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Metastasis of St. John the Theologian

metastasis st john september 26

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#1 Anthony Cornett

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Posted 08 May 2015 - 03:27 PM

Christ is Risen! 

 

Calling on Olga, and others who may have access to much better resources. As we celebrate St. John today, and the Manna emitting from his tomb, it reminds of a particular search for an icon for the Metastasis of St. John. In my limited experience, even the title of the 'Metastasis of St. John' is not often found in the English renderings of the September 26th feast day.

 

I have only been able to find very limited renderings of this event, often paired with his burial, as well. The format is likened to that of the Theotokos. The Byzantine Museum in Thessaloniki has a partial drawing, as well as small icon of this set of events, and I have also seen a fresco or two. I didn't think to check in Souroti when we visited a few years ago. 

 

Do you know of any extant examples of this beautiful event and icon? 

 

b_1848_13012.jpg



#2 Anthony Cornett

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Posted 08 May 2015 - 11:09 PM

Here is another small version. I would love to find something in a large enough scan to reproduce onto an icon, or one readily available if possible.

 metastasi.gif



#3 Anthony Cornett

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Posted 09 May 2015 - 04:17 PM

Here is a fresco example.

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#4 Olga

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Posted 11 May 2015 - 09:01 AM

I have only just returned from a short holiday, hence my delay in responding. :)

 

These iconographic depictions are exceedingly rare, in my experience.

 

There is this sole hymn from Vespers of St John's feast which hints at a bodily translation to heaven similar to that of the Mother of God:

 

Τὴν τῶν Ἀποστόλων ἀκρότητα, τῆς θεολογίας τὴν σάλπιγγα, τὸν πνευματικόν στρατηγόν, τὸν τὴν οἰκουμένην Θεῷ καθυποτάξαντα, δεῦτε οἱ πιστοὶ μακαρίσωμεν, Ἰωάννην τὸν ἀοίδιμον, ἐκ γῆς μεθιστάμενον, καὶ γῆς οὐκ ἀφιστάμενον, ἀλλὰ ζῶντα καὶ μένοντα, τὴν φοβερὰν τοῦ Δεσπότου δευτέραν ἔλευσιν, ἣν ἀκατακρίτως ὑπαντῆσαι ἡμᾶς αἴτησαι, φίλε μυστικέ, Χριστοῦ ἐπιστήθιε, τοὺς ἐκ πόθου ἐκτελοῦντας τὴν μνήμην σου.

 

The summit of the Apostles, the trumpet of theology, the spiritual general, who made the whole inhabited world subject to God, come believers, let us call him blessed, revered John, translated from earth, yet not withdrawn from earth, but living and abiding the fearful second coming of the Master. O mystic bosom friend of Christ, ask that we, who celebrate your memory with love, may meet it uncondemned.

 

The dominant themes of the hymnography are the saint's bestowal by Christ as the guardian of His Mother; his special friendship with Christ as the "beloved disciple", privileged to lean on Christ's breast at the mystical supper; the saint as theologian (initiate of the mysteries and knowledge of God), his evangelism in the fullest sense of the word, and in his proclamation of Trinitarian doctrine. His manner of death and subsequent events are not dwelt upon.

 

By contrast, the bodily translation to heaven of the Mother of God after her death is a recurring theme in the Dormition feast, including, most notably, in the festal troparion:

 

In giving birth you retained your virginity; in falling asleep, O Mother of God, you did not abandon the world. You passed over into life, you, the Mother of Life; and by your prayers you deliver our souls from death.



#5 Anthony Cornett

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Posted 11 May 2015 - 07:46 PM

How does one explain the existence of supposed relics of St. John the Theologian, given the history of his Metastasis? 



#6 Kosta

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Posted 12 May 2015 - 08:15 AM

Most likely the icon was a response to those that believed he never died. Certain elements in the early centuries believed he was still alive and on the earth due to the verses in his gospel where Jesus told Peter, "what is it to him if John remained". Others theorized he was taken alive to return as one of the two witnesses mentioned in Revelation.

#7 Anthony Cornett

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Posted 12 May 2015 - 03:37 PM

I have heard these things as well, but I wonder why one would need to believe that he never died for either to take place? I imagine the same for Moses, whose tomb was never found, yet he was seen with Elijah (who had previously been taken up bodily, as if into heaven, and preserved) on Mt. Tabor.

While not common, there are accounts of those who have experienced more than one physical/bodily death, such as Lazarus as well as those who were raised and were recognized in their own streets. The fact that one hasn't died does not seem to be a particular impediment to this possibility, as God has risen those who have already fallen asleep for more earthly time and service.

 

Another witness as to why this event, titled the Metastasis of St. John the Theologian, does not refer to an Elijah-like preservation before facing death, is the direct counterpart in the Metastasis of the Theotokos, who certainly faced death before being received both body and soul, into Heaven. 


Edited by Anthony Cornett, 12 May 2015 - 03:47 PM.


#8 Kosta

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Posted 13 May 2015 - 05:22 AM

The icon does show his death, on the other hand some did not believe he would die. The 2 eyewitnesses in Revelation are martyred after 3.5 years of preaching, etc. In other words the icon puts to rest those that believe John never died.

#9 Anthony Cornett

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Posted 13 May 2015 - 06:17 AM

Forgive me, Kosta, but is there any explicit words in Revelation that the 2 witnesses never died before their impending martyrdom? Following the tradition of Lazarus, and those raised from their tombs in both Old and New Testaments, as mentioned above, there doesn't seem to be a 'necessity' for this in the persons of the 2 witnesses, unless I am simply missing something from the received text.



#10 Kosta

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Posted 13 May 2015 - 07:46 PM

The standard interpretation is the 2 witnesses are Elijah and Enoch. They never died, Lazarus was asleep. The Fathers taught that Lazarus walked out his tomb still wearing his linens because he will need them again. Christ left the burial linens behind.




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