Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
God be merciful to us and bless us, and cause His face to shine upon us, that Your way may be known on earth, Your salvation among all nations. Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the people praise You. Oh, let the nations be glad and sing for joy! For You shall judge the people righteously, and govern the nations on earth. Let the peoples praise You, O God; Let all the peoples praise You. Then the earth shall yield her increase; God, our own God, shall bless us. God shall bless us, and all the ends of the earth shall fear Him. [Psalms 66-68. These psalms are a unit in their usage in the Orthodox Church, all three psalms being used as Paschal Psalms throughout the Pascha (Easter) services and Bright Week.)
On February 3rd 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, Teachers of Our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: Symeon the God-receiver and devout and Anna the Prophetess; Holy Martyrs Adrian and Evoulos, who were beheaded in Caesarea of Palestine; Holy Martyr Blaise the Cowherd of Caesarea in Cappadocia; holy Prophet Azarias, son of Addo, who prophesied in the days of Asa, king of Judah; Holy Martyrs Paul and Simon who were perfected in martyrdom by the sword; our Righteous Father Claudius; Holy New Martyr and brethren Stamatius and John of Spetsae, and Nicholas their fellow contestant, were martyred on the island of Chios in the year of our Lord 1822; Saint Laurence of Syria, Bishop of Spoleto in Umbria; Saint Anska, Archbishop of Hamburg and Bremen, Enlightener of Denmark and Sweden; Saint Romanus, Prince of Uglich; our Father among the Saints James, Archbishop of Serbia; our Father among the Saints Symeon, First Bishop of Tver; the Holy New Hieromartyrs Nicholas, Agathon, and Alexander, Priests in Russia, who were slain by the atheists (communists) in the year of our Lord 1918).
+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, Holy Martyrs, Holy Bishops, Holy Archbishops, Holy Prophets, Holy Fathers, O Christ Our God have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
SAINT SIMEON THE JUST AND DEVOUT AND THE GOD-RECEIVER. This Saint Simeon was chosen, in the time of the Egyptian Pharaoh Ptolemy Philadelphus (285-246 B.C.), as one of the famous Seventy-Two Hebrew Scholars to whom was committed the task of translating the Old Testament from the Hebrew into Greek. Saint Simeon worked conscientiously, but when, translating the Prophet Isaiah, he came to the prophecy: "Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son" (Isaiah 7:14), he was puzzled and took a knife to scratch out the word "virgin" and substitute "young woman", and thus translate it into Greek. But at that moment an Angel of God appeared to him and held him back from his intention, explaining to him that the prophecy was true and rightly-expressed. And to confirm its veracity, the messenger from God said that he, Simeon, by the Will of God, would not die until he had seen the Messiah (The Christ) born of a virgin. The Righteous Simeon rejoiced at these heavenly tidings, left the prophecy unchanged and thanked God that He had found him worthy to live to see the Promised One. This would make St. Simeon well over 200 years old at that time of the meeting described in St. Luke, and therefore miraculously longeval. When the Christ Child was brought to the Temple in Jerusalem by the Ever-Virgin Mary, the Spirit of God revealed this to Simeon, who was now a very old man with snow-white hair. He went quickly to the Temple and found there both the Virgin and the Child, bathed in a Light that shone round their heads like a halo (photostephano). The joyful Elder took Christ in his arms and prayed God to let him leave this world: "Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart...according to Thy word, for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation..." (St. Luke 2:29-32). Then came also Anna the Prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, who recognized the Messiah and made Him known to the people. Anna was then 84 years old. Soon after that, Saint Simeon departed this life. This Righteous Elder is venerated as the Protector of young children.
Under Mosaic law, a mother who had given birth to a man-child was considered unclean for seven days; moreover she was to remain for three and thirty days "in the blood of her purification", which makes a total 40 days.
TROPARION (Tone Four)
Simeon the Elder is filled with joy today, receiving into his arms the Eternal God as an Infant he cries: "My eyes have seen the salvation, which You have prepared for all the nations to see!
[Please read the Holy Scriptural lesson St. Luke 2:22-38]
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL LESSONS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: Hebrews 9:11-14
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Luke 2:25-38
FROM THE HOLY ASCETICS, HOLY FATHERS AND MOTHERS OF THE CHURCH:
Amma (Mother) Syncletiki said, "In the beginning there are a great many battles and a good deal of suffering for those who are advancing towards God and afterwards, ineffable joy. It is like those who wish to light a fire; at first they are choked by the smoke and cry, and by this means obtain what they seek (as it is said: "Our God is a consuming fire" [Hebrews 12:24]: so we also must kindle the Divine Fire in ourselves through tears and hard work" (Blessed Syncletica).
THE SEPTUAGINT IS THE ORTHODOX TEXT OF THE OLD TESTAMENT
According to Father John Anthony McGuckin "after the fall of the last of the Ptolemies, Cleopatra, the city of Alexandria became one of the richest and most important of the Roman imperial provinces. From two centuries before the time of Christ the city was active as the real centre of world Judaism, and several of the later parts of the Old Testament were written here, as well as the massive influential Greek translation of the Scriptures known as the Septuagint (LXX) which has always been the Holy Bible used in the services of the Greek Orthodox Christians."
The Septuagint--referencing the Seventy-Two finest Jewish scholars, from all Twelve Jewish (Hebrew) tribes, who made the translation from the Hebrew into Greek--became the universally accepted version of the Old Testament since the time of its appearance some three centuries before the birth of Christ. Our Lord Jesus Christ, together with His Apostles and Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, and also Saints Peter and Paul, used this Greek version when quoting the Old Testament in their gospels and epistles. These Divinely inspired Old Testament books tell the story of God's dealings with ancient Israel, from approximately 2000 BC until the time of Jesus.
A study of the Old Testament in the light of the authentic Apostolic Tradition will lead the reader to Him Who fulfilled the Law and the Prophets as He promised: Our Lord and God and Savior, Jesus Christ. This collection of 49 Old Testament books is traditionally subdivided into four sections: 1) the Five Books of the Law; (2) the Books of History; (3) the Books of Wisdom and; (4) the Books of Prophecy. (The Orthodox Study Bible).
SOME BACKGROUND ON THE SEPTUAGINT
By a royal decree from Ptolemy, the Septuagint text was prepared in the 3rd century before Christ in Alexandria Egypt by the best Hebrew Scholars of the day. At the time, Alexandria was the greatest center of learning in the known world, and its library was famous for its completeness and the valuable manuscripts it contained. The Septuagint translation of the Old Testament was an occasion of great celebration, and a special day was set aside to commemorate this event in the Jewish community, which, for the most part, no longer spoke Hebrew, especially in the diaspora. (In Palestine the Jews spoke only Aramaic). Now, with the Septuagint translation, the rabbis could instruct their people easily in a language most of them spoke (Greek was the universal language at the time), but, in addition, they could make their faith more readily accessible to the pagan world around them. Consequently, the Septuagint was held in great esteem, and in the time of our Savior, it was in wide use in the Jewish community (as the many quotations from it in the New Testament testify). What is also noteworthy is that Philo, one of the greatest Jewish Scholars of antiquity, was also one of the foremost apologists for the Jewish religion among the pagans. Through the many tracts he wrote (all of them based on the Septuagint text), he led many thousands of pagans to convert to the Hebrew faith. Yet, Philo, a contemporary of our Savior, could not speak Hebrew. He knew only Greek.
With the appearance of Christianity, however, things began to change. The many thousands of pagans who formerly had converted to Judaism now began turning to the Christian faith. In addition, thousands of Jews also converted to Christianity. Through the work of the Holy Apostles, The Evangelion, the "Good News" of our Savior and His triumph over mankind's last enemy--death--began spreading like wildfire throughout the Mediterranean world and beyond. Furthermore, the Holy Apostles were armed with proofs: the Old Testament prophecies that foretold of our Savior's coming. Thanks to the Septuagint of the Hebrew Scriptures, those prophecies were in a language almost everyone could understand.
In the meantime, the whole Jewish world was shaken with a terrible catastrophe--the fall and complete destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD by the Roman legions. This event, prophesied by our Savior, caused utter consternation in the Jewish community, because, not only had the political center of the country vanished amidst inhuman atrocities and barbarity, but the Temple itself was gone! Literally, no stone was left upon a stone; and heart of the Jewish faith had been ruthlessly cut out by the Romans, and even the Jewish priesthood was exterminated. The few shreds left of the city's population were banished and the Jews began a long exile.
In an attempt to restore some order out of this total devastation, around A.D. 90 or 100 a prestigious school of rabbis in the city of Jamnia (orJabneh), which is some thirteen miles south of Jaffa, constituted a new Sanhedrin and discussed and determined the Canon of the Old Testament. In view of the fact that the Septuagint was being used so extensively (and effectively) by the "new faith" (Christianity) in winning many thousands of converts from paganism and from the Jewish community themselves, it was resolved by the Rabbinical School to condemn the Septuagint text and forbid its use among the Jews. The day which had been formerly been set aside as a day of celebration commemorating the translation of the Septuagint was now declared a day of mourning. Philo's valuable tracts in defense of the Jewish faith were renounced as well, since they were based on the Septuagint translation.
The Old Testament text used today by non-Orthodox Christians is the Masoretic text, which was prepared by Jewish scholars in the centuries after Christ. When they picked among the many variant texts to prepare their own version of the Old Testament, these Jewish scholars, as might be readily understood, had an already decided bias against any scriptural variant that might lend itself to a Christian interpretation. As the centuries passed, those variant texts not used by the rabbis fell by the wayside, or were usually destroyed, and thus, about a millennium after Christ, these scholars finally arrived at what is now known as the Masoretic text.
With the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in the middle of the 20th century, however, the numerous ancient variants in the Hebrew sacred texts came to light again, in many cases, the Septuagint text proved to reflect the authentic Hebrew text better that the text that has come down to us in the later Masoretic version.
Also, many ancient Hebrew words cannot be understood or even pronounced any longer. They can be translated and understood only with the help of the Septuagint Greek. Thanks to the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Septuagint text is now held in far greater esteem among non-Orthodox scholars than it was even a few years ago.
The reason why Orthodox Christians prefer the Septuagint is simply because it represents an ancient, authentic and unbiased text of the Old Testament, translated and embraced by the Jewish people themselves for almost 400 years. Since we hold ourselves to the new Israel, we feel pretty strongly about upholding this Tradition of the God of our Fathers.
(Source: Orthodox Answers)
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God,