Bishop Gregory (hgr) wrote,
Bishop Gregory

о празднике, но о другом

дописал раздел статьи про Ареопагита, где про связь его памяти 3 октября с Введением Богородицы во Храм (21 ноября). ящетаю, это цикл из двух пятидесятниц от 15 августа (Успения БМ), установленный в Иерусалиме при патриархе Илии (494--516).
под катом не будет про саму дату 3 октября, но только про ее связь с 21 ноября.

Note 3: Origin of the Feast of the Presentation of Theotokos on November 21


The feast of the Presentation of Theotokos on November 21 does not belong to the well studied ones. Its appearance in Constantinople is testified in the early eighth century by two homilies of patriarch Germanos (715—730)[1] but even after this date it does not figure in some important Constantinopolitan liturgical documents.[2] Its origins, however, are to be searched in Jerusalem, in some connection to the dedication of the Church of Theotokos called Nea that took place on November, 543.[3]

The exact date of the encaenia of the Nea is known from the Georgian Palestinian documents only where it is one of the annual commemorations, November 20,[4] that is, on the eve of the feast of Presentation. The analogy with another pair of feasts, the encaenia of Anastasis on September 13 and the Exaltation of the Holy Cross on September 14 is striking. The problem is, however, how to interpret it. What is primary, the date of the encaenia or the date of the subsequent feast?

It seems to me theoretically unacceptable to think that the date of encaenia could be chosen arbitrary, and the date of the corresponding feast was chosen as the following day after the encaenia. However, such a discussion in the theory of liturgics would be here out of place. Therefore, I will limit myself to the demonstration for the case of the feast of Presentation only.

Now, especially after Chirat’s 1945 article ­which was, in turn, following the early papers of Simon Vailhé,[5] there is a kind of consensus that it is the date of the encaenia of the Nea that defined the date of the Presentation. There were, nevertheless, some voices for the opposite point of view.[6] Chirat disproved them saying that they are based on the identification of the spot of the Nea with that of the historical Temple of Solomon but this identification is wrong (even if it was frequent in the nineteenth century scholarship).[7] In the 1970s, the localisation of the Nea was established archeologically, and so, is now out of doubts.[8] The Nea church was localised on the slope of Mount Sion opposite to the historical Temple Mount.

However, for the Christian tradition, the historical Temple Mount and the spot of the Herod Temple were not a holy place. Instead, the Christian holy place of the Temple was Mount Sion only. Here, the Sion basilica dedicated in 394 was an already established representation of the Temple.[9] The Nea church became the second Christian avatar of the Temple of Solomon. Procopius’ account of the Nea in De Aedificiis, V, 6 is patterned after the biblical account of building of the Temple; many constructional details of its architectural project have had correspondences with those of the biblical Temple. Such was the official ideology lying behind the Justinianic edifice.[10]

Thus, the Nea is localised and was constructed as a new Temple of Solomon, while this Temple of Solomon was not that of our days’ archaeologists or the Hebrew tradition but specific to the Christian tradition only, with a different localisation. In the same time, the Nea was dedicated as a church of Mary. Therefore, a connection between Mary and the Temple is here deliberately and obvious. It is hardly possible to avoid the conclusion that the Nea was constructed as the holy place for commemoration of the Presentation of Theotokos. This, in turn, is an important argument for existence of the feast of Presentation (in Jerusalem) before 543 and for the priority of the date November 21 in the liturgical micro-cycle of the two feasts on November 20 (encaenia) and 21.

This interpretation is corroborated by the fact that the Nea was founded (θεμελιωθεῖσαν) by patriarch Elias (494—516), as it is stated by Cyril of Scythopolis in his paraphrase of Sabas’ petition to the Emperor Justinian in 531.[11] It is the period of Elias’ patriarchate when the establishment of the feast of Presentation is the most likely. Elias’ Chalcedonian sympathies made him a rather unpopular figure in the sixth-century anti-Chalcedonian camp, and this is an enough explanation why the feast of Presentation is absent in the genuine Western Syrian tradition (while it is mentioned in several Western Syrian calendars under Byzantine influence[12]).

Patriarch Elias was eventually deposed for his Chalcedonism but, nevertheless, he was following the policy of Henotikon and was in communion with the Eastern patriarchs and not with Rome. The years of his patriarchate cover the date of appearance of the pseudonymised recension of the Corpus Areopagiticum, ca 500. Thus, the memory of Dionysius on October 3 (the earliest memory date connected to the Corpus in the Chalcedonian tradition) could be dated to the same period.

As it seems, there is only one natural explanation of the reviewed facts, namely,

·         rethinking of August 15 Marian feast as the main (final) date of the Dormition/Assumption cycle in the late fifth century (possibly even before Elias),

·         appearance of the pseudonymised Corpus Areopagiticum in about 500,

·         establishment of the Presentation feast on November 21 in about 500 as well,

·         parallelism between anti-Chalcedonian and Chalcedonian dates of liturgical commemoration of the Corpus Areopagiticum (Coptic memory of Hierotheos at the exact middle of the Coptic Dormition—Assumption cycle and Byzantine memory of Dionysius at the exact middle between two Marian feasts one of them being, too, Dormition/Assumption).

This explanation consists in following: under Elias of Jerusalem, the feast of Dormition/Assumption on August 15 was expanded by two pentecontads up to the macro-cycle ending with the feast of Presentation on November 21. The middle-point of this cycle, the end of the first pentecontad, is October 3, memory day of Dionysius. Dionysius’ feast and the Presentation were established simultaneously as an expansion of the Dormition/Assumption cycle.

[1] CPG 8007, 8008; PG 98, 292–320.

[2] L. Brubaker, M. Cunningham, Byzantine Veneration of the Theotokos: Icons, Relics, and Eighth-Century Homilies, in: H. Amirav, R. B. ter Haar Romeny (eds.), From Rome to Constantinople: Studies in Honour of Averil Cameron (Leuven, 2007) (Late Antique History and Religion, 1) 235–250, here 241.

[3] See, for the status quaestionis that is still actual in our days, H. Chirat, ΨΩΜΙΑ ΔΙΑΦΟΡΑ. II. Les origines de la fête du 21 novembre : Saint Jean Chrysostome et Saint André de Crète ont-ils célébré la Présentation de la Théotocos ? in: Mélanges Е. Podechard. Études de sciences religieuses offertes pour son éméritat au doyen honoraire de la Faculté de Théologie de Lyon (Lyon, 1945) 127–134. The monograph Ι. Ε. Αναστασίου, Τὰ Εἰσόδια τῆς Θεοτόκου. ἱστορία, εἰκονογραφία καὶ ὑμνογραφία τῆς ἑορτῆς (Θεσσαλονίκη, 1959) does not add anything to the early history of the feast.

[4] See esp. G. Garitte, Le calendrier palestino-géorgien du Sinaiticus 34 (Xe siècle). Édité, traduit et commenté (Bruxelles, 1959) (SH 30) 389.

[5] S. Vailhé, La dédicace de Sainte-Marie la Neuve. Origine de la fête de la Présentation, Revue Augustinienne 2 (1903) 136–140; idem, La fête de la Présentation de Marie au Temple, Échos d’Orient 5 (1902—1903) 221–224.

[6] Chirat refers to J. Pargoire, L’Église byzantine de 527 à 847 (Paris, 19052) 115, but, in fact, Pargoire follows Vailhé in priority of the date of the encaenia, while he partially identifies the spot of the Nea with that of the ancient Temple. I have no possibility to check the two other Chirat’s references, “E<chos d’> O<rient>, 25 (1926), p. 293” and an unpublished dissertation of Sister M.-J. Kishpaugh, O. P., The Feast of the Presentation of the Virgin Mary (Washington, 1941), p. 35, note 44.

[7] Chirat, ΨΩΜΙΑ ΔΙΑΦΟΡΑ, 134.

[8] The archaeologist Yoram Tsafrir shows basic agreement of the data of excavations with Procopius’ account in De Aedificiis V, 6. See Y. Tsafrir, Procopius and the Nea Church in Jerusalem, Antiquité tardive 8 (2000) 149–164.

[9] See, for all these topics with further bibliography, B. Lourié, Calendrical Implications in the Epistle to the Hebrews: Seven questions concerning the liturgy of the Sabbath rest, Revue biblique 115 (2008) 245–265.

[10] On the Nea as a (new) Temple of Solomon, see now S. Graham, Justinian and the Politics of Space, in: J. L. Berquist, C. V. Camp (eds.), Constructions of Space II: The Biblical City and Other Imagined Spaces (New York, 2008) (The Library of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament Studies, 490)</span>. I am grateful to Susan Graham for providing me timely a copy of her paper.

[11] Vita Sabae, 72; E. Schwartz, Kyrillos von Skythopolis (Leipzig, 1939) (TU 49.2) 175.13.

[12] E. g., in the calendars Nau VI, IX, XI, XII; F. Nau, Un martyrologe et douze ménologes syriaques, édités et traduits (Paris, 1912) (PO 10, 1) 66, 102, 105, 128.



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