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§ 99. The Oriental Liturgies.


There are, in all, probably more than a hundred ancient liturgies, if we reckon revisals, modifications, and translations. But according to modern investigations they may all be reduced to five or six families, which may be named after the churches in which they originated and were used, Jerusalem (or Antioch), Alexandria, Constantinople, Ephesus, and Rome.10791079   Neale now (The Liturgies of S. Mark, etc., 1859, p. vii) divides the primitive liturgies into five families: (1) That of St. James, or of Jerusalem; (2) that of St. Mark, or of Alexandria.; (3) that of St. Thaddaeus, or of the East; (4) that of St. Peter, or of Rome; (5) that of St. John, or of Ephesus. Formerly (Hist. of the Holy Eastern Church) he counted the Clementine Liturgy separately; but since Daniel has demonstrated the affinity of it with the Jerusalem (or, as he calls it, the Antiochian) family, he has put it down as a branch of that family. Most of them belong to the Orientalchurch; for this church was in general much more productive, and favored greater variety, than the Western, which sought uniformity in organization and worship. And among the Oriental liturgies the Greek are the oldest and most important.


1. The liturgy of St. Clement. This is found in the eighth book of the Apostolic Constitutions, and, with them, is erroneously ascribed to the Roman bishop Clement.10801080   It is given in Cotelier’s edition of the Patres Apostolici, in the various editions of the pseudo-Apostolic Constitutions, and in the liturgical collections of Daniel, Neale, and others. It is the oldest complete order of divine service, and was probably composed in the East in the beginning of the fourth century.10811081   Neale considers the liturgy the oldest part of the Apostolic Constitutions, places its composition in the second or third century, and ascribes its chief elements to the apostle Paul, with whose spirit and ideas it in many respects coincides. It agrees most with the liturgy of St. James and of Cyril of Jerusalem, and may for this reason be considered a branch of the Jerusalem family. We know not in what churches, or whether at all, it was used. It was a sort of normal liturgy, and is chiefly valuable for showing the difference between the Nicene or ante-Nicene form of worship and the later additions and alterations.

The Clementine liturgy rigidly separates the service of the catechumens from that of the faithful.10821082   Before the Sursum corda, or beginning of the Eucharist proper, the deacon says: “No catechumens, no hearers, no unbelievers, no heretics may remain here (μή τις τῶν κατηχουμένων, μή τις τῶν ἀκροωμένων, μὴ τις τῶν ἀπίστων, μή τις τῶν ἑτεροδόξων). Depart, ye who have spoken the former prayer. Mothers, take your children,” etc. This arrangement is traced to James, the brother of John, the son of Zebedee. It contains the simplest form for the distribution of the sacred elements: “The body of Christ,” and “The blood of Christ, the cup of life,” with the “Amen” of the congregation to each. In the commemoration of the departed it mentions no particular names of saints, not even the mother of God, who first found a place in public worship after the council of Ephesus in 431; and it omits several prefatory prayers of the priest. Finally it lacks the Nicene creed, and even the Lord’s Prayer, which is added to all other eucharistic prayers, and, according to the principles of some canonists, is absolutely necessary.10831083   . The absence of the Lord’s Prayer in the Clementine Liturgy is sufficient to refute the view of Bunsen, that this prayer was originally the Prayer of Consecration in all liturgies.


2. The liturgy of St. James. This is ascribed by tradition to James, the brother to the Lord, and bishop of Jerusalem.10841084   Neale even supposes, as already observed, that St. Paul quotes from the Liturgia Jacobi, and not vice versa, especially in I Cor. ii. 9 It, of course, cannot have been composed by him, even considering only the Nicene creed and the expressions ὁμοούσιοςand θεοτόκος, which occur in it, and which belong to the Nicene and post-Nicene theology. The following passage also bespeaks a much later origin: “Let us remember the most holy, immaculate, most glorious, blessed Mother of God and perpetual Virgin Mary, with all saints, that we through their prayers and intercessions may obtain mercy.” The first express mention of its use meets us in Proclus of Constantinople about the middle of the fifth century. But it is, as to substance, at all events one of the oldest liturgies, and must have been in use as early as the fourth century; for the liturgical quotations in Cyril of Jerusalem (in his fifth Mystagogic Catechesis), who died in 386, verbally agree with it. It was intended for the church of Jerusalem, which is mentioned in the beginning of the prayer for the church universal, as “the glorious Zion, the mother of all churches.”10851085   Ὑπὲρ τῆς ἐνδόξου Σιὼν, τῆς μητρὸς πασῶν τῶν ἐκκλησιῶν· καὶ ὑπὲρ τῆς κατὰ πᾶσαν τὴν οἰκουμένην ἁγίας σου καθολικῆς καὶ ἀποστολικῆς ἐκκλησίας .The intercessions for Jerusalem, and for the holy places which God glorified by the appearance of Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Ghost (ὑπὲρ τῶν ἁγίων σου τόπων, οὓς ἐδοξασας τῇ θεοφάνείᾳ τοῦ Χριστοῦ σου, κ.τ.λ.), appears in no other liturgy.

In contents and diction it is the most important of the ancient liturgies, and the fruitful mother of many, among which the liturgies of St. Basil and St. Chrysostom must be separately named.10861086   Neale arranges the Jerusalem family in three divisions, as follows:
   “1. Sicilian S. James, as said in that island before the Saracen conquest, and partly assimilated to the Petrine Liturgy.

   2. S. Cyril: where used uncertain, but assumilated to the Alexandrian form.

   3. Syriac S. James, the source of the largest number of extant Liturgies. They are these: [1] Lesser S. James [2] S. Clement; [3] S. Mark; [4] S. Dionysius; [5] S. Xystus; [6] S. Ignatius; [7] S. Peter I; [8] S. Peter II; [9] S. Julius; [10] S. John Evangelist; [11] S. Basil; [12] (S.) Dioscorus; [13] S. John ChrysostomI; [14] All Apostles; [15] S. Marutas; [16] S. Eustathius; [17] Philoxenus I; [18] Matthew the Shepherd; [19] James Bardaeus; [20]. James of Botra; [21] James of Edessa; [22] Moses Bar-Cephas; [23] Thomas of Heraclea; [24] Holy Doctors; [25] Philoxenus II; [26] S. John ChrysostomII; [27] Abu’lfaraj; [28] John of Dara; [291 S. Celestine; [30] John Bar-Susan; [31] Eleatar of Babylon; [32] John the Scribe; [33] John Maro; [34] Dionysius of Cardon; [35] Michael of Antioch; [36] John Bar-Vahib; [37] John Bar-Maaden; [38] Dionysius of Diarbekr; [39] Philoxenus of Bagdad. All these, from Syriac S. James inclusive, are Monophysite Liturgies
It spread over the whole patriarchate of Antioch, even to Cyprus, Sicily, and Calabria, but was supplanted in the orthodox East, after the Mohammedan conquest, by the Byzantine liturgy. Only once in a year, on the 23d of October, the festival of St. James, it is yet used at Jerusalem and on some islands of Greece.10871087   There are only two manuscripts, with the fragment of a third, from which the ancient text of the Greek Liturgia Jacobi is derived. The first printed edition appeared at Rome in 1526; then one at Paris in 1560. Besides these we have the copies in the Bibliotheca Patrum, the Codex Apocryphus Novi Testamenti, the Codex Liturgicus of Assemani, the Codex Liturgicus of Daniel, and the later separate editions of Trollope (Edinburgh, 1848), and Neale (twice, in his Tetralogia Liturgica, 1849, and improved, in his Primitive Liturgies, 1860).

The Syriac liturgy of James is a free translation from the Greek; it gives the Invocation of the Holy Spirit in a larger form, the other prayers in a shorter; and it betrays a later date. It is the source of thirty-nine Monophysite liturgies, which are in use still among the schismatic Syrians or Jacobites.10881088   See the names of them in the preceding quotation from Neale.


3. The liturgy of St. Mark, or the Alexandrian liturgy. This is ascribed to the well-known Evangelist, who was also, according to tradition, the founder of the church and catechetical school in the Egyptian capital. Such origin involves, of course, a shocking anachronism, since the liturgy contains the Nicaeno-Constantinopolitan creed of 381. In its present form it comes probably from Cyril, bishop of Alexandria († 444), who was claimed by the orthodox, as well as the Monophysites, as an advocate of their doctrine of the person of Christ.10891089   Daniel (iv. 137 sqq.) likewise considers Cyril the probable author, and endeavors to separate the apostolical and the later elements. Neale, in the preface to his edition of the Greek text, thinks: “The general form and arrangement of the Liturgy of S. Mark may safely be attributed to the Evangelist himself, and to his immediate followers, S. Amianus, S. Abilius, and S. Cerdo. With the exception of certain manifestly interpolated passages, it had probably assumed its present appearance by the end of the second century.” It agrees, at any rate, exactly with the liturgy which bears Cyril’s name.

It is distinguished from the other liturgies by the position of the great intercessory prayer for quick and dead before the Words of Institution and Invocation of the Holy Ghost, instead of after them. It was originally composed in Greek, and afterwards translated into Coptic and Arabic. It was used in Egypt till the twelfth century, and then supplanted by the Byzantine. The Copts still retained it. The Ethiopian canon is an offshoot from it. There are three Coptic and ten Ethiopian liturgies, which belong to the same family.10901090   There is only one important manuscript of the Greek Liturgy of St. Mark, the Codex Rossanensis, printed in Renaudot’s Collectio, and more recently by Daniel and Neale.


4. The liturgy of Edessa or Mesopotamia, or of All Apostles. This is traced to the apostles Thaddaeus (Adaeus) and Maris, and is confined to the Nestorians. From it afterwards proceeded the Nestorian liturgies: (1) of Theodore the Interpreter; (2) of Nestorius; (3) Narses the Leper; (4) of Barsumas; (5) of Malabar, or St. Thomas. The liturgy of the Thomas-Christians of Malabar has been much adulterated by the revisers of Diamper.10911091   The printed edition is a revision by the Portuguese archbishop of Goa, Alexis of Menuze, and the council of Diamper (1599), who understood nothing of the Oriental liturgies. Neale says: “The Malabar Liturgy I have never been able to see in the original; and an unadulterated copy of the original does not seem to exist.” He gives a translation of this liturgy in Primitive Liturgies, p. 128 ff.


5. The liturgy of St. Basil and that of St. Chrysostom form together the Byzantine or ConstantinopolItan liturgy, and passed at the same time into the Graeco-Russian church. Both descend from the liturgy of St. James and give that ritual in an abridged form. They are living books, not dead like the liturgies of Clement and of James.

The liturgy of bishop Basil of Neo-Caesarea († 379) is read in the orthodox Greek, and Russian church, during Lent (except on Palm Sunday), on the eve of Epiphany, Easter and Christmas, and on the feast of St. Basil (1st of January). From it proceeded the Armenian liturgy.

The liturgy of St. Chrysostom († 407) is used on all other Sundays. It is an abridgment and improvement of that of St. Basil, and, through the influence of the distinguished patriarchs of Constantinople, it has since the sixth century dislodged the liturgies of St. James and St. Mark. The original text can hardly be ascertained, as the extant copies differ greatly from one another.

The present Greek and Russian ritual, which surpasses even the Roman in pomp, cannot possibly have come down in all its details from the age of Chrysostom. Chrysostom is indeed supposed, as Proclus says, to have shortened in many respects the worship in Constantinople on account of the weakness of human nature; but the liturgy which bears his name is still in the seventh century called “the Liturgy of the Holy Apostles,” and appears to have received his name not before the eighth.



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