By: Jay Dyer
The doctrine of the revelation of God in terms of Scripture is not as confusing as difficult as many have made it. Since the argument for Scripture as revealed and authoritative as the written element of Orthodoxy (along with Oral Tradition and the Tradition of the Church as embodied in the liturgy or the lives of the Saints) is the same as the argument for God’s existence (the transcendental argument), we cannot approach Scripture as if it were any other text. The authority, inspiration, veracity and authenticity of the Scriptures is itself an aspect of revealed doctrine, and just like the doctrine of creation, it is not known naturally, nor is it “proven” by a classical foundationalist or classical apologetic methodology.
I recall when I was a Roman Catholic reading Bishop Fulton Sheen’s famous book Life in Christand the beginning of the work challenged the reader and Catholic alike to approach the Scripture as any other text and make a “judgment” based on the “available evidence” of whether the texts were “inspired” or error-laden human concoctions. Of course, this whole approach is itself the problem as, like the Thomistic view of “natural theology,” the defense of the Scriptures in Roman Catholicism caved quickly to the onslaught of the critical methods precisely because the faulty presupposition was these texts are just like any other human text and can be authoritatively debunked and dissected by the unbelieving academic.
Just as our doctrine of God is not based on a generic theism that subsequently tacks on “Person,” and “Trinity” and “Jesus” down the road, so likewise there is no generic textual analysis or collection of “evidences” that can demonstrate to the fallen intellect and spiritually dead soul of autonomous man there might be some special truth to the Bible. In fact, as we have seen in the complete failure of the Thomistic “five ways” to “prove God” (based on its faulty anthropology and analogia entis), the loss of the doctrine of the nous and western apotheosis of man’s intellect led directly to the assumption Scripture could likewise be pronounced upon by fallen man, giving us higher criticism, the Jesus Quest, ecumenism, etc.
Due to the theological errors we have discussed many times here, western theology in both its Protestant and Roman Catholic forms adopted two competing and equally faulty approaches to revelation based on absolute divine simplicity and the erroneous anthropology that follows from that theology proper. For Rome, the analogia entis is the starting point due to its rabid, extreme doctrine of God’s simplicity – God is only known in this life through various createdmeans and forms.
Only in the next life, in the so-called “Beatific Vision” will the created intellect peer into the “Divine Essence” and be satiated. God, in this life, is known only through various created analogues and remotion, as outlined in Vol. I of the Summa Contra Gentes and Vol. I of theSumma Theologica. Then, stacked on top of that supposed natural revelation comes supernatural revelation as found in Scripture, which contains “revealed” (as opposed to natural) truths about God, such as Tripersonality, that He has a Son, etc. We have done many critiques of Thomism here and, as a former Thomist, it was an easy transition from my Calvinist days to Thomism. The problem with this doctrine of revelation is manifold, but here I want to stress the error of presupposition – that “god” is known and argued for generically as “one” – some kind supreme essence or First Cause from which all else originates.
Then, we are told, the caused created realm somehow bears some resemblance to its source, the divine ousia,based on divine examplarism which, in Thomism, proposes a Platonic conception of archetypal forms for all objects and events in the divine essence itself. Of course, as has long been critiqued in Orthodox Theology, if this is true, then there is an archetypal form of the Fall in the divine essence (which is absurd). Likewise, all “acts” of God are also identical to the eternal unchanging essence of God, which means time is either illusory or even more absurd, God’s creating the world is the same action as walking on water – and destroying the world in the conflagration – all these are the same “act” because all of God’s acts are His essence, in this ridiculous idol the Thomists’ all worship. This is the god of actus purus, with no potentiality.
When coupled with Aquinas’ strict doctrine of simplicity, this “deity” eventually loses freedom, Personalism, knowability and any interaction with the created realm at all, as St. Gregory Palamas’ correctly said. Ironically, Aquinas’ doctrine reduces back to Aristotle’s irrelevant, unknowable deity of thought thinking itself (which claim, by the way, is also unknowable in this system!). What we have in Aristotle and Aquinas is merely the personification of the idol of the Greek philosophers – an impersonal thought engine that does not freely create, but emanates in an essentialist sense, based on the Platonic archetypes “in” that singular, supreme essence. Maybe that is exactly what Aquinas realized at the end of his life in the famous story all Thomists know – it’s all worthless straw, because it was a horrendous attempt at the medieval “synthesis” of Jerusalem and Athens.
Jerusalem and Athens cannot be “synthesized” because one of them is based on idolatry, and principally on the exaltation of man’s intellect and “reason” and the attempt to build a “republic” based on such rational speculation, and the other on revelation. I recommend re-reading the 3 books of the Maccabees as found in the Orthodox Bible if you aren’t aware or happen to have forgotten the confrontation between Hellenism and Jerusalem. And neither Jesus’ arrival nor St. John’s usage of “Logos” in john 1:1 herald any attempt at creating a “synthesis” between these two incompatible worldviews – they are no more compatible than atheism and Orthodoxy.
Inevitably many will misunderstand me here, and assume I am warring on words and phrases, as if that were the issue. This is understandable, it was an error I made early on. Didn’t St. John use “Logos”? Didn’t the New Testament use “hypostasis”? Didn’t St. Basil cite some Greek philosophical term here or there? Of course, but the issue with Hellenism is not mere phrases, but what is meant by them. For example, when St.Basil speaks of ‘The One,” TO EN, it is He – personal. When Plotinus speaks of “The One,” it is TO ON, an it, or generic being. In fact, the totality of the experience of the first millennia of the Church and its councils can be summed up in that, as Hellenism subsumes the Person into the nature or essence. In so doing, impersonal abstracted categories become primary – in all things. God is an IT, an essence, and as a result, man is not principally viewed as personal, but a meaningless manifestation of absolute, deterministic nature or essence. Will, energy and person, which in Orthodoxy theology and anthropology are all really distinct in both God and man, are made to be absolutely simple and identified, and lead to bizarre conclusions about man’s nature itself as “sinful,” as evidence in aspects of Augustinianism, Lutheranism, Calvinism and Jansenism. In this view, the will of man, like man’s nature, is in constant dialectical tension with the divine will, and synergism is negated.
Here we come to Protestantism in its classical forms which, rejecting the two-tiered structure of the Thomistic approach to nature and supernature also reject the analogia entis. Man’s fallen state renders him too sinful, the noetic effects of sin too drastic, for man to appropriately derive truth, knowledge or revelation about God from nature, save what is enough to render him guilty as an idolator before a Judge, as Calvin explains on Romans 1. Rejecting the analogia entis of created forms revealing faint analogues to God’s essence, classical Protestantism opted for the analogia fide, the notion man’s knowledge of God derives principally and salvifically through Scripture alone, and to be even more correct, the Protestant canon of Scripture.
This analogy of faith is up to anyone’s guess as to what its content actually is, but for Protestantism it’s whatever the particular pastor has concocted, depending on his confession (or lack thereof!), be it Westminster, Heidelberg, 39 Articles, etc. The irony here is the classical doctrine of depravity (Calvinism) or man’s bondage of will to sin (Luther) ends up negating the possibility of actually knowing God. The consistent classical Protestant must admit the noeticeffects of sin, which are perpetual and preclude any claims of inerrancy or infallibility on his existential, subjective part negate his claims of inerrancy and certainty as pertains to the actual content of revelation. If the noetic effects of sin preclude my interpreting nature and the God of nature aright, then the same noetic effects also damage and discolor my reading of the created images and symbols on the sheets of paper in my 1611 KJV or my Geneva Bible. Thus, for classical Protestantism, like its dialectical counterpart in scholastic Roman Catholicism, both capitulated to an abstracted, rationalistic, propositional approach to God (compare Aquinas to Turretin), rehashing Platonic debates of nominalism versus realism. St. Justin Popovic relates the contrast in our view with both of these scholastic errors in his “Mystery of Knowledge:”
“The more a man devotes himself to the ways of natural knowledge, the more he is seized on by fear and the less can he free himself from it. But if he follows faith, he is immediately freed and “as a son of God, has the power to make free use of all things.” “The man who loves this faith acts like God in the use of all created things,” for to faith is given the power “to be like God in making a new creation.” Thus it is written: “Thou desiredst, and all things are presented before thee” (cf. Job 23:13). Faith can often “bring forth all things out of nothing,” while knowledge can do nothing “without the help of matter.” Knowledge has no power over nature, but faith has such power. Armed with faith, men have entered into the fire and quenched the flames, being untouched by them. Others have walked on the waters as on dry land. All these things are “beyond nature”; they go against the modes of natural knowledge and reveal the vanity of such modes. Faith “moves about above nature.” The ways of natural knowledge ruled the world for more than 5,000 years, and man was unable to “lift his gaze from the earth and understand the might of his Creator” until “our faith arose and delivered us from the shadows of the works of this world” and from a fragmented mind. He who has faith “will lack nothing,” and, when he has nothing, “he possesses all things by faith,” as it is written: All things whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive (Matt. 21:22); and also; The Lord is near; be anxious for nothing (Phil. 4:6).
Natural laws do not exist for faith. St. Isaac emphasizes this very strongly: All things are possible to him that believeth (Mark 9:23), for with God nothing is impossible …. To step beyond the limits of nature and to enter into the realm of the supernatural is considered to be against nature, as something irrational and impossible …. Nevertheless, this natural knowledge, according to St. Isaac, is not at fault. It is not to be rejected. It is just that faith is higher than it is. This knowledge is only to be condemned in so far as, by the different means it uses, it turns against faith. But when this knowledge “is joined with faith, becoming one with her, clothing itself in her burning thoughts,” when it “acquires wings of passionlessness,” then, using other means than natural ones, it rises up from the earth “into the realm of its Creator,” into the supernatural. This knowledge is then fulfilled by faith and receives the power to “rise to the heights,” to perceive him who is beyond all perception and to “see the brightness that is incomprehensible to the mind and knowledge of created beings.” Knowledge is the level from which a man rises up to the heights of faith. When he reaches these heights, he has no more need of it – for it is written: We know in part, but when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away (I Cor. 13:9-10). Faith reveals to us now the truth of perfection, as if it were before our eyes. It is by faith that we learn that which is beyond our grasp -by faith and not by enquiry and the power of knowledge….
There are three spiritual modes in which knowledge rises and falls, and by which it moves and changes. These are the body, the soul, and the spirit (nous)…. At its lowest level, knowledge “follows the desires of the flesh,” concerning itself with riches, vainglory, dress, repose of body, and the search for rational wisdom. This knowledge invents the arts and sciences and all that adorns the body in this visible world. But in all this, such knowledge is contrary to faith. It is known as “mere knowledge, for it is deprived of all thought of the divine and, by its fleshly character, brings to the mind an irrational weakness, because in it the mind is overcome by the body and its entire concern is for the things of this world.” It is puffed up and filled with pride, for it refers every good work to itself and not to God. That which the Apostle said – knowledge puffeth up (I Cor. 8:1).
Faith presents a new way of thinking, through which is effected all the work of knowing in the believing man. This new way of thinking is humility …. It is by humility that the intellect is healed and made whole… The humble man is the fount of the mysteries of the new age.”
You are probably thinking I have contradicted myself by stating the doctrine of revelation in terms of Scripture is not as confusing as it has been made. In reality, the confusion comes as a result of these two erroneous schemes and their dialectical tensions with one another which are, ironically, both based on the same assumptions of absolute simplicity and both lacking the nous. I have written about that elsewhere, but when we take the nous into account as crucial to our anthropology, we can see how revelation in Scripture is not set against revelation of God in the natural world through the logoi (as in Calvinism), nor are we merely accumulating more created facts based on created analogues of God. The knowledge or revelation of God is direct, Personal and at the same time makes use of created means. Both icons and Scripture are created forms that convey real knowledge of God. Fr. Florovsky eloquently explains how in Orthodoxy there is no tension between Scripture and the Church:
“And there was some very definite purpose by which this “selection” was guided and checked. “And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name” (John 20.30-31). The same applies, more or less, to the whole Bible. Certain writings have been selected, edited and compiled, and brought together, and then commended to believers, to the people, as an authorized version of the divine message. The message is divine; it comes from God; it is the Word of God. But it is the faithful community that acknowledges the Word spoken and testifies to its truth. The sacred character of the Bible is ascertained by faith. The Bible, as a book, has been composed in the community and was meant primarily for its edification. The book and the Church cannot be separated. The book and the Covenant belong together, and Covenant implies people. It was the People of the Covenant to whom the Word of God had been entrusted under the old dispensation (Rom. 3.2), and it is the Church of the Word Incarnate that keeps the message of the Kingdom. The Bible is the Word of God indeed, but the book stands by the testimony of the Church. The canon of the Bible is obviously established and authorized by the Church.” Bible, Church, Tradition: The Orthodox View, 18, Collected Works, Vol. I.
As Fr. Florovsky explains, the writings of the Law and Prophets are not set against the New Testament as the Marcionites and today’s liberal higher critics assume, but functions as a unified whole, a covenantal web. The writings of the Law and Prophets are also accurate in what they reveal, teach and describe – they are not myths, nor are they borrowing from Babylonian narratives:
“Revelation is the history of the Covenant. Recorded revelation, i.e. the Holy Scripture, is therefore, above all, history. Law and prophets, psalms and prophecies, all are included and, as it were, woven into the living historical web. Revelation is not a system of divine oracles only. It is primarily the system of divine deeds; one might say, revelation was the path of God in history. And the climax was reached when God entered history himself, and forever: when the Word of God was incarnate and “made man.” On the other hand, the book of revelation is as well the book of human destiny. First of all, it is a book which narrates the creation, fall and salvation of man.
“It is the story of salvation, and therefore man organically belongs to the story. It shows us man in his obedience and in his obstinate rebellion, in his fall and in his restoration. And the whole human fate is condensed and exemplified in the destiny of Israel, old and new, the chosen people of God, a people for God’s own possession. The fact of election is here of basic importance. One people has been elected, set apart from all other nations, constituted as a sacred oasis in the midst of human disorder. With one people on earth only did God establish his Covenant and grant his own sacred law. Here only a true priesthood has been created, even though but a provisional one. In this nation only true prophets were raised, who spoke words inspired by the Spirit of God. It was a sacred, though hidden centre for the whole world, an oasis granted by God’s mercy, in the midst of a fallen, sinful, lost and un- redeemed world. All this is not the letter, but the very heart of the Biblical message. And all this came from God, there was no human merit or achievement. Yet, all this came for the sake of man, “for us men and for our salvation.” All these privileges granted to the Israel of old were subordinate to the ultimate purpose, that of a universal salvation: “For salvation is of the Jews” (John 4.22). The redeeming purpose is ever universal indeed, but it is being accomplished always by means of separation, selection or setting apart. In the midst of human fall and ruin a sacred oasis is erected by God. The Church is also an oasis still, set apart, though not taken out of the world. For again this oasis is not a refuge or shelter only, but rather a citadel, a vanguard of God.” Ibid., 21-22.
For many, including both higher critics and extreme followers of Fr. Romanides, the Scriptures are not a revelation of God, nor do they contain any anlogia whatsoever. They are merely a “signpost” that directs us to a direct encounter set over against any kind of biblical encounter with the Word. Far from being correct, many of these advocates will openly espouse the higher critical method of “debunking” the Bible, while claiming direct access to God (or not even claiming it!). Fr. Florovksy explains the Orthodox, appropriate usage of analogia, which is neither the Thomistic nor the Protestant understanding on inspiration, noting how it is like the Incarnation – at once human and divine, a meeting place of created and Uncreated:
“The Scriptures are “inspired,” they are the Word of God. What is the inspiration can never be properly defined—there is a mystery therein. It is a mystery of the divine-human encounter. We cannot fully understand in what manner “God’s holy men” heard the Word of their Lord and how they could articulate it in the words of their own dialect. Yet, even in their human transmission it was the voice of God. Therein lies the miracle and the mystery of the Bible, that it is the Word of God in human idiom. And, in whatever the manner we understand the inspiration, one factor must not be overlooked. The Scriptures transmit and preserve the Word of God precisely in the idiom of man. God spoke to man indeed, but there was man to attend and to perceive. “Anthropomorphism” is thus inherent in the very fact. There is no accommodation to human frailty. The point is rather that the human tongue does not lose its natural features to become a vehicle of divine revelation. If we want the divine word to ring clear, our tongue is not to leave off being human. What is human is not swept away by divine inspiration, it is only transfigured. The “supernatural” does not destroy what is “natural”: hyper physin does not mean para physin. The human idiom does not betray or belittle the splendour of revelation, it does not bind the power of God’s Word. The Word of God may be adequately and rightly expressed in human words. The Word of God does not grow dim when it sounds in the tongue of man. For man is created in the image and likeness of God—this “analogical” link makes communication possible. And since God deigned to speak to man, the human word itself acquires new depth and strength and becomes transfigured. The divine Spirit breathes in the organism of human speech. Thus it becomes possible for man to utter words of God, to speak of God. “Theology” becomes possible—theologia, i.e. logos peri theou. Strictly speaking, theology grows possible only through revelation.” Ibid., 27.
Indeed, what is most fascinating is Scripture itself attests to its own doctrine of inspiration. What Fr. Florovsky explains here is the echo of all the Fathers as it pertains to Revelation and inspiration as I touched on here. As is evident, to look to Scripture to discover its doctrine of itself is not Protestant – far from it – the highest authority, or the most basic presupposition, can by definition only be self-attesting. In this sense there is an Orthodox doctrine of the Scriptures as attesting to themselves, as well as giving a doctrine of their inherent inspiration, as we will see. Note well the descriptions I explain Scripture giving itself are perfectly in line with Fr. Florovsky above, showing these ideas are not “Protestant” or “fundamentalist,” as some have accused. In fact, Jesus, Who is the Spirit behind all of the revelation of Scripture, was quite adamant about the historicity, unicity, inspiration and inerrancy of the texts:
17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. -Matthew 5
We note here in the Sermon on the Mount, one of the most famous New Testament passages, our Lord does not take a higher critical approach, nor does He accuse the Law and Prophets of teaching a “mean god,” but rather He came to fulfill. In fact, the ethical principles He espoused in His ministry were the heart and essence of Law, since He is the One Who gave the Law at Mt. Sinai. The Law testified to Him – He was the Finger of God, writing on the stone and Who Moses saw face to face. All of the Theophanies of the Law and Prophets were Him. In fact, Jesus pronounces a blessing on all those Who adhere to His doctrine of inerrancy and understand the perpetuity of the whole of Revelation, and castigates those who deny the revelation and its perpetuity as least in the kingdom. For those unaware of our theology who may be confused as to the keeping of mosaic ceremonies, we do keep them – they are kept in Christ, Who is the eternal fulfillment of those types (as Hebrews explains).
As we can see, Jesus believed the Scriptures and had no higher critical difficulties – in fact, Jesus repeatedly affirms the authorship and historicity of Adam and Eve, Genesis, Noah, Moses, David, Isaiah, Daniel, etc. Moses was the compiler and author of the Law, for example: Matt. 19:7, 8; Mark 7:10, 12:26, Lk. 5:14; 16:29,31; 24:27, 44.
In Jesus’ parable of the rich man and Lazarus, the testimony of the Prophets is considered enough – even above miracles, as a basis for Faith:
7 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ 29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’ 30 “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ 31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’” -Luke 16
As could easily be said to the liberal or the higher critic, the assumptions of fallen man are not the rule and guide for faith and practice. The academic learning of some “Orthodox” so-called theologian also doesn’t matter:
“But Jesus answered them, “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God.” -Matt. 22:29
Let’s contrast this attitude with the heretical, open Marcionite teaching of “Metropolitan” George of Lebanon whose writings are still hosted at the “Orthodox Research Institute.” People wonder why I hesitated so long to become Orthodox – well, these are grade A examples: George of Lebanon openly rejects the God of the Old Testament. Back at the time I first read this some ten years ago, there were 4 Orthodox “prelates” that made similar statements that week. I’m sure I’ll be told I’m bad for pointing this out, but I’ll bet money he is a Freemason. This man openly blasphemes and literally sides with Marcion against St. Irenaeus, with the approval of the so-called Orthodox Research Institute. This single man is not the issue, but he is representative of the heresy of so many Ameridox – note how similar his errors are to Fr. Freeman we covered here and here, where higher criticism is substituted in a bait and switch for hermeneutical questions of types – where “allegory” is intended to cancel out the history:
“Nevertheless, this question cannot be properly clarified as long as violence is not exorcised and its biblical foundations overthrown. If Orthodox Christians really admit that the God of the Old Testament led Israel from victory to victory and submitted all nations to it, they have no reason to question the theology of defensive war of the Byzantines or the Crusades. Keep in mind that it was with the purest intentions that the tribunal of the Inquisition erected its stakes. It was with the ideal of the perfect man that the Nazi warrior carried on his belt the inscription from Isaiah: “Gott mit uns.” What does the Bible say on this subject? “When Israel saw the mighty deed that Yahweh had performed against the Egyptians, the people revered Yahweh.” (Ex 14:31) “I shall go through Egypt and strike down the first-born in Egypt, man and beast alike”(Ex 12:12). Yahweh fights for them and brings them into the land of the Canaanites. During the occupation of the land, the Eternal One “will expel the Canaanites, the Hittites”(Josh 3:10) and the other peoples. He delivers Jericho and its king and pronounces this curse to its captain: “Accursed before Yahweh be the man who raises up and rebuilds this city [Jericho!] On his first-born will he lay its foundations, on his youngest son set up its gates!”(6:26)
At the conquest of Ai Joshua will say: ” When you have captured the town, set fire to it, in obedience to Yahweh’s command.”(8:8). In this conquest led by God himself we have, ahead of time, the policy of scorched earth and genocide. And the Psalms praise these great deeds. Of the enemies of the people, David says:
“As fire devours a forest,
as a flame sets mountains ablaze,
so drive them away with your tempest,
by your whirlwind fill them with terror.” (Ps 83:15-16)
The God Sabaoth, in service of Israel and its hegemony over the land of Canaan, only reflects the thirst for conquest of a confederation of Semitic tribes, a spirit that is totally foreign to the unfailingly loving nature of the One who is the God of nations and rules history in all its developments. God, whose name, presence, truth and unicity are love, cannot lend Himself to the massacres perpetrated by Joshua son of Nun.
There is a related issue in the way St. Paul deals with the concubinage of Abraham. The perfect chastity which he advocates in his Epistles is not invoked as a judgement on the patriarch. Nevertheless, when the apostle employs allegory to explain Abraham’s two wives as figures of the two alliances, he does not necessarily eliminate the historical meaning of the text. The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews seems scarcely to criticize the prostitution of Rahab, which becomes part of the history of salvation: “It was through faith that the walls of Jericho fell down” (Heb 11:30) and by faith the Hebrews “conquered kingdoms” (Heb 11:32).
In opposition to this bloody deity there is the image of the gentle God whose voice is heard in the great prophets, especially Jeremiah and Hosea, and in the Song of Songs. In the betrohal of Yahweh and his people, just as in the Servant songs, we recognize the accents of the Gospel. Confronted with the irreducible opposition between these two faces of the Lord, Marcion, in the middle of the 2nd century, thought that the wars, judgments and punishments described in Scripture could not be attributed to the good God, Father of Jesus Christ, but to an inferior deity, the just God of the Jews. It was obvious that the Church, in order to preserve the unity of the Scripture, had to reject Marcionite dualism. Byzantine iconography is so impregnated with the identity between Yahweh and Christ that it always writes on the nimbus that surrounds Christ’s head own, the Septuagint translation of Yahweh in the epiphany of the Burning Bush. The patristic exegesis of the Old Testament is basically typological. Clement of Rome, who tells the story of Rahab and the spies in detail, says that the scarlet cord that the prostitute attaches to the window is a type of the blood shed by Christ. The raising of Moses’ arms above the battle between Israel and Amalek will be interpreted by the Tradition as a type of the Cross, and exegesis reflected in Byzantine hymns and vigil readings.
“…In fact, all divine writing shapes itself in human terms and everything human bears in itself the divine model. In the light of this explanation I refuse to attribute the wars waged by Israel to the divine will. Otherwise we get trapped in the morality of means, making death an instrument of life, and the destruction of various tribes becomes a condition of faith, and part of God’s plan for the exaltation and prosperity of a particular people.
Yahweh cannot be pardoned for his mighty deeds of war by peoples who were crushed because of the weight of history and the unreadiness of Israel through the ages. In any case, the notion of progressive revelation can be understood only in terms of spiritual maturity, a purification even within divine beauty. For there is no possible path from the warrior-God of Exodus and Joshua to the God of Jesus Christ. That monstrous image cannot be made acceptable. The progress of revelation seems to me to depend on Hegelian dialectic and there is no trace of this awareness of evolution in Hebraic thought. I do not believe that the Bible is truly a history of salvation: God reveals himself in time, but history is not the matrix of divine thought. It is the locus of revelations, and later, the incarnation of the Word. Hence it is the area of faith’s intelligibility, but it can in no way be its formative principle. If history is all human, it receives the divine without any confusion. That is why Scripture is not the unfolding of the divine in time but the identity of divine epiphanies across time; the only difference between the epiphanies is that they are not clothed with the same splendor, because of the divine pedagogy, or the economy that God uses, out of love, veiling himself to different degrees.”
Is this man not aware of the covenant curses the Lord poured out upon apostate Israel, as He promised in 70 AD (Matt. 24, Luke 21)? Or the warnings in the Apocalypse to follow those who murder and persecute the Church:
“9 And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:
10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?” (Apoc. 6:9)
If he has a problem with the judgments and warfare in the Law, he will surely have to reject the bowl judgments of the Apocalypse. How contrary is all this to everything we saw above from Jesus, as well as numerous other saints, such as the attitude of St. Gabriel, who calls the Law and Prophets the Book of Truth?
“20 So he said, “Do you know why I have come to you? Soon I will return to fight against the prince of Persia, and when I go, the prince of Greece will come; 21 but first I will tell you what is written in the Book of Truth. (No one supports me against them except Michael, your prince.” -Daniel 10
The Epistle of St. Peter explains lucidly the correct approach to understanding the veracity and authenticity of the revelation of the Law and Prophets. St. Peter makes clear the Spirit of prophecy that spoke through all the Old Testament prophets was the Spirit of Christ:
“10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, 11 trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow. 12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.” -1 Peter 1
And Hebrews 1:1-2 makes it clear God was speaking through all the prophets:
“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,
2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds…”
Orthodoxy will find no friend or aid in higher criticism, as it is merely the rehashing of Hellenism – a Hellenism which manifested in the first several centuries of the Church as various heresies based around divine simplicity and the denial of Christ and the Trinity: Marcionism, Gnosticism, Platonism, Arianism, Eunomianism, Nestorianism, etc., all pitted Scripture against Scripture and rejected the historic revelation of the Law and Prophets, which quite obviously negates the New Testament texts, since they share a profound reliance on the accuracy and historicity of the Law and Prophets. The direct heresies of the early centuries are rehashed in the dialectics of today, sometimes repeating ancient heretics word-for-word, such as Marcion, as they pretend to be of the same Church as St. Irenaeus! As you can see they teach the opposite of St. Irenaeus, but they wear a St. Irenaeus costume:
“The Holy Ghost, throughout the Old Testament Scriptures, made mention of no other God or Lord, save him who is the true God.
- Therefore neither would the Lord, nor the Holy Spirit, nor the apostles, have ever named as God, definitely and absolutely, him who was not God, unless he were truly God; nor would they have named any one in his own person Lord, except God the Father ruling over all, and His Son who has received dominion from His Father over all creation, as this passage has it: The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, until I make Your enemies Your footstool. Here the [Scripture] represents to us the Father addressing the Son; He who gave Him the inheritance of the heathen, and subjected to Him all His enemies. Since, therefore, the Father is truly Lord, and the Son truly Lord, the Holy Spirit has fitly designated them by the title of Lord. And again, referring to the destruction of the Sodomites, the Scripture says, Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrha fire and brimstone from the Lord out of heaven. Genesis 19:24 For it here points out that the Son, who had also been talking with Abraham, had received power to judge the Sodomites for their wickedness. And this [text following] does declare the same truth: Your throne, O God, is for ever and ever; the sceptre of Your kingdom is a right sceptre. You have loved righteousness, and hated iniquity: therefore God, Your God, has anointed You. For the Spirit designates both [of them] by the name, of God — both Him who is anointed as Son, and Him who does anoint, that is, the Father. And again: God stood in the congregation of the gods, He judges among the gods. He [here] refers to the Father and the Son, and those who have received the adoption; but these are the Church. For she is the synagogue of God, which God— that is, the Son Himself — has gathered by Himself. Of whom He again speaks: The God of gods, the Lord has spoken, and has called the earth. Who is meant by God? He of whom He has said, God shall come openly, our God, and shall not keep silence; that is, the Son, who came manifested to men who said, I have openly appeared to those who seek Me not.Isaiah 65:1 But of what gods [does he speak]? [Of those] to whom He says, I have said, You are gods, and all sons of the Most High. To those, no doubt, who have received the grace of the adoption, by which we cry, Abba Father. Romans 8:15
- Wherefore, as I have already stated, no other is named as God, or is called Lord, except Him who is God and Lord of all, who also said to Moses, I am that I am. And thus shall you say to the children of Israel: He who is, has sent me unto you; Exodus 3:14 and His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who makes those that believe in His name the sons of God. And again, when the Son speaks to Moses, He says, I have come down to deliver this people. Exodus 3:8 For it is He who descended and ascended for the salvation of men. Therefore God has been declared through the Son, who is in the Father, and has the Father in Himself — He who is, the Father bearing witness to the Son, and the Son announcing the Father.— As also Esaias says, I too am witness, he declares, says the Lord God, and the Son whom I have chosen, that you may know, and believe, and understand that I am. Isaiah 43:10
- When, however, the Scripture terms them [gods] which are no gods, it does not, as I have already remarked, declare them as gods in every sense, but with a certain addition and signification, by which they are shown to be no gods at all. As with David: The gods of the heathen are idols of demons; and, You shall not follow other gods. For in that he says the gods of the heathen— but the heathen are ignorant of the true God — and calls them other gods, he bars their claim [to be looked upon] as gods at all. But as to what they are in their own person, he speaks concerning them; for they are, he says, the idols of demons.And Esaias: Let them be confounded, all who blaspheme God, and carve useless things; even I am witness, says God. Isaiah 44:9 He removes them from [the category of] gods, but he makes use of the word alone, for this [purpose], that we may know of whom he speaks. Jeremiah also says the same: The gods that have not made the heavens and earth, let them perish from the earth which is under the heaven. Jeremiah 10:11 For, from the fact of his having subjoined their destruction, he shows them to be no gods at all. Elias, too, when all Israel was assembled at Mount Carmel, wishing to turn them from idolatry, says to them, How long do you halt between two opinions? If the Lord be God, follow Him. 1 Kings 18:21, etc. And again, at the burnt-offering, he thus addresses the idolatrous priests: You shall call upon the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the Lord my God; and the Lord that will hearken by fire, He is God. Now, from the fact of the prophet having said these words, he proves that these gods which were reputed so among those men, are no gods at all. He directed them to that God upon whom he believed, and who was truly God; whom invoking, he exclaimed, Lord God of Abraham, God of Isaac, and God of Jacob, hear me today, and let all this people know that You are the God of Israel. 1 Kings 18:36
- Wherefore I do also call upon you, Lord God of Abraham, and God of Isaac, and God of Jacob and Israel, who is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the God who, through the abundance of Your mercy, has had a favour towards us, that we should know You, who has made heaven and earth, who rule over all, who is the only and the true God, above whom there is none other God; grant, by our Lord Jesus Christ, the governing power of the Holy Spirit; give to every reader of this book to know You, that You are God alone, to be strengthened in You, and to avoid every heretical, and godless, and impious doctrine.
- And the Apostle Paul also, saying, For though you have served them which are no gods; you now know God, or rather, are known of God, Galatians 4:8-9 has made a separation between those that were not [gods] and Him who is God. And again, speaking of Antichrist, he says, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped. 2 Thessalonians 2:4 He points out here those who are called gods, by such as know not God, that is, idols. For the Father of all is called God, and is so; and Antichrist shall be lifted up, not above Him, but above those which are indeed called gods, but are not. And Paul himself says that this is true: We know that an idol is nothing, and that there is none other God but one. For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth; yet to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we through Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by Him. 1 Corinthians 8:4, etc. For he has made a distinction, and separated those which are indeed called gods, but which are none, from the one God the Father, from whom are all things, and, he has confessed in the most decided manner in his own person, one Lord Jesus Christ. But in this [clause], whether in heaven or in earth, he does not speak of the formers of the world, as these [teachers] expound it; but his meaning is similar to that of Moses, when it is said, You shall not make to yourself any image for God, of whatsoever things are in heaven above, whatsoever in the earth beneath, and whatsoever in the waters under the earth.Deuteronomy 5:8 And he does thus explain what are meant by the things in heaven: Lest when, he says, looking towards heaven, and observing the sun, and the moon, and the stars, and all the ornament of heaven, falling into error, you should adore and serve them.Deuteronomy 4:19 And Moses himself, being a man of God, was indeed given as a god before Pharaoh; Exodus 7:1 but he is not properly termed Lord, nor is called God by the prophets, but is spoken of by the Spirit as Moses, the faithful minister and servant of God,Hebrews 3:5; Numbers 12:7 which also he was.” -Against Heresies, III., 6 (See also Bk. IV, Chpt. 2)