John 5:39–40 (BTV)[Jesus said,] “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life, and it is these that testify about me, yet you are not willing to come to me so that you may have life.”
I am an Eastern Orthodox Christian and so approach Scripture from a Byzantine Christian perspective.
I am a convert to Orthodoxy from Protestant Christianity, and I’m still unlearning how I was taught to read the Bible within various Protestant “tribes.” I’ve been Orthodox for over a decade. I’m not an expert, just an interested perpetual student.
Spiritually ill theologians produce sick theology…. The fathers affirmed a deep connection between the spiritual health of biblical interpreters and their ability to read the Bible well…. The fathers argue that any divorce between personal character, Christian community and the study of Scripture will be fatal for any attempt to understand the Bible.
Christopher A. Hall, Reading Scripture with the Church Fathers (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1998), 20, 41, 42.
I try to prayerfully hear and follow the Scriptures, which tell the story of God’s people and that point to Jesus. I pray that God continually renews and opens my nous (νοῦς) as I seek Him in prayer and strive to be conformed to His image within His one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.
Luke 24:44-48 (BTV), emphasis and annotation addedThen [Jesus] said to them, “These are the words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds [nous (νοῦς)] to understand the Scriptures and said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and for repentance and remission of sins to be preached in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things….”
Romans 12:1-2 (BTV), emphasis and annotation addedI urge you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God, your reasonable religious service. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind [nous (νοῦς)], so that you may determine what is the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God.
The Bible that we have received has been handed down through/in Holy Tradition and records the journey of God’s family within the context of historical covenants. The text itself cannot be rightly understood or appreciated if divorced from its living covenantal community, the Church, and its associated Tradition.
I also consult works from contemporary scholarship, including historical-critical perspectives. In fact, since the hard work of living out the teachings of the Scriptures occurs in praxis rather than in written form, much of what is written here represents academic insights more than practical. Above all, I try to read the Scriptures through the hermeneutic of love.
I believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all things visible and invisible.
I believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the Son of God, the only-begotten,
begotten of the Father before all ages.
Light of Light, true God of true God,
begotten, not made,
of one essence with the Father,
by whom all things were made.
For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven,
was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary,
and became man.
And he was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate,
and suffered, and was buried.
On the third day he rose again, according to the Scriptures,
and ascended into heaven,
and sits at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom shall have no end.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father,
who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified,
who has spoken by the prophets.
I believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
I acknowledge one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
I look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the age to come.
— The Nicene Creed
If you think about it, the mind has two “gears,” forward and reverse. Forward gear is when you are thinking something through, following a line of thought, reasoning in a logical way—the dianoia…. In English today, when we speak of “the mind” we mean those active ways of thinking (usually setting them opposite to “the heart” or emotions).
But the mind also has a “reverse gear”: it can receive information. This is our ability to understand, comprehend, discern, or perceive. In biblical Greek it is called the nous … ([and as is other times the case,] the word doesn’t mean in Scripture what it does in Aristotle and Plato)….
Broadly speaking, [the nous] is our capacity to encounter life firsthand, our receptive awareness…. If God were to interact with us, it would be by means of the nous, not through our emotions or our reasoning ability…. Here’s an example of how the word nous is used in Scripture. When Christ appeared to his disciples after his resurrection, he “opened their nous to understand the Scriptures” ([Luke] 24:45). Since English translations say that he opened their “mind,” you might have thought that he made them intellectually sharper, better equipped to defend the Scriptures. No, he enabled the disciples to perceive something; he enabled them to see the prophecies of his life and work woven through the Old Testament like a silver thread. It had been there all along, but they had been unable to see it. When Christ opened their nous it was like a grimy window being opened, and they suddenly could see these prophecies everywhere.
Frederica Mathewes-Green, Welcome to the Orthodox Church: An Introduction to Eastern Christianity (Brewster, Massachusetts: Paraclete Press, 2015), 195–198.
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