Important step toward reconciliation and witness to the world

ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton (third from right) said LSTC giving back the New Testament manuscript to the Greek Orthodox Church was “an expression of the essential partnership between theological education and Lutheran-Orthodox relations.” Photo: Will Nunnally
ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton (third from right) said LSTC giving back the New Testament manuscript to the Greek Orthodox Church was “an expression of the essential partnership between theological education and Lutheran-Orthodox relations.” Photo: Will Nunnally

Lutheran seminary returns rare 9th century manuscript of New Testament to Greek Orthodox Church

LWI) – Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), participated in a ceremony at which the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago (LSTC) returned a rare 9th century Greek manuscript of the complete New Testament to the Greek Orthodox Church.

The manuscript, known among biblical scholars as Codex 1424, was one of many taken in 1917 from the Kosinitza Monastery near the Greek city of Drama. It came into the possession of a European book dealer and was purchased in 1920 by Levi Franklin Gruber, who later became president of ELCA’s Chicago Lutheran Theological Seminary, a predecessor school of LSTC.

His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in the United States, received the manuscript on 15 November from LSTC President Rev. James Nieman.

In her remarks during the ceremony, Eaton said, “Lutherans cherish our relationships with the Orthodox Church in the United States and around the world. Nearly 50 years ago, the fourth preparatory meeting of the Pan-Orthodox Conference encouraged ecumenical dialogue with The Lutheran World Federation, the global Lutheran communion.”

“The action of a Lutheran seminary returning this 9th century New Testament manuscript to the Greek Orthodox Church is an expression of the essential partnership between theological education and Lutheran-Orthodox relations,” she said.

We hope that returning it to its rightful home may show our mutual faithfulness in declaring the good news of Jesus Christ that these very pages contain and which both our communions confirm.
Rev. James Nieman, President, Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, United States

Eaton added that what had happened was important also in the days to come not only to the LSTC but also to the ELCA and The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) of which the ELCA is a member. “For us as Lutherans, now in the 500th year of the Reformation, this is an important step toward reconciliation and an inviting witness to the world as we claim together the central place of God’s Word, made flesh in Jesus Christ.”

“This constitutes a remarkable act of ecumenical activity,” said Archbishop Demetrios, addressing the gathering. “We have the dialogues - they are productive, interesting. They take plenty of time, patience, tolerance, doubt. But here is a plain, clear act of real ecumenism, a real bringing together.”

Archbishop Demetrios and Nieman will bring the manuscript to Greece later in November, where they will participate in ceremonies held by the Greek Orthodox Church.

Mutual faithfulness

“We hope that returning it to its rightful home may show our mutual faithfulness in declaring the good news of Jesus Christ that these very pages contain and which both our communions confirm," said Nieman.

In her closing remarks Eaton said, “Now we pray for the manuscript’s safe return and for all those people yet to come who will be formed as followers of Christ in their encounter with it. Finally, we ask God to continue to mutually enrich and nourish us as we travel this journey together.”

Rev. Dr Kaisamari Hintikka, Assistant General Secretary for Ecumenical Affairs at the LWF, described LSTC’s decision to return the manuscript to the Greek Orthodox Church as “a powerful ecumenical gesture that strengthens the atmosphere of mutual trust as we prepare for the next Lutheran-Orthodox plenary meeting in 2017 and the Reformation anniversary.”

 

Contribution by ELCA news. Edited by LWF Communication.

LWF News

25 November 2017
GENEVA, Switzerland/GENEVA
21 April 2016
KOUTSOCHERO/Greece