Festschrift in Honor of Professor Paul Nadim Tarazi

Volume 3- Studies in Intertestamental, Extra-Canonical, and Early Christian Literature-

by Tom Dykstra (Volume editor) Vahan Hovhanessian (Volume editor)
©2015 Monographs XXII, 196 Pages


This is the third of three volumes dedicated to Professor Paul Nadim Tarazi. Volume 3 of Festschrift in Honor of Professor Paul Nadim Tarazi is a collection of articles discussing the latest findings in a variety of theological subjects related to the Bible as received and interpreted in the Orthodox Church tradition. Scholars from around the world have contributed their recent findings in the field of their research and teaching in this volume.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Foreword
  • Preface
  • Acknowledgments
  • V. Rev. Fr. Paul Nadim Tarazi: Brief Biography and Bibliography
  • Bibliography
  • Selected Articles in Journals and Edited Volumes
  • Selected Presentations
  • Abbreviations
  • Orthodox Biblical Studies in Greece in the Second Half of the 20 Century
  • Introductory Remarks
  • Subject Matter and Areas of Research
  • Series of Commentaries on the New Testament
  • Introduction to the New Testament
  • Textual Criticism of the New Testament
  • Translations of the New Testament
  • Characteristics of Post-war Greek Biblical Research
  • Conclusion - Perspectives for the Future
  • The Contribution of Professor Paul N. Tarazi to the Development of Romanian Biblical Studies
  • Preliminaries
  • The Thematic Diversity of Paul Tarazi’s Studies, Published in Romanian, and Their Challenging Character
  • a. Death and New Life in Christ according to the Epistle to the Romans in Paul Tarazi’s View
  • b. The Cross - Content of the Apostolic Kerygma. A biblical perspective of Paul Tarazi
  • c. The Church and the “Mystery” of Christ in the Light of Ephesians 2:11-22, 3:4: Paul Tarazi’s Perspective
  • Conclusions
  • “Bow your head low to the great; rescue the oppressed from the oppressor.” Ben Sira and the Struggle with Elitism
  • Introduction
  • Elements of the Struggle in Sirach
  • Rhyme and Reason: Thematic Roots of Ben Sira’s Struggle
  • Arrogance and Humility
  • Forgiveness, Mercy, and Ben Sira’s God
  • The Fear of the Lord, the Commandment(s), and the Prophetic Influence
  • Conclusion: Honor, Shame, and Ben Sira’s Art of Politicking
  • Can These Bones Live? Ezekiel, Jesus and the Challenge of the “Other”
  • Introduction
  • Ezekiel
  • Jesus
  • Testing new experience in John
  • John 3:1-21, Jesus and Nicodemus
  • John 4:1-42, Jesus and the Samaritan woman
  • John 6: 22-71, Jesus, His Disciples, and the “Hard Saying”
  • John 7:37-52, Jesus and the “...division among the people over him”
  • John 9:1-41, Jesus and the man born blind
  • Orthodoxy and “The Other”: Movement Forward?
  • Peaceful or Violent Eschatology: A Palestinian Christian Reading of the Psalter
  • Robert Cole
  • David Mitchell
  • A Theocentric Eschatological Approach
  • Conclusion
  • Bibliography
  • You are the Man, 2 Samuel 11-12 as a Rhetorical Paradigm for Contemporary Preaching
  • A Linguistic and Metaphoric Approach to Scripture
  • Does the Biblical Qadosh Lead to a Hypostatic Personhood?
  • The Biblical Concept of Otherness
  • The Emergence of Holiness in Historical Figures
  • The Church as the Space for Holiness and Otherness
  • Concluding Remarks
  • Summary
  • Early Syriac Evidence on the Chosen People and the Promised Land
  • Choosing and Promise in the Scripture
  • Aphrahat
  • The Early Syriac Lectionary
  • Ephrem the Syrian
  • Conclusions
  • Perspectives on Women in Early Christian Apocryphal Texts
  • Introduction: Limits and Structure
  • The Gospel of Thomas
  • Mary Magdalene
  • Women in Apocryphal Acts
  • Mary the Mother of Jesus and Other Women in Infancy Narratives
  • Some Conclusions
  • Teach Us John Chrysostom: Biblical Education and Rhetorical Art
  • Theological Foundations of Chrysostom’s Scriptural Hermeneutic
  • Antiochene Approach
  • Synkatabasis
  • Unity of Scriptures
  • Challenges to a systematic approach
  • Faithful Persuasion
  • The Art of Rhetoric
  • The Development of the Art of Rhetoric
  • Christianity and Rhetoric
  • John Chrysostom’s Attitude towards Rhetoric
  • The Tools of the Trade
  • Comparison and Metaphor
  • The Rhetorical Question
  • The Encomium and Ekphrasis
  • Narrative engagement
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • Orthodox Biblical Studies in Greece in the Second Half of the 20th Century
  • The Contribution of Professor Paul N. Tarazi to the Development of Romanian Biblical Studies
  • “Bow your head low to the great; rescue the oppressed from the oppressor.” Ben Sira and the Struggle with Elitism
  • Can These Bones Live? Ezekiel, Jesus and the Challenge of the “Other”
  • Peaceful or Violent Eschatology: A Palestinian Christian Reading of the Psalter
  • You are the Man, 2 Samuel 11-12 as a Rhetorical Paradigm for Contemporary Preaching
  • A Linguistic and Metaphoric Approach to Scripture
  • Does the Biblical Qadosh Lead to a Hypostatic Personhood?
  • Early Syriac Evidence on the Chosen People and the Promised Land
  • Perspectives on Women in Early Christian Apocryphal Texts
  • Teach Us John Chrysostom, Biblical Education and Rhetorical Art
  • Index
  • Series Index

| vii →


The first two volumes in this Festschrift series focus mainly on Old Testament and New Testament exegesis. This last volume in the series includes articles that relate to the field of scriptural studies in different ways. Some examine biblical texts, but with more of an emphasis on practical or theological implications. Others study how early Christians understood and applied what they learned from Scripture. Still others are about modern scholars who study Scripture.

The volume begins with two surveys of modern scriptural scholarship. John Karavidopoulos chronicles the development of scriptural studies in Greece in the latter half of the twentieth century. He looks at the causes of increased interest in Scripture, identifies the biblical texts that scholars studied most frequently, and recounts the development of disciplines such as textual criticism and historical criticism. He concludes with recommendations for future directions that Greek scholars should take.

Stelian Tofană also surveys the history of biblical scholarship in his own country—Romania in this case—but focuses on an aspect of that history especially relevant to this Festschrift publication: the influence of Fr. Paul Nadim Tarazi. He shows how Tarazi challenged Romanian biblical scholars to look at Scripture in new ways. Tofană asserts that Tarazi’s work helped to define “an anastasic Christology of the New Testament,” that is, one that keeps the appropriate balance and unity between Christ’s death on the cross and his resurrection.

The common theme in the next group of articles is one especially dear to Fr. Paul Nadim Tarazis heart: scriptural exegesis leading to practical conclusions for our lives and behavior. In the first installment of this group, Michael G. Azar shows how the author of Sirach offers an example and advice that differs from the confrontational style that we see in some of the prophets. According to Ben Sira, we can do God’s work without making ourselves odious to those in authority over us. Azar summarizes Ben Sira’s advice as “‘Endear yourself to the congregation; bow your head low to the great. Give a hearing to the poor . . . Rescue the oppressed from the oppressor’ (4:7-9), but do so tactfully.” ← vii | viii →

John A. Jillions finds in the New Testament a different sort of corrective to an Old Testament prophetic message. He suggests that Orthodox Christians have too uncritically assimilated Ezekiel’s warning against outsiders or foreigners. In Ezekiel’s culture, foreigners were dangerous because they could seduce Israel away from its God. But Jesus proclaimed a new message for a different cultural reality, one that welcomes “the other” into the messianic community. Can Orthodox Christians follow Jesus’ call and “embrace a more inclusive way of thinking about the other, especially other Christians?” By explaining the unique context behind Ezekiel’s apparent rejection of such inclusiveness, Jillions hopes to help create an environment in which the answer to that question is positive.

Yohanna Katanacho’s article describes another instance of tension between conflicting attitudes in different biblical texts. Certain psalms could be read as ethnocentric (for example the royal ones, such as 1-2 and 72), but Katanacho interprets them within the context of the failure of the Davidic covenant (Book III of the Psalms, Pss 73–89, especially Psalm 89) and the suffering of the righteous (e.g., Psalm 73). He applies his interpretation to the national and personal disorientation that Palestinians and Israelis currently experience. The crisis presents a choice between a militant, ethnocentric approach à la Psalm 72 on the one hand, and, on the other hand, a theocentric reading that arises out of humility and advocates life instead of death (à la Psalm 86). Applying Book III in this way is consonant with the gospel in that it thwarts perceiving the nations as enemies, expands God’s covenantal mercy to include all the nations, and restores God as king of kings. If the Palestinians, Israelis, and others would take this scriptural message to heart, they could all enjoy a world in which “the enemy is transformed into a brother who has equal inheritance in holy space.”

But how does one go about convincing others to follow the dictates of Scripture? Sergius Halvorsen finds advice for effectively preaching the word of God in the example of the prophet Nathan. Nathan had to make especially skillful use of rhetorical technique in order to get a powerful king to admit his sin, and as Halvorsen points out, “the relationship between Nathan and David is very much like the relationship between the preacher and the hearer in the twenty-first century North American parish.” The preacher has no power over his parishioner, and in some ways the reverse is true, yet the preacher must call upon the parishioner to repent. Whereas Michael Azar’s article points out that this relationship calls for tact, Halvorsen’s article examines one particularly effective strategy for employing tact to this end.

The next two articles are also about biblical texts, but they look at Scripture more broadly in order to draw more general conclusions. Like the preceding articles, “A Linguistic and Metaphoric Approach to Scripture” by Christopher Salamy emphasizes the practical implications of our understanding ← viii | ix → of Scripture. But here the goal is to determine the appropriate methodology that we should use for deriving those practical implications. Salamy warns against philosophizing, historicizing, and projecting one’s own cultural assumptions into a text that was written in and for a foreign culture. When we recognize that Scripture was not intended to convey data about God or about human history, we are free to focus on the original intent of the message. Only this approach makes it possible for people today to adopt the conceptual framework of God’s Word, and thereby to act in accordance with that conceptual framework.

The last article that directly focuses on scriptural texts is a theological treatise by Bishop Maxim Vasiljevic titled “Does the Biblical Qadosh Lead to a Hypostatic Personhood?” This article seeks to determine what the command to “be holy because I am holy” means in its original biblical context, aside from later notions about what the word “holiness” means. Bishop Vasiljevic finds that holiness implies personal uniqueness but not separateness. “Here, it is important to emphasize the context within which the call ‘Be holy…’ (Lev 19:1) requires one to love one’s neighbor as oneself (‘love your neighbor as yourself; I am the Lord”; Lev19: 18).” A holy person, like the holy Christ and the holy God, accepts the uniqueness of other persons. Coming directly from Scripture, this understanding was embedded in Orthodox church tradition long before it became popular in Western culture: “It is precisely this type of logic which makes Orthodoxy so valuable to all those who lately are in favor of otherness and differences.”

The next group of articles looks at extra-canonical early Christian texts. In the introduction to “Early Syriac Evidence on the Chosen People and the Promised Land,” Merja Merras observes that “We cannot find in the New Testament any trace at all of the land of Israel meaning the area of the former Old Testament Israel and Judah, which was occupied at the time by Romans.” She then proceeds to show that early Christian Syriac texts from the fourth century accurately reflect the New Testament understanding: they don’t interpret the Old Testament promises as pertaining to physical regions of the earth but rather to the heavenly kingdom. She suggests that this was true universally among Christians until the eighteenth century. Before then, “there was no need to see the land of Palestine as a land which God had promised to the Jews.” Then, some Christians began to read Scripture as if it were composed of historical texts. Ultimately this led some to see the modern state of Israel as a continuation of the biblical Israel, and to see modern Jews as the chosen people to whom the physical land of Palestine was promised.

The following article in this group is a survey of attitudes toward women in Christian apocryphal texts, written by Cornelia B. Horn and Robert R. Phenix, Jr. They analyze the Gospel of Thomas; traditions about Mary Magdalene; apocryphal texts such as the Acts of Paul, Acts of Peter, and Acts of Philip; ← ix | x → and infancy narratives of Mary and Jesus. Although some studies have emphasized that women could exercise authority in the communities that produced this literature, Horn and Phenix question whether the evidence justifies generalizations of that nature. The portrayals of women are so diverse as to make generalizations problematic, and the texts often present women in positions inferior to men. When women did assume greater authority than men, it could come “at the price of their identity as women.” And in the scattered instances where women played important roles, that situation “might be older than Christianity itself, having been adapted from some currents of Greco-Roman religious practice.”

It is fitting that this volume, and with it the entire Festschrift series, concludes with an article by Ann Bezzerides that examines the exegetical and rhetorical techniques employed by John Chrysostom in his preaching. Chrysostom is the church father who above all others exemplifies the approach to Scripture that Fr. Paul Nadim Tarazi has devoted his life to promoting. Indeed, the conclusion to this article fits perfectly as the conclusion to all three of these Festschrift volumes, for in this text we could replace “John” and “Chrysostom” with “Fr. Paul” and “Tarazi,” and the words would still ring true:

As a master rhetorician, Chrysostom employed the tools of classical rhetoric for Christian ends. The art of rhetoric was and is the art of persuasion—of convincing people’s minds, stirring their hearts, and leading them to action. Chrysostom’s focus was on exhorting laypeople to know God’s word for their own continual transformation. John was not interested in presenting dry academic lectures, but sought to exhort his flock to hear the scriptural text in a way that would provoke emotion—awe, fear, joy, sorrow, zeal, and yearning—that this Scripture might have a productive end in their lives. Any analysis of his preaching must account for his self-conscious catechetical goals: that his ultimate aim was to motivate his congregants to adopt the scriptural narrative as their own narrative, to have their lives shaped and molded by the scriptural word.

Tom Dykstra

| ix →


The Holy Bible, biblical text, exegesis, and understanding the biblical message in its original context, without the influence of medieval and later doctrinal and theological precipitations, truly outline the scholarly career of the Very Reverend Dr. Paul Nadim Tarazi, a leading Orthodox theologian in the field of biblical study. The professor of Old Testament at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, Professor Tarazi has also lectured extensively in universities and seminaries around the world. He is the author of numerous books and articles in the field of biblical theology and exegesis. Professor Tarazi is the founder of the “Orthodox Center for the Advancement of Biblical Studies” (OCABS) and its online Journal (JOCABS). He is also the founding pillar of the unit “Bible in the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Traditions” of the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL).

His forty years of teaching career around the world and his theological research in the field of biblical studies has produced generations of biblical scholars with a unique and critical approach to biblical exegesis and interpretation. It was, therefore, only befitting that leading international scholars who have been students or colleagues of Professor Tarazi come together in Festschrift to celebrate the 40th anniversary of his teaching career by offering a critical appreciation of his contribution to biblical studies, and by exploring the continuing scholarly discussion of issues related to the Biblical text, exegesis and theology.

A daylong celebration took place on Saturday October 23, 2010, under the auspices of His Eminence Archbishop Philip, Metropolitan of the Antiochian Orthodox Church of North America. The Festschrift convened at the conference hall of St. George Antiochian Church in Little Falls, New Jersey, was scheduled 9am–4pm, with the participation of over 30 international scholars.

This book is the third of three volumes covering the proceedings of the Festschrift. The first volume includes papers exploring the latest scholarly debate in the fields of Old Testament Studies. Volume two includes articles dealing with the New Testament, and this volume publishes papers discussing biblical theology in general. ← ix | x →


XXII, 196
ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2015 (May)
tradition research teaching
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2015. 196 pp.

Biographical notes

Tom Dykstra (Volume editor) Vahan Hovhanessian (Volume editor)

Tom Dykstra is an independent scholar who has edited many of Paul Nadim Tarazi’s books since 1988. He has an M.Div. from St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary and a PhD from the University of Washington. Dr. Dykstra is the author of Mark Canonizer of Paul: A New Look at Intertextuality in Mark’s Gospel and numerous articles in biblical studies. He has also published books and articles about Russian history, including Hallowed Be Thy Name: The Name-Glorifying Dispute in the Russian Orthodox Church and on Mt. Athos, 1912–1914 and Russian Monastic Culture: «Josephism» and the Iosifo-Volokolamsk Monastery 1479–1607.


Title: Festschrift in Honor of Professor Paul Nadim Tarazi
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