It is this set of documents—those texts both of the conciliar process and of specific theologians that were reflecting the conciliar process—that are the ones that best represent the orthodox Tradition. So, we are not without a means of scientifically studying the orthodox Tradition. In other words, we can inquire into it as a literary corpus. We have texts to study and there’s no mystery about what those texts are. Generally speaking, they are the seven ecumenical councils, they are those regional synods that have interpretively followed from the seven ecumenical councils, and they are eight theologians that the Tradition has frequently named as most accurately stating the mind of the believing Church, four of the East that are received in the West and four of the West that are received in the East; Athanasius, Basil, John Chrysostom, and Gregory Nazianzen in the East and Jerome, Ambrose, Augustine, and Gregory the Great in the West. Anybody who knows the conciliar Tradition knows that when you go to those theologians you get a fairly accurate reading of what the consensus was. Not an absolute one hundred percent accurate reading because even as good as those theologians were they sometimes missed the mark, but basically they’re extremely reliable interpreters of the consensus. So, what I mean by ecumenical recovery is not the recovery of modern ecumenism or the bureaucratic contemporary-liberal form of ecumenism, but it is the recovery of ancient ecumenism as it is manifested in those texts.
Tradition is a consensual memory of the interpretation of the apostolic testimony.
Monday, December 04, 2006
Defining Orthodox Tradition
From an interview with Thomas Oden (general editor of Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture)