The Holy Fathers and the Holy Scriptures

St. Eugene of Melitene

Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True God,

[Saint Symeon the New Theologian]

O Lord, give me prudence; O Lord, teach me how to do Your Commandments. And if I have sinned as a man, more than any man, You know this; but You, O my God, in Your compassion, have had mercy on me, the poor, the orphan in the world, and have done for me, O Master, that which only You know. From my father and brothers, relatives and friends, from the land of my birth, from the home of my parents, like out of a dark Egypt, like out of the deepest parts of Hades,--for thus You have given me, Your worthless servant to understand and speak prudently about them--You have taken me away, O Compassionate One, but You have received me, and holding me with Your dread hand, You led me to him whom You were pleased to have as my father on earth, [Here he speaks about his spiritual father, Saint Symeon the Pious] and You threw me at his feet and into his bosom. And he has led me to Your Father, O my Christ, and to You through the Spirit, O Trinity, my God, weeping as the prodigal son and falling before You, O Word [Logos], as You Yourself know that You taught me and You have not considered me unworthy to call me Your son..."


On November 7th Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church commemorates, honors and entreats the holy intercessions of the following Saints, Forefathers, Fathers, Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Preachers, Evangelists, Martyrs, Confessors, Ascetics and Teachers of Our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: 33 holy Martyrs of Melitene; Saint Lazarus the Wonder-worker; Holy Martyr Athenodoros; Saint Alexander, holy Martyr of Thessaloniki.

THE HOLY THIRTY-THREE HOLY MARTYRS OF MELITENE. These holy Martyrs contested during the reign of the pagan Roman Emperors Diocletian and Maximian in the year 290 A.D. Of them, Saint Hieron was from Tyana in Cappadocia, a husbandman, of great bodily strength and high nobility of soul. As he was at work digging in his field, certain soldiers came to impress him into military service. He, however, not wishing to keep company with the impious, refused, and with his wooden tool alone drove away the armed soldiers, who fled in fear because of his strength. Later, however, he went of his own free will, and confessed Christ before the governor. His right hand was cut off, and he was imprisoned with thirty-two others, whom he strengthened in the Faith of Christ. Together they were all beheaded outside the city of Melitene in Armenia.

Dismissal (Apolytikion) Hymn of the holy Martyrs.
Fourth Tone

Thy Martyrs, O Lord, in their courageous contest for Thee received as the prize the crowns of incorruption and life from Thee, our immortal God. For since they possessed Thy strength, they cast down the tyrants and wholly destroyed the demons' strengthless presumption. O Christ God, by their prayers, save our souls, since Thou at merciful.


Holy Epistle Lesson 1 Thessalonians 2:1-8
Holy Gospel Lesson St. Luke 12:48-59


"You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen" (2 Peter 3:17-18)

by Bishop Athanasius Yevtich [source: CHRIST: The Alpha and Omega]
The Church Fathers regarded the entire Holy Scriptures and the divine revelation to which they bore witness as a document and testimony wholly turned toward the glory of the coming Messiah--the Christ. Consequently, however paradoxical it might sound, the Holy Bible is above all a book about the Messiah and not primarily a "book about God." Of course, in the (Old Testament) Bible, the Messiah is God, but the emphasis is on the God of protology--God the Creator, the Almighty, the Righteous, the Judge, etc. God's "creative work," however, is not central as a goal in itself because God's creatures have the role of proving and testifying to His power and perfection. The Bible is primarily a book about the Messiah, about the Lord's Anointed One and about His future all-encompassing Mystery, in which all of the destiny of the created world and man is perceived. Thus, the Bible is completely inclined toward eschatology. For the Church Fathers, the Bible is a book about Christ in Whom all of the divine Oikonomia is combined and fulfilled, from the creation of the world to life eternal and the Kingdom of Heaven. The Messiah, Jesus Christ, is--as the Son of God and as the Son of Man--the God-man, the Alpha and the Omega of the entire Holy Scriptures. He is the culmination and the central knot of the Bible, the final revelation of God, of the world and of man--that is to say, the whole purpose of creation and of history. As a written document of this revelation, the Bible cannot be exhaustive.

In contrast to the Calvinistic, fundamentalist view of the Bible as a book of eternal verdicts--of predeterminations, of final pronounced judgments from the past, or merely of things that have been established in the past without possible future changes or a new oikonomia (divine arrangements in God's household)--the Holy Fathers possess a dynamic, eschatologial and messianic understanding of the Holy Scriptures as the words of God regarding God's anointed one and His people. The Apostles John and Paul share this patristic view of the Bible, since the center of their prophecies and evangelical messages is the Only-Begotten Logos[Word], the Incarnate Son of God, and the Church as His Body. Father Georges Florovsky has already observed that the Holy Fathers of the Eastern Church perceived the announcement and prefiguration (προτύπωσις) of the Incarnation of the Hypostatic Logos [Word] the personified Word of God, Christ the Savior--in the very words and events of the Bible. Moreover, Saint Maximus the Confessor, like Saint Gregory of Nyssa, perceived in the very creation of the world and of man the announcement of the Incarnation and the beginning of the building of the Church.

Hence, for the Holy Fathers, the Bible is first of all Christ-centered, pertaining to Christ, and therefore it is a messianic and eschatological book. This means that Holy Scripture is a Church book, not a "cosmic" book, that is, a book that interprets the "mysteries of the world" in a cosmic, philosophical, or religious manner. The Bible is not a religious or "theological" book in the sense of a broad theological speculation, of a theological system of truths about God, the world and man. However, this is exactly the way many Protestants look at the Bible. In such a view, the Bible becomes just another book in a series of religious books or 'sacred' religious texts, such as the books of Islam and other world religions. The Bible is not the Koran, or the Talmud, or even merely the Hebrew Torah. Here one needs only to remember Christ's words in Luke 24:44: "All things must be fulfilled, which were written in the Law of Mosses, and in the Prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning Me"--that is, concerning the Messiah.

Although the Old Testament originated "before Christ," the Holy Fathers consider that it still testifies to and speaks directly about Christ the Messiah. Therefore, whoever does not recognize the Messiah in Christ, the Anointed One of the Lord, actually betrays the Old Testament, fails to comprehend it; a veil remains on his face, as the Apostle Paul says (cf. II Cor. 3:15-16). That is why Saint Paul understood and interpreted the entire Old Testament Christologically, as Christ-centered. According to the Protestant understanding, Paul interpreted the Old Testament in a "self-willed" way, i.e., not as a Jew but as a Christian. (That is why the Jews who have remained steadfast to Moses do not accept that Moses testified of Christ; hence they have also never tolerated Paul). However, Saint Paul's interpretation and vision of the Old Testament, in his Epistles to the Roman and to the Hebrews in particular, represent the lawful, Christological and Christ-centered understanding of the entire Bible, of all the events described therein, in the spirit of the Divine Revelation. Saint Paul sees the Incarnate Christ throughout the whole Old Testament, i.e., that which Saint Maximus the Confessor would later express in the same words, in Saint Paul's words: the entire Old Testament is a shadow of the new one (cf. Col. 2:17; Heb. 8:5 and 10:1). The New Testament is the icon of eschatological reality, and truth is "the state of the awakening reality," that is, the Kingdom of Heaven. This perception pertaining to Saint Paul points to the dynamic motion described in the Bible, so that the entire Old Testament actually aspires toward the new, and the New Testament gravitates toward the eschatological Kingdom of God.

With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,

The sinner and unworthy servant of God
+Father George