For many current biblical studies experts who came from the Lviv Theological Academy, Father Yoannykii Cherskyy was the teacher and mentor. The presentation of his book “Methods of Interpreting the New Testament” on 21 February at UCU was significant. Together with this book, a work of Fr. Yuriy Shchurko, a student of
Fr. Yoannykii, was also presented, “The Term ζητέω in the Gospel of St. Luke.”
In the words of Father Roman Zaviyskyy, Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy and Theology, thanks to the painstaking work of the UCU Press and the intellectual efforts of the departments of the Faculty of Theology and Philosophy, the presentations of new publications happen often, though this presentation was not ordinary. It presented two books at once: that of teacher Fr. Yoannykii Cherskyy and his student, Fr. Yuriy Shchurko.
“We theologians, systematic or patristic, are fascinated by the term ‘tradition,’ and its Greek equivalent, ‘paradosis.’ And we know this was in Byzantine history and theology. And our guest today, Y. Cherskyy, and many of those present here are a part of this paradosis, a part of this tradition,” added Fr. Roman Zaviyskyy.
The book “The Term ζητέω in the Gospel of St. Luke” is the doctoral work of Fr. Yuriy Shchurko at the Theology Faculty of Opole University. Taras Tymo, a teacher at UCU, stated the Fr. Shchurko’s work uses a method which Fr. Cherskyy developed, and the book itself is a good master class in using research methodology. The theme of the work, the term “to seek” (ζητέω) in only one Gospel, can seem too narrow. However, regarding this Taras Tymo said: “Just as in a drop of dew it is possible to see the whole world, so in investigating Holy Scripture, taking some term, it is possible to see the reflection of the whole Gospel – the complete proclamation, established by the Lord and the human author in this text… And thorough reading reveals these meanings of God’s Word which we would not have noticed.”
Fr. Yuriy Shchurko talked about Fr. Cherskyy and his theological activities. Father Yoannykii was born in Stanislaviv. When he was 11, the Bolsheviks murdered his father. Then he and his mother fled to Silesia, where he remained, to study and work. For the last seven years, Father every year has published a book. In particular, one of the latest is “An Introduction to the Gospel of John.” And now he is finishing the work “An Introduction to the Apocalypse.” Father has written more than 25 monographs on biblical themes.
“For us, it is very important that we start with methodology. So, in order that we effectively apply our efforts, we should move in the right direction. But for this we should give the correct questions to the text, what the church has given us and how we live with these texts and respond to the challenges of the times,” Fr. Yuriy said about Fr. Yoannykii’s book.
The work was written in the Polish language. Andrii Shkrabiuk and Natalia Kit worked on the Ukrainian translation. Mr. Shkrabiuk shared his impressions on the translation: “I do not consider the knowledge of the Polish language or translating from it something special. Ukrainian civilization, which in recent times has very strongly been influenced by Russian culture, was for a long time separated from Polish culture. In this sense, the translation for me was not some great hardship but something of great interest. In translating I myself learned.”
In the words of Andrii Shkrabiuk, “though Polish and Ukrainian are close languages, the creation of terminology happened in different contexts for each. The Polish language arose in the context of Latin, which very often sketched out its concepts and terms, which also came into Slavic languages, but it did not create specific terms. On the other hand, Ukraine’s Greek and Byzantine influences made it so that our language has a number of terms which Polish does not have. For example, the Ukrainian language has two words that mean happy: ‘shchaslyvyi’ (felix) and ‘blazhennyi’ (beatus). Also, we have wonderful theological distinctions between the terms ‘tilo’ [body] and ‘plot’’ [flesh], which are simply missing in the Polish language. However, sometimes the opposite happens: during the translation of the work we were not able to find Ukrainian language equivalents for the name of the section ‘Oddziaływania tekstu’. The translator is influenced by the terms.”
At the end, Fr. Yoannykii Cherskyy gave a small lecture on methods for interpreting the New Testament, focusing mainly on the linguistic method, which he himself used most. Fr. Yoannykii also shared his memories of the early years of UCU: “I remember my first classes in 1994 here in Lviv. The young people in those years were very interested in God’s Word. Many students wanted to graduate from the Theology Faculty. They didn’t think about work but about how to better know God’s word. They took part not only in mandatory events but in special biblical courses. From early morning until 8 at night they had lessons but, nevertheless, they came for extra courses in the evening. And I remember these young people very fondly.”