Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Resurrection Readings: The Heothina and How They Developed

          In addition to manuscripts of the Gospels in which one book follows another, textual critics also consult Evangelistiaries, or Gospel lectionaries – books in which selections of the Gospels are arranged in the order in which they were read in the church-services annually.  This simplified the job of the lectors, or public readers, who read for the congregations.  Passages read during Holy-Week were conveniently collected together at the beginning of the cycle of lections, or readings, starting the liturgical year on Easter Sunday (the reading for which began at John 1:1).  Other selections were to be read a specific number of days and weeks after Easter; thus, while major feast-days had names assigned to them, most readings were identified in terms of how long after Easter they were to be read – for example, “for the fifth day of the sixth week” after Easter.  Because the date of Easter changed from year to year, all the other days changed with it (though retaining their sequence); for this reason, these days are called the “movable feasts” and a lectionary containing the lections for the movable feasts is called a Synaxarion
          In many lectionary-manuscripts, the Synaxarion is accompanied by the Menologion – the month-by-month collection of Scripture-readings assigned to specific calendar-days set aside to honor specific saints and specific events.  These feasts were generally observed on the same day of the year, and for this reason they are called the “fixed feasts” or “immovable feasts,” running in sequence from year to year (beginning on September 1).   (The term “Menologion” has also come to refer to collections of the stories of saints’ lives which were told on their feast-days, but this does not pertain directly to today’s subject.)  In manuscripts containing both the Synaxarion and Menologion, it is not uncommon, when a passage occurs in both, to find that in the Menologion there is only a reference to where the passage can be found in the Synaxarion, rather than a repetition of the passage itself.
          In most Gospel-lectionaries, each segment is introduced by a title (such as “Taken from Matthew” or “Taken from Mark,” etc.) and usually its text begins with a brief introductory phrase, or “incipit,” introducing the narrative, such as, “And the Lord said,” or, “And at that time.” 
          With all that in mind, we come to today’s subject:  a specific set of lections called the Heothina:  a series of eleven readings about Christ’s resurrection.  (Their full name is εὐαγγέλια ἑωθινὰ ἀναστάσιμα.)  Every Sunday at dawn, one of these lections was to be read.  These eleven readings are often provided separately in lectionaries: 
          (1)  Matthew 26:16-20 (The Great Commission)
          (2)  Mark 16:1-8  (The Myrrh-bearing Women at the Tomb)
          (3)  Mark 16:9-20  (Jesus’ Post-resurrection Appearances and Ascension)
          (4)  Luke 24:1-12  (The Women’s Visit to the Tomb)
          (5)  Luke 24:12-35  (The Appearance on the Road to Emmaus)
          (6)  Luke 24:36-53  (The Appearance to the Disciples)
          (7)  John 20:1-11  (Mary Magdalene at the Tomb)
          (8)  John 20:11-18   (The Appearance to Mary Magdalene)
          (9)  John 20:19-31  (The Appearances to the Ten Disciples, and to Thomas)
          (10)  John 21:1-14  (The Appearance at the Sea of Tiberias)
          (11)  John 21:15-25  (Jesus’ Instructions to Simon Peter)

Heothina apparatus at Matthew
28:16 in minuscule 2411
          Let’s see if we can tell how far back this series of lections was used.  It is not uncommon at all to find, in medieval manuscripts of the Gospels, annotations in the margins that locate the beginnings and ends of lections, and often the names of the lections (i.e., a note stating upon which day of which week after Easter the passage is to be read).  One of the many manuscripts with this “lectionary apparatus” is minuscule 2411, from the 1100’s.  This manuscript – also known as the Tetragram Gospels – has the symbol αρχη (“start”) written at the beginning of Matthew 28:16.  In the margin, an abbreviated note (boxed in green) identifies this as the first Gospels-lection in the Heothina-series.  In minuscule 2411, as in most manuscripts with the lectionary apparatus, these annotations were written in red to ensure that readers would easily tell the difference between them and the text itself.
Heothina apparatus at Mark 16:1
in minuscule 2474
          But we can go back earlier.  Minuscule 2474, produced in the 900’s, also has the lectionary apparatus.  Shown here, this manuscript – also known as the Elfleda Bond Goodspeed Gospels – has the symbol αρχη (“start”) in the margin beside the beginning of Mark 16:1, accompanied by an abbreviated note identifying this as the second lection in the series.  In the right margin, the symbol τελος (“stop” or “end”) can also be seen; it signified the end of the previous lection in Mark (which was not one of the Heothina). 
          But we can go back earlier.  Let’s turn to the important uncial Codex Cyprius (K, 017), produced in the 800’s.  Among the lectionary-related material that precedes the Gospels-text, a list of the locations of the eleven Heothina is provided.  The list displays the Eusebian Section-number where each lection is found, each lection’s opening phrase, and each lection’s closing words.
A list of the Heothina
in Codex Cyprius (K, 017)
          But perhaps we can go back yet earlier.  In about the year 350 – around the time when Codex Sinaiticus was produced, or slightly earlier – Cyril of Jerusalem undertook a series of Catechetical Lectures, the contents of which remain extant to this day.  In his Lecture #14, paragraph 24, Cyril made the following remarks:
          “The course of instruction in the faith would lead me to speak of the Ascension also, but the grace of God so ordered it, that you heard most fully concerning it, as far as our weakness allowed, yesterday, on the Lord’s day; since, by the providence of divine grace, the course of the Lessons in Church included the account of our Savior’s going up into the heavens.  And what was then said was spoken principally for the sake of all, and for the assembled body of the faithful – yet especially for thy sake.  But the question is, did you attend to what was said? . . . . I suppose then that you do indeed remember the exposition; yet I will now again briefly remind you of what was then said.” 
Cyril of Jerusalem
        Here Cyril explains why he is not going to go into detail about the ascension of Christ in his lecture:  the subject was already covered the previous day, which was a Sunday, the Lord’s Day.  In the typical Byzantine lection-series, Luke 24’s narrative about Christ’s ascension is assigned to Ascension-Day, the sixth Thursday after Easter.  It thus appears that Cyril was referring to one of the Heothinon-lections:  either Mark 16:9-20 (the second Heothinon) or Luke 24:36-53 (the sixth Heothinon).
          It seems safe to say more.  The Heothina series in the Byzantine lectionary probably developed from an earlier lection-cycle that was used in Jerusalem.  In the Byzantine lectionary, the resurrection-narratives are divided into 11 readings; in the Jerusalem lection-cycle, there are eight (at least, eight identifiable) lections.  Cyril was probably referring to a lection in this eight-part lection-cycle that was used at Jerusalem, where he taught and preached.    
          This is consistent with an observation recently made by Daniel Galadza (a professor at the University of Vienna) in a 2014 article, The Jerusalem Lectionary and the Byzantine Rite, which was published on pages 181-199 of Rites and Rituals of the Christian East, ed. B. Groen, D. Galadza, N. Glibetic, and G. Radle (Eastern Christian Studies 22, Leuven: Peeters, 2014) and is available at the Academia website:  before the Heothinon-series was adapted and adopted into the Byzantine lectionary, most of its components existed as readings for Bright Week (the week immediately following Easter) among the lection-cycles used in Jerusalem. 
          This idea receives confirmation via Galadza’s 2012 investigation of the contents of the eighth-century Greek lectionary Sin. Gr. 212, which contains 30 lections, mainly from the Gospels.  (For details see Galadza’s article Two Greek, Ninth-Century Sources of the Jerusalem Lectionary:  Sin. Gr. 212 and Sinai Gr. N.E. ΜΓ 11 on pages 79-111 of Bollettino della Badia Greca di Grottaferrata, series 3, Vol. 11 (2014).  In Sin. Gr. 212, which is written in Greek uncials, rubrics in the manuscript (with Arabic supplements) identify each lection, written in Greek.  The first eight lections correspond fairly closely to the contours of Heothina #1,2,3,4,5,7-8, and 10:
Resurrection-series in the Jerusalem Lectionary        Parallel Lection in the Heothina
First reading:  Matthew 28:1-9                                      (Mt. 28: 16-20 = Heothinon 1)
Second reading:  Mark 16:2-8                                       (Mk. 16:1-8 = Heothinon 2)
Third reading:  Luke 24:1-12                                        (Heothinon 4)
Fourth reading:  John 20:1-18                                       (Heothina 7 and 8)
Fifth reading:  Matthew 28:9b-20                                 (Mt. 28:16-20 = Heothinon 1)
Sixth reading:  Mark 16:9-20                                        (Mk. 16:9-20 = Heothinon 3)
Seventh reading:  Luke 24:13-35                                  (Lk. 24:12-35 = Heothinon 5)
Eighth reading:  John 21:1-14                                       (Heothinon 10)

          Galadza mentions the finding of another researcher, Sebastià Janeras.  Janeras has found that the same eight-part series is attested in four other manuscripts at, or from, from Saint Catherine’s:  one in Greek (Sinai Gr. 210, made in 861), one in Arabic (Sinai Ar. 116, made in 995), and two in Georgian (Sinai Geo. O. 38, made in 979, and Schøyen Collection MS 035 – also known as Codex Sinaiticus Zosimi Rescriptus – also made in 979). 
        It thus appears that eight of the components of the Heothina lection-series were known to Cyril of Jerusalem (not only as parts of Scripture, but as lections in a specific sequence), and thus that the churches in Jerusalem in the mid-300’s were using these eight lections.  Other than Cyril’s remark, I have found no evidence that the lections in the Jerusalem Lectionary for Bright Week were also read consecutively in the mid-300’s, but from that remark, it seems that this was the case.  (If anyone has a better explanation I would be glad to hear it.)    
          What can we deduce from this evidence?
          ● First, this data justifies the idea that if we possess a manuscript of Matthew 28, or Mark 16, or Luke 24, or John 20-21, and its marginalia contains the Byzantine lectionary apparatus, including notes that identify at least one Heothinon-reading, then even if the manuscript is fragmentary and none of the other chapters have survived, we may fairly deduce that when such a manuscript was in pristine condition, it contained all five of these chapters with those portions intact, inasmuch as one of the series would not be used without the others.   
          ● Second, we may tentatively consider Cyril of Jerusalem’s remark in Catechetical Lecture #14 to refer to Mark’s account of Christ’s resurrection (in Mark 16:19) rather than to the account in Luke 24:51.  The reason for this is that the eight-part cycle of lections in the early Jerusalem Lectionary (as represented in Sin. Gr. 212 and other manuscripts) includes Mark 16:9-19 as a lection, but no text from Luke 24 beyond verse 35 is part of the eight-part series of resurrection-related lections, possibly because Luke 24:41-53 was assigned to Ascension-Day.    

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