Saturday, March 29, 2008


Here is a link to an excellent article entitled, "The Orthodox Study Bible and Orthodox Identity in North America," by Matthew Francis, published in The Canadian Journal of Orthodox Christianity, Vol. II, No. 2, Summer 2007:

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


After so long a time, we now have, within the space of a year, two complete English translations of the Septuagint, the Old Testament of the early Church, and still the Old Testament for Orthodox Christians. One is a scholarly edition, the New English Translation of the Septuagint, published by Oxford University Press and typically referred to as NETS ($19.80 at Amazon; thanks Iyov!). I’ve written about this translation previously. Now there is also the St Athanasius Academy Septuagint, the trademarked (!) name of the Old Testament included in the new Orthodox Study Bible: Ancient Christianity Speaks to Today’s World published by Thomas Nelson Publishers (the New Testament translation included is the New King James Version, which was likewise the “boilerplate” used as a guide to the translation of the Septuagint, in a role analogous to that of the NRSV for NETS). The OSB is available in both a hardback and a “genuine leather” edition, and least expensively from Amazon (hardback only is available for pre-order; available now in hardback and “leather” from Conciliar Press). As I’ve already described the NETS, I’ll now briefly review the new Orthodox Study Bible (henceforth OSB) and proceed to a comparison of these two welcome translations.

First, as is patently indicated by its title, the OSB is a study Bible intended primarily for an English-reading Eastern Orthodox Christian audience and other English readers with an interest in Orthodoxy. At the bottom of each page are notes of varying lengths, though tending toward brevity, rather like those of the Oxford Annotated Bibles. There are various single-page study articles interspersed throughout both Testaments, covering subjects like Ancestral Sin, Sacrifice, The Tabernacle, Types of Mary in the Old Testament, and so on. There are likewise a number of different full-color pages including reproductions of various icons, which the Orthodox are well-known for. A number of different articles and helps are likewise included: Acknowledgments, Special Recognition, an introduction, a page listing the Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Protestant Old Testaments, a page of abbreviations of patristic authors and materials used in the notes, “Overview of the Books of the Bible” by Bishop Basil (Essey) of Wichita and Mid-America, “Introducing the Orthodox Church,” “The Bible: God’s Revelation to Man” by Bishop Joseph (al-Zehlaoui) of Los Angeles and the West, “How to Read the Bible” by Bishop Kallistos (Ware) of Diokleia, a “Lectionary” which is not precisely the actual liturgical lectionary of the Eastern Orthodox Church but is intended for a devotional reading schedule, a glossary of terms and phrases used in the notes, pages of morning and evening prayers, indices to the annotations and study articles, the traditional list of The Seventy Apostles (see Luke 10), and a set of full-color maps. Throughout the OSB, each book of the two Testaments is given an introductory section including Author, Date, Major Theme, Background, and Outline. All this indicates therefore a volume of satisfying heft, and of a great variety of resources typical of study Bible of our day and age.

I have not delved deeply into the OSB yet, but can give some initial impressions. First, there are various pearls of patristic wisdom strewn about in the notes, with attribution only by abbreviated name, not by work. There could have been more, which would rather have been appreciated, of course, but at the very least citations should have been included, whether for a quotation or for the more vague sorts of allusions worded by the annotators. Otherwise, the notes are fairly consistent in following a Christocentric interpretation in the Old Testament, the traditional Orthodox approach which makes for such rich hymnography. When, however, they drift into mere summary of the sections above, they are rather jejune and entirely unnecessary.

The icons are a mixed bag of quality. There are some beautiful ones: a the Three Holy Youths in the Furnace from a mural at Vatopaidi Monastery, Mount Athos dated 1312; The Transfiguration by Photi Kontoglu; and St John the Forerunner by Father Gregory (surname not given). The rest are of varying quality, some being quite sentimentalizing, some veering toward mere painting. A consistenly better collection of icons could have been presented, as our holy icons are treasures of the Church and there are hundreds of recognized works written in great sanctity and also recognized to be of great artistic value. This was also a complaint of the icons included in the first Orthodox Study Bible: New Testament and Psalms. Astonishingly, all of the icons presented in that earlier volume, several of which received complaints regarding their quality, were included in this volume, along with a few others.

My copy is the “genuine leather” edition, with gilt-edged pages. Apparently these days, “genuine leather” means what used to be called “bonded leather.” The cover of this one feels more like cardboard, of much lesser quality than even the first OSB, which wasn’t of great quality at all. And the binding is glued, not stitched, which is truly unfortunate (and cheap). In combination with this, the margins are miserly, so that the text veers into the gutter (where the pages meet in the middle of the open book). The print is, however, comfortably large, though the line spacing seems a bit cramped. Each page is two-columned, fully justified (that is, both sides of the text block meet the edges of the columns). I would have this OSB rebound with a better quality cover, but the glued binding and small margins would result in it being unusable, as the gutter problem would grow even worse once sewn. Nice. There is only one register (the bound-in ribbon bookmark) unlike the old OSB which included two. The page edge gilding is the spray-on kind that is already leaving little flecks of gold everywhere. So, as an example of bookbinding, I would not rate the OSB well.

The use of the New King James Version in the New Testament is still an issue. For the amount of time this translation was in process (roughly ten years since I first started following it), an entire New Testament translation based on Constantinople’s Ecclesiastical text could have been easily produced. Instead, we have this translation based on the hybrid Textus Receptus, and Byzantine readings noted in the translation as readings of the “M-Text” and readings from the Nestle-Aland/UBS text noted as the “NU-Text.” With all the effort put into producing the Septuagint translation, a little more to produce a translation of the Ecclesiastical text would have been appreciated. As it stands, therefore, this “Orthodox Study Bible” is only half Orthodox: in the Old Testament only. A few quotations of Church Fathers in the notes doesn’t fix the NT.

The order of the books follows the traditional Orthodox order, except in mysteriously placing the Prayer of Manasseh not after the Psalms, where the Odes would normally be, but as the last column on the last page of 2 Chronicles, where it appears to be a part of chapter 36. Then there is the confusion of the two Ezra books and Nehemiah. In the Septuagint, it is usually the case (as in NETS; also see here) that there is 1 Esdras, the alternate partial Chronicles/Ezra-Nehemiah book, and then the Hebrew Ezra and Nehemiah books are combined as 2 Esdras, with 23 chapters. The OSB inexplicably has 1 Ezra (the 1 Esdras above), 2 Ezra (Hebrew Ezra), and Nehemiah. Though I do recall this as an option among Greek treatments of the titles of these books, it’s not as common as the other. In Daniel there is a serious problem with the page headers. At the beginning of Daniel is, as is proper, the book of Susanna, and at the end, Bel and the Serpent. Unfortunately, the page headers take the verse of Susanna as the chapter of Daniel, so the header on page 1237, the second page of Susanna/Daniel, reads “Daniel 41″ and the next page “Daniel 42.” At the end of the book, page 1261 has the header “Daniel 21″ and the next page “Daniel 22.”

So, the OSB appears to be at the very least a step in the right direction, and I do expect myself to warm to it to a certain degree, but its shortcomings are real and inexcusable. I know quite a number of people worked on this Bible for a long time. It should have been better. It could have been better. Why is it not better?

Now I’d like to look at the two Septuagint translations in comparison. The NETS is, of course, a scholarly effort of great erudition, designed for use as an academic tool. The OSB is designed for use as devotional reading. For this reason, the OSB doesn’t include translations of the variant texts in Joshua, Judges, Esther, and Daniel, for instance, but rather opts for what is (more or less) the Ecclesiastical text. As I mentioned above, the OSB used the NKJV as a base for its translation, just as the NETS used the NRSV. In this first comparison, therefore, I’ve chosen Sirach 44.1-5, as something not contaminated by boilerplate usage of the NKJV.

OSB Sirach 4.1-5:Let us now praise honored men and our fathers. The Lord established His great glory And majesty from the beginning through them. There were those who ruled in their kingdoms And were men renowned for their power, Giving counsel through their understanding And proclaiming prophecies. There were leaders of the people by their counsels And understanding of learning for the people, Wise in their words of instruction.

NETS Sirach 44.1-5 Let us now praise famous men and our fathers by descent. The Lord created much glory, his majesty from eternity. When they ruled in their kingdoms, men also became noteworthy through power; when they counseled with their intelligence, when they announced through their prophecies, when they led the people by deliberations and with understanding of a people’s scribal art—wise words there are in their instruction.

Notice how the OSB simply does not flow, and only really makes sense after having read the NETS version. This is caused by relying too strictly on a very literal translation method. See how with very little change, the NETS flows so much better. What, for instance, is “understanding of learning for the people” in the OSB supposed to connote? The Greek is και συνεσει γραμματειας λαου, which is much better rendered by NETS as “understanding of a people’s scribal art.” The issue in the OSB appears to lie in the RSV being used as a base text in this instance (”understanding of learning for the people”) rather than the more clear NRSV (”knowledge of the people’s lore”), which is informed not merely by Greek Sirach, but the Hebrew fragments, the key phrase here being חכמי שיח בספרתם. NETS is the best of the set on this front.
Now we’ll go to an old favorite, Psalm 22 (23 in the Masoretic and English numbering tradition), and see what the OSB and NETS have done. I provide the Greek text first, so you can compare for yourselves.

Greek Psalm 22 (23) Κύριος ποιμαίνει με, καὶ οὐδέν με ὑστερήσει.εἰς τόπον χλόης, ἐκεῖ με κατεσκήνωσεν,ἐπὶ ὕδατος ἀναπαύσεωςἐξέθρεψέν με,τὴν ψυχήν μου ἐπέστρεψεν.ὡδήγησέν με ἐπὶ τρίβους δικαιοσύνηςἕνεκεν τοῦ ὀνόματος αὐτοῦ.ἐὰν γὰρ καὶ πορευθῶ ἐν μέσῳ σκιᾶς θανάτου,οὐ φοβηθήσομαι κακά,ὅτι σὺ μετ’ ἐμοῦ εἶ·ἡ ῥάβδος σου καὶ ἡ βακτηρία σου, αὐταί με παρεκάλεσαν.ἡτοίμασας ἐνώπιόν μου τράπεζαν ἐξ ἐναντίας τῶν θλιβόν των με·ἐλίπανας ἐν ἐλαίῳ τὴν κεφαλήν μου,καὶ τὸ ποτήριόν σου μεθύσκον ὡς κράτιστον.καὶ τὸ ἔλεός σου καταδιώξεταί με πάσας τὰς ἡμέρας τῆς ζωῆς μου,καὶ τὸ κατοικεῖν με ἐν οἴκῳ κυρίου εἰς μακρότητα ἡμερῶν.

OSB Psalm 22 (23) The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of deathI will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord to the end of my days.

NETS Psalm 22 (23) The Lord shepherds me, and I shall lack nothing. In a verdant place, there he made me encamp; by water of rest he reared me; my soul he restored. He led me into paths of righteousnessfor his name’s sake. For even if I walk in the midst of death’s shadow, I will not fear evil, because you are with me; your rod and your staff—they comforted me. You prepared a table before me over against those that afflict me; you anointed my head with oil, and your cup was supremely intoxicating. And your mercy shall pursue me all the days of my life, and my residing in the Lord’s house is for length of days.

First one notices, shockingly, that the OSB does not translate the Greek at all. It is, in fact, the precise text of the New King James Version for Psalm 23, a translation of the Hebrew psalm, of course. The only alteration toward the Septuagint is at the very end, and even there it is quite wrong: “to the end of my days.” εἰς μακρότητα ἡμερῶν does not mean “to the end of my days” but rather, as NETS rightly has it “for length of days,” a circumlocution for “forever.” The intention seems to be “not to rock the boat” by providing a translation that is too different from what people are accustomed to, even when the (supposedly!) underlying text of the Septuagint is quite different than the Hebrew. As some monarch somewhere has sometime undoubtedly said, “We are not pleased.”

So, for me, NETS will remain my English Septuagint of choice, and it will remain the English Septuagint that I recommend to others, without reservation and with whole-hearted, honest enthusiasm. I’m not particularly fond of “study Bibles” in any case. I am particularly not fond of those claiming to be something they aren’t (in this case a complete translation of the Septuagint), and with a supposedly sanctifying veneer of Orthodoxy about them. Don’t get me wrong: I love Orthodoxy, entirely and wholly; it is my life. But slapping the word Orthodox onto a Bible which is insufficiently representative of the richness and beauty of the tradition of the Eastern Orthodox Church, even at the level of its own language, does absolutely nothing for me, and in fact makes me rather angry. This Orthodox Study Bible could have been better and should have been better. Why was it not better?

- Kevin P. Edgecomb, posted at

Friday, March 14, 2008


The Orthodox Study Bible (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, 1993) makes a very good initial impression. The bindings are handsome, the Bible is nicely printed, and it is graced by a number of full-color icons scattered through the book. It uses the increasingly popular New King James Version (NKJV) for the text. On the whole this version is an acceptable modernization of the King James Version (KJV), while retaining some of the literary quality of the latter. An additional advantage of the NKJV is that it indicates the Majority Text readings, since these generally correspond even more fully to the Church's text than do the KJV readings. However, it is disappointing that the Study Bible reproduces the whole textual apparatus of the NKJV, including many of the doubtful decisions of modern non-Orthodox biblical scholarship; it would have been preferable for them to have corrected the text to agree with that of the Church and then to present only that text, since the whole matter of textual criticism is complex and primarily serves to cause doubts and questions in the minds of non-technical readers of the Scriptures. While the NKJV is a generally acceptable text for the New Testament, its use for the Psalter is completely unacceptable. It is very unfortunate that the Study Bible uses a Protestant version of the Psalter in what claims to be a Bible for Orthodox Christians, following even the Protestant numbering of the psalms, rather than that of the Church. Several translations of the psalms from the Orthodox Church's Septuagint version into English have appeared in the last 20 years, and it surely would have been possible for the publishers to have arranged to use one of these if they truly wanted to offer an Orthodox text of the Bible to their readers.

When one actually starts to read the comments and notes attached to the Study Bible one quickly becomes very disappointed to see that a major opportunity has been lost. The comments on the text are on the whole quite simplistic and shallow, often doing nothing more than paraphrasing the verse to which they refer. Only very rarely do they quote from the Fathers to draw out the fuller meaning of the text, although a good collection of such quotations would have been the best possible Orthodox commentary on the Scriptures.

The early Church understood that the doctrines of the faith (viewed as facts and rational propositions) could not really be grasped until a person had attained some degree of moral purity. This is the reason for the extended catechumenate, during which the candidate had to reform his life and bring it into line with the Church's demands. Only near the end of this period was the content of the Faith presented, when the candidate was sufficiently purified to be able to receive it and make sense of it. To have presented it earlier would have reduced it to only empty factual knowledge with no meaning for one's life. One of the most unfortunate features of the Study Bible is that it confines itself only to this factual knowledge and does not even use those passages of Scripture which have a moral content to inculcate such purity in its readers. It rarely draws any but the most trite moral conclusions from the texts, while the Fathers consistently apply them primarily in a moral way, rather than as historical or factual artifacts.

As one reads the notes to the text, a false, non-Orthodox tone becomes uncomfortably apparent. The editors constantly refer to the way things are done in the "Orthodox Church," the teaching of the "Orthodox Church," etc. By always qualifying "Church" in this way, they distance themselves and write as they are outsiders or as if they are writing for outsiders. When Orthodox people describe the services, readings, practices, and doctrines of the Church, they just call it the "Church." Similarly, if you look at a Roman Catholic Bible (e.g. the Jerusalem Bible), it refers to the "Church's teaching" or says that "the Church reads this passage..." and so on. The only reason to qualify "Church" all the time, as the Study Bible does, is to distinguish it from other religious bodies. But the result of this constant qualification is that the reader does not feel he is reading a Bible prepared by Orthodox Christians for Orthodox Christians. The feeling is rather that this Bible is designed to introduce the non-Orthodox to Orthodoxy, or else that non-Orthodox wrote the notes in it. There is not anything inherently wrong in the idea of writing notes on a Bible to help convince non-Orthodox of the truth of Orthodoxy (assuming the notes accurately reflect the true views and positions of Orthodoxy, which is by no means always the case in the Study Bible), but it would be better to advertise the Bible as such, perhaps calling it the Orthodox Evangelism Bible, rather than to present it as if it is designed to help Orthodox Christians grow deeper in their understanding and practice of the faith.

Another example of the non-Orthodox tone of much of the commentary in the Study Bible is the way the Savior and the Saints are referred to. While there are instances in which Orthodox refer to the Lord as simply "Jesus," they are rare. Especially in the early Church (cf. St. Ignatius of Antioch's letters), the Lord is almost always referred to by His name and one or more titles (e.g., "Jesus Christ," "our Lord Jesus Christ," etc.). Even St. Paul usually refers to Him in this way. The Gospels do not, since they are presenting history, rather than reflections drawn from that history. But Orthodox Christians do not speak of the Lord in this unadorned way, so it strikes a false note to find the Study Bible referring to Him as "Jesus" most of the time. Similarly, in English (although less so in Greek or Russian) it sounds very odd to Orthodox ears to refer to the saints without using their title. Thus, Orthodox Christians usually speak of "St. Paul," not of "Paul." The same may be said about the note concerning the Theotokos on page 135. The editors address her as "Mary." Again, this is a small point, but it does offend Orthodox ears and adds to the feeling the authors of the notes in the Study Bible are not writing from within the Orthodox community, but rather are outsiders trying to interpret an Orthodoxy they only understand theoretically, but which they have not yet learned really to live.

A further example of the editors' viewpoint being from outside the Church is their decision to abbreviate the Morning and Evening Prayers printed in the back of the Study Bible by leaving out any prayers to the Theotokos or the saints. It seems almost inconceivable that Orthodox Christians would not at least include the Prayer "O Theotokos and Virgin, rejoice" and a prayer to their patron saint as part of their daily prayers; but these prayers are missing. While this omission undoubtedly will make the Study Bible more congenial to Protestant readers, it seriously distorts the actual teaching and practice of the Orthodox Church.

Throughout the Study Bible there is a surprising emphasis on the concept of "justification," including a whole article devoted to this topic in Romans 5. A number of notes scattered throughout the Study Bible refer to "justification," usually specifying that it is "by faith" (e.g. Mark 10:28; Acts 10:35; Romans 3:20, 5: 1; Galatians 2:16-4:31, 2:17; etc.). The article and notes are not particularly offensive, but the concept and term "justification" play almost no role in Orthodox theology, where "justification" is commonly not even distinguished from "sanctification," but both are seen as a united and inseparable part of the Christian's process of spiritual development. Certainly, its role is minor compared to the major position it occupies in Protestant thinking. Thus, the index to Timothy [now Bishop Kallistos] Ware's The Orthodox Church does not include the term, nor is it found in a number of Orthodox theological dictionaries (e.g., Polny Pravoslavnyy Bogoslovskiy Entsiklopicheskiy Slovar [Complete Orthodox Theological Encyclopedic Dictionary], reprinted in Russia in 1992 from a pre-Revolutionary edition; Dictionary of Orthodox Theology, George H. Demetrakopoulos, New York, 1964). Once again, while the treatment is not "wrong" from an Orthodox standpoint, the very discussion and term sound strange to Orthodox ears.

There are other notes in which a non-Orthodox viewpoint comes across. Examples are:

a) The note on Acts 3:1 refers to "Advent," which is a term and period which does not exist in Orthodoxy. In the Western liturgical churches (Roman Catholic, Anglican, and Lutheran) "Advent" is the name given to the four Sundays preceding Christmas. Orthodoxy does not observe these Sundays, but it does have a six-week fast preceding the feast of the Nativity of Our Lord.

b) Mark 2:20. This note defends fasting, but from a rather Protestant viewpoint. It is written to persuade Protestant readers that fasting is acceptable for a Christian, not to encourage Orthodox to discover the spiritual benefits of fasting.

c) The note on "fasting" in the glossary (p. 798) mis-defines the Apostles Fast, incorrectly saying that it is the two weeks before June 29. This fast is actually of variable length, starting on the Monday after All Saints Sunday and continuing until the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul. The fact that the author of the notes does not know how long the fast lasts can only raise doubts about the extent to which the Faith is being lived.

Finally, there are notes which are simply unacceptable to any true Orthodox Christian, since they are omissions or distortions of vital Orthodox teachings.

a) Matthew 14:14-2 1. In discussing the feeding of the five thousand, the editors somewhat grudgingly say that the feeding of the four thousand (reported in Matthew 15:32-39) " PROBABLY not a duplicate report of the first miracle." Thereby, the editors are challenging the authenticity and reliability of the Gospels, since the same Gospel reports the two miracles separately and since the Lord Himself refers to both of them as separate events (Matthew 16:9-
10). To raise even a question about whether these are separate events is to call into question the Lord's veracity and the reliability of the Gospels—surely not an Orthodox attitude toward either.

b) Mark 9:38-40. The note says, "Sectarianism and triumphalism (the attitude that one creed is superior to all others) are forbidden, for God's working transcends our limited perceptions. One is either for or against (v.40) Christ, but it is not always ours to know who is on which side." Does this mean that the creed of the First and Second Ecumenical Councils (the Symbol of Faith) is no better than any other creed (e.g., the Lutherans' Augsburg Confession)? Any Orthodox Christian who does not think that the Church's creed is superior to all others places himself outside the Church. Furthermore, while we may not always know where a person's heart is, we can see that those who willfully promulgate false creeds are working against our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The attitude in this note is simply foreign to any healthy Orthodox Christian.

c) Mark 10:30. The Lord promises that those who give up family and possessions will receive them back a hundredfold, but the note calls this into question, saying that this is "not an absolute promise: countless saints and martyrs were not so rewarded." Here the authors betray their carnal viewpoint. The Fathers apply this passage to the whole Christian community, saying that those who give up earthly family and possessions receive new fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, homes and lands in the CHURCH, but not in the carnal sense of getting more personal possessions. It is bad enough that the authors' viewpoint is carnal, their error is compounded by the fact that they openly disagree with the Lord and question the accuracy of His promise.

d) Acts 13:3. The note supports multiple ordination. This practice has been forbidden in the Orthodox Church for many centuries, so there is no reason whatsoever to mention it, unless it is to justify the extreme irregularity of performing such ordinations when the so-called "Evangelical Orthodox" were received into the Antiochian Church.

e) I Timothy 2:12. By citing Romans 16:1 to suggest that women have been ordained as deacons and by stating that "women are not ordained to the offices of bishop and presbyter in the Orthodox Church," the note implies that women can be ordained deacons. This is not the case. The order of deaconesses is not currently in use in the Church, and in any case the Church does not treat the order of deaconesses as equivalent to that of deacons, since the former do not perform the deacon's liturgical functions.

f) II Timothy 1:9. The note says, "Our salvation and CALLING are based on His GRACE and love, not on anything we have done to merit God's favor." The Orthodox viewpoint is that our salvation does in fact depend on our response to God's grace and how we use it in our lives. We are co-workers with God in our salvation, as St. Paul says (I Cor. 3:9; II Cor. 6: 1; Phil. 2:12-13). Even our calling as Christians is based on our synergy in responding to God's grace in our lives, since we are all sustained by His grace in every breath we take. Those who respond to this grace receive a calling to participate more fully in it, a calling which is based on their earlier responses.

g) The note on I Peter 3:18 glosses over the Lord's descent into Hades. You may be able to find this doctrine in the note if you know it is supposed to be there, but it certainly is not presented in a clear and unambiguous way. And yet, this is the focus of the primary icons of the feast of the Resurrection, so how can it be skimmed over with no more than a hint in what claims to be an "Orthodox Bible?"

These comments are representative of the non-Orthodox viewpoint which permeates this Study Bible and which makes it unsuited for use by Orthodox Christians. It is truly sad to see so much effort, time, and expense put into producing this Bible with such meager results in the end. It would, however, be far safer for Orthodox Christians to avoid such inaccurate and misleading aids as are provided in this Bible, especially since several more reliable "Orthodox Study" Bible commentaries are available in English for Orthodox readers (e.g. Johanna Manley's "The Bible and the Holy Fathers" her "Grace for Grace: The Psalter and the Holy Fathers" (which has the added advantage of using the Orthodox Psalter as its basic text, rather than the Protestant one); and the ongoing translation of Blessed Theophylact's commentaries on the Gospels.

- Archpriest Seraphim Johnson of St. Cosmas of Aitolia Orthodox Church, Lanham, MD, posted at