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Entry of the Theotokos in the Temple: Historical, Metaphorical, or Other?

Pedro

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I was listening to Fr. Thomas Hopko's most recent podcast (about the Feastday just celebrated) and heard him say, as I've heard him say at other times, that he thinks the entry our our Lady into the Temple to live amongst the virgins there was not an actual, historical event.  He definitely thinks her presence in the holy of holies is not accurate (which is not in the Protoevangelion of James either, so that's not so much an issue).

My question is this: why would we devote a feast of the Church to something that never historically happened?  "Today" the Virgin comes into the Temple...except, no, she actually didn't...?  Weren't kids dedicated to the Lord and didn't they grow up around the Temple all the time?  Why the disbelief on the part of Fr. Tom, and is there any other source of skepticism from fathers of the Church?  Is my erring on the side of literalism undue here?  It seems like being overly "symbolic" here is uncalled for, but I'd like y'all's thoughts on the matter.
 

SolEX01

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The Virgin Mary was dedicated as a Virgin just as Samson was dedicated as a Nazirite and Samuel and others who evade my memory.

The Virgin Mary was set aside from all other women in preparation for the Annunciation.

Having not listened to the Podcast, is there a transcript or something which explains Fr. Hopko's beliefs in more depth?
 

scamandrius

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DavidBryan said:
  It seems like being overly "symbolic" here is uncalled for, but I'd like y'all's thoughts on the matter.
I understand your apprehension.  One of the many reasons I embraced Orthodoxy was because of Lutherans', in particular, and Protestants', in general, tendency to view all of salvation as a symbol of God's love rather than as an actual, concrete and experienced piece.  It is true that, in the faith, we can only start to comprehend the mystery of salvation through symbols since the distance between God and us, as Creator and created, is so vast that such is the only means to us. 

I believe that the entry of the Theotokos into the holy of Holies is a fact, a concrete historical event.  Does my salvation depend on that?  I would hope not.  Does yours? Not my place to determine.  But I think that if we understand the truth behind the event, whether historical or not, which is that the Theotokos was set aside and put in a place to where she could consent to God's becoming incarnate in her, then that is what we need.  But, at the same time, if the whole process of salvation, with all of its details are redacted to mere symbolism, then we are playing a quasi-gnostic game, assuming that the flesh is evil and that everything is performed in the mind to the point that we are despising creation.

Just my $.02.  I'm probably not making any sense.  Only one more day of kids, then I can have a vacation.  Amen.
 

PeterTheAleut

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scamandrius said:
I believe that the entry of the Theotokos into the holy of Holies is a fact, a concrete historical event.
But then there's the Levitical code that mandated that the High Priest and ONLY the High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies of the Tabernacle/Temple, and then only once per year, on the Day of Atonement (cf. Chapter 16 of Leviticus).  How do we reconcile our Nov. 21 feast of the Theotokos with this law from the Torah, which the Levites and the sons of Aaron must have continued to follow even through the days of Joachim, Anna, and Mary?
 

Fr. George

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PeterTheAleut said:
But then there's the Levitical code that mandated that the High Priest and ONLY the High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies of the Tabernacle/Temple, and then only once per year, on the Day of Atonement (cf. Chapter 16 of Leviticus).  How do we reconcile our Nov. 21 feast of the Theotokos with this law from the Torah, which the Levites and the sons of Aaron must have continued to follow even through the days of Joachim, Anna, and Mary?
Don't confuse the two events: Mary being presented into the temple, which is the Nov 21 feast day, and Mary entering the Holy of Holies, which (if it happened) would have happened sometime during the 10 or so years she was in the Temple.
 

PeterTheAleut

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cleveland said:
PeterTheAleut said:
But then there's the Levitical code that mandated that the High Priest and ONLY the High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies of the Tabernacle/Temple, and then only once per year, on the Day of Atonement (cf. Chapter 16 of Leviticus).  How do we reconcile our Nov. 21 feast of the Theotokos with this law from the Torah, which the Levites and the sons of Aaron must have continued to follow even through the days of Joachim, Anna, and Mary?
Don't confuse the two events: Mary being presented into the temple, which is the Nov 21 feast day, and Mary entering the Holy of Holies, which (if it happened) would have happened sometime during the 10 or so years she was in the Temple.
Thanks.  I guess in singing the hymnography for the feast, which speaks of both her entry into the Temple and her entry into the Holy of Holies, it is rather easy for me to confuse these two reportedly historical events. ;)  As far as her entry into the Temple, I see nothing problematic about this at all, since the Temple even had a place in the outer court for Gentiles (iirc), even though they were considered by the Jews to be a lesser people.  (If Gentiles were allowed into the outermost Temple precincts, then why would not a Jewish girl be allowed closer to the holiest place then they?)
 

Pedro

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Also keep in mind that David ate of the bread reserved for the priests ONLY, and if God wills, the order of things is suspended.  So could Zecheriah have been inspired to take someone into the Holy of Holies, "just this once"?
 

PeterTheAleut

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DavidBryan said:
Also keep in mind that David ate of the bread reserved for the priests ONLY, and if God wills, the order of things is suspended.  So could Zecheriah have been inspired to take someone into the Holy of Holies, "just this once"?
Well, I suppose it's possible that God could have blessed him with the foresight to do so.
 

Elisha

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Just wanted to share:

I sang with the Sonoma St. University Chamber singers this past semester, and on Friday we performed Second Vespers* for Presentation of the Theotokos in the Temple and then Second Vespers for St. Caecilia the next night - nice to have the concert on the same day as the feast!  The psalms and Magnificat (yes, the Magnificat is in Vespers in the Latin Rite) were by Claudio Monteverdi and the other hymns by Palestrina, Josquin and Clemens non Papa.  The short Antiphons in between were all (unison) Gregorian Chant.  These were all his later works - from 1640 (NOT his 1610 Vespers).  REALLY difficult music.

* Second Vespers being Vespers at the end of the feastday, as opposed to first, which would be part of Vigil the night before. 
 

Alveus Lacuna

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I am also not certain what the best way to understand this feast is, but overall I would say that our duty as Orthodox Christians should be to preserve and hand down this teaching.  It was obviously important enough to the Church to have been celebrated as a major feast day and to have been handed down to us today.  I think that the way in which we accept such things should be simple and faithful, but I do not wish to seem dismissive of legitimate objections or concerns surrounding Orthodox teachings.  But I'm not sure that there is a good way to handle these sort of concerns.
 

minasoliman

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DavidBryan said:
Also keep in mind that David ate of the bread reserved for the priests ONLY, and if God wills, the order of things is suspended.  So could Zecheriah have been inspired to take someone into the Holy of Holies, "just this once"?
I would also believe this too.  I tend to believe whether entering the Holy or Holies or not, she IS the "Holy of Holies" bearing the Shekinah glory Incarnate, the Holy Manna.  She is the saint above all saints and hosts of the heavenly.

So it's very symbolic, but I also tend to believe that she actually entered the Holy of Holies at some point in her childhood.  In tradition, she also conversed with angels.  Perhaps, the conversations took place there.
 

Asteriktos

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Also keep in mind that David ate of the bread reserved for the priests ONLY, and if God wills, the order of things is suspended.  So could Zecheriah have been inspired to take someone into the Holy of Holies, "just this once"?
For whatever reason, that never occured to me! That's like one of those hand-hits-the-forehead moments.
 
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