I’m reading through the Orthodox Study Bible this year. Each year I’m trying to read through a different translation/study Bible. After a few years of reading the KJV, I read through the ESV last year. Now, it’s a year in Orthodoxy! Part of the reason is a research project I’ve been working on. The other reason is that the Orthodox consider the Septuatgint to be the inspired and authoritative version of the OT. So, since I teach Greek, I’m trying to become more familiar with the Septuagint.
So far, I’ve found the Orthodox Study Bible helpful and insightful. Of course, I disagree with their high view of Mary, and some of the notes on the saints stretch the text, but overall, they explain the text from a patristic point of view. I think we need to understand this point of view before we dismiss it too lightly. I found two typological expositions particularly interesting.
The first concerned Mark 15:40, 41, when various women stood by, watching Christ die on the cross, while most of the male disciples hid: “The faithfulness of the women shows that in Christ, divine order is being restored to the fallen world. Whereas Eve was created to complete Adam (Gn 2:18), but instead led him to sin (Gn 3:6), now the women disciples remain faithful while the men flee and hide. It is the women who bring the message of the Resurrection to the men (16:9-11; Lk 24:9-11), thus restoring that which had been broken through sin.”
The second concerns the silencing of Zacharias, the father of John. You will remember that Zacharias was chosen by lot to offer incense in the Holy of Holies (so he is functioning as the “high priest” for a day): “The silencing of the high priest also reveals a deeper mystery. The Messiah was expected to fulfill three crucial roles held by various people in the OT: prophet, priest, and king. Only Jesus Christ can be said to have fufilled all three offices perfectly. [Actually, I don’t think the Old Covenant People had as clear a conception of the 3-Fold Office of the Messiah as the Study Bible suggests. In fact, I think the 3-Fold Office of Christ is a Reformational way of organizing the Biblical material. I could be forgetting something, but it’s ironic that the Orthodox Study Bible is very Protestant at this point!] Only Jesus Christ can be said to have fulfilled all three offices perfectly. He is the true Prophet (Dt 18:15-18), the true King (23:3, Is 9:6; Mic 5:1), and the true High Priest (Ps 109:4; Heb 4:14). In preparation for Christ’s coming, God had silenced the prophets for many years … and also permitted an illegitimate usurper to occupy the position of king of Judea … Here, in the last days before Christ’s coming, the high priest is silenced [the Study Bible seems to be unduly influenced by Apocryphal writings which said Zacharias actually was the high priest, instead of simply offering incense in the Holy of Holies. But, I find the symbolism intruiging, nonetheless.] With these three roles vacant, illegimate, and silent, all is ready for the Son of God to be revealed as Prophet, King, and Priest” (Orthodox Study Bible, note to Lk. 1:20, pg. 1362).