Traditio apostolica 25

In his recent Apostolic Tradition reconstructed (29, fn 44) Bradshaw ascribes part of Traditio apostolica 25 to the later Ethiopic translator, noting its absence in the Axumite version. In keeping with his overall approach he ascribes layers to the chapter. I give the chapter showing his layers; material in Roman type is the Grundschrift, that in italics is ascribed to a third-century redactor, that struck through does not appear in Bradshaw’s version at all as it is assigned to the later translator.

When the bishop is present and evening is come the deacon brings in a lamp 2and standing among all the believers who are present he shall give thanks. Firstly he greets them as he says: “The Lord be with you.”

And the people shall say: “And with your spirit.”

Let us give thanks to the Lord.”

And they shall say: “It is right and just. Greatness and exaltation with praise is fitting to him.”

And he shall not say “Hearts on high,” for it is to be said at the offering.

And he shall pray in this way as he says: “We give you thanks, O God, through your child Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom you have illuminated us, revealing to us the incorruptible light. 8Therefore we have completed the length of the day and we have arrived at the beginning of the night, being sated with the day’s light which you created for our satisfaction. And now, having arrived at the light of evening through your grace, we give you praise and glorify you 9through your child Jesus Christ, our Lord, through whom to you be power and honour together with the Holy Spirit, now and always and to the ages of ages. Amen.”

And all shall say: “Amen.”

And then, when they get up after the dinner, they shall pray, and the children and the virgins shall say psalms.

And afterwards the deacon, when he takes the mixed cup of the oblation, shall say one of the psalms in which “alleluia” is written.

After that, if the presbyter has commanded, again from the same psalms. And afterwards, the bishop having offered the cup, he shall say a psalm proper to the cup, while all say “alleluia.” 14And all of them, as he recites the psalms, shall say “alleluia,” which is to say “we praise him who is God most high; glorified and praised is he who founded all the world with one word.”

And likewise, when the psalm is completed, he shall give thanks over the cup (Dix emends to “bread”) and give of the fragments to all the faithful.

Although this chapter only appears in completeness in a mediaeval Ethiopic version, there are hints of its existence in Canones Hippolyti and Testamentum Domini.

If there is a feast or a dinner provided by somebody for the poor, it is the Lord’s (κυριακόν). The bishop should be present when a lamp is lit. The deacon gets up to light it and the bishop prays over them and over those who invited them. It is right that he make the thanksgiving (εὐχαριστία) at the beginning of the liturgy so that they can be dismissed before it is dark, and recite psalms before their departure. (Canons of Hippolytus 32)

The lamp should be offered in the temple by the deacon, as he says “The grace of the Lord be with you all.” And all the people should say “And with your spirit.”

The little boys should sing spiritual psalms and hymns of praise by the light of the lamp. All the people, all together, their voices in harmony, should respond to the psalm and to the song, “Alleluia.” Nobody should kneel until the one who is speaking has ceased. In the same way, also, when a reading is read or a word of instruction is spoken. If the name of the Lord is thus uttered, and the rest, as has already been adequately discussed, nobody should bow, coming in creeping. (Testamentum Domini 2.11)

It may be noted that Canones Hippolyti makes reference to the recitation of psalms; Testamentum Domini does the same, and, moreover, prescribes the “Alleluia” response.

Something about psalm singing, and the alleluia response, must therefore, surely, have been in the version circulating in fourth century Cappadocia on which these two versions draw. As such it can hardly be the work of a mediaeval Ethiopian. This is not to deny that there are issues of transmission here; the phrase “when they get up after the dinner” is particularly suspicious. But the funny business is certainly not as Bradshaw would have it here. Looking at his reconstruction initially I thought it looked too neat!

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