BOSTON, MA – Rev. Dr. Eugen J. Pentiuc has been appointed the first Archbishop Demetrios Professor of Biblical Studies and Christian Origins at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, effective July 1.
The Jaharis Family Foundation has funded the position in honor of His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, Geron of America, with a gift of $2.0 million dollars some years ago. Fr. Pentiuc joined the Holy Cross faculty in 1998 and he is a prolific author currently under contract with Oxford University Press for a book titled Hearing and Seeing the Scriptures: Liturgical Exegesis of the Old Testament in Eastern Orthodox Tradition.
In an interview to The National Herald from Jerusalem, where he teaches at the prestigious Ecole Biblique. Eugen said “I feel both humbled and honored. Humbled because deep in my heart I feel that I did not do enough relating theology to the pastoral-spiritual needs of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Honored because I carry the name of the Archbishop Demetrios a great Orthodox biblical scholar who very instrumental in my Harvard study years. I take the opportunity to thanks His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, the Jaharis Family Foundation, Fr. President Christopher Metropulos and Dean James Skedros for granting upon me this great honor and responsibility.”
Fr. Eugen said what attracted him to the holy priesthood was “the Word of God discovered at a very early age, and the desire to share the joy of encountering God's word with other people. I was 13 when I read for the first time the entire Christian Bible back then in a Communist-led Romania, where reading the Bible was not the easiest thing in the world. In 1968, the Bible was printed in Romania with only 100,000 copies for an Orthodox population of about 18 million.”
Asked if the Bible is the revelation of God to humanity or is it a word about the revelation, he said “I would use here George Florovsky's inspired definition of what the Bible is. For the great theologian, the Bible is the "Icon of Truth", God being the Truth always wrapped in mystery. Dionysius the Areopagite speaks in similar words: "The divinity remains hidden even after its revelation, or to speak more divinely, it is hidden in the revelation." The Bible is for us Orthodox Christians a channel through which we may enter in dialogue with God, listening to His Voice. The Bible is that "breathing of God" toward us (2 Tim 3:16), reshaping us again and again, as on the day of Adam’s creation (Gen 2:7). Blessed Jerome gives one of the best definitions of prayer: ‘When we pray, we speak to the Bridegroom (Jesus Christ), when we read the Scripture, the Bridegroom speak to us.’ So reading the Scripture is part of our prayerful life, and the most important way to listen to God's Voice.”
If there are things and teachings in the Bible which is not relevant today, he said “we Orthodox Christians believe that the Bible is the result of God's Synkatabasis (Condescension). In the act of inspiration, God descends at the level of human person, preserving his liberty and cooperating with him, so in the end what we have in the Bible is God's Word in human garments, man's words, that is. Understood this way, the whole Bible represents the Icon of Truth or God's Word, and there is no way of separating between God's Word and man's words. It is in a way very similar to the Person of Christ where divine and human nature are in perfect harmony. So, everything is relevant, even in love poem as the Song of Songs, there is so much divine wisdom to be grasped. The Bible is ‘the Book for all seasons,’ for good and bad times, hence its spiritual bestseller value!”
Regarding his thoughts about where Christ was born, lived, was crucified and resurrected, he said “in 1984-88 I did my biblical studies at Ecole Biblique, the famous biblical school founded by Pere Lagrange who came to Jerusalem with a burning desire to study the Bible in its original matrix. Ecole Biblique later on produced The Jerusalem Bible, the first Study Bible (a Bible with comments in the footnotes) combining the patristic exegesis with archeological findings and literary studies: a great, well-balanced mix of tradition and modernity.
“Since my years of study, I came regularly to Jerusalem to my dear alma mater to do research. This summer I came to teach a class “In the Footsteps of Jesus" together with two professors from Ecole for the BTI students including the Holy Cross. Now, I am doing some reading for a new book under contract with Oxford University Press, Hearing and Seeing the Scriptures: Liturgical Exegesis of the Old Testament in Eastern Orthodox Tradition.