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End of quote: how to read the holy fathers

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End of quote: how to read the holy fathers

As it is known, the favorite sport of the Orthodox is a duel on quotations, mainly from the Holy Fathers. The winner of the duel is the one whose quote was the last. In the words of messengers, confessors, interpreters, servants of Love, they rush like stones — without thinking of pain, mission, or enlightenment. A regrettable picture.

Obviously, the fight quotations – this is a wrong application. What then is the right one? It is sometimes said that an ordinary person does not dare to interpret Scripture, and fathers will point out, teach them how to interpret Scripture correctly. True, it remains unclear how some texts will help interpret other texts – text to text, words to words. If I am not able to understand the text of the apostles, how can I understand the text of the followers of their case, interpreting them – the apostles – essays? Probably the answer is that you have to read a lot, learning first of all not specific interpretations, but the method used by fathers.

Who is this cultural?

But reading a lot in our wondrous new world means being at the same time a proud man and a chode: you read, of course, instead of living “in the real world”; read – then try to seem better than others. In everyday consciousness, the concept of “culture” is something too complex and therefore redundant. However, be careful: if you are told “this is too difficult” – you probably want to give something simple to the ugliness: “cultural” Bordeaux is a little expensive, drink fake vodka; Lossky's “cultural” is too complicated, read the 101 Sin brochure.

The paradox is that such aversion of culture is a cultural position, and it usually consists in preferring bad texts to good ones. Let's not forget that everything that a person does is artificial, that is, art: only a question. The texts of the Holy Fathers, the Bible, the works of Berdyaev, the sermons of Anthony Surozhsky and the mentioned brochure about sins are texts, that is, products of culture. Denying a high culture, a “simple” culture tries to pretend that it is not a culture at all, but “just life” – this is how news, talk shows, tears and other films work. People declare culture an idol and refuse it, not realizing that a bad culture is also a culture. As a result, the struggle for simplicity leads to the victory of idiocy.

Of course, culture is inadequate to reality. But the awareness of this fact is one of the fundamental features of a high culture, because it is high culture that is prone to realize its helplessness. High culture is determined by the desire to escape from the cultural dungeon and therefore knows how difficult it is.

Respect the author

Yes, culture is an idol, and it is necessary to get rid of it, but we only learned that and we can do it only with the help of culture. Therefore, we will not talk about the meaning of life in a 10-page brochure; let's not think that we “possess the truth” and know the answers to all the questions, if in fact we didn’t even put them before ourselves; We will not try to answer in one quote the questions that have occupied the best minds of mankind for centuries. High culture knows the whole lie of the quotation, it is known that the fundamental basis of the real culture is the end of the quotation: stop quoting, do not pull a piece out of the text, be careful to the author's thoughts.

Any quote is part of the text. The text must be read, I do not say – to understand. At least read the whole thing. It seems to me – although it is scary to say this – that the Lord, who created me, gave me reason, is hardly opposed to me reading His Word, or the words of His slaves – and understood them the way they are written.

Recall the heading question: so how do you read the Fathers? Answer: it is necessary to read the fathers – they themselves, and not those who tore their texts into pieces.

Let us demonstrate this principle with an example: we will read three quotes that clearly state one thing. Then we will read the text, from where they are pulled out and we will understand that they affirm something diametrically opposite.

1. "Slavery does not do any harm, on the contrary – benefits" – sv. Ignatius (Bryanchaninov)

So, everything is obvious: slavery is beneficial, writes sv. Ignatius He writes not anywhere, but in the archpastoral message concerning the abolition of serfdom. To defend slavery at the moment when Russia celebrated the liberation of the people is a strong move, isn't it? It is not surprising that the appeal of the saint became a symbol of resistance to reforms, coming from the very heart of the Church, resistance to "the party of revolution and disorder"

But read into the text. If we drop his momentary occasion, we will see a whole theology of power, domination and slavery – revolutionary theology.

“The unfree state of people, having various forms, as it should be known and understood by every educated person, is a consequence of the fall of man into sin. The first authority was declared the power of her husband, the first dependence – the dependence of his wife. From now on, power is violent, submission is fraught with suffering. ” For the apology of serfdom, a rather unexpected thesis is: every one has arisen – the fruit of sin, there is power, because there is sin. At the same time, the first inequality – gender inequality – is also a consequence of sin, God didn’t plan it either (it’s wonderful to reduce political and social realities to gender issues: hello to Freudians and feminists). We read further.

“The relations of power and subordination break down with the destruction of the world: then the authorities and power will cease (1 Cor. 15; 24), then fraternity, equality, freedom will be established, then the cause of the unity of power and subordination will not be love, but love.” There will be no bosses and authorities, freedom, equality and fraternity — who says this: a terrible church reactionary or one of the leaders of the “party of revolution and disorder”? If the ideal of the Church is to eliminate power and slavery, to establish freedom, then what is the contradiction of the Today of the Church and the revolution? We read further.

“In France, more than once, dreamers managed to entice people to the efforts to fulfill this dream, which could exist in one imagination. What were the consequences? The consequences were blood flows, a state of internal turmoil. In order to come out of a predicament, the people had to restore power and authority … As long as humanity is subject to the influence of sin and passions, power and subordination are still necessary. They will certainly exist throughout the life of the world: only they can be, they will be in various forms. ” In other words, the mistake of the revolution is that it does not leave the circle of this world, it acts according to the logic of power, according to the logic of suffering and blood. The revolution is not radical enough! The justification of the state is exactly the same as that of the “liberal” Solovyov: the state does not exist in order for the Earth to become Paradise, but so that it does not become hell. But what then, do nothing? We read further.

"This life (talking about serfdom) is obsolete in moral and state relations." If you can change the current situation for the better – you need to change, but do not fall into a reverie. The main thing is the following: “Civil slavery is a consequence of sin — sin in the broad sense, or the eternal death that the human race has infected in its root, in the forefathers.” In general, the whole article is very sober, clear, and most importantly its edge – against reverie and frantic.

I think that this is the way – and just this way – the “right degree” of radicalism is achieved. Svt. Ignatius – the critic is much more fundamental than any political opposition: the whole world fell from the beginning, all of it is completely an abomination. “Liberals” do not see this, they are still counting on the world, they are engaged by the authorities of this world. “The Savior of the world has established His Kingdom on earth, but the Spiritual Kingdom, which can dwell in any human society, no matter how this society is called by its civil system — monarchy, or republic, or other. Because the Kingdom of Christ, being not of this world (John 18; 36), has nothing to do with the civilian form of states. ” The church, the space of salvation, is outside the space of sin, power and slavery. The church is a true revolution leading to the “life of the next century”, where there will be neither masters nor slaves.

What do the words "slavery does not do any harm, on the contrary, only benefit" mean? These words themselves belong to John Chrysostom, and St. Ignatius cites them only to confirm his reasoning. Holding all of the above in my head — a heavy burden of the power of the prince of this world, a circle of blood — we now understand what he means. True resistance to the authorities is refusal to play their games. So St. Ignatius says: “use slavery by means of humility in a powerful means of salvation.”

2. "I want you to have an appeal to your husband, obey him as a body to your head, and with joy recognize his domination" – St. John Chrysostom

So, a woman should be subordinated to a man, and with joy. So says Chrysostom in the "Interpretation of the Book of Genesis." But read into the text.

“As if justifying himself before a wife, the God-loving God says: I first created you as an equestrian (husband) and wanted you, being one (with him) of dignity, to have fellowship with him in everything, and both your husband and you were entrusted with the power over all creatures; but you haven’t taken advantage of equal treatment, as you should, for this I submit you to my husband. ”

In other words, according to God's plan, men and women are equal and equitable. God wanted the same dignity of the sexes. Gender inequality is introduced along with all the consequences of the fall: exile from Paradise, shame, death. As far as the humanity of God is, so is woman in it free; as far as mankind is divorced from God, so much in it is a woman enslaved. And we see it in any nation, in any era – the enslavement of a woman, violence to her, reducing her to livestock. Such is the fallen world.

Not once noticed that in the Gospel the vast majority of the "bad" characters – men. This is natural, because the world “not of which” His Kingdom is the world of the male order, the world dominated by men. Therefore there are so many women among His disciples. Is it not the business of salvation to free mankind from the consequences of the fall into sin – including from gender inequality? And we see it in the Gospel, and then in the whole history of the Christian world, the glorious End of this world and the triumph of Heavenly Jerusalem. As far as the Church is “home,” that is, holy, with God — so much the woman is freed, so much as her heavenly equality with a man returns to her.

What then do the words of Zalotusta mean about “joyful submission”? As we see, this is not a commandment for all times, but a simple statement of the actual situation in which a woman fell after the fall. And Christ comes to destroy, and this too – to destroy all the distortions caused by sin.

3. "The very place where the moon was at its creation, its magnitude and serene show that it was created in the form in which it happens on the fifteenth day" – prep. Efrem Sirin

So, everything is obvious: if the Rev. Efrem Sirin in his “Interpretation of the Book of Genesis” considers it necessary to calculate at what point in his cycle the Moon was created and calculate its place in the sky – then, of course, the Book of Genesis requires literal interpretation. But read into the text.

“I didn’t want to write this interpretation on the book of Genesis, in order not to repeat here what was already stated in songs and conversations. But I’m inviting friends, forced to do so, in brief here, what I have proposed more extensively in chants and conversations ”- so, prep. Ephraim, not in the “Interpretation of Genesis” alone, interpreted the book of Genesis. Where else? For example, in the book "About Paradise". There we read:

“The tree was for him the image of a door, the fruit was a veil covering the temple. Adam tore the fruit, broke the commandment – and barely saw the glory that shone with its rays from the inside, as he ran away, and hurried to seek refuge under humble fig-trees.

He planted the tree of knowledge and set it in the middle, so that it separated the highest, the lower, and the holy, and the Holy of Holies. Adam started, dared to enter – and was horrified. As King Uzziah was covered with leprosy, so did Adam expose himself, and since he was amazed, like Uzziah, he was in a hurry to leave. Both fled and hid, because both were ashamed of their flesh.

If all the trees of Paradise were adorned with the same luminosity that gave glory, then the Cherubims would cover their faces with their wings, so the trees would close with their branches so as not to look at their Lord. But they were all ashamed of Adam, who suddenly became naked, as soon as the serpent stole his robe, and he lost his legs.

Since Adam was not allowed to enter the inner temple, this temple was guarded, so that Adam would be satisfied with serving in the outer temple, and as the priest serves, bringing a censer, he would have served, keeping the commandment. The commandment for Adam was a censer for her to enter the sacred temple, before the Innermost, in the inner temple.

The secret of paradise is depicted by Moses, who built two shrines: the holy and the Holy of Holies. Access was always free to the outer sanctuary, and it was allowed to enter the inner sanctuary once. So, God concluded for Adam an inner paradise and opened the outer, so that he was content with the outer. ”

So, here is a certain secret: not trees, but a temple, not a commandment, but a censer, and so on. Here, in the work “On Paradise,” we find, obviously, an allegorical interpretation. In the "Interpretation" – literal. Which one is correct? I do not know – obviously both. What does the reasoning of the Rev. Ephraim for the Moon have for our faith? I have no answer.

(When analyzing the texts of Efrem Sirin, we were based on the lecture of Protisacon Andrei Kuraev “What Adam and Eve sinned”)

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