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October 18, 2021

The Bible in Eastern Orthodoxy

The Bible is the most sacred text of Eastern Orthodox Christianity, but it has a somewhat different role than in Western Christian traditions. Eastern Orthodoxy tends to view the Bible as “the book of the Church.” For Eastern Orthodoxy, the Bible is a community text, not to be interpreted according to “private understanding” but in the light of church traditions. Since it precedes the Bible historically, the church is seen as the source of the Bible’s authority, rather than vice versa. As such, the role of the Bible in the life of the church is understood differently than in a Protestant context. The book of Revelation in particular was a sticking point and remains the one New Testament book not included in the most prominent Orthodox liturgies. In the end, Orthodox Bibles have come to include the New Testament, the Old Testament, and a number of deuterocanonical books, some of which are unique to Orthodoxy.

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