Apocalypse (The Book of Revelation) Part II

Apostle James the Brother of Our Lord

Apostle James the Brother of Our Lord

My beloved spiritual children in Our Risen Lord, Redeemer, God and 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.

RESURRECTION ODE

Let us who have beheld the Resurrection of Christ, worship our Holy Lord Jesus, Who is alone without sin. We worship Thy Cross, O Christ, and praise and glorify Thy Holy Resurrection. For Thou art our God, and we know none other beside Thee, and we call upon Thy Name. Come, all ye faithful, let us worship Christ's Holy Resurrection, for behold, through the Cross, joy have come to the whole world. We praise His Resurrection, and forever glorify the Lord. He endured the Cross for us, and by death destroyed Death. Jesus, having risen from the grave, as He foretold, has given to us Eternal Life and the Great Mercy.

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TODAY'S SYNAXARION (THE COMMEMORATION OF TODAY'S SAINTS):

On April 30th 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, and every righteous soul made perfect in Our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: Holy Apostles James, the brother of Saint John the Theologian; St. Maximus of Ephesus; St. Clement the Hymnographer, Egoumenos (Abbot) of the Studion; St. Ignatius (Brianchaninov) of Russia (1867); St. Argyra of Prusa; Uncovering of the holy relics of Saint Basil, Bishop of Amasea; Uncovering of the holy relics of St. Necetas, Bishop of Novgorod; New Holy Martyr Alexis of Plotava; St. Donatos, Bishop of Evreia in Epirus, Greece; Translation (Anakomeide) of the holy relics of St. Savvas, Egoumenos (Abbot) of Zvenigorod Monastery; Saint Erconwald, Bishop of London, England; "Of the Passion" holy Icon of the Thetokos (Mother of God).

+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, Holy Bishops, Holy Abbots, Holy Hymnographers, Holy Mothers, Holy Fathers, Holy Ascetics, Holy Confessors, Holy Teachers, Holy Monks, Holy Nuns, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.

THE HOLY APOSTLE JAMES. The Holy Apostle James was the son of Zebedee and brother of Saint John the Theologian and Evangelist, he was one of the Twelve. At the call of the Lord Jesus, he left his fishing nets and his father and, together with Saint John, immediately followed Christ. He was one of the three Apostles to whom the Lord revealed the greatest mysteries: before whom He was Transfigured on Mt. Tabor and before whom He was in agony in the Garden of Gethsemane before His Passion. After receiving the Holy Spirit, he preached the Gospel in various places, going as far as Spain. On his return from Spain, a violent quarrel broke out between the Jews and himself on the Holy Scripture, and, being unable to withstand him, they hired a magician, Hermogenes. But Hermogenes and Philip his pupil were overcome by the power and truth that Saint James preached, and were baptized. Then the Jews denounced him to Herod, and persuaded one Josias to slander the Holy Apostle. This Josias, seeing St. James's manly bearing and hearing his clear preaching of the truth, repented and came to faith in Christ. When Saint James was condemned to death, this Josias was also condemned. Mounting the scaffold, Josias begged St. James's forgiveness for the sin of slander, and Saint James embraced him, kissing him and saying: 'Peace be to thee, and forgiveness.' And they both laid their heads under the sword and were beheaded for the sake of the Lord whom they had loved and served. Saint James suffered in Jerusalem in the year 45 AD. His holy body was taken to Spain, where to this day miracles of healing are performed at his tomb. (Source: The Prologue from Ochrid).

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TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:

Holy Epistle Lesson: Acts 12:1-11
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Luke 9:1-6

INSPIRING SAYINGS FROM THE HOLY ASCETICS, HOLY FATHERS AND HOLY MOTHERS OF THE CHURCH:

"God is the Teacher of prayer; true prayer is the gift of God. To him who prays constantly with contrition of spirit, with the fear of God and with attention, God Himself gives gradual progress in prayer. From humble and attentive prayer, spiritual action and spiritual warmth make their appearance and quicken the heart. The quickened heart draws the mind to itself and becomes a temple of grace-given prayer and a treasury of the spiritual gifts which are procured by such prayer as a matter of course." (Saint Ignatius Brianchaninov).

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APOCALYPSE: THE BOOK OF REVELATION (PART II)
INTERPRETATION AND TRANSLATION

A new translation always begs the question: Why another? Clearly, a translation of the Apocalypse based solely upon the living text of the Eastern Orthodox Church is one important answer. Another is the larger question of the interpretation and meaning of Scripture. In the West, this has become idiosyncratic, largely derived from the King James Version, the Revised Standard Version, and the New Revised Edition, and caught up in the debates regarding the "purity" of textual traditions and the inclusion of alternative readings. The Orthodox Church, which has maintained a coherent textual tradition through its worship and traditions, believes that it understands more than simply the meanings of the words of the text; it believes that it understands the use of the text--how the text should be applied to the faith of its readers.

This is the heart of the issue, after all: Does the new translation change how we understand the original text, and does it better or more closely convey the intention of the author? When it comes to the Apocalypse, this is an awesome question. If one is a true believer, then the reason why this is so is self-evident. The Greek Orthodox Church, which has preserved the original texts of the New Testament in the manner closest to their origins, can claim perhaps a larger portion of the fruit of its truths. It has maintained for posterity the text's message and provided a way to understand the text's perceived truths through time by means of its liturgical and historical Tradition: the complex of interpretive tools, faith lived-out and expressed in worship, and the many other characteristics that Tradition comprises. To approach the text with a different agenda is to turn it into something other than it was intended to be for the followers for whom it was written. Pretenders are free to interpret the Apocalypse as they wish, but there is such a thing as a true inheritor, one who has a valid claim of descent. Greek speaking Orthodox Christians take some justifiable pride in the gift of having the New Testament available in the language of its authors and their ancestors, who were among the first to read and hear the words that revealed a new Truth to the entire world.

Bringing the liturgically living text of the Greek speaking Orthodox Christian world to Western awareness for the first time in a contemporary and wholly "new" translation will hopefully open the minds of many for whom the two or three most popular English translations have shaped their understanding of the text. The effect of language upon the interpretation of text and the subsequent understanding of theology for Christians cannot be overestimated. More than a few Western Christians have realized that unless one reads the New Testament in the original Greek, one is reading a theological interpretation. Every translation is influenced by the translator's choices, and each translator is influenced by his or her understanding of doctrine and history.

The early Christian community, self-defining its raison d'être as eschatological in both nature and purpose, embedded into the Christian ethos a persistent expectation of something extraordinary, a sea-change to the natural expectations of life. They understood that Christ's promise was one of glory that would transform them, make them better, and free them from suffering; that glory was already present, already at work, and they were moving within it and it within them. However, one would be remiss to insist that this was the only purpose and expression of Christian transformation.

Among Eastern Orthodox Christians, the theology of "theosis" or divinization is, arguably, the apex of theological development, the Mt. Tabor of spiritual purpose. The Christian East understood this divine transformation as taking effect in this life, not just the next. The early Christians of the East, therefore, did not focus on eschatological fears but on the hope that each day would bring a greater flowering of the Holy Spirit's presence. In this light and with this understanding they came to include, reluctantly at first, the text of the Apocalypse in the New Testament of Jesus Christ. With this in mind and heart we present a new translation into English, reflecting so far as possible the Orthodox Christian truths that the Church's unbroken ecclesiastical traditions have so carefully preserved.

Orthodox Christians believe that they live for Christ now; they are not waiting for signs of a Christ still to come. In fact, for Eastern Orthodox Christians, the True Revelation is the continuing revelation of Jesus Christ in the world. His presence is ongoing. Orthodox Christians are taught to live for today, in today, seeking the continuing revelation of Christ in the present. Irrespective of when Christ comes for a second time, by living in Christ in the present, one will be ready.

As a result, Eastern Christians do not have a history of calculating the year and date of Christ's return as some Western Christians do. And the ominous connotation of, for example, the number "666" is a Western phenomenon. The Orthodox Christian does not fear a future that includes the Number of the Beast but instead is perpetually wary, as those who live in the material world should be, of all those who today are doers of the Evil One's terrible word.

Interpretation of the Apocalypse is also influenced by Orthodox Christian liturgical practice. The "living Church" dwells within the earthly reflection of that perfect and ceaseless worship that transpires in Heaven. This is precisely the importance of the Apocalypse for Eastern Christians--it is a model of the nature of our participation in the Kingdom of God here and now and for all of eternity's tomorrows.

One of the delightful discoveries in the Apocalypse is that, in the original Greek, St. John's use of the language conveys a startling aspect: the Greek text it insistent upon the immanent now. To understand the Apocalypse is to realize its truth in an ever-present now. It proclaims again and again that salvation and transformation are occurring today; for Orthodoxy, salvation is not an event, but a process. The change in human being because of Christ's Resurrection and return is happening already in a perpetual present. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

(To be continued)

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CHRIST IS RISEN! TRULY HE IS RISEN! ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ! ΑΛΗΘΩΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ!

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Glory Be To GOD For All Things!

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With sincere agape in Our Risen Lord Jesus Christ,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George