Author Archives: Alistair C. Stewart

About Alistair C. Stewart

I am the artist formerly known as Alistair Stewart-Sykes, parish priest and social/liturgical historian.

De confusione titulorum

A recent note from a student has made me think.

He was discussing the document which I have termed Canones Addaei. He writes:

I was confused -especially in the start of my research- with the many names of this source (The Teaching of the Apostles). Some translate the mallpānutā as “Doctrine” (for example Cureton translates “The Teaching of the Apostles” as “Doctrina Apostolorum”) some as “Teaching” (Brook, Witakowski) and some others as “Canones Addaei” or “The Teaching of Addai”. So as you know better than me the title of this specific source (The Teaching of the Apostles) overlaps with the titles of other sources like the “original” Doctrina Apostolorum of the Teaching of the (Twelve) Apostles. It is not the same source with the “Didascalia” nor with “Teaching of the Twelve Apostles “

He is absolutely right. I termed the document Canones Addaei in part to distinguish it from the Doctrina Addaei, (another work altogether, just to add to the confusion), though the Syriac title is ܡܠܦܢܘܬܐ ܕܫܠܝܚܐ, which might translate as Doctrina apostolorum, the title given to a Latin version of the two ways!

The confusion over the titles of the church orders is common and understandable. I recently corrected a set of proofs where the editor had not understood that the (Latin) Doctrina apostolorum was not the same as the Didascalia apostolorum and had messed up all the references. The English version of Harnack’s Die Quellen der sogenannten Apostolischen Kirchenordnung is actually entitled The sources of the Apostolic canons, which might lead the reader to think that it was about the appendix to Constitutiones apostolorum.

What is interesting is the cause of this confusion, namely the fact that titles in the ancient world did not serve to distinguish one book from another but to operate as a guide to the contents. How many books were called περὶ φύσεως? Thus a scribe might write διδασκαλία τῶν ἀποστόλων (or its Syriac equivalent) on any number of works. And cause a nightmare to editors and students of church orders for centuries to come!

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Die Sakramentsgemeinschaft in der alten Kirche

Clipboard01Newly published is L.H. Westra, L. Zwollo, Die Sakramentsgemeinschaft in der Alten Kirche: Publikation der Tagung der Patristischen Arbeitsgemeinschaft in Soesterberg und Amsterdam (Patristic Studies 15; Leuven: Peeters, 2019).

The publisher tells us: Was bedeutet die Gemeinschaft von Brot und Wein, die wir in der Kirche Sakramentsgemeinschaft nennen? Dieser Begriff ist für vielen zu einem Problem geworden. Obwohl Kirche und Glaube in unserer Gesellschaft zu einem Randphänomen geworden sind, erhalten sie dennoch eine gewisse Anerkennung. Glaube und Spiritualität werden weithin anerkannt als wertvolle Hilfsmittel für die psychische Gesundheit. Die Kirche spielt immer noch eine wichtige Rolle, wenn die Humanität der Gesellschaft in Frage kommt – das Kirchenasyl ist wiederum sehr aktuell. Aber das Sakrament? Es gehört zum kirchlichen Traditionsgut, aber sonst? In der Antike ging man ganz umgekehrt vor. Gerade weil man das Sakrament teilte, wird man zur Kirche. Der gemeinschaftliche Genuss von Brot und Wein bildete den Grund für die kirchliche Existenz. Die Gemeinschaft mit Christo bestimmte die Spiritualität. In dem vorliegenden Band wird diese altkirchliche Sakramentsgemeinschaft weiterhin untersucht. Wie funktionierte sie in der Praxis, lokal und weltweit? Wie sahen die Feiern aus? Wer nahm teil, wer nicht? Welche Entwicklungen gab es? So erscheint eine der ältesten Riten unserer Gesellschaft in einem neuen und hoffentlich auch inspirierendem Licht.

What this does not tell you is that there are contributions from both of your blog editors.

Daniel Vaucher’s essay “Ubi servi? Überlegungen zur frühchristlichen Eucharistiefeier” explores the presence (and absence) of slaves in eucharistic fellowships, concluding that to the greater extent they were excluded, and that the development away from the eucharistic Sättigungsmahl served to reduce their role yet further (as they may have been present in a serving capacity in these eucharistic meals of an earlier period.) In terms of church orders, we may note his reference to the Didascalia. Alistair C. Stewart, “Ἐκ Βιῶν εἰς ζωήν: Groups, Therapy, and the Construction of Text and Community in the Church Order Tradition” focusses on the Didache and the Didascalia (with a nod to the Doctrina apostolorum) in exploring the manner in which the study of group behaviours within psychology might illustrate the manner in which Christian groups practised psychagogy and brought about Gemeinschaft, so in turn that they might act eucharistically.

Beyond this there are contributions from Paul van Geest (“Patristik in den Niederlanden: Die Forschungslage und der neue Schwerpunkt der Mystagogie”), Liuwe H. Westra (“Wie die Sakramentsgemeinschaft in der Alten Kirche funktionierte”), Gerard A.M. Rouwhorst (“Vom christlichen Symposium zur Eucharistiefeier des vierten Jahrhunderts), Hans van Loon (Eucharist and Fellowship in Cyril of Alexandria) and Laela Zwollo, (Augustine’s Conception of Sacrament. The Death and Resurrection of Christ as Sacrament in De trinitate: Mystic Union between Christ and his Church).

No critical comment on the contents is offered (for obvious enough reasons). Peeters have priced it at €46. No comment on that either, though you can probably guess what mine would be.

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Something new on Traditio apostolica

From Markus Vinzent: something which will at least move the argument on, and gives us something new to think about, with regard to Traditio apostolica.

https://www.academia.edu/38502192/The_Reception_of_Jesus_in_the_Traditio_Apostolica

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Testamentum Domini published

Image 1I am happy to say that my version, with a fairly extensive introduction, of Testamentum Domini, has now been published by St Vladimir’s Seminary Press.  Get yours here.

As a taster, here is the forematter:

The work presented here was first suggested to me by Fr John Behr in 1999, but not started until 2007, after he had reminded me of his request. For a number of years, however, it was abandoned as other projects took precedence, and I despaired of my own ability to complete it. Nonetheless, an invitation from Codrington College to lecture on apocalyptic in the patristic period led to the publication of an article on the apocalyptic section of the Testament. Work restarted in earnest in 2015, at Fr John’s suggestion that I take it up again. Not for the first time I have cause to thank Fr John and all at St Vladimir’s Seminary Press for their confidence in me and for their patience.

In essence this is a translation of the Syriac text published by Rahmani in 1899, though on occasion I have understood this text differently from previous translators. Moreover, on occasion I have ventured a conjecture, and have had an eye to the Ethiopic version, and to such portions of other texts as have been published. As I note in the introduction, this falls short of what is really required, given the complexity of the textual transmission of the work and the extent to which it has been neglected, but if this serves in any way to re-ignite the interest of specialists then that is is good. The Arabic witnesses in particular need proper investigation.

My primary aim, however, is to make the work better known and readily accessible to a wide readership. Thus although the footnotes may refer to abstruse matters and to recondite secondary literature, the text can be read without reference to them, as can the introduction.

This introduction is intended to show the importance of this neglected work for liturgical history, beyond its value as a witness to Apostolic tradition. Moreover I hope to have established the (already suspected) fourth-century and Cappadocian provenance of the Testament; it is thus a work contemporary with the Cappadocian fathers. A Basilian outlook underlies the Testament, which is reason enough, beyond its valuable liturgical information, to read the work

William Gordon, preaching at the funeral of Christopher Codrington in 1710, noted that Codrington “was a great Admirer of the Fathers, particularly of St. Basil.” Sadly we must record that he followed Basil in accepting the necessity of slavery; however, his bequest for the foundation of a Basilian monastic community in Barbados, whilst never realized, was the basis for the College which I was privileged once to serve, and through which the learning of the fathers is kept alive in the West Indies.

For this we glorify you, we bless you, we give thanks to you Lord.

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The invention of theology

http://www.shoestring-press.com/wp-content/themes/arras-theme/library/timthumb.php?src=http://www.shoestring-press.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/wedding-guest.jpg&w=630&h=250&zc=1

Very recently I had the privilege of assisting with the obsequies of Keith Bosley. Shortly before his death a new collection of his verse appeared, The wedding guest. The book came out at the wake and fell open to this poem, this short and vast masterpiece, typically  backhanded.

Mindful of the season in which we recall Οὗτος ἀφικόμενος ἐξ οὐρανῶν ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν διὰ τὸν πάσχοντα I offer this gem as greeting to the reader, as a memorial to the writer, as a thanks to Keith’s family, and to all as an encouragement to read the work of a master of his craft.

AFIKOMEN

At the end
of the Passover meal
the leader takes
a piece of matzo

set aside earlier
breaks it and hands it round
to signify
the paschal lamb

which is why
Jews are discouraged
from eating lamb
at this meal

then he pours out
the last cup of wine
for all present
plus Elijah

who has his own chair
should he come in
through the door
opened for him

to announce
the Messiah
but centuries ago
barbarians burst in

stood the bloodless rite
upon its head
and invented
theology.

(April 2001)

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Evangelium Petri and the Didascalia

Joel Marcus, “The Gospel of Peter as a Jewish Christian document” NTS 64 (2018), 473-494, is a somewhat speculative article on Evangelium Petri. It is noted here because Marcus returns to the Didascalia, having previously discussed this document in his “The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs and the Didascalia Apostolorum: a common Jewish Christian milieu?” JTS 61 (2010), 596–626. Here he turns to the Quartodeciman background of the Vorlage to chapter 21 (Syriac), noting here the nexus of relationship between it, Evangelium Petri, and other Quartodeciman literature, and the complex relationship between Quartodeciman Christianity and the Jewish matrix of its genesis.

As already said, the conclusion is somewhat speculative, but is not impossible, and the piece is worth reading.

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Daniel Vaucher on Peter of Alexandria

Though too modest to mention it himself, Daniel Vaucher has a new publication: “Glaubensbekenntnis oder Sklavengehorsam?—Petrus von Alexandrien zu einem christlichen Dilemma” Vigiliae Christianae 72 (2018), 533-560.

Abstract: The so-called Canonical letter (or περὶ Μετανοίας, “On Repentance”) of St. Peter of Alexandria, sheds light on a variety of means that Christians chose to avoid the sacrifice test under the Diocletian persecution. Canons 5-7 deal explicitly with slave- owners using their slaves as surrogates. St. Peter condemns these practices heavily, while at the same time he condemns servile obedience. In this, Peter is almost alone in early Christianity, when almost all Christians preached blind obedience. The article examines these canons, and contextualizes them with other Christian perceptions of ancient slavery. At the same time, the letter is important for the understanding of the Great persecution, its mechanisms, and the personal situation of St. Peter. Hence, the letter is discussed in regards to its transmission, and its context.

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