1. The Very Rev. Dr. Donald P. Richmond, Obl.OSB., CCS

    Dear Father Silouan

    Thank you for your well written and compelling article “Towards Fullness of Iconicity.” You have visited and addressed an important matter — a matter which, I believe, touches upon the foundation of iconography itself: Holy Scripture. Given your thesis, can we then say that the authenticity (“iconicity”) of Holy Scripture only resides in the original manuscripts? And, if so, how does this impact the LXX and (for that matter) any adequate translation of Sacred Writ? — Donald+

    1. Dear Fr. Donald,

      I do not believe that the “original manuscripts only” idea is (at all) what Fr. Silouan had in mind.

      I think, rather, that he is asserting “how” we can be “faithful to” the originals. He is not asserting its impossibility, for in fact he argues for “how” we can be “faithful to” this lucidity.

      All of Fr. Silouan’s words are designed to draw out the “best”, the “clearest”, the most “lucid” ways of achieving (not failing at arriving at) a concord with “the original”.

      Any word that is true is true.
      Any translation that speaks truth and no error is true.
      Any icon that speaks truth and no error is true.
      While each may never be identical one with the other (why should they be, for they are not), nevertheless all “material” may bear the truth to the degree of its ontological capacity to do so.

      So, even if ALL Bibles and ALL icons were destroyed, and ALL Patristic and Conciliar Writings, the Church and her saints could simply “WRITE THE TRUTH YET AGAIN”, from her actual and true and live experience of Christ.

      What matters is the “Eidos”, which is Christ the Logos Himself, not the “original” in a chronological and purely material sense.

      In Christ,
      Hierodeacon Parthenios

    2. Fr. Silouan Justiniano

      Dear Donald,

      In fact, the foundation of iconography is the incarnate Word of God, the hypostatic Truth.
      Likewise, the Word is the foundation of Holy Scripture. The letters are shining garments, from which emanate the Lord’s life giving glory. Holy Scripture has authority precisely because it embodies the Truth, it is an icon in words, in fullness of iconicity. Some translations have been acknowledged by the Church as the most lucid mirrors of the Truth; through the radiance and inspiration of the Spirit, they clearly reflect the Truth. Yet, the uncreated Truth is not limited by the symbols that manifest it. These mirrors (symbols) are not to be mistaken to be the Truth itself although they participate in the Truth in a sacred and mystical manner. If all of Holy Scripture and the best of its translations where to be burned, the Holy Spirit will once again inspire the pure in heart and guide them to the best written expression of the Truth. Also bear in mind that Holy Scripture arises from life in the Spirit within the Church. Holy Scripture being one of the expressions of Holy Tradition, but not its determinant. In short, we shouldn’t just see the matter of authenticity of Holy Scripture as an archaeological search for the most ancient or original manuscripts. We should be careful not to fall into the trap of historicism or literary criticism in these matters. Yes there are translations more reliable than others, but not one language can claim monopoly of fullness of iconicity when it comes to the written expression of the Truth. This would imply a limitation to the ineffable works of the Spirit.

      Fr. Silouan

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