Gospel reading for Saturday, 15th May

John 16:23-28

Jesus said to his disciples:

‘I tell you most solemnly,
anything you ask for from the Father he will grant in my name.
Until now you have not asked for anything in my name.
Ask and you will receive, and so your joy will be complete.
I have been telling you all this in metaphors,
the hour is coming when I shall no longer speak to you in metaphors;
but tell you about the Father in plain words.
When that day comes you will ask in my name;
and I do not say that I shall pray to the Father for you,
because the Father himself loves you for loving me
and believing that I came from God.
I came from the Father and have come into the world
and now I leave the world to go to the Father.’

Acknowledgements

Translation of Scriptures: The Jerusalem Bible © 1966, 1967 and 1968 by Darton, Longman  &  Todd, Ltd and Doubleday, a division of  Random House, Inc.

Photograph: (c) 2019, Allen Morris. Detail of Rosary window, church of St Mary, Fernyhalgh.

Gospel reading for Friday, 14th May

Feast of St Matthias

John 15:9-17

Jesus said to his disciples:

‘As the Father has loved me,
so I have loved you.
Remain in my love.
If you keep my commandments
you will remain in my love,
just as I have kept my Father’s commandments
and remain in his love.
I have told you this
so that my own joy may be in you
and your joy be complete.
This is my commandment:
love one another, as I have loved you.
A man can have no greater love
than to lay down his life for his friends.
You are my friends,
if you do what I command you.
I shall not call you servants any more,
because a servant does not know
his master’s business;
I call you friends,
because I have made known to you
everything I have learnt from my Father.
You did not choose me:
no, I chose you;
and I commissioned you
to go out and to bear fruit,
fruit that will last;
and then the Father will give you
anything you ask him in my name.
What I command you
is to love one another.’

Acknowledgements

Translation of Scriptures: The Jerusalem Bible © 1966, 1967 and 1968 by Darton, Longman  &  Todd, Ltd and Doubleday, a division of  Random House, Inc.

Photograph: (c) 2017, Allen Morris. Stained glass. Chester Cathedral.

Gospel reading for Thursday, 13th May

Ascension Day

Mark 16:15-20

Jesus showed himself to the Eleven and said to them:
‘Go out to the whole world; proclaim the Good News to all creation. He who believes and is baptised will be saved; he who does not believe will be condemned. These are the signs that will be associated with believers: in my name they will cast out devils; they will have the gift of tongues; they will pick up snakes in their hands, and be unharmed should they drink deadly poison; they will lay their hands on the sick, who will recover.’

And so the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven: there at the right hand of God he took his place, while they, going out, preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word by the signs that accompanied it.

Acknowledgements

Translation of Scriptures: The Jerusalem Bible © 1966, 1967 and 1968 by Darton, Longman  &  Todd, Ltd and Doubleday, a division of  Random House, Inc.

Photograph: (c) 2019, Allen Morris. Stained glass. Church of Our Lady of Eden, Carlisle.

Gospel reading for Wednesday, 12th May

John 16:12-15

Jesus said to his disciples:

‘I still have many things to say to you
but they would be too much for you now.
But when the Spirit of truth comes
he will lead you to the complete truth,
since he will not be speaking as from himself
but will say only what he has learnt;
and he will tell you of the things to come.
He will glorify me,
since all he tells you
will be taken from what is mine.
Everything the Father has is mine;
that is why I said:
All he tells you
will be taken from what is mine.’

Acknowledgements

Translation of Scriptures: The Jerusalem Bible © 1966, 1967 and 1968 by Darton, Longman  &  Todd, Ltd and Doubleday, a division of  Random House, Inc.

Photograph: (c) 2019, Allen Morris. Details of paleo-Christian sarcophagus, Abbaye Saint-Victor, Marseille.

Gospel reading for Tuesday, 11th May

John 16:5-11

Jesus said to his disciples:

‘Now I am going to the one who sent me.
Not one of you has asked, “Where are you going?”
Yet you are sad at heart because I have told you this.
Still, I must tell you the truth:
it is for your own good that I am going
because unless I go,
the Advocate will not come to you;
but if I do go,
I will send him to you.
And when he comes,
he will show the world how wrong it was,
about sin,
and about who was in the right,
and about judgement:
about sin: proved by their refusal to believe in me;
about who was in the right: proved by my going to the Father and your seeing me no more;
about judgement: proved by the prince of this world being already condemned.’

Acknowledgements

Translation of Scriptures: The Jerusalem Bible © 1966, 1967 and 1968 by Darton, Longman  &  Todd, Ltd and Doubleday, a division of  Random House, Inc.

Photograph: (c) 2016, Allen Morris. Stained glass. St Mary’s Warwick.

Gospel reading for Monday, 10th May


John 15:26-16:4


Jesus said to his disciples:

‘When the Advocate comes,
whom I shall send to you from the Father,
the Spirit of truth who issues from the Father,
he will be my witness.
And you too will be witnesses,
because you have been with me from the outset.

‘I have told you all this that your faith may not be shaken.
They will expel you from the synagogues,
and indeed the hour is coming
when anyone who kills you
will think he is doing a holy duty for God.
They will do these things
because they have never known
either the Father or myself.
But I have told you all this,
so that when the time for it comes
you may remember that I told you.’

Acknowledgements

Translation of Scriptures: The Jerusalem Bible © 1966, 1967 and 1968 by Darton, Longman  &  Todd, Ltd and Doubleday, a division of  Random House, Inc.

Photograph: (c) 2016, Allen Morris. Mosaic, Rosary Basilica, Lourdes.

Gospel reading for Sunday, 9th May

John 15:9-17

Jesus said to his disciples:

‘As the Father has loved me,
so I have loved you.
Remain in my love.
If you keep my commandments
you will remain in my love,
just as I have kept my Father’s commandments
and remain in his love.
I have told you this
so that my own joy may be in you
and your joy be complete.
This is my commandment:
love one another, as I have loved you.
A man can have no greater love
than to lay down his life for his friends.
You are my friends,
if you do what I command you.
I shall not call you servants any more,
because a servant does not know
his master’s business;
I call you friends,
because I have made known to you
everything I have learnt from my Father.
You did not choose me:
no, I chose you;
and I commissioned you
to go out and to bear fruit,
fruit that will last;
and then the Father will give you
anything you ask him in my name.
What I command you
is to love one another.’



Acknowledgements

Translation of Scriptures: The Jerusalem Bible © 1966, 1967 and 1968 by Darton, Longman  &  Todd, Ltd and Doubleday, a division of  Random House, Inc.

Photograph: (c) 2019, Allen Morris. Stained glass. Hull Minster.

Origin and Influences X: The Apostolic Tradition?

The document widely known as the ‘Apostolic Tradition’ is a remarkable document. It has had enormous influence on the Church East and West, Ancient and Modern.

However once one has said that, most anything else we can say about it is a matter of controversy.

In particular we do not know who wrote it, where they wrote it, or why. We do not even know for certain that the prayers and rituals written in it were ever used except through the subsequent influence of the document.

So what do we know?

We know it is a Church Order – in other words, that it is a collection of observations, guides to Christian life, Church discipline and Liturgy.

Two key ancient Church Orders known to us today are the Didache (1st C AD?) and the Order now commonly known as the ‘Apostolic Tradition’ (3rd or 4th C?)

Both texts are extant, and their influence on subsequent Church Orders can be traced through the 3rd, 4th and 5th Centuries.

The text known as the ‘Apostolic Tradition’ (hereafter ApTrad) was re-discovered in the 19th Century. The Greek text is only known in fragments, but the document as a whole is known through early translations into, for example, different Coptic dialects, Ethiopian and Latin.

First known to modern scholars through a Coptic manuscript, and ApTrad was first referred to as the ‘Egyptian Church Order’ (EgO). However, subsequently, a Latin text of the document was discovered in a 5th Century Latin manuscript, the Verona palimpsest.

This palimpsest is a vellum volume whose pages have been scraped, and the original text pretty much removed, to provide ‘clean’ pages on which a new text could be written.

n this case, written on the scraped pages was the Sententiae of Isidore of Seville, but underneath was what remained of the original tex the text of three Church Orders, including EgO. Careful examination of the pages allows the original text to be recovered, read and transcribed.

Early in the 20th Century scholars began to identify EgO with an otherwise ‘lost work’ – the ‘Apostolic Tradition’ – written by Hippolytus of Rome – a theologian of the 2nd/3rd Century. And by the mid 20th Century this identification was widely accepted and held as commonplace in liturgical scholarship .

What led to the identification?

What seems now to have been an injudicious bringing together of different bits of information.

First, an antique statue discovered in Rome in the 16th Century, had on the back of it carved the titles of many writings by Hippolytus of Rome, including the ‘Apostolic Tradition’. In consequence the statue was declared to be of Hippolytus, and it was restored to a decent condition, in particular by adding to the torso adding to it the head of a suitably bearded gentleman.

Only much later was it realised that this statue was in fact of a female figure! Those Roman togas can disguise a lot. It was also noticed that the inscriptions include on the statue were not only titles of works by Hippolytus but also Jerome and Eusebius.

Perhaps the statue represented Christian Wisdom. One thing is clear that it was not a statue of Hippolytus.

Why did EgO become associated with Hippolytus of Rome and why was it thought to be his ApTrad?

Pretty much by taking 2 + 2 and making 5, or 6 or 7.

None of the manuscripts of EgO bear the title ‘Apostolic Tradition’, but some of them do link the text to someone called Hippolytus. Which Hippolytus though? For there were many such in the ancient world!

However the last words of the Latin version of EgO (which breaks off in the middle of a sentence) are ‘apostlic tradition’.

And the association was made, and an attribution suggested which stuck, for decades, until the pretty flimsy nature of the evidence came under question. Scholars pointed to the lack of justification for associating the Hipplytus of EgO with Hippolytus of Rome, and for considering this text to be his ApTrad. By the late 20th Century it was further questioned whether this Church Order had its origins in Rome at all. They noted, for example, how features of the liturgy described in ApTrad were unlike what was known from elsewhere of early Roman liturgy but was closer to what was known of the Church’s liturgy in Syria and Egypt.

Furthermore, if this text was written by Hippolytus – (a big IF) – it was questioned whether or not ApTrad could be relied on as a description of what the Church in Rome did, or what Hippolytus thought the Church in Rome should do

We do not know very much about Hippolytus of Rome. However, one thing that is known is that he was a prominent opponent of the theology and church disciplines favoured by the Popes of the time, maybe even allowing himself to be elected as an Anti-Pope. If that was so, and if ApTrad was by Hipploytus of Rome was he writing of how things were in Rome, or how he thought things ought to be .

Scholars continue to debate about provenance and authorship! And none of this would matter very much to anyone other than scholars, were it not for the fact that during the 1950s, 60s and 70s people were very certain that ApTrad was a Roman document, which offered a description of ancient Roman Christian Liturgy and provided a full Eucharistic Prayer, which pre-dated the Roman Canon (the source for our present Eucharistic Prayer I).

The Roman Canon, and medieval and post-medieval Roman liturgical tradition in general, continued to present theological difficulties in ecumenical circles. However, despite their theological diverence, Western Christians acknowledged their common heritage. Taking a step back from later Roman theology and liturgy seemed an attractive way of building on common roots, and sidestepping some later controversies.

Consequently, the identification of this Church Order with Hippolytus of Rome and with his ‘Apostolic Tradition’ seemed almost an answer to prayer. ApTrad’s Eucharistic Prayer, in particular, has consequently been embraced by virtually every Western Christian liturgical tradition, and become in many respects the ‘ecumenical’ Eucharistic Prayer. For example, in adapted form it appears in the modern Roman Rite as Eucharistic Prayer II; as Prayer B in the Church of England’s Common Worship; as well as in the Methodist and Lutheran liturgy.

The likely benefit of a more or less common eucharistic prayer used across denominational boundaries remains, even if it seems likely that the Churches, under a major misapprehension, have adopted and adapted not a Roman Prayer but a prayer from Syria or Egypt!

Next week we will look in some detail at ApTrad’s Eucharistic Prayer, and the week after we will compare and contrast it to the Roman Rite’s Eucharistic Prayer II. Today we end with a list of the topics ApTrad gives attention to. There is quite a range.

Chapter 1: Introduction

Chapter 2: Of Bishops

Chapters 3-4:  Prayer For The Ordination Of A Bishop (Including in Chapter 4 The Eucharistic Prayer)

Chapter 5: Of The Offering Of Oil

Chapter 6: Of The Offering Of Cheese And Olives

Chapter 7: Of Presbyters

Chapter 8: Of Deacons

Chapter 9: Of Confessors

Chapter 10: Of Widows

Chapter 11: Of A Reader

Chapter 12: Of A Virgin

Chapter 13: Of A Subdeacon

Chapter 14: Of A Gifts Of Healing

Chapter 15: Of Newcomers To The Faith

Chapter 16: Of Crafts And Professions

Chapter 17: Of The Time Of Hearing The Word After Examination Of Crafts And Professions

Chapter 18: Of The Prayer Of Those Who Hear The Word

Chapter 19: Of Laying Hands On The Catechumens

Chapter 20: Of Those Who Will Receive Baptism

Chapter 21: Of The Conferring Of Holy Baptism

Chapter 22 Of Administering The Communion

Chapter 11: Of Fasting

Chapter 11: Of Gifts To The Sick; That Those Who Have Received Should Minister Diligently

Chapter 25 Of The Bringing-In Of Lamps At The Communal Supper

Chapter 26: Of The Common Meal; Of The Time Of The Meal

Chapter 27 That Catechumens Ought Not To Eat With The Faithful

Chapter 28 That One Should Eat With Temperance And Moderation

Chapter 29 That One Should Eat With Thanksgiving

Chapter 30 Of Supper For Widows

Chapter 31 Of The Fruits One Should Offer To The Bishops

Chapter 32: Of The Blessing Of Fruits

Chapter 33: That No-One Should Touch Any Food At The Pascha Before Th E Proper Time For Eating.

Chapter 34: That Deacons Should Attend On The Bishop

Chapter 35: Of The Time When One Ought To Pray

Chapter 36: That The Eucharist Should Be Received First, Whenever It Is Offered, Before Any Food Is Taken

Chapter 37: That The Eucharist Must Be Carefully Guarded

Chapter 38: Nothing Must Fall From The Cup

Chapter 39: Of The Sign Of The Cross

Chapter 40: Of Cemeteries

Chapters 41/42: Of The Time When One Ought To Pray

Reflection questions

  • How is the Tradition handed on in your community? And by who? What are the strengths and weaknesses of the way it happens?
  • If you were to write a Church Order, what topics would you cover, and what title would you give to the booklet?
  • What does it matter which texts a Church uses in its liturgy?

  • ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
  • Translation of text of ‘Apostolic Tradition’ is taken from Prayers of the Eucharist: Early and Reformed. RCD Jasper and GJ Cuming. 3rd revised Edition, Pueblo Books, Liturgical Press, 2010.
  • Photograph(c) 2021, Allen Morris.
  • Commentary (c) 2021, Allen Morris.

Gospel reading for Saturday, 8th May

John 15:18-21

Jesus said to his disciples:

‘If the world hates you,
remember that it hated me before you.
If you belonged to the world,
the world would love you as its own;
but because you do not belong to the world,
because my choice withdrew you from the world,
therefore the world hates you.
Remember the words I said to you: A servant is not greater than his master.
If they persecuted me, they will persecute you too;
if they kept my word, they will keep yours as well.
But it will be on my account that they will do all this,
because they do not know the one who sent me.’

Acknowledgements

Translation of Scriptures: The Jerusalem Bible © 1966, 1967 and 1968 by Darton, Longman  &  Todd, Ltd and Doubleday, a division of  Random House, Inc.

Photograph: (c) 2018, Allen Morris. Detail of head by Emily Young. St Pancras church, Euston, London.

Gospel reading for Friday, 7th May

John 15:12-17

Jesus said to his disciples:

‘This is my commandment:
love one another,
as I have loved you.
A man can have no greater love
than to lay down his life for his friends.
You are my friends,
if you do what I command you.
I shall not call you servants any more,
because a servant does not know
his master’s business;
I call you friends,
because I have made known to you
everything I have learnt from my Father.
You did not choose me:
no, I chose you;
and I commissioned you
to go out and to bear fruit,
fruit that will last;
and then the Father will give you
anything you ask him in my name.
What I command you is to love one another.’

Acknowledgements

Translation of Scriptures: The Jerusalem Bible © 1966, 1967 and 1968 by Darton, Longman  &  Todd, Ltd and Doubleday, a division of  Random House, Inc.

Photograph: (c) 2018, Allen Morris. Street art on utilities box, Old CIty, Jerusalem.