Patristic Interpretation (Part 1)

Questions to think about during this lesson…

  • Why is it difficult to place precise dates on things that happened in Church history?
  • If you remember, in Canon (Part 3) Dr. Jeannie said that in the beginning only Jewish Scriptures were considered “Scripture” to the Christians. So when the Lord quoted Scripture — or when St. Paul said he was quoting Scripture — Dr. Jeannie said that they’re talking about the Old Testament. If that’s the case, then how does Dr. Jeannie explain 2 Peter 3:16? Referencing this verse, many people say that St. Peter considered the writings of St. Paul as Holy Scripture. But what’s the problem with this assumption? (Hint: What does the word for scripture mean in Greek?)
  • What does Dr. Jeannie mean when she says that we don’t have to be “backwards” to be Orthodox — that we can be fully educated and understand history and STILL have the fullness of the Orthodox Tradition?
  • Why does Dr. Jeannie say that a lot of people from her parent’s generation were turned off from the Church?
  • What are some reasons why St. Paul’s writings couldn’t have been regarded as Holy Scripture during his lifetime?
  • Why doesn’t it matter whether 2 Peter was really written by Peter?
  • Why were other books with Peter’s name (such as the Acts of Peter and Paul, the Gospel of Peter, and the Apocalypse of Peter) rejected by the Church?
  • Why is Dr. Jeannie telling us all these things that may be difficult to hear? (Hint: It has to do with what St. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13:11 and 1 Corinthians 3:2)
  • Why does Dr. Jeannie advise us to be careful with how we use our newfound knowledge of the Bible?
  • Why do some Christians today insist on Apostolic authorship of every single word of the New Testament? (Hint: Do these same Christians accept the authority of the Church?)
  • Why is it important that we affirm the role of the Church in deciding which books were Scripture?
  • Dr. Jeannie says she hopes that by telling us all of these things (such as 2 Peter not being written by Peter) we trust her that it’s for our own good and that in the end we’re going to be stronger and wiser and deeper in our faith, in our understanding of the Bible, in early Church history and in the Orthodox faith. What are your thoughts on this considering what you’ve learned so far?
  • Why does the Bible require interpretation? Or doesn’t it? (Hint: Think about the conversation between Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8:30-31)
  • When did the Bible first require interpretation?
  • What group of Jews passed along the oral interpretation of the Torah and were able to apply the Torah to changing times and circumstances?
  • In the early Church, the Jewish interpretation of the Scripture was identified with literalism while the Christians saw their interpretation of the Bible as more spiritual. How does this relate to what St. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 3:6?
  • How did the Greek pagan interpretative tradition of literature influence the Christian interpretation of Scripture?
  • What is allegory and how did it become a popular way of interpreting Scripture in early Christian circles?
  • Who was Philo of Alexandria and how did his use of allegory have a lasting impact on Christian interpretation?
  • Many of the conflicts between Christ and the Jewish leaders were over Scripture interpretation. For a couple examples, look up how the Lord references Hosea 6:6 as recorded in Matthew 9:13… and how the Lord references Psalm 118:22 as recorded in Matthew 21:42 and Luke 20:17.
  • What is typology? (Activity: Look up Matthew 12:38-42 and John 3:14 for examples of how the Lord uses typology)
  • One of the most striking aspects of the way the Lord explained the Bible was that He was very different from other Jewish rabbis, not simply in His content (because He emphasized love, mercy and forgiveness over legalism) but that He claimed for Himself the authority to interpret the law and to even change the law. For example, look up Matthew 5:21-48 and Matthew 12:1-14. Why did the people react the way they did (Mark 1:21-28) in regard to the way that the Lord taught?

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