Why is the issue of the Holy Trinity such a crucial concept in Christianity – so much so that it is a central component to Orthodox doctrine and practice, playing a prominent role in Orthodox theology and providing the basis for Orthodox worship? And why do a few words to the Creed – the filioque – matter so much? This article provides some clear insight into why a proper understanding of the Trinity matters in the Christian walk.
The question of how, precisely, one is to understand the concept of “primacy” in the Church continues into the present age. As the Catholic and Orthodox Church continue to dialogue, this issue, which has been a central factor in the division between the two, will continue to be a point of discussion. Most catechumens can probably end this post here, with the awareness that the issues behind the Great Schism (A.D. 1054) continue to be wrestled with today.
For those who prefer to delve into the contemporary issues in more depth, I have three links below. Thank you to Randy, a catechumen, for pointing out the third link from the Ecumenical Patriarch’s website. There is a considerable amount of “theological” language in these texts and the arguments are, in places, fairly nuanced.
First, in 2007, representatives from the Orthodox and Catholic Church met for “theological dialogue” between the two. In October of 2007, in Ravenna, the commission unanimously approved the following document, translated into English and available on the Vatican website. While the entire document is interesting, for the purpose of “universal primacy,” see, especially, points 35ff.
Secondly, the Moscow Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church was not present at the meetings and, after reviewing the Ravenna document, took issue with some of the points. They published a response to the document:
Thirdly, the Ecumenical Patriarchate published a response to the Moscow Patriarchate on their concerns with the Ravenna document.A Response to the Text on Primacy of the Moscow Patriarchate
From the article:
“A recently discovered 1,500-year-old papyrus fragment containing a protective Christian prayer is one of the earliest surviving texts of its kind. Historian Roberta Mazza found the Christian amulet among the thousands of unpublished historical documents kept at the University of Manchester’s John Rylands Research Institute. The early Christian prayer, written in Greek, references the Eucharist—a Christian ritual commemorating Jesus’ Last Supper—and “manna of the new covenant.””
“Fear you all who rule over the earth.
Know you nations and peoples that Christ is our God.
For he spoke and they came to being, he commanded and they were created; he put everything under our feet and delivered us from the wish of our enemies.
Our God prepared a sacred table in the desert for the people and gave manna of the new covenant to eat, the Lord’s immortal body and the blood of Christ poured for us in remission of sins.”
Read the full article here.
A recent article in the Biblical Archaeology Society on the relationship of the Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS, the earliest extant Hebrew version of the Bible) to the Masoretic Text (MT, ca. 10th century Hebrew version of the Bible that provides the basis for the modern Jewish Scripture and Protestant Old Testament) and the Septuagint (LXX, an early Greek translation of the Hebrew Scripture, traditionally dated to the 4th c. BC). Generally, in places where there is a variance between the MT and LXX, the DSS agree with the LXX.
Some of the Dead Sea Scrolls actually have more in common with the Greek Septuagint than the traditional Hebrew Masoretic Text, showing that the Greek translators must have been translating from Hebrew texts that resembled the Dead Sea Scrolls.