Edited By Vahan Hovhanessian
The Canon of Scripture in the Orthodox Church (Eugenia Scarvelis Constantinou) 1
• E U G E N I A S C A R V E L I S C O N S T A N T I N O U • The Canon of Scripture in the Orthodox Church he precise status, content and role of the canon in the Orthodox Church escape easy definitions and explanations. The Eastern Church never conclusively defined a canon of Scripture in an authoritative statement such as those ultimately pronounced in the West. Although the Orthodox Church is one Church, united in one faith and historically connected to the early apostolic Church, it is also simultaneously many separate, autonomously functioning churches. The various Orthodox churches embrace a variety of practices and traditions with respect to liturgics, iconography, lectionary and even the canon of Scripture itself. Among the Orthodox Churches are both Chalcedonian (“Eastern Orthodox”) and non-Chalcedonian (“Oriental Orthodox”). The most unusual aspect of the canon of Scripture among the Orthodox is that no official canon exists at all and the canon remains somewhat loose. The word “canon” (kanon in Greek) originally meant a reed or measuring stick. It came to mean the applicable standard for measurement: a ruler. The word “canon” was employed to refer to a rule or Church law. With respect to the Bible, “canon” is the list of books recognized as authoritative Scripture because when deciding which books should be considered Scripture, the Church applied certain standards. The canon of Scripture also demarcates those books which may be read in Church. The Septuagint Some...
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