30 January 2017

Notes from the Ancient Church Orders

This is a supplement to the earlier work I did, "Ancient Church Orders" (http://notesfromtheninthcircle.blogspot.com/2015/09/ancient-church-orders.html).  That article mainly with their origin and date, with only a little about their content.  These are the notes I took of the most outstanding points of the content of each.

Doctrina Apostolorum, early 1st century CE (maybe earlier)

- Jewish catechetical manual possibly as old as 2nd or 1st century BCE, with a Christian doxology appended onto the end.

- Outlines the Two Ways, the way of life and the way of death, or the way of light and the way of darkness.

- Mentions an angel at the head of each; doesn’t name them but the two can only be Michael and Beliar, the version of the name Belial in that period

- Begins with the discussion of the way of life/light with the Summary of the Torah, which includes the Golden Rule in the form given by Hillel and later Paul and James: “Love the eternal God who made you and your neighbor as yourself, and whatever you do not want done to you, do not do to others.”

- Closes with a doxology appended to the end to make it “Christian”, the only Christian reference in the whole document.

Pseudo-Pauline Epistles, part 1

- And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers; then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, various kinds of tongues.  1 Corinthians 12:28 (late 1st century interpolation into genuine Paul)

- The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers.  Ephesians 4:11 (late 1st century)

Didache, late 1st century

- First six chapters same as the six of Doctrina Apostolorum, but with additions of quotations from the gospels.

- Those chapters outline the Two Ways once again, but leave out mention of the two angels at the head of each.  Also includes a Summary of the Torah.

- As we have it now, chapter 7 calls for baptism “in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit”, almost certainly a later interpolation.

- Calls for fasting on Wednesdays and Fridays rather than Mondays and Thursdays, and enjoins praying the Lord’s Prayer three times daily, presumably at arvit, shacharit, and minha.  The version given nearly matches that of the Gospel of Matthew, but with the doxology at the end missing “the kingdom”.

- Contains a tripartite formula for Eucharistic benedictions, clearly modeled upon those of a Jewish chavurah meal, which are now the standard blessings for all Jewish meals.  No Sanctus, no anamnesis, no epiclesis, no Words of Institution. 

- Allows prophets to make up their own prayers for Eucharist.  Prophets are considered as “chief priests”.

- Has instructions for dealing with apostles and prophets and itinerant teachers.

- Enjoins meeting for the Eucharist, specifically as a meal, on “the Lord’s Day”, with confession of sins as part of the preparation.

- Mandates the appointment of worthy bishops and deacons.

- Concludes with a mini-apocalypse.

Gospel of Matthew, 7:13-14, 2nd century

- Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it.  For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.

Pseudo-Pauline Epistles, part 2

- Qualifications for bishops: 1 Timothy 3:1-7 (early-to-mid 2nd century)

- Qualifications for deacons: 1 Timothy 3:8-13

- Concerning widows: 1 Timothy 5:3-15

- Concerning elders (presbyters): 1 Timothy 5:17-22

Doctrina duodecim Apostolorum, 2nd century

- No Two Ways

- Opens with a preamble about the disciples in the aftermath of Holy Week and Easter.

- Gives 4 Haziran (June) as the last day of Pentecost and the date of the Ascension, and says that it was the 339th year of the “kingdom of the Greeks” (or 30 CE).  This would make 15 Nisan (April) the day of Easter, the Sunday of  the Resurrection.

- Enjoins praying to the east rather than the west.

- Enjoins service with Eucharist on Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday, specifically at three in the afternoon for the latter.

- Prescribes a hierarchy of a bishop, presbyters, deacons, and subdeacons.

- Calls the Epiphany the chief festival of the Church.

- Ordains the Lent fast leading up to the “Day of the Passion” followed by the “Day of the Resurrection”.

- Mandates standing for the Gospel reading.

- Prescribes the observance of the Ascension on the fiftieth day of Pentecost, along with the Coming of the Paraclete, though the primary observance is the first one.

- Canon: the Tanakh, the Prophets, the Gospels, and the Acts.

- Gives various disciplinary guidelines.

- Recommends the appointment of chorepiscopoi, or chorbishops, in rural areas.

- Claims that Nikodemos and Gamaliel ben Hillel, as well as Judas, Levi, Peri, Joseph, and Justus, the sons of the priests Hananias, Caiaphas, and Alexander, came to see the disciples secretly.  Joseph ben Caiaphas was the actual high priest, not Caiaphas himself, by the way.

- Identifies these apostolic figures with the following territories:
            James with Jerusalem, Palestine (including Samaria), Phoenicia, and (Roman) Arabia
            Simon Cephas with Antioch, Syria, Cilicia, Outer Galatia, Pontus Rome, Italy, Spain, Gaul, and Britain
            John with Ephesus, Thessalonika, Corinth, (Roman) Asia, and Achaia
            Mark with Alexandria Magnus, Thebes, Egypt, and Pelusium
            Andrew with Phrygia, Nicaea, Nicodemia, Bithynia, and Inner Galatia
            Luke with Macedonia, Byzantium, Thrace, and everything up to the Danube
            Jude Thomas with India and all South Asia
            Addai (Thaddaeus), identified as one of the seventy-two, with Edessa, Zoba, Arabia, and the regions bordering Mesopotamia
            Aggaeus, disciple of Addai, with Persia, Assyria, Armenia, Media, Babylonia, the Huzites, and the Gelae

Hadrian’s letter to Servianus, 134

From Hadrian Augustus to Servianus the consul, greeting.

The land of Egypt, the praises of which you have been recounting to me, my dear Servianus, I have found to be wholly light-minded, unstable, and blown about by every breath of rumor. There, those who worship Serapis are, in fact, Christians, and those who call themselves bishops of Christ are, in fact, devotees of Serapis. 

There is no chief of the Jewish synagogue, no Samaritan, no Christian presbyter, who is not an astrologer, a soothsayer, or an anointer. Even the Patriarch* himself, when he comes to Egypt, is forced by some to worship Serapis, by others to worship Christ…

…Their only god is money, and this the Christians, the Jews, and, in fact, all nations adore. And would that this city had a better character, for indeed it is worthy by reason of its richness and by reason of its size to hold the chief place in the whole of Egypt. 

* “Patriarch” here refers to the Patriarch of Tiberias in Galilee, head of the Jewish religion and ethnarch of all Jews in the Empire since the fall of Jerusalem in 70 CE.  The Patriarch was also Nasi, or Prince, of the Great Sanhedrin in Palestine, probably Eleazar ben Azariah in this case.

Epistle of Barnabas, late 2nd century (Egypt)

- Chapter 18 opens with the Two Ways, but lacks the Summary of the Torah.  However, it brings back reference to angels standing at the head of each Way, though in a much more dualistic fashion, contrasting the “angels of God” with the “angels of Satan”.  The epistle lays out the Way of Light in chapter 19, which includes the mitzvah to love Yahweh but not the one to love one’s neighbor, nor the Golden Rule.  The Way of Darkness is dealt with in chapter 20.

Didascalia Apostolorum, 230 (Syria)

- Opens with “In the name of the Father Almighty, and of the Eternal Word and only Son, and of the Holy Spirit, one true God”.

- Starts out with lots of exegesis.

- Preamble cites “We the Twelve” Apostles (but not by name) plus Paul, apostle to the Gentiles, and James, bishop of Jerusalem

- Preamble gives holy orders of bishops, presbyters, deacons, subdeacons, lectors, and cantors; treats widows as an order also

- Ordination of bishops, presbyters, deacons, instructions about catechumens

- Recommends the local church have a hierarchy of one bishop, twelve presbyters, seven deacons, fourteen subdeacons, and thirteen widows

- Mentions presbytertides (Testament of our Lord makes their number three)

- Inserts the Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, which includes the Two Ways, into chapter III, listing as John, Matthew, Peter, Philip, Andrew, Simeon, James, Jude son of James, Nathaniel, Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthias.  John opens the exposition on the “Way of Life” with the Summary of the Torah, minus the Golden Rule.

- Among various prescriptions for church polity says that no women were present at the Last Supper.

- Quotes Paul recommending the following times of prayer: cockcrow, sunrise, six o’clock, nine o’clock, noon, three o’clock, evening, bedtime

- Quotes Addai recommending the following: Pray toward the east; meet Sunday, Wednesday, Friday; have a bishop, presbyters, deacons, subdeacons; observe Epiphany; Lent; Passion; Resurrection; Ascension (fortieth day); same as above about scriptural canon; seems to delegitimize chorepiscopoi by placing village presbyters under city bishops.

- Gives twenty canons regarding moral behavior, some of which are clearly interpolations by mention of “Nestorians”.

- Extensive requirements for bishops, presbyters, deacons, widows.

- Provides for appointment of deaconesses.

- Gives a bishop so absolute authority as to mandate not simply reverence but asking permission even for the giving of alms

- Refers to the days of the Easter Triduum as the Friday of the Passion, the Sabbath of the Annunciation, and the Sunday of the Resurrection

- Chapter 21 gives Monday as the day Jesus was betrayed, Passover as being on Tuesday that week, Jesus was arrested on the Mount of Olives on Wednesday, when he also faced “Kaipha” (which is one spelling of Cephas), tried before Pilate on Thursday, crucified on Friday

- Limits periods of penance from two to seven weeks; no sin is exempt from this rule

Apostolic Church Order, 300 (Egypt or Syria)

- Gives the names of the Twelve as John, Matthew, Peter, Andrew, Philip, Simon, James, Nathaniel, Thomas, Cephas, Bartholomew, and Judas of James.

- Opens with the Two Ways, with the discussion by the apostles following more or less the pattern of the previous examples but only expounding on the “Way of Life”.  Begins that discussion with John giving the Summary of the Torah, with the first precept as “Love the God who made you, and glorify him who ransomed you from death”; Matthew follows with the Golden Rule in the negatively prescriptive version.

- Follows closely the outline of the Didache’s first six chapters, then has discussion on polity and practice, in form the apostles each making pronouncements.

- Discusses bishops, presbyters (3), readers, deacons (3), widows (3), deaconesses

Canons of Hippolytus, 340 (Egypt)

Hours of worship: dawn, third hour, sixth hour, ninth hour, sunset, lamp-lighting, midnight

Apostolic Tradition, or Egyptian Church Order, 355 (Egypt)

- No Two Ways

- Opens with instructions for election of bishops by the people and their subsequent ordination, including the prayer of ordination.

- Gives an anaphora in the now usual form, with the Sursum Corda lacking the Sanctus, but now containing those parts the forms in the Didache lack.  Still refers to Jesus as “your servant”.

- Also gives prayers for blessing oil, cheese, and olives, each of which conclude with the following doxology: “Glory be to thee, with the Holy Spirit in the holy church, both now and always and world without end.  Amen.”

- Gives the prayer of ordination for presbyters and deacons.

- Says that confessors do not need hands laid upon them to be ordained presbyters.

- Provides for the appointment of widows, readers, virgins, subdeacons, healers.

- Ordered that self-made eunuchs be expelled from the Church (by contrast, the 325 Council of Nicaea merely defrocked presbyters who were auto-castrati)

- Provides a schedule of admission for new converts, starting out their catechumenate as “hearers of the word” for three years.

- Candidates for baptism undergo exorcism for several days.  They spend all Friday night in vigil, and beginning the service at cockcrow Saturday morning.  The baptismal formula consists of three questions corresponding roughly to the three sections of the Apostles’ Creed, but without giving the formula “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”.

- The bishop lays hands on each of the newly baptized and anoints them with holy oil, this time including the Trinitarian formula.

- Eucharist immediately follows, in this case including a chalice of milk and honey and another of water, in this order: bread, water, milk and honey, wine. (Tertullian and Clement of Alexandria also testify about milk and honey)

- There is a prayer for first-fruits.

- Prescribed prayer times are cockcrow, sunrise, nine o’clock, noon, three o’clock, bedtime, and midnight.

- Catechumens: hearers of the word, kneelers, elect

- Mandates fasting on Good Friday, Holy Saturday

Apostolic Constitutions, 375 (Syria, probably Antioch)

- Books I thru VI are essentially the Didiscalia Apostolorum heavily reworded and organized into sections: Concerning the Laity, Concerning Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, Concerning Widows, Concerning Orphans, Concerning Martyrs, and Concerning Schisms.

Book II, Chapter XXVI quotes the Great Commission in the current form

Book III, chapter XVI: Same Trinitarian formula for Baptism used now, with the new member dipped three times.  In the Ethiopian version of this part, the candidate first repeats, “I believe in the only true God, the Father Almighty, and in his only-begotten Son Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, and in the Holy Spirit, the Life-giver”, then is dunked thrice.

Book VII, chapter XV: insists that Trinitarian is the only acceptable formula for “true baptism”; chapter XXII quotes the Great Commission in the current form.  Chapter XXV, however, mandates that new believers be baptized “into the death of the Lord”.

- Mandates that penitents be received back into the church

- Periods of penance: two, three, five, and seven weeks

- Hold ecclesiastical courts on Mondays

- Exhorts attendance at church morning and evening

- Gives significant events on the calendar as the Nativity on 25 December, the Epiphany on 6 January, Quadragesima fast (Lent) on Monday thru Friday for the forty days

- Gives Passover as being on Thursday

- Enjoins fasting on Wednesday and Friday because of the Betrayal and because of the Crucifixion; give the food not eaten to the poor

- Celebrate Eucharist on Sabbath and Sunday

- Fast the six days of Holy Week, bread, salt, herbs, and water

- Hold vigil all night between the Sabbath of the Annunciation and the Sunday of the Resurrection

- Observe the octave of Pascha

- Memorialize the Ascension 40 days after Pascha

- Ten days after the Ascension, the fiftieth day of Pentecost, observe the Coming of the Paraclete

- After the eight day, fast one week

- Book VII, based largely on the Didache, including the Two Ways, generally follows its source, but heavily edited.  The exposition of the Way of Life begins with the Summary of the Torah and the Golden Rule.

- Much of Book VIII reprises and rewords Apostolic Tradition, with significant additions

- Besides prayers for bishops, presbyters, deacons, deaconesses, subdeacons, lectors, cantors, and widows, prayers for the consecration of virgins and exorcists, porters

- Mandates the modern weekend, prohibiting work for servants on the Sabbath and the Lord’s Day, during Holy and Easter Weeks, and on every major feast day, the feast days of the Apostles, that of St. Stephen, and those of other martyrs. (Book VIII, Chapter 33)

- Indicates that the Epiphany still focused on the Baptism

- Prayer times: Dawn, 9 am, 12 noon, 3 pm, evening, cock-crowing

- Resurrected Christ appeared first to Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James

Apostolic Canons, 380

- Mandates that two or three bishops consecrate another bishop

- Limits what may be brought on the altar, specifically forbidding milk and honey, allowing nothing but the elements, ears of grains and grapes, and frankincense

- Lays out the duties of the metropolitan bishop

- Adds Jubilees to the Old Testament, two letters of Clement to the New Testament

Canons of Athanasius of Alexandria, 400 (Egypt)

- Opens in the Name of the Trinity

- Among the more interesting provisions is that priests are forbidden to bathe during Lent, as well as the two weekly fast days, a practice which I seem to recall someone saying something about.

- Introduces the office of steward

- Gives bishops, presbyters, deacons, subdeacons, readers, cantors, ostiaries as the seven holy orders

- Forbade faithful going to the theater, taverns, etc., any places of the “heathen”

- Lists some penance periods for various offences

- Contains one provision against deacons smiting one another at the altar

- Talks of monks and nuns

- Is as concerned about the virginity of sons as daughters

- Mentions the archdeacon

Testamentum Domini, 5th century (Asia Minor)

- Opens with scenes similar to the Doctrina duodecim Apostolorum, the apostles sitting around in the aftermath of the resurrection

- Mentions “presbytertides”, or presbyteresses, several times, more than once in ways that definitely mark them as separate from “widows”

- 1 bishop, 12 presbyters, 7 deacons, 14 subdeacons, 13 widows up front

- Men on the right, women on the left

- Chapter 19 details elaborate instructions for the design of churches.

- Specifically points out that professed virgins can be male and female; they sit in the front on both sides

- Commemoration of the Last Supper had by this time shifted to Maundy Thursday

- Hours of prayer: first hour of night, midnight, dawn, first hour, third hour, sixth hour, ninth hour, twelfth hour (lamp-lighting)

- Days for the Eucharist are Sunday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday; begins at dawn

- The forty days of Lent here include Holy Week, and are mainly about prayer and vigil but not fasting

- Mentions “chief deacon”, i.e. archdeacon in the literal sense, several times

- Says bishops should fast three days every week

- Forbids soldiers from being baptized, as well as those in authority; provides an extensive list of those socially unacceptable

- The elect should be exorcised daily from the time they become elect

Ecclesiastical Canons of the Holy Apostles, 6th century

- Canon: Of the Old Covenant: the five books of Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy; one of Joshua the son of Nun, one of the Judges, one of Ruth, four of the Kings, two of the Chronicles, two of Ezra, one of Esther, one of Judith, three of the Maccabees, one of Job, one hundred and fifty psalms; three books of Solomon Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Songs; sixteen prophets. And besides these, take care that your young persons learn the Wisdom of the very learned Sirach. But our sacred books, that is, those of the New Covenant, are these: the four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John; the fourteen Epistles of Paul; two Epistles of Peter, three of John, one of James, one of Jude; two Epistles of Clement; and the Constitutions dedicated to you the bishops by me Clement

- Mandates fasting on the forty days of Lent, and Wednesdays and Fridays

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