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Errantry: Novak's Journal
...Words to cast/My feelings into sculpted thoughts/To make some wisdom last
Random: Because I can't get it out of my head 
3rd-Jan-2008 11:11 pm
Star Trek Friendship
Because some entries are worth repeating. Trust me, people: you'll thank me.

5th-Jan-2008 07:11 pm (UTC)
Oh, of course: I thought my response was just as clearly in the same vein....

5th-Jan-2008 07:13 pm (UTC)
no, actually! but i'm glad we've got all that straightened out. also, mr theologian: do the orthodox not, in fact, believe in original sin? i am pretty sure they do, but i just wanted to check with you.

Edited at 2008-01-05 07:14 pm (UTC)
5th-Jan-2008 07:30 pm (UTC)
This is a tentative response, because that's obviously a complicated question, but my general understanding is that they do, but that it's a non-Augustinian understanding of the idea, which gives it a very different cast. The take Augustine took on the matter was so distinctive that it seems to have given Western Christianity a distinctive flavour, with all sorts of subsidiary developments over the centuries. One aspect, for instance, is that Augustine was understood to have theorized a "transmission" of it through disordered lust in sexual intercourse which is how it was spread through all of humanity, explaining its universal presence. So, for instance, the 19th century's dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Mary seems to be entirely dependent upon such a take, making me wonder if you take away the Augustinian conception of Original Sin whether that dogma retains any coherency.

So your question opens a big can of worms, and it's too complex for me too feel too sure about any response I'm giving here, but that's the best I can do on short notice without any further research.
5th-Jan-2008 07:35 pm (UTC)
but they believe we are fallen and in need of redemption? this is a doctrine that is biblical and does not require an augustinian reading? (asking, and apart from things like the immaculate conception)
5th-Jan-2008 09:05 pm (UTC)
Well, yes, but descriptions of "fallen and in need of redemption" can be widely varying, with even wider implications. These are immense topics here that you can sum up with those few words.

Obviously there's something from Paul in the idea, that there is a kind of disorderedness to humanity, a disposition or predisposition to sin, but you'll have to take my word for it here on just how much effect Augustine has had in leading Western Christianity in different directions than Eastern theology. The work Augustine did in locating sin or original sin as stemming from a defective human will doesn't have a direct or nearly-as-influential analog in Eastern theology or theological anthropology, if I understand correctly. And that turn – toward a strong theological anthropology – and a concentration on a theological exploration of man as such doesn't seem to have the same emphasis in the East as Augustine gave it in the West.

I have to say and emphasize that much of what we take to be "biblical" in the United States is not biblical per se, in that more Protestant idea of a "naked" or "direct" reading of Scripture, "unblemished" by any mediating or distorting theology. The Bible does not interpret itself. And so much of what Evangelicals or Fundamentalists take as "the obvious sense of Scripture" goes back no farther than the 19th century. If you read people before that, you find no similar understandings of many of their points. But you have to have more of a background in reading all this stuff to see these things. I was amazed by the end of my undergraduate as I started to get an inkling of how many of the things people assumed were "biblical" were readings of the Bible that had trickled down to the 20th century from Augustine. For example, if I recall correctly, the whole reading of the Adam and Eve story as a cosmic rebellion against God, with the utterly destructive consequences for humanity in perpetuating Original Sin, is an Augustinian reading of the text. That's quite different from the earlier reading from Irenaeus of the incident as something closer to a "teenage rebellion" as a sort of necessary "growing pains" for humanity. But the Augustinian reading dominated in the West ever afterward, and has huge theological consequences in extrapolating a picture of humanity and their relations to God.
5th-Jan-2008 09:58 pm (UTC)
One lifetime is never going to be enough to learn about all the interesting things in life.
5th-Jan-2008 11:35 pm (UTC)
Ain't that the truth?

But it's damned fun trying to do so.
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