OSB To Leave the US in Attempt To Impose Militant Americanist Hegemony on Traditionally Orthodox Lands

It has just come to my attention that the Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church of America (usually styled “the Metropolia”), with the blessing of its First Hierarch, has recently shipped 276 copies of the lamentable Orthodox Study Bible to various theological seminaries in Russia and the Ukraine. According to the news release, officials at the Theological Academies of St Petersburg and Kiev are reportedly “excited [to have] this resource available to their faculty and students.”I predict that their honeymoon with this jarring volume will be short-lived. After all, as the much-missed Felix Culpa has demonstrated at length, the notes and articles in the first few pages of this book embarrassingly fail to teach correctly on the dogma of the Holy Trinity and the doctrine of Creation, rendering both unrecognizable and even directly contradicting the teaching of the Holy Fathers at various points. I nervously await news of the first Archimandrite to collapse after reading a reference to the Holy Trinity as “They.”

More puzzling to me is the fact that part of the money raised for the “Bible for Russia” program should have been used to buy Bibles in the English language (and such expensive ones at that!). I suspect that either the Bible Society or one of the presses of the Moscow Patriarchate would have been able to produce many, many more Bibles in Russian if provided with the same amount of money that the Metropolia shelled out to Conciliar Press and/or Nelson (perhaps some $9660, if they received the usual discount).

In related news, Henry Neufeld (whose other review posts I mentioned earlier) has wrapped-up his posts on the OSBat least for the moment.

48 responses to “OSB To Leave the US in Attempt To Impose Militant Americanist Hegemony on Traditionally Orthodox Lands

  1. I believe a number of the local Orthodox churches – including Moscow, but excepting Istanbul/New Rome – style the jurisdiction you refer to as “The Orthodox Church in America”. :)

    I think I also remember passing reference being made to the fact that a large sum was sent over for Bibles in Russian and other local languages and this was simply an added gift meant for a more academic or reference end.

    Of course, I agree that something better than the OSB should have been sent, it’s just that no one has gotten off their keisters to produce something better than the OSB, yet. (NETS and the EOB and the biblical translations scattered throughout Arch Ephrem Lash’s site are good places to start).


  2. Christopher> Um, I'm sorry, but I've never heard of such a designation. ;-)

    Yes, a very large amount of the sum was sent to the Bible Society for the Chuvash Bible Project. But again, that doesn't make it any less strange that a not insignificant amount of money should have been dedicated to buy Bibles in English.

    I don’t see why anything like a stacks OSBs should have been sent at all; I would have found sending copies of the NETS or the EOB every bit as nonsensical.

    Of course, ever since the OSB NT first came out, it was the intention of its editors to produce translations of that edition in the languages of traditionally Orthodox lands–part, no doubt, of the hubris of the whole project. Fr Ephrem wrote years ago, “Let us hope that those charged with preparing editions of this book for the traditionally Orthodox countries will insist on a thorough overhaul, though they would do better to start again from scratch.” He was surely right, but here we have the beast itself sent to theological academies in Russia like it’s some jewel of theological learning. Well, that’s just embarrassing!


  3. Who was it who said, “In the end times, the world will go mad, but call Christians mad for pointing this out”?

    The Russians will a.) laugh, b.) shake their heads sadly, and finally c.) produce something one million times better in a fraction of the time. They’re much better funded on every front, and possess a great wealth of erudition in their ranks. I hope that’s what happens, and that it’s promptly translated into English, as well.


  4. Aaron> And you would be right.

    Kevin> From your mouth to God's ears! Also, if that pithy saying is not in the Bible or the Fathers, it really should be. ;-)


  5. Mr Edgecomb’s pertinent observation regarding the likelihood of the Russians producing their own, no doubt superior work and translating it into English put a thought into my mind: isn’t it high time they sent a 2nd mission to the US, following up on the work of Ss Herman and Juvenal and showing the militant Americanist Orthodox how it’s really done? Like a new St Vladimir, they could topple the Perun-like idols of the various pillars of Americanist Orthodoxy that I myself hesitate to name properly for fear of martyrdom but which certainly include such things as the OSB.


  6. Well, I’m certain that pithy statement is from one of the modern Athonite elders. I’ll have to dig around to find it.

    On the plan for a Russian Patristic Bible, just pray. That’s the best thing to do anyway!


  7. Well, I’m certain that pithy statement is from one of the modern Athonite elders. I’ll have to dig around to find it.

    Well, the time period and location was way off, but it is a monastic saying. It is from St Anthony the Great, from the Apophthegmata Patrum, his saying number 25 (found here: I knew I knew it from somewhere familiar!):

    Abba Anthony said that the time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will rise up against him, saying that you are mad, because you are not like them.


  8. Sorry, Kevin, I could have saved you some trouble as I knew instantly what you were referring to, but I took the question more rhetorically or something. I should have shot back with a citation for you!


  9. That’s okay, Aaron! I found it funny/annoying that I ended up finding it where I least expected it, in something that I translated myself and should’ve remembered better. Sheesh.


  10. I expect the Archimandrite might already have collapsed from reading John 14:23 and 17:11 where Jesus refers to the Father and the Son together as “we”. In the context in 14:23 the Holy Spirit is apparently also included. Or does this holy clergy person not read the Bible?

    Kevin, Orthodox Russians already have available resources such as the Tolkovaya Biblia of 1904/13, republished by IBT in 1987/90, see this story. Perhaps you Orthodox should translate this into English rather than sending the Russians second rate resources in English.


  11. Kevin and Aaron> Well, I knew it sounded like something patristic! ;-) Thanks for the reference.

    Peter> Surely there must a distinction about how God speaks about Himself, and how we speak about God? At any rate, the witness of the patristic tradition is clear at this point, and I'm really not interested in debating whether this should be regarded as normative or not. The matter is settled as far as I'm concerned.

    Thanks for the link that story about the Tolkovaya Bible! I was once shown a cop dating from pre-Revolutionary times, but was unaware that it has bee reprinted. At any rate, you're undoubtedly correct that it would be better to translate something like this in to English than send copies of the second-rate OSB anywhere!


  12. Well, Esteban, your comment about the patristic tradition being normative fits well with your attempt to rehabilitate “hypocrites”, as your faith seems to demand you to reinterpret Mark 7:6-8, including “teaching as doctrine the precepts of men” (RSV) or “teaching human tradition as normative” (PKV), as Jesus commending the Pharisees.


  13. Peter: “your faith seems to demand you to reinterpret Mark 7:6-8…”

    Is this really to degenerate into an argument about the place of Tradition in Christian doctrine? Please, for the sake of Esteban, let’s stay on topic.

    forgive me,
    Sbdn. Lucas


  14. Sbdn, I thought Esteban’s words “directly contradicting the teaching of the Holy Fathers at various points” were the high point of his post, and so I was trying to raise the discussion to this height, above the trivialities of who gets which Bibles. But if you prefer I will desist.


  15. Peter,

    Perhaps I misunderstood, and would beg your pardon. With the quote you'd posted, ("traditions of men…") it had seemed that we were headed in the more general–and laborious–waters of the place of Tradition in Christian doctrine. Had this been the case, I think any productive conversation about Christian language, wrt the Most Blessed Trinity, would have been bogged down in biblical proof-texting for-and-against _sola scriptura_.

    Happily, it would seem I may have been mistaken, and this was an excellent exercise for me in learning humility. How appropriate, in this week following the Publican & Pharisee: Glory to God.

    forgive me,
    Sbdn. Lucas


  16. Sbdn, you are right about where this might have gone, into rather unproductive areas. Thanks for the advice. Although this is not how Jesus responded to the religion of the “hypocrites”, I will respect Esteban’s religious convictions, and I guess yours, by not going any further in this direction.


  17. Peter> The high point of my post was that 276 copies of the OSB, an embarrassing volume indeed, were inexplicably sent to Russia. How anything else could have been taken for the central point eludes me.

    Again, I'm not interested in protracted discussions about the normativity of the patrisitic tradition, which is a given for me, and therefore of anything I write here. There are people interested in polemics on this and related subjects. I am not one of them, and therefore my blog is no place for them unless I feel like addressing such matters (which has been very, very seldom). I thank you, then, for getting off the subject. I will, however, point out Kevin's excellent comment (stemming from his long and stimulating series, which invited discussion) outlining the basic conceptual distinction between the “Oral Torah” and the Tradition of the Church.

    (As an aside, I’m quite certain that Jesus’ polemic against the Pharisees does contain important lessons for Orthodox practice when it comes to the exercise of oikonomia, but I’ve only started to think about this subject recently, and I am therefore not ready to tackle that particular issue.)

    Now, for the really important part: have you ANY idea how one could a hold of one of those copies of the Tolkovaya Bible?! (You evil man, I was thinking about it all morning in Church.) Since you brought it to my attention, surely you're the person to ask for more information! ;-)

    Lucas> I am delighted that you're reading! I have heard much about you, and I wish you'd comment more often. One of these days I'll find a way to go down to Bloomington and meet you, along with the rest of the gang. :-)


  18. Peter, the point is that in Patristic writing, you will never find the Holy Trinity refered to as “They” but rather as “He.” “We believe in one God…” begins the Creed, in three hypostases which are then described. That is the Christian faith. The sloppy use of “they” in referring to the Trinity in the OSB notes is what Esteban, Felix Culpa, and myself were referring to back when that discussion occurred.

    Obviously God doesn’t refer to Himself as “They.” But “We” and “Our” certainly occur, whether as indication of the royal plural or an actual plural, we don’t know. Throughout Patristic tradition, however, rooted in orthodox Theology proper, the third person singular masculine pronoun and related forms are consistently used. The avoidance of tritheism has been in mind from the beginning, it seems.

    Thanks for the link to the Tolkovaya Biblia. I didn’t know about that one. A pdf of this interesting Bible is here. It is a New Testament-only volume, with patristic commentary in endnotes, chapter by chapter, quite similar to the two-volume edition (NT plus Patristic endnotes) produced by Holy Apostles Convent. Perhaps Tolkovaya Biblia is where Mother Mary at the Convent got the idea. A full Bible translation with commentary like this would be ideal. I expect the Russian Orthodox may already have something underway. Such a thing would undoubtedly be superior to that wasteful OSB.


  19. Never mind about the Tolkovaya Bibliya being only the NT. PDFs of all the books of the Bible are available here, in what look like scans of the original. Neato!

    Thanks for the tip, Peter!


  20. OMG IT IS ONLINE!!!!!!!!!!! Many thanks, Kevin.

    Peter, you’re still not off the hook regarding a print copy. I expect your report shortly. ;-)


  21. Oh, that one’s not all of them either. (I’ve a cold and I’m impatient!) It’s only most of the NT. Everything is really available here. These are page images, so it’s a little annoying to navigate through. There is a wealth of information there.


  22. You’re welcome, Esteban. You should check with that Institute for Bible Translation that Peter mentioned. Their contact form is here.

    While waiting for their reply, you can begin translating the Tolkovaya Bibliya! Hop to it!


  23. Well, thanks for the continued updates, my friend! I’ve linked to these resources in a new post.

    Um, and I appreciate your eagerness in providing the IBT’s contact info, but I’m afraid that was Peter’s job, which I’m still waiting for him to do. ;-)

    Meanwhile, get thee behind me, Edgecomb! I have too much to translate as it is, but oh, that would be such a worthwhile project… Hey, maybe one could use the upcoming EOB as the base biblical text, and focus only on the annotations!


  24. Esteban, for a print version you should go to my friends at IBT who are the publishers. The people I actually know are some of the ones in Moscow – I have visited their office in an orthodox monastery. But since you are in the USA you should try their US rep, who I found through this page:

    Institute for Bible Translation’s US Representative in the US is:
    WORDpress International
    Mr. Curt Gustafsson:
    PO Box 216
    Alhambra CA 91802
    (626) 458-0677 (fax)

    If that doesn’t work, try the Moscow office on ibt_inform@ibt.org.ru (they speak English), which of course comes from the page that Kevin so helpfully linked to.

    Or you could try this link (OT) and this link (NT) to what seems to be the same Bible (for it mentions a 1988 “ochen’ plohoi reprint”, “very bad reprint” – they are even more rude about the next edition) available in the USA for $159.99 + $54.99.


  25. Actually, I believe that someone should put a bug in Archimandrite Tikhon Shevkunov’s ear. For those not in the know, Fr Tikhon is the superior of the Sretensky Monastery in Moscow, and they have an extensive printing, video, and audio operation. Last year, this monastery alone issued 500 new titles in its publishing effort. This is not to mention videos, CDs, and TV and radio programming.

    To put it bluntly, if one was to take all the efforts of diaspora Orthodox in America together, it would not equal the output of this one monastery by itself. Of course, the fact that Fr Tikhon is the confessor of the Putin and Medvedev families does not diminish his influence in the least. Conciliar Press is a joke compared to this, and SVS’s efforts are derisive when placed against this King Kong of Orthodox publishing.

    What is best is that Fr Tikhon is a down-the-line traditionalist who loved the late Metropolitan Laurus of Jordanville. Now, there’s someone who could put out a decent volume! As for the OSBs, Fr Vsevolod at the DECR is going to use them for fuel in the Russian stove… a good use found for them at last!



  26. That’s excellent news Vara! How would one go about planting the seed of this idea with Fr Tikhon or someone else at Sretensky? Do they do English titles at all? Do you know anyone there someone could ask?


  27. Are people aware of how many Bibles there are in Russia? It’s not like there’s a shortage. And these are Bibles in Russian, which Russian people can read! And the ones with commentary actually have cited material from the Fathers.

    I heard of this sending of the OSB to Russia, and I was very confused. Unless we are going to help the Russian Church in a mission to bring traditional Orthodoxy to America, and they need this for background reading?


  28. In my opinion, the Russian Church has its own problem of making faithful believers out of its millions of Orthodox before worrying about re-evangelizing the US.


  29. “these are Bibles in Russian, which Russian people can read!”

    Indeed there are plenty of Bibles in Russian, but sadly most are in a form of Russian which most people cannot read, or only with extreme difficulty. The mid-19th century Synodal translation is probably more different from modern Russian than KJV is from modern English. There are many obsolete or Slavonic words in it which are not understood even by university educated Russians. The Bible Society in Russia has done a good job of issuing editions with glossaries to help readers. And there have been several projects, some of them Orthodox, for modern language translations. Sadly churches still for the most part insist on using and promoting the obsolete version.


  30. Understandable or not, from the Orthodox point of view, the idea is not to give them a bible which they can go home, read and self-interpret but for them to read the Bible in the context of the Church where it is interpreted.

    Therefore, all the more that the Synodal text has Church Slavonicisms (which in my personal experience don’t extremely inhibit the reading).

    Liturgical language is a whole different question.


  31. Incendiary, I mean -ious, if there is no intention that the Bible be read with understanding, then you might as well give uneducated Russians those English OSBs, or else Greek or Slavonic, which they can’t understand, and let the church interpret them. What is the advantage over that of a 50% understood version? But in the 19th century the Orthodox Synod agreed that ordinary readers needed a Bible in contemporary Russian, not in an obsolete language they didn’t understand. If that applied then, it still does now, which implies phasing out the Synodal Version.


  32. Peter – I believe you’ve slightly misunderstood my comment. I’m not saying there shouldn’t be a modern Russian translation (and that, endorsed by the MP), I was just saying that no matter what Bible it is it should be understood in the context of the Church.

    Further regarding the Synodal translation, I just spoke with my Russian wife who was baptised at 14, never having read the Bible in any form, who recalled that at that time her and a group of young girls were reading the Synodal translation of Mark and it was understandable to all. She considers the Synodal translation basically a modern version. About the Church Slavonicisms she insists that they are such that have entered into modern Russian.


  33. Esteban,

    Oh no, I’m sure none of what you’ve heard could have been altogether good! In any event, we Bloomingtonians await your visit with much anticipation; a good time to be had by all.

    -Sbdn. Lucas


  34. Incendiarious, you may be right. But ask your wife to translate or explain Хвалите Его с тимпаном и ликами (Psalm 150:4, Russian Synodal) without the benefit of any other version or glossary. What does she make of that last word? What would she have made of it at age 14? Then see this post of mine.


  35. Tim> You're the only friend of Papism even allowed on The Voice of Stefan! Oh wait, make that you and Josh McManaway. ;-)

    Peter> YAY! I knew you'd come through! I will get on this at once. :-)

    Vara> Now there's an marvelous idea! I echo Kevin's question: to whom do can we talk about this?

    Elizabeth> What a provocative suggestion–might it be that the First Hierarch of the Metropolia is sending these dreadful volumes to the Theological Academies in Russia as a very subtle and diplomatic cry for help? ;-)

    Incendiarious> I tend to agree with you regarding the Russian Church having plenty of work in its own backyard, but I think that an organized and united Russian Orthodox present in Western Europe and North America could work wonders to restore some semblance of order (canonical, liturgical, and otherwise) in these parts.

    Lucas> Oh, *none* of it is good, of course. ;-) I'm eagerly looking forward to visiting myself! I'm hoping (the Lord willing) to be there for my Godson's Slava in late October, but who knows–I might make it even sooner than that.

    And here is where I agree with Peter again (the end is coming, kids): if 19th-century Russian was good enough for an ecclesiastical Bible translation, so is 21st-century Russian. It is my hope that we'll see in our lifetimes something like the "Revised Synodal Translation."


  36. Hmm… I’ll talk to a deacon of my acquaintance to get some ideas. I’ll also float this past a priest-friend abroad.

    As for materials in modern Russian, obviously, some of you are unaware of what is called “the missionary liturgy”, which has been approved by the MP. Explanations in modern Russian are appended to the liturgy proper, which is kept in Slavonic. This is being disseminated by such heavyweights as Deacon Andrei Kuraev, Archimandrite Tikhon, Hieromonk Sergei Rybko (a former rocker who preaches at rock shows), and Fr Vsevolod Chaplin. So, there is a great deal being done, and more is in the pipeline. Add to this “Slovo Patyriya” (The Pastor’s Word), the patriarch’s own TV show on Pervy Kanal (First Channel) and the intensifying media effort of the Church, I don’t think that we have much to worry about.

    True, the work ahead is vast, but, the Church is aware of it, and is doing its best to “go beyond the church gates” to feed the flock.

    Bog blagoslovit!



  37. “Fr Vsevolod Chaplin”? I didn’t know our blogging friend Doug had started preaching in Russia, and using a nickname which means “Almighty”!

    Oh, you mean this guy? He looks kind of scary, although the beard doesn’t really fit the role. Is this Doug’s real alter ego?


  38. Peter – You’re right, the psalms, I admit, are an exception to the rest of the Synodal translation. (For some reason they left them about as confusing as in Church Slavonic.) My wife as a control subject doesn’t work in this case considering her almost 20 years now in the Church.

    By the way, Fr. Vsevelod is not quite so scary in person, he just seems to have that kind of photo face.


  39. Yes… I do mean the second fellow. His “Ten Commandments of Post-Christian Modernism” are a hoot! He is far from scary. He speaks out his mind clearly and without equivocation. A far superior figure to Hilarion Alfeyev, I say. Then, again, I have never put much stock in intellectuals… when the crunch comes, they are nowhere to be found. I much prefer “stand-up guys” like Fr Vsevolod. He’s a true descendant of the generation of 1612! A real Kuzma Minin!



  40. You mean this, Vara? Excellent! For such material I’ll even forgive him his scary face and potentially blasphemous name (in fact more “ruler of all” than “almighty”).

    When Doug reads this he will be wishing he had written it, if in fact he didn’t!


  41. Oh and I love the same Fr Vsevolod’s joke about us Anglicans, from here:

    An Anglican bishop, a righteous man, dies. St. Peter greets him in Paradise and shows him around the Hell.
    – Here we have murderers, blasphemers, here are robbers. Here are those who sinned against their confession. Here are Orthodox who did not observe their fasts, here are Catholics who criticized the Pope, here are Baptists who did not read the Bible.
    – Do you have any Anglicans?
    – Yes, we have one…
    – What did he do? (Anglicans are known for their liberal treatment of dogmas and church practice.)
    – He did not know how to hold a knife and a fork in the right way.


  42. Peter, I was about to link to the same page. I’ve been laughing so hard that I’m literally in tears over some of these jokes. People at this coffee shop must think I have finally lost my mind! ;-)


  43. THAT is how you can tell the good guys from the banditti. The guys in the white hats have a good sense of humour, and can laugh at themselves. As for the loony lefties… grim, grim, grim.

    You see, Orthodox Christians know how to have FUN. For instance, on 23 February, Maslanitsa begins, and that is better than Mardi Gras and Carnival rolled into one! I’m going to put a link to a fun Maslanitsa vid tomorrow on “Voices”, a real Cossack ton of fun.

    Of course, we know how to fast and repent too… at the proper time. Mention “Lent” to a Russian, and our first thought is of boiled potatoes and stewed prunes (not together, please God). “To every thing there is a season”, as the Good Book says.

    As for me, I believe in the God who works wonders (yes, Virginia, He DID part the Red Sea) and the God who gave the guts and courage to the New Martyrs (especially those of the Butovo Poligon, one of my distant relatives is one of them).

    Thanks for allowing this not-so-educated woman to say her piece. s Bogom to all of you!



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