancies between different accounts of stories in the Bible.
It's not a matter of historical-critical or grammatical critical, it is simply just accepting of the text as the inspired and inerrant text, by faith. To think this way is to believe that God has given the Scripture to the CHURCH, not to the academy. The academy has no business trying to interpret OUR Book!
God is a mathematician, which is how He orders the universe. He does poetry on the side...
Who is the Orthodox writer quoted in this article?
Joseph... follow the link. Fr. Stephen Freeman
Quote: Once again, I think you are missing the point: The Western mind thinks in linear terms, and breaks down prose vs poetry, it's an all or none, logical way of thinking.
When a writer uses a term like mythistory there is an immediate problem. Of course, there are differences in the way people view history (separated by 20 centuries) but these differences do not at all imply that whether or not something actually happened is irrelevant to the event or its interpretation.
Yes, I know that the West has a more "linear" view of time and history but that does not mean that the early church or Biblical times or Eastern perspectives deem the actually historicity of something irrelevant to its meaning. That is exactly the claim of liberal Christianity -- it does not matter if it happened (like the Resurrection of Jesus) because the spiritual meaning and import is the same whether or not it actually happened. Of course this is a fallacy and the end result is a religion of morality alone without anything to say to sin or its death.
That is also the claim and m.o. of pagan religion, hence its reflection in Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism. Lnear thinking does characterize the OT view of history, starting from creation and ending at the eschaton without age-ending cataclysms. The Hebrew in Genesis 1-11 is definitely prosaic; only someone looking to dodge the doctrine of creation and its ramifications would think otherwise.
I think the poetry and prose views can be reconciled. In fact, I think that for the "poetics" of biblical history to work, we have to be grounded in the "prose." An example: the Gospels record that two angels stood at the tomb of Christ. This literally happened. In that respect it is "prose." However, we can also say that the two angels are the cherubim of the new creation, and that they are facing Christ, who is the new Ark of the Covenant. This would correspond to a more "poetic" view of history and the Scriptures. Both are true, and they are not in conflict with one another. The "poetic" nature of the biblical narratives depend upon their actually having occurred, but the repetitions, recapitulations, tensions and resolutions of themes, all contribute to our wonder at God's providential, poetic ordering of history and the Scripture's composition.
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