THE HOLY BIBLE - THE WORD OF WORDS. A POINT OF REFERENCE IN THE ROMANIAN OLD TESTAMENT THEOLOGY Review of Ioan Chirila, The Holy Bible - The Word of Words (Sfânta Scriptura - Cuvântul Cuvintelor), (Cluj-Napoca: Editura Renasterea, 2010), 415 p.
Key Words: exegesis, Old Testament, translation, hermeneutics, eschaton, testimony, contemporary, canonicity, theology, types, Ioan Chirila
A recent editorial appearance, The Holy Bible - The Word of Words, offers the possibility of meeting again with an unmistakable style in the field of the Romanian Old Testament theology, that of Ioan Chirila1. The volume integrates a series of theological studies presented at various conferences, colloquies and work sessions both in the country and abroad, or published in specialist magazines during the last few years. As everyone got used to in Ioan Chirila's previous writings, we rediscover in this volume the touch of a master in what regards the polyphony of nuances of theological depth flowing as if from an interior river with countless meanders.
The volume has four thematic components. The first of them, The Bible, Reading and Christian Confession, aims at the relation between the Bible, the Holy Tradition and the Holy Liturgy, the spiritual reading of the Holy Bible according to the patristic tradition, and the act of translating in the light of the testifying faith. In the second structure, The Holy Bible in Romania, the author examines the Romanian translation of the Bible, the partial and integral editions of the Bible in Romania, as well as the way in which the Romanian theologians and especially the Transylvanian ones have developed certain research directions in their biblical studies, works which have been compiled into "a concrete theology of irenicism and dialogue".2
The principles of translating and interpreting the Bible that are stated in the first two structures are illustrated in the Old Testament's Exegetic Fragmentarium, a component which comprises precise exegetic studies inserted here to show the way in which the principles of patristic interpretation can be applied today, and this without developing an anachronistic speech, but by applying the interpretative paradigms of the Holy Fathers with a view to clarifying a modern message that can be addressed to the contemporaneity. This type of theological vision is faithful to an idea constantly worded in the East, that of returning to the Fathers (G. Florovsky), an idea that is becoming increasingly popular in Western theology.
"The hermeneutic set of instruments" is addressed especially to those students whose preparation includes a biblical component. This part comprises fragments from the Bible and quotations from different sources that have different aspects of biblical hermeneutics in view, all in a punctilious thematic classification. The way in which the Scripture is understood in the biblical canon is prioritized, after which the essential points of reference for a lectura christiana of the Holy Scripture are established, as well as hermeneutic elements, rabbinic and modern interpretation principles, patristic arguments in favour of a spiritual reading of the Bible and, finally, a large bibliographical part divided into Romanian and international theological references.
The element of novelty that the volume brings about in Romanian theology results not only from the style of the discourse, with symbolic or methaphorical touches that sometimes resemble the liturgical way of expression (that of the prayer-text) in form and rhetoric, but also from the way in which the tackled topics find their resolution in glades of salvation messages, beginning with the Old Testament, usualy regarded only from a historical point of view or in the type-antitype binomial. The author aims at a unitary perspective of the message. In this process of extracting the redeeming meaning, ciphered in the Old Testament, which he makes accessible, in the gnoseological paradigm the contemporary man, he makes reference to sources from various periods and fields of activity, but which he harmonizes in an exemplary way. …