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From The Word Of Life, vol.

3, Issue #11; Published by Saint Marks Orthodox Fellowship (2003)


By: Rev. Dr. George Dion Dragas

1INTRODUCTION. God became man that we may become gods (St. Athanasios). The Incarnation of God is the foundation of the Christian faith. Christ is the Son and Logos (Word) of God who became man. He is not a man who became god, nor a man who stands in a unique and perfect relation with God. If the latter were the truth, Christianity would not differ from Judaism or any other religion. Orthodox Christianity believes that in Christ. God himself (Gods Son and Word) became man without ceasing to be God, so that we may be restored and clothed with Gods perfections. The Orthodox Church keeps as crucial and essential treasures these classical convictions of the Gospel. There are, however, many contemporary thinkers who regard them as untenable on the basis of certain critical syllogistic arguments. They argue that God as a supreme and absolute power cannot become man, if he is really God; that the eternal and unchangeable cannot become temporal and changeable, etc. Thoughtful philosophers have been raising similar points since the early stages of Christian history, both from within and from without the Churchs context. But the Church has always regarded such objections as alien to the Christian truth. Those who propounded them in the past were characterized as heretics, namely who failed to understand Christs truth. The main problem of the ancient heretics and the contemporary critics, as far as the Incarnation is concerned, stems from their assumption that the Churchs faith in this is the result of thoughtful reflection upon or subjective interpretation of the historic event of Christ. For the Orthodox Christians and theologians, however, the Incarnation of the eternal Son and Logos of God is a given truth. Both the apostolic kerygma and the patristic dogma project the Incarnation as an objective datum and divine gift. When the Fathers of the Church wrote about the Incarnation their aim was not to explain away the event of Christ, but rather to expound its soteriological (saving) significance for all humanity. They did not explain the Incarnation from any abstract theoretical standpoint. They rather attempted to bring out the inner logic of it and to bear witness to its saving effects. It is this kind of exposition that this article is designed to provide. The intention is to lay open the Churchs understanding of the saving meaning for humanity of the event of the Incarnation of God in Christ, which occupies the essential place in the witness of the Gospel, the Apostles and the Fathers. This will be done on the basis of the most famous work of St. Athanasios On the Incarnation of the Divine Logos. 2ST. ATHANASIUS TREATISE ON THE INCARNATION.
St. Athanasios treatise on the Incarnation is still regarded today as the first. thoroughgoing and profound exposition of the event of Christ. It is a continuation of another work, which bears the title Against. Paganism (Contra Gentes), the subject matter of which is summarized in the beginning of the work on the Incarnation. This work Against Paganism deals with the problem of idolatrymans worshipful attachment to the world (what we call today secularism)caused by mans fall from the knowledge of his Creator. The substance of the problem is the loss on the part of man of the self-consciousness that he is logical in the sense that he is made in the image of Gods Logos and that the world does not have an independent logic of its own apart from the uncreated powers and energies of the Creator Logos. The results of this problem pertain to mans existence and knowledge. Mans existence is subjected to corruption and death and mans knowledge is alienated from the truth of the world and the vision of God. St. Athanasios maintains that the Christian reply to this problem and its fatal consequences is mans rediscovery of the Creator Logos, who is the key to the existence of man himself and of the entire world.

This is because through this Logos man will be able once again to find the Image of God and the reflection of that image in himself. But man does not turn to the Logos. Hence the Logos intervention or turning to man which is achieved through His Incarnation. The treatise on the Incarnation of St. Athanasios is divided into two main parts, the first one dealing with the meaning of the Incarnation and the second being a reply to objections raised against it by Jews and Greek philosophers. It is to the first part that we shall turn our attention here. EVENT OF THE INCARNATION: God Became Man. The Incarnation is the Event whereby the Logos of God, through whom God created all and sustains all, has revealed himself to human beings by becoming a man among them. Yet, says St. Athanasios, the human shape of this revelation, instead of filling men with gratitude, became the occasion for the rejection of the Creator Logos. Men thought it impossible and even irrational that God could become man! They were so used to live without Him that they found it impossible to believe in Him when He was born as a man among them! For man to become God and to surpass the weaknesses and limitations of his created nature was for men a desirable thought, which could be reasonably maintained. But for God to become man and taste the futility and littleness of the human predicament was either a logical nonsense or a ridiculous scandal. And yet the logic of the Gospel, says St. Athanasios, demands the reverse. What men thought impossible, this God put forward as possible, and thus the futility and little ness of the human nature is shown to be honorable and powerful and saving. The true God is not an indifferent impersonal or ideal God of some kind of metaphysical transcendence. He is the God who puts on human nature, is nailed on the Cross for the sake of righteousness, and truly defies human nature through means seemingly futile and powerless, yet true, natural and human. The aim of the Incarnation was not just the revelation of God, but also the salvation and deification of fallen man, Gods creature. The Cross of the Incarnate God, then, became the trophy against idolatry and superstition, because by such means God unmasked the futility of man-made religion and ill-conceived theology and also justified and renewed human nature as His own creation. For St. Athanasios, then, the Incarnation laid down the right terms of true theology: the deification of man as God wills it (as His free gift) and not as man aspires to it (as an arbitrary usurpation of the rights of God). True theology is not made by man, but is given by God when He becomes man. This is owed to the fact that the right knowledge of God is tied up with the right knowledge of man. Hence, Gods decision: first. to reveal the true man in His Incarnation and then to reveal the truth of Himself. To put it in another way, man becomes a theologian when he becomes true man; and he becomes true man when he becomes a man in Christ. Far from opposing humanism Christian theology (and particularly the doctrine of the Incarnation) is the key to it, except that it is divine humanism, Gods life as man. How does this actually take place? And what is the reason or reasons, which prompted God to follow such a path? What is the deeper meaning of the Incarnation? These are the questions that St. Athanasios will try to answer in his treatise. And I say that he will try, because first of all he will examine certain presuppositions to the Incarnation. He will tell us that we must first. understand why and how man was initially made man and why and how he fell from the position that God gave him, in order to understand why and how God became man for our salvation. In other words, mans creation and fall constitute basic presuppositions to the understanding of the event of the Incarnation.


4MANS CREATION AND FALL. Man was not created by the world, but by God. God created
both man and the world. The Epicureans, like many modem thinkers, propounded the view that the world (and therefore man) came to be through an automatic process out of itself. The Platonists believed that there was a certain creator (demiourgos) who made man and the entire universe, but they held that the material from which all things were made actually pre-existed the act of creation and was itself eternal. The Gnostic heretics, who followed ancient oriental religious traditions, spoke about two cosmic spheres and substances, which belonged to two rival gods (the good god of spiritual substance and the evil god of matter) and saw man as being caught up between these two opposing realms. Against these theories St. Athanasios expounded the teaching of the Church, which is based on the Bible and on Divine revelation. God created all things out of nothing with His Divine Logos. Therefore

every form of cosmological monism or dualism must be rejected as false. The cause of creation was Gods immeasurable goodness, and as a result the world and man are substantially good. God showed His

goodness in a special way in creating man. Because He knew that, being a creature that came out of nothing, man could not remain in existence for everfor every creature that has a beginning also
has an endHe made man in such a way that he may exist. in the Image and the Likeness of God Himself. In other words, God made man able to communicate with God and to imitate Him. In this way the iconic relation of human existence with the ever-existing and eternal God would render the former capable of remaining in existence forever. The commandment, which, according to the Bible, God gave to the protoplasts in paradise concerning the knowledge of good and evil, had no other purpose than to safeguard the grace of being in the Image and Likeness of God, that is mans free communion with and imitation of his Creator. By such means the power of immortality and eternal existence that belongs to God alone would be also secured for man. In the last analysis the most characteristic element of St. Athanasios teaching on mans creation is not so much mans created existence as it is the free co-ordination of this existence with the self-existing Creator, the Divine Logos, through the grace of being in the Image and Likeness. Man is not a closed circle of existence simply regulated from a center existing in him. He is rather an open or free existence capable of communicating with the transcendent and self-existing God. Thus St. Athanasios teaches us that the key to our humanity is the Divine Logos and our communion with Him. This is precisely the point where our fall takes place, which incurs the corruption and death of our existence and causes the drama of human history, which in turn calls out the saving intervention of the Logos: the Incarnation. The fall of man, which is so clearly revealed in his natural corruption and death, is in the last analysis first mans denial to appropriate the grace of his Creator Logos, and secondly mans turning to the created and limited world as the ultimate purpose of his life. This means, says St. Athanasios, that in our life we no longer imitate or communicate with the self-existing (the One Who Is), but with things that are not. We are mastered by a demonic envy (the devils deceit) that makes us transgress Gods commandment and leave death and corruption to reign supreme over our life. The result is that our humanity remains unfulfilledwe never reach the purpose of our life, which is immortality and deification.

5THE DILEMMA OF THE CREATOR. This miserable condition of man, says St. Athanasios,
puts God, as it were, in a certain dilemma! If he allows the transgressor to live, then he runs the risk of being proved a deceiver, because His original warning about mans death in the case of his rejection of the Logos would appear to be false. On the other hand leaving man to be lost in corruption and death does not measure up with Gods character, especially in view of the fact that man became communicant of the grace of His Image. His truth asks that man should be left to his loss because this will not interfere with Gods consistency to His Logos and will not violate mans freedom. But Gods goodness wants of Him to save His creature, whilst. His power is capable to do so. What then should God do with man who is an arbitrary transgressor? Perhaps one might consider, St. Athanasios says, that in this case the easiest operation would be for God to demand mans repentance. But the fact remains that repentance does not satisfy the law of existence, which demands death, neither does it restore the fatal consequences resulting upon the human nature from the transgression. Repentance simply puts an end to sinning, but does not undo the incurred consequences of sin. Had sin not had such repercussions, repentance might have sufficed for mans salvation. But now, such as sin is, even the grace of the Image and Likeness cannot operate. Repentance just does not lead out of the cul-de-sac. After all this the only solution to the problem of mans salvation can be the intervention of the Creator Logos, who is capable of re-creating the lost man. Only the Divine Logos, St. Athanasios says, can keep Gods consistency with His Creation, represent all men, suffer on behalf of all, and re -create all men and all things: because He is the key to the Creation of the world and especially of man.


The Destruction Of Death. It is with His Logos that God acts again in order to save His creation. He sends His Word (Logos) to the earth out of infinite love for man, Him who was never far away. And the Logos, who sees our plight and the loss of our generation, enters Himself into our race and is identified with us. He does this by taking a body like our own from a pure and impeccable Virgin and makes it personally His own, Himself becoming a man. With His own human existence the Logos offers as a man a life of perfect obedience to God, which concludes with His self-sacrifice for the sake of all men. The true self-sacrifice of Christ is sealed with his death on the Cross and is vindicated with His resurrection whereby death is destroyed forever. The death of Christ, says St. Athanasios, does not occur for the same reason as our own. We die justly because death has a right over us on account of our sin. But Christ is just and sinless and thus He does not die for Himself but for us. He does not, of course, die as Godfor this is quite impossiblebut as man, inasmuch as He has a human existence identical with our own. He allows Himself to receive death at the hands of others, because He wants to enter the ultimate darkness of our fall and illuminate it with His presence. He dies as man in order to annul the ultimate strength of death. The death of Christ, of the one who is just and lays down His life for the unjust, has a universal meaning, value and effectiveness. It was the death of all men that Christ accomplished through His death, in the sense that natural death is no longer the ultimate destiny of any man. Our ultimate destiny is now the resurrection of our creaturely mortal existence to a new condition of immortality caused by the Resurrection of Christ. Christ is the first-fruit and we shall follow. We no longer die as condemned, but we die in order to rise again and live eternally with God. This universal significance, value and effectiveness of Christs death is not based simply on the fact that He was the just and true man who was vindicated by God when He died in the hands of sinners, but above all on the fact that He is in the last analysis the Creator Logos who holds the key to the existence of all men (He is the Lordly man). The Lords humanity (His body) is identical with our own, but it has acquired universal rights for all of us because it is the humanity of the universal Lord of all (it is the Lordly body). Christ is ultimately the true God who is above all and for all, who in becoming man has regained our lost rights especially through His Death and Resurrection. The abolition of death and corruption as the ultimate conclusion to our destiny and the establishment of the rights to immortality and incorruptibility for our creaturely human existence is regarded by St. Athanasios as the first cause of the Incarnation. The wonder of the whole gift of Christ to us is not just the return of our humanity from death to life, but the transformation of that humanity into an external incorruptible and immortal existence which is new and demands the renewal of the whole world. SECOND CAUSE OF THE INCARNATION: MANS REGAINING THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD. Apart from the death of our creaturely existence, our fall has also been the cause of our ignorance of God. As we saw above, mans rational existence implies that he does not simply enjoy life but also knowledge, and indeed the knowledge of God. According to St. Athanasios and the other fathers and theologians of our Church the knowledge of man is not restricted to the knowledge of the cosmos or of his own self, but is ultimately connected with the knowledge and consciousness of God. Without the last one all other kinds of knowledge can lose their true meaning and become paradoxically bearers of ignorance. The knowledge and consciousness of God is ultimately connected with the grace of the Image and the Likeness of the Divine Logos given to man at his creation. In the last analysis mans knowledge of God is based on his knowledge of the Logos, who is Gods true Image. By perceiving the Logos men perceive God and thus receive the eternal life, which rests on His grace. Yet on account of their fall men have neglected this grace, and as a result they have lost the ability of perceiving the divine Word (Logos) and through Him perceiving God. This loss has also meant that they cannot any more understand the truth of the world or the truth of themselves, or even the truth which God has sent to them through the Prophets and the holy men. It was self-evident then that the Logos and true Image of the Father had to be revealed to men once again and revive in them the grace of the Image that had been darkened.


This is exactly what the Logos did with His Incarnation. Not only did He revive the mortal body and make it incorruptible, but He also renewed the grace of the Image of God in mans soul and existence. Neither angels nor men, says St. Athanasios, could have achieved this, but only the very Logos of God who is Gods true Image. Just as an image which has been printed on a piece of wood requires the prototype in order to be restored when destroyed, so the grace of the Image of the Logos which had been engrafted upon the soul of man was required in order to be revived after mans fall. This exactly what the Incarnation of the Logos of God actually brought about: the revival of mans rationality, which involves the restoration of the knowledge and consciousness of God in man and constitutes the second and ultimate cause of the Incarnation. For St. Athanasios then there are two basic consequences of the Incarnation, which refer to our salvation and bring out its inner meaning. First of all the Incarnation has opened the way for the return of our mortal and corruptible existence from death to life. Secondly it gives us the possibility for renewal in our inner man through restoring to us the knowledge and consciousness of God, which constitutes the foundation for our true knowledge of the world and of ourselves. Christ saves us completely, because He gives us the immortality of our creaturely nature and makes us communicants of the eternal life in the light and glory of His Kingdom. The Church knows these two fundamental gifts of Christ to humanity empirically, and therefore her faith in the God who became man is not the result of a blind obedience to some dogma superimposed from above. The Church does not accept the principle, believe and do not search, but the principle, taste and see that the Lord is good. In the last analysis, and as St. Athanasios teaches in other writings, the proof of the faith of the Church in the Incarnate God, Jesus Christ the Savior of the World, is based on the presence and activity of the Holy Spirit. Both the resurrection of the human nature and the restoration of the grace of the Image of God in man are the work of the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit. The whole salvation of man, which is achieved and revealed in the Incarnation of the Son and Logos of God is the work of the one undivided and consubstantial Trinity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, to whom belongs all the glory, the honor and the worship now and for ever and in the ages of the ages.
================================================================================== From The Word Of Life, vol.3, Issue #10; Published by Saint Marks Orthodox Fellowship (2003)


By PAVEL EVDOKIMOV Translated by Fr. George Dion. Dragas 1. READING THE BIBLE IN CHRIST:
The Orthodox A Priori (Presupposition) The best way to define Orthodox spirituality is to say that in its essence Orthodoxy is Biblical. We need, however, to understand the term Orthodox, the ecclesiastical meaning of the term. The Fathers of the Church lived with the Bible. They thought and spoke with the Bible. They were so much imbued with it that they became themselves identical with the essence of the Bible. Interpreting the Bible for its own sake as an autonomous discipline never existed in the times of the Fathers. When we enroll as students in the school of the Fathers, we immediately realize that this is not an exegetical school, historical or allegorical, according to method of Antioch or Alexandria. The interpretation of the Bible by the Fathers is like a ladder, in which every tendency finds its lawful place. The fundamental event of every biblical reading is that the word, which is read and listened to, always leads to the living Person of the Word of God. Christ is never limited by the didactic and

This text is taken from Pavel Evdokimovs book, L Orthodoxie, Delachaux et Niestl, S. A. Neuchtel 1965. Pavel Evdokimov (1901-1970) was a well-known Russian Orthodox theologian who became a professor at the Theological Academic of St. Sergius in Paris and distinguished himself by his profound teaching and prolific writings.

catechetical sense, nor by any other sense of his words. All our utilitarian and pragmatist views, all our curiosities and queries, succumb to the revelation of the most real Presence and illumination that the Biblical word gives. Saint John Chrysostom prays before the Bible in this way: Shine within our hearts, loving Master, the pure light of Your divine knowledge and open the eyes of our minds that we may comprehend the messages of Your Gospel. For You, Christ our God, are the light of our souls and bodies . Saint Mark says that the Gospel is closed to human efforts; to have it opened is a gift of Christ. Saint Ephrem offers this advice: Before every [Bible] reading pray and ask God to reveal Himself to you.

We could say that according to the Fathers the Bible is Christ, since every word of it leads us to Him who pronounced it and places us before His presence: It is Him that I seek to find within your books, cries St. Augustine in his Confessions (II, 2). The lawful desire to perceive and to find a response is subordinated to what is greater, being placed within the perspective of the mystery (sacrament). We approach the word eucharistically, since it is broken sacramentally (Origen) looking for our communion with Christ. In Gods providence the verb to know as found in the Bible means, both in Hebrew and in Greek, to know by participating in a sense that is marital: the great symbol of the highest acquaintance with God is the marriage of the Lamb. The Gospel of Luke (24:45) tells us about the disciples that Christ opened their mind to understand the Scriptures, showing how we too ought to read the Bible in order to discover in it all that is hidden concerning Him; and beginning with Moses and with all the Prophets he interpreted to them what are said in all the Scriptures about Him. Thus, the Lord opened the Scriptures (Luke 24:27 & 32), revealing that the Bible is the verbal icon of Christ. Since then the same always teaching of the Councils teaches us the Orthodox a priori of Theandrism (God-manhood) in any reading from the Scriptures. It was Gods will that Christ should form the Body, where his words would authentically correspond to the words of Life. It is within Christ, then, within His Body, the Church, that we ought to read the Bible and to listen to God. As soon as a believer takes the Bible in his hands, this a priori (presupposition) places both within the Church; and it is in this act of churching that the miracle is achieved: a historical witness is revealed as a book full of Presence. The degree of my receptivity is analogous to the degree that my ontological place can sink into this Body, my life within the Church, which builds up my spirit in a theandric (divine-human) way, in order to make me understand that, in the last analysis, it is the Church that reads the Bible, as soon as its pages are opened. Even when one is alone, one reads the Bible together, liturgically. God wanted it to be this way and the real subject matter of knowledge and communion is never the man who is isolated or cut off from the Body, but the man who is a member, the liturgical man. 2. THE BIBLE AND THE TRADITION At the time of the Reformation, we see the theologians of that movement to place Holy Scripture violently against Tradition, the divine word against the human word. Real abuses and a tragic misunderstanding produced for the Western Christian these complementary elements to a complete technical antithesis. The books of the Bible to a great extent represent chronologically the life of the Church, which Tradition preserved. Before it was deposited within the canon of the New Testament, the Word of Christ was received by the apostolic community in the form of oral tradition. Passing quickly into the form of the written tradition, its content increases unceasingly and shares the fate of every historical witness and every chronicle, subject to the wavering which is characteristic of the human condition At the same time, no one knows what pertains to God except the Spirit of God (I Cor. 2:11). It is this Spirit that does not cease to confirm and to bear witness within the Church, making it the pillar and foundation of the truth (I Tim. 3, 15). The Church, filled with the Holy Trinity (Origen, PG 12, 1265), chooses and keeps among the multitude of writings those that are divinely inspired, putting on them the seal of eternity and granting them its guarantee. Other writings are rejected as apocryphal and others are regarded as deuterocanonical. The Bible was given to the Church and the Church receives it, specifying its canon, bringing it inside it as Word of truth. We cannot therefore take the Bible outside the Church, without risking the danger of distorting it.

The witness of the Word of God concerning Himself is not a formal principle, isolated and autonomous; it always runs the risk of being diluted through human inadequacy, as the purely biblical heresies clearly show. Only the grace of God supplies what is missing, and this is why the Church, offering the Bible to human beings, presents herself as the a priori (presupposition) foundation of studying it. All the heresies, whatever the extent of their opposition to the Church may be, do not cease to receive the Bible from the hands of the Church and together with it the sense of the divine inspiration of the sacred texts. Placing the Bible above the Church, we distort its canonical position, the will of the Lord that we read it within the Church. If we do not read the Bible within the context of the Church, inevitably we derive from the Bible a sense, which is external to the Church. The essence of patristic thought, church hymnography and the icons the dogmatic and the canonical consciousness all these elements that compose the Tradition, shape a world that is dynamic in essence, a sphere which is alive with the echo of the Word, inseparable from the Word Himself as His living entourage, as His constructed body, which is derived from the same source of inspiration. This is not at all a quest for readymade answers within the archives of the past. It is an arrival at the shining sources of the Tradition, an acquisition on our part of the great experience of the Church and beholding inside it the growth of the instinct of Orthodoxy, which will lead our steps to the consensus patrum et apostolorum of the Church, i.e., the concurrence of Fathers and Apostles, until we come to know directly, that, out of the multiple forms of the Church and out of the many elements of the Tradition, it is Christ Himself who interprets His words. The Spirit bears witness, but the internal witness of the Holy Spirit, the invocation (epiclesis) inside the Scriptures, is not operated otherwise except within the catholicity of the Body. The Spirit rests in the humanity of Christ, which became Church. The internal witness of the Holy Spirit is based on the divine inspiration of the sacred text. We should never confuse this special witness with the interpretation of the text. The Church is the whole Christ and this fact causes the words, which Christ uttered during His earthly life, to be placed within the ever-living wholeness of Christ. God spoke and continues to interpret his words. Thus the Bible, divinely interpreted, encompasses in its fullness the Tradition as its living result, as its interpretation always in via. The Tradition bears witness to the Bible and the Bible constitutes a part of the Tradition. At the same time the Bible remains the first source of the faith vested with an absolute primacy and authority. The eternal Gospel (Rev. 14, 6) is the incomparable point, to which every other form refers, the criterion of every truth. Every tradition and every dogma must always be found to agree with Scripture. Apart from the limited and very specific range of the dogmas, tradition does not have any formal criterion or external instrument, which would have the authority to codify a compulsory reading of the text. It is from within its life that it projects what is orthodox and what is heterodox. We can give, however, some initial indications for every sacred reading: 1. Every text must be approached within the totality of the book to which it belongs, and then, within the totality of the Bible and the Church. Every particular element ought to be interpreted in the light of the whole. Parallel cases help us to perceive the special emphasis of the pericope (particular passage). The liturgical use leads to rich realizations, if the text that is read is related to a specific liturgical time and its hymnographic interpretation. Thus, for example, the reading of I Cor. 10, 1-14 is read on the day of Theophany (Epiphany, Feast of Lights), the end of the Gospel of Matthew at the celebration of the sacrament of Chrismation, and so on. The liturgical reading derives its power from the event that is commemorated and becomes its active presence. 2. There is only one unshakable point: Whatever contradicts the dogmatic truths must be excluded. Thus, for example, every hypothetical guess concerning the children of Mary contradicts the dogma of her perpetual virginity. Among the hypothetical guesses we ought to choose the one that is in agreement with the dogmatic truth, since it is this one that presents the infallible sense of the most important biblical texts, which were given to the Church by God Himself. Attributing to the verse John 14, 28 a sense of subordination is condemned by the dogma of the equality of the three divine Persons. Any conception of the Son of God as a child of God in the sense of the general adoption clashes with the dogma of the Only-begotten Son. Whoever does not believe in the Resurrection of Christ, as this is experience in the Church and is declared in the Creed, can never read the Scriptures correctly.

3. On the contrary, as regards the historical exactitude concerning the human form of the Scriptures (language, period, place and environment, image and symbolism), it is necessary to approach it with greater freedom by using all the discoveries of objective science. The problem of the authenticity of certain texts, their origin and the attribution of these works to this or that author (Moses, Isaiah, the Epistle to the Hebrews) does not present any difficulty. The texts (for example, Mark 16, 9-20, John 7, 53 8, 11, I John 5, 7), which probably do not belong to the original composition, are acceptable variations of the original text, hallowed by their liturgical use. God has spoken from within these texts. Like the variations of the texts, so most of the ways of understanding and interpreting them, reveal that the wealth of the content exceeds every mono-typical human perception. Although the entire Scripture is divinely inspired (II Tim. 3, 16), the importance of certain verses for the doctrine cannot be brought out, except through the dogmatic formulations of the Church. All the attempts to write a Life of Christ end up with something missing, which cannot be attributed to the human element. All the scientific (academic) constructions of the essence of Christianity (Das Wessen des Christendums) stumble on the arbitrariness of subjective preferences, outside every apostolic authority. 4. The biblical narratives are clearly placed in a double perspective, historical and meta-historical. Every event that the Bible narrates had its purpose and its moment, while at the same time it is a manifestation of a metaphysical breadth, which transcends the purely historical. There are verses, which clearly show a mythological structure, which is necessary and deliberate, such as the narrative of creation and the fall, placed within a time, which is different from the time of current history. Adam has the value of an archetype, he is before duration and thus he imposes it on all. The liturgical communion of prayer with Adam or Lazarus makes impossible any rendering of their persons as pure symbols. But their liturgical interpretation at the ceremony of their feast presents Adam as a universal man, Adam the first or Adam-Kadmon, and Lazarus as the prophetic forerunner of the Resurrection. According to the Fathers, the OT was the most specific history and, at the same time, the prefiguration of Christ, the typology of the incidents of salvation. A canvas of religious painting renders a very realistic historical event, whereas an icon reveals the silent depth of this event, its metaphysical face. Biblical reading in Orthodoxy always seeks an unbreakable balance between these two perspectives: it starts with the canvas of painting and moves on to seeing the icon.

The divine inspiration of Scripture is clearly confirmed by Scripture itself: Every Scripture is divinely inspired (II Tim. 3, 15-17), the holy people of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit (II Peter 1, 20-21). At the same time the sense of this inspiration is not easy. The mechanical recording of a dictation, the divine inspiration of every letter, transforms the authors into passive writers. In a more moderate sense, this same automatism is derived from the other explanatory view: God is the only author causa principalis, the first cause whereas man is causa instrumentalis, a secondary cause; and so, within the infinite number of the multiplied causalities, the true human participation is choked. On the contrary the synergism of Eastern theology brings forth a solution of mutuality, which preserves human freedom, the dignity of the child, to whom the Father addresses his Word. St. Basil clearly says that the Spirit never deprives of his rationality the one He inspires. Such a result would have been demonic. The human integrity remains inviolate in whatever belongs to it, but it is enriched, it is inspired, it is orientated by the inspiration of the Spirit. In every book of the Bible the seal of the special human ingenuity of its author is incontestable. The Fathers underline more intensely (as soon as the oversimplified work of the apologists of the second century is closed) the human character of the authors.
When man hears the Word of God, he is never passive; there is always an energetic reaction on his part, within its very receptivity. Undoubtedly the authors of the sacred books are authors-prophets and, if their work reaches out to the visionary grasp of the message and reveals a charismatic illumination, this grasp, faithful to its initial principle, keeps unimpaired the entire human integrity and never violates it. Every prophet accepts the mission to transmit the word he received in the church community and the patristic and liturgical interpretations manifest that, although the revelation was given once for all, it never remains closed within the wealth of its content, but goes through the creative receptivity of the Church.

The Scriptures are the human form of the Divine Word and with their unity they are manifested as theandric (divine-human, incarnational). The distinction Word of God and human word is a Nestorian separation. The Word of God alone or the human word alone reveals a heretical (non-Cyrillian) Monophysitism. The Bible is a theanthropic (divine-human) word. Man is never made an intermediate entity (medium). No spiritual automatism has a place here. Next to the absolute purity of the dogmatic verses and to the general inspiration of all the texts there is a lawful place for human cares, there is the human spectrum, a fact that justifies the whole scientific work on the text and the historical development of this attempt.

We can speak further about the inspiration of the readings. The Bible is addressed primarily to the heart, the instrument of wisdom: O foolish and slow in heart to believe in all that was spoken by the prophets (Luke 24, 25). The heart contains the mind-full aspect, but transcends it, and this is what permits the discovery at every new reading, a level of new depth. Thus, the typological interpretation of the Old Testament with the light of the New Testament lifts the veil and offers the cyclic vision of the anagogical movement of the events. Similarly the person receiving baptism passes through the entire iconic curve of salvation, truly experiencing all the biblical events, reproduced within his own existence. It is to this manner of existence, inspired by the sacramental life, that the Lord refers when he says: He who has ears, let him hear.