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Reconsidering the Nestorian Church? ("The Lost History of Christianity.")


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#1 Tim Flanders

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Posted 29 December 2010 - 07:27 PM

Bless Fathers and dear brethren in Christ,

I recently picked up a book that at page 30 has already radically challenged the entire historical perception that I have had of Christianity.

It is called "The Lost History of Christianity: the thousand year Golden Age of the Church in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia--and how it died" by Philip Jenkins. In it, he essentially talks about how the Nestorian Church was much larger than the Roman Empire Church (spanning into China) and existed and thrived for 1000 years before it was finally severely diminished into its current state mostly by Islam. He argues that this shows the legitimacy of this branch of Christianity, since it perished not by theological contradictions but by the might of the sword.

If we apply the principle of St. Vincent or Lerins, judging between Orthodoxy and heresy by what was "believed everywhere, by all, since the earliest times," and we add this historical aspect, it calls into question the clarity with which draw doctrinal conclusions after we apply this principle to the historical data.

Being Chalcedonian Orthodox, I have wondered about how the definition of that council, rejected by so many, could be considered Ecumenical if we just talk about numbers. Whose side do we pick, objectively, if we apply this to the 3rd or 4th councils, especially since their definitions depended so much on abstract philosophical terminology that might not make St. Vincent's principle apply as well.

(I hope this post hasn't strayed too far into Christology, perhaps it would fit better there, but I do want to know if anyone has read the book and can comment on it!)

in Christ,

Timothy

#2 Ryan

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Posted 30 December 2010 - 01:59 PM

Being Chalcedonian Orthodox, I have wondered about how the definition of that council, rejected by so many, could be considered Ecumenical if we just talk about numbers.


We don't just talk about numbers and I don't think that's what St. Vincent meant. If it's about numbers than the legitimacy of all the ecumenical councils becomes questionable.

#3 Tim Flanders

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Posted 09 January 2011 - 12:26 AM

Ryan,

thanks for your thoughts. St. Vincent says, "That which has been believed ALWAYS, EVERYWHERE, and by ALL." So we have universality in time, universality of place, and universality in numbers.

Could you please explain more of what you meant by your statement, because I don't quite understand. Thank you :)

#4 Ryan

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Posted 09 January 2011 - 03:57 AM

Is Nestorianism universal in time? No, like any heresy, it is a departure from what was believed by all, that is, all in the church. If we want to extend this universality to include everyone who calls himself a Christian, then none of the councils are legitimate and we have no way of discerning what is Orthodox.

#5 Olga

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Posted 09 January 2011 - 07:25 AM

We don't just talk about numbers and I don't think that's what St. Vincent meant. If it's about numbers than the legitimacy of all the ecumenical councils becomes questionable.


Exactly. If it were a matter of "majority rules", then we would all have become Arians in our theology and Christology seventeen centuries ago. Or Nestorians. But the power of the Holy Spirit is far, far greater than mere human minds working on their own. History shows that the true faith of the Apostles who were taught by Christ Himself has prevailed where the minds of mere human beings were truly divinely inspired. Athanasius contra mundum. Mark of Ephesus contra mundum. John of Damascus. Nicholas of Myra. All those, known to us by name, and those whose names are lost to us, who fought the good fight and prevailed against heresy. Those whose work became the iconographic and hymnographic deposit of the Church, the pillars of Church tradition which most clearly and unequivocally proclaim the true faith.

Numbers alone don't cut it. This is a major stumbling block for so many modern scholars, particularly those of a post-Reformation background, where the sacramental and doctrinal glue which bound the Church had long been lost to individual interpretation.

#6 Kosta

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Posted 09 January 2011 - 10:43 PM

The Assyrian church of the East was autonomous from Antioch from a few decades before the council of Ephesus. So the formula of Union between John of Antioch and Cyril of Alexandria IN 433 A.D. didnt have much traction with them. Throw in the fact that this church lied outside the boundaries of the empire so that further enstrangement took place. There was no difference between what Antioch believed and this so-called nestorian churchbbelieved.

Nestorius was a greek from Antioch condemned in the 3rd council, a remnant of nestorians fled eastward to avoid persecution and assimilated with the Assyrians. The Assyrians are not strict nestorians, but have been influenced somewhat by the nestorian strain as nestorians recieved refuge there. There theology is that of the antiochan school, albeit a somewhat extreme position (for instance liturgically they use the phrase 'Mother of our God' and never Mother of God).

Chalcedonian Orthodoxy is representative of the universal catholic church. Both the 3rd and 4th Ecumenical councils go hand in hand. Individually, the third council represents the Alexandrian tradition, while the fourth council represents the Antiochan tradition. Both the oneness of the hypostasic union is affirmed along with recognizing a distinction between the two natures after the union.

#7 Father David Moser

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Posted 10 January 2011 - 02:21 AM

(for instance liturgically they use the phrase 'Mother of our God' and never Mother of God).


Thank you - that was quite enlightening. I have, in my parish, a woman from Iraq (her Armenian parents fled to Iraq as refugees in the last generation and now in this generation she and her daughter (husband was killed in a politically motivated assassination) are refugees from Iraq to the US. She, of course, was in the Assyrian Church, in Iraq and when she came here she apologized because her daughter (who had gone to catholic school) used the term "Mother of God". I thought it was the old Nestorian thing about "Mother of Christ" vs "Mother of God" but this makes much more sense.

Fr David

#8 Tim Flanders

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Posted 19 January 2011 - 11:30 AM

Numbers alone don't cut it.


Thank you Ryan and Olga for your thoughts. I understand what you're saying, that the issue in this council, the Incarnation of our Lord, has always been believed to be so. However, is there not a development in terminology? What we are dealing with is different schools with different terminology. Did all the Fathers use this certain terminology for the same issues (is homoousios in the Bible? No, they did not. Latin and fathers used the filioque. Sy. Cyril infamously uses the "one physis" to describe the Incarnate Logos, because they used ousia differently.

So is there not a sense that yes, they believed the same thing, but a certain definition according to terminology is at stake, and if one terminology wins the day, then they attempt to force it on the other? like what do you think of union with Orientals? In the Antiochian Archdiocese, no one seems to question the Christology of the Copts in our churches receiving communion. Thus we may see how different people may see the "everywhere, by all" differently because they will interpret the fathers differently on precisely the issues that divide us.

Further: what about the argument from silence? If Roman Catholics come and claim the Papal rights, we ask: so where's the evidence? And they give us a slew of quotations. Does this pass "everywhere, by all" because of numbers or the clout of the quotations? If we compare the number of quotations for and the number of quotations against, is there an even number, or more or less at one time? How do we judge Orthodoxy here? Are we not left again to an individual scholar's personal interpretation of history and the fathers?

In short, I am wondering if you, Olga and Ryan, could clarify your statements against "numbers." Because, for example, Papal supremacy is not something that every Father said affirmatively, but some did in fact, and some opposed it. But how do we interpret all of this? Are we not left again to a personal interpretation that is a lot harder than a personal interpretation of the Bible (because it involved a much larger corpus)?

#9 Olga

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Posted 19 January 2011 - 01:03 PM

n the Antiochian Archdiocese, no one seems to question the Christology of the Copts in our churches receiving communion.

There is quite a difference between allowing a few select individuals to commune as an act of great economia, and having Pope Shenouda's name on the church diptychs.

Further: what about the argument from silence? If Roman Catholics come and claim the Papal rights, we ask: so where's the evidence? And they give us a slew of quotations. Does this pass "everywhere, by all" because of numbers or the clout of the quotations? If we compare the number of quotations for and the number of quotations against, is there an even number, or more or less at one time? How do we judge Orthodoxy here? Are we not left again to an individual scholar's personal interpretation of history and the fathers?

Argument from silence? A look at the hymnography for the Orthodox feast of Apostles Peter and Paul (June 29) - indeed, for the feast of any of the twelve apostles, notably Andrew the First-called and John the Theologian - is crystal-clear that there cannot be any notion of papal supremacy within the Church. Selective quotation and interpretation of scripture is one thing; Orthodox hymnography and iconography truly represents the consensus patrum. The Church has not, and is not, silent on this matter, nor, indeed, various other doctrinal matters which prevent the reunification of Orthodoxy and Rome, or, for that matter, the Chalcedonian and non-Chalcedonian churches..

#10 Kosta

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Posted 20 January 2011 - 03:19 AM

Dear Tim,
As of the past few decades, we Orthodox would say both the orientals and the assyrians both preserve an orthodox christology. For example the roman church has negotiated independant common christological declarations with bboth the syriac miaphysites and the nestorian assyrians. Both these 'agreed upon' christological statements would be accepted as Orthodox by us as well. Of course once the syriac church heard rome negotiated a common statement with the nestorians, the miaphysites suspended dialogue with Rome.

Your right that there is a double standard, the orientals are taken more seriously because they compromise a flock of over 70 million while the Assyrians are less than a million. But if you really want to see fireworks lock up some miaphysite theologians with the nestorian-leaning assyrian theologians and you'll have world war 3. It is when copts and assyrians are pitted against each other and always find heresies in each others doctrine, that we Orthodox need to take a step back and realize that theres more to the division than we currently think.

#11 Tim Flanders

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Posted 31 January 2011 - 03:59 AM

Olga: I am tending to agree with Kosta because I have begun to question the exact clarity of the consensus partum, since there are so many different opinions. When I rejected Protestantism, I did so because the Bible does not interpret itself. Do the fathers interpret themselves?

You wrote:

Argument from silence? A look at the hymnography for the Orthodox feast of Apostles Peter and Paul (June 29) - indeed, for the feast of any of the twelve apostles, notably Andrew the First-called and John the Theologian - is crystal-clear that there cannot be any notion of papal supremacy within the Church. Selective quotation and interpretation of scripture is one thing; Orthodox hymnography and iconography truly represents the consensus patrum. The Church has not, and is not, silent on this matter, nor, indeed, various other doctrinal matters which prevent the reunification of Orthodoxy and Rome, or, for that matter, the Chalcedonian and non-Chalcedonian churches..


Please understand me: I AM NOT asserting anything, because I do not have the answers here. But I would like to listen to your perspective, because you seem to have much more learning and experience on the matter. Could you please point me to internet resources to read these hymns you speak of? I tried to use OCA’s website, but they only show the kontakia and trops of those feasts, and I didn’t see the clarity which you speak (but I might be missing it :) Could you point me to maybe an essay which strings together quotations on these matters or maybe a good online English full-text of the Manaion?

Because, I have been doing just a little bit of research into what the prayers of the Church and the icons teach about specific things that are divisive issues between us and Roman Catholics for instance. The universal Papacy, in particular is something that I’ve found to be actually supported by both the iconography, hymnography, prayers, Church historians, and the fathers. As I read more and research more, it seems like modern Orthodox authors take one part of the Petrine primacy and argue that it has an either/or relationship with another aspect of it, instead of both/and, and they try to use an argument from silence to back this up (I’ll address this at the end).

For example, so many modern Orthodox authors I have read seem to stress that the “rock” upon which the Lord speaks that His Church is built is St. Peter’s faith, and not his person (and by extension his successors at Rome). But the prayers of the Church do not seem to make this out to be an either/or, but rather a both/and. On the feast day of the Chains of St. Peter, the Holy Apostle is called qua person “the foundation/rock upon which the Church is built” in addition to his faith. It seems to be both/and.

This seems to also go for the hymns for the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul (which I looked up upon your suggestion). Both are called the “leaders of the Apostles” but St. Peter is also contrasted with St. Paul in the second kontakion:

Today Christ the Rock glorifies with highest honor
The rock of Faith and leader of the Apostles,
Together with Paul and the company of the twelve,

Here St. Paul is not mentioned as the leader, but rather St. Peter is mentioned as leader. But it is a both/and, not an either/or. In addition, as you can see from this quote, our Lord is the rock and St. Peter is the rock, whereas many modern Orthodox scholars (even bishops) seem to suggest that because Christ is the rock, St. Peter is not the rock. In this quotation, taken together with the other hymns, St. Peter and St. Paul are both leaders, St. Peter and Christ are both rocks, but they are obviously rocks in difference senses. This, then, suggests that St. Peter and St. Paul might also be leaders in different senses, since this kontakion chooses not to mention Paul as a leader.

Also, in the iconography, I have seen in the ancient icon of St Peter at Sinai, as well as in Coptic icons, St. Peter written with the “keys” in his hand, suggesting that he is special as the only one to hear the words not only “upon this rock” but also “I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven.” Roman Catholics see this a clear evidence of the unique ministry of the Bishop of Rome as St. Peter’s successor. I can at least understand where they’re coming from. Do you see what I mean?

Modern Orthodox authors, however, seem to take the patristic witness of Petrine succession held to be present in every bishop (cf. St. Cyprian) and pit that as evidence against the Petrine succession in the Bishop of Rome in a unique way. Again, another either/or. The prayers of the Church and the fathers seem to suggest that it is rather a both/and instead.

For example, the canon for the feast of St. Leo the Great explicitly says of Holy Leo, that he is the

…heir to the throne of Peter, the ‘chief,’ having his character and godly-minded zeal for the faith, (Ode III)…successor of the revered Peter, who has enriched the presidency of this one [i.e. of Peter] and acquired his fervent zeal. (Ode VI)

This seems to also be in reference to acclamation given to his Tome at Chalcedon: “Peter has spoken through Leo.” These things seem to again point to the Bishops of Rome having a unique succession to Peter in addition to the fact that every bishop is a successor of St. Peter. Both/and.

I read also in the Church historian Theophanes (who wrote about the Iconclastic period) that when he is speaking about broad and far reaching universal political situations, he makes reference to one of the Popes who opposed Iconoclasm with this statement: “In the elder Rome Gregory, holy and apostolic man who held the same throne as had the prince Peter…” Now this seems to suggest again that although each bishop holds the Cathedra Petri, the bishop of Rome holds it in some unique way as well. Both/and, not either/or.

In short, I have been researching this and trying to learn more about what exactly is the consensus patrum. As I started to read commentaries of the Holy Fathers on the Holy Scriptures, I was struck by how diverse their interpretations are, and how they seem to apply the sense of the text into all these different layers. In other words, a both/and instead of either/or in almost every passage (but obviously within the bounds of Orthodox doctrine!). But I just wonder if the modern Orthodox authors (especially in America, many of whom are former Protestants) are aware of these things mentioned above within Holy Tradition which seem to support the universal ministry of the Bishop of Rome. Could if be that we are constraining the Holy Tradition to teach either/or positions in instances where there should be both/and? (I got a lot of what I’m saying from an Orthodox father, Chrysostom Frank, who wrote an essay about this very thing called “Orthodox-Catholic Relations” in which he argues, quite convincingly, that the so-called “Branch theory” and the Barlamand Agreement are very much traditional positions according to the Tradition, and the accusation of “modernism” is at best weak. I can send it to you if you want. I am hoping that you could provide me with a good refutation of his arguments.)

Finally, let me return to what I meant by the argument from silence. We say to the Roman Catholics, “the Fathers never say that the office of the Papacy is such and such as you say, that’s absent from the Tradition.” This is an argument from silence. In reality, if the Fathers don’t say anything for or against the Papacy, then they neither support nor condemn it for our sakes (did they write what they wrote with the intention of providing an answer to controversies centuries later?) This is a weak argument, because it has no evidence. Nevertheless, it is still effective because it is conservative against ne teaching and heresy. But the strongest defense would be statements in the negative. Do you know of any? I have heard that St. Cyprian does, but I have found the Roman Catholic arguments to be more reasonable because of the approach I stated above (and also much more harmonizable with the broader tradition, see below). Please provide me with any more or resources, I would like to know.

But in response to our argument from silence against the Papacy, the Roman Catholics then provide us with a slew of quotations from the Fathers which support the Papacy. What do we do with those? I have been reading The Early Papacy by Fr. Adrian Fortescue (which is on Google Books) which, only goes up to the year 451, and claims that “the papacy is one of the easiest and clearest doctrines to prove from the early Church.” I have to admit, his arguments are very sound (Fr. Fortescue was also fluent in Greek and Arabic and well traveled in the Middle East). Also, this list is a good one: _________. I’ll provide two of the most striking ones that I’ve found:

St. Maximus the Confessor:

The extremities of the earth, and everyone in every part of it who purely and rightly confess the Lord, look directly towards the Most Holy Roman Church and her confession and faith, as to a sun of unfailing light awaiting from her the brilliant radiance of the sacred dogmas of our Fathers, according to that which the inspired and holy Councils have stainlessly and piously decreed. For, from the descent of the Incarnate Word amongst us, all the churches in every part of the world have held the greatest Church alone to be their base and foundation, seeing that, according to the promise of Christ Our Savior, the gates of hell will never prevail against her, that she has the keys of the orthodox confession and right faith in Him, that she opens the true and exclusive religion to such men as approach with piety, and she shuts up and locks every heretical mouth which speaks against the Most High. (Maximus, Opuscula theologica et polemica, Migne, Patr. Graec. vol. 90) 


…how much more in the case of the clergy and Church of the Romans, which from old until now presides over all the churches which are under the sun? Having surely received this canonically, as well as from councils and the apostles, as from the princes of the latter (Peter and Paul), and being numbered in their company, she is subject to no writings or issues in synodical documents, on account of the eminence of her pontificate .....even as in all these things all are equally subject to her (the Church of Rome) according to sacerodotal law.

[notice how our Father among the saints emphasizes the both/and (which modern Orthodox authors make into an either/or): the Petrine Primacy is both canonical and Apostolic]
(Maximus, in J.B. Mansi, ed. Amplissima Collectio Conciliorum, vol. 10) 



St. Methodius (commenting, I believe on Canon 28 of Chalcedon, again stresses a both/and where Orthodox authors would stress an either/or)
"It is not true, as this Canon states, that the holy Fathers gave the primacy to old Rome because it was the capital of the Empire; it is from on high, from divine grace, that this primacy drew its origin. Because of the intensity of his faith Peter, the first of the Apostles, was addressed in these words by our Lord Jesus Christ himself 'Peter, lovest thou me? Feed my sheep'. That is why in hierarchical order Rome holds the pre-eminent place and is the first See. That is why the leges of old Rome are eternally immovable, and that is the view of all the Churches
(--Methodius ---N. Brian-Chaninov, The Russian Church (1931), 46; cited by Butler, Church and Infallibility, 210) (Upon This Rock (San Francisco: Ignatius, 1999), p. 177).

[notice, too, how in both of these quotations, both Saints say that this is according to the consensus of all the churches. Are these taken out of context? Forgeries? I’m not sure how to explain them in any other way than what they say at face value]

I apologize that this post is so long, but I just wanted to show the ambiguity that I’m facing, and the difficulty I have with your statement about the consensus of the Fathers being “crystal clear.” I am very open to being corrected, and I’m sure that I have misrepresented something here or made some mistakes because as I said I am not very learned and very new to the Orthodox faith. I do not have the knowledge, and far less the sanctity to be able to speak much about the consensus of the Fathers, so I am trying to rely on people who do. I am simply asking questions. I am deeply grateful for your answers!

sincerely your brother in Christ,

Timothy

#12 Olga

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Posted 31 January 2011 - 09:41 AM

Dear Tim

Have you had the chance to look at the hymnography for Apostles John the Theologian and Andrew the First-Called? My suggestion for you to do so is, in part, because an understanding of what the Church teaches is best gained by examining the whole liturgical cycle (or, as much as one can find in a comprehensible language), not just focussing on one or two aspects of it. Here are links to the hymnography for the above apostles.

http://www.anastasis.org.uk/30nov.htm
http://www.anastasis...6_september.htm

In addition, a number of other saints are referred to in similar terms to those used for Peter. Here are just a couple:

For St John Chrysostom:

The Angel of earth and man of heaven, the sweet singing swallow of many notes, the treasury of the virtues, the unbreakable rock, pattern for the faithful, rival of the Martyrs, in rank the equal of the holy Angels, in living one with the Apostles, let Chrysostom be magnified in hymns.

(St John is also frequently referred to as the Herald of Repentance, a title also associated with St John the Baptist.)

For St Nicholas of Myra:

Hail, most sacred mind; the pure lodging of the Trinity; the pillar of the Church; the support of believers; the help of the storm-tossed; star, who by the beams of your acceptable supplications ever scatter the darkness of trials and tribulations, High Priest Nicolas; calmest of harbours, in which those who are beset by the billows of life find safety. Implore Christ to grant our souls His great mercy.

Man of God and faithful servant, minister of the Lord, man of desires, vessel of election, pillar and support of the Church, heir to the Kingdom, do not cease to cry out on our behalf to the Lord.

There is also an old thread to which I contributed much of the hymnography for the feast of Apostles Peter and Paul, including much of Matins, (which is not available online in English, as far as I know), as a response to another poster's claim supporting Petrine/Papal supremacy. I'll see if I can find it.

#13 Olga

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Posted 31 January 2011 - 10:07 AM

Further to the original thread topic:

A link to the hymnography for the feast of the Fathers of the Fourth Ecumenical Council at Chalcedon:

http://www.anastasis...oly_fathers.htm

And here is the hymnography from the past thread I referred to earlier. There is an alternating pattern of reference to each apostle:

From Vespers:

At “Lord, I have cried”:

With what beauties of hymnody should we sing the praise of Peter and Paul? The wings of the knowledge of God, who flew through the ends of the earth and were lifted up high to heaven; the hands of the Gospel of grace, the feet of the truth of the proclamation, the rivers of wisdom, the arms of the Cross, through which He has cast down the arrogance of demons, Christ our God, who has great mercy.

With what spiritual songs should we praise Peter and Paul? The sharp mouths of the dread sword of the Spirit that slaughter godlessness; the radiant ornaments of Rome; the delights of the whole inhabited world; the reasoning tablets, written by God, of the New Testament, which in Zion Christ proclaimed, who has great mercy.

At the Litia:

Come then today with fervour, acceptable sacrifice of the faithful; as we stand together in choir, let us garland with fitting songs Peter and Paul, the chosen weavers of grace; because they sowed the word unstintingly for all and enriched them with the gift of the Spirit; and being branches of the true vine, they have brought to perfection for us the ripe grape cluster, making our hearts glad. To them let us cry out, with faces unveiled and with pure consciences, as we say: Hail, guides of the unreasoning and servants of those with reason. Hail, fair chosen members of the Maker and Guardian of all. Hail, protectors of the good and persecutors of the deceitful. Let us implore them to ever entreat the Creator and Teacher to give the world stable peace and our souls His great mercy.

Let us, the whole world, praise as its champions the Disciples of Christ and foundations of the Church, the true pillars and bases, and inspired heralds of the doctrines and sufferings of Christ, the Princes, Peter and Paul. For they passed through the whole breadth of the earth as with a plough, and sowed the faith, and they made the knowledge of God well up for all, showing forth the understanding of the Trinity. O Peter, rock and foundation, and Paul, vessel of choice; the yoked oxen of Christ drew nations, cities and islands to knowledge of God. While they have brought Hebrews again to Christ and intercede that our souls may be saved.

Peter, Prince of the glorious Apostles, the rock of the faith, and inspired Paul, the preacher and beacon of the holy Churches, as you stand before the throne of God, intercede with Christ on our behalf.

Paul, mouth of the Lord, foundation of doctrines, once the persecutor of Jesus my Saviour, but now become first-throned of the Apostles, blessed one; therefore you saw things ineffable, O wise one, when you ascended to the third heaven, and you cried: Come with me, and let us not be deprived of the blessings.

The citizens of the Jerusalem on high, the rock of the faith, the preacher of the Church of Christ, the pair of the Trinity, the fishers of the world, leaving behind today the things on earth, have journeyed in truth to God, and they implore Him with boldness that our souls may be saved.

As the wisdom of God, the co-eternal Word of the Father, foretold in the Gospel, you are the fruitful branches, all-praised Apostles; you bear on your shoots the ripe and lovely grape cluster, which we faithful eat and experience a taste which brings delight. Peter, rock of the faith, and Paul, boast of the inhabited world, establish the flock which you have gained by your teachings.

At the Apostikha:

Who will recount your chains city by city and your afflictions, glorious Apostle Paul? The toils, the pains, the vigils, the sufferings from hunger and thirst, from cold and nakedness, the basket, the beatings, the stonings, the journeying, the deep, the shipwrecks? You became a spectacle to Angels and to humans. You endured all things in Christ who gave you power, that you might gain the world for Christ Jesus, your Lord. And so we beseech you, as we faithfully celebrate your memory, intercede without ceasing that our souls may be saved.

Verse: Their sound has gone out into all the earth; and their words to the ends of the world.

Who will recount your chains city by city and your afflictions, glorious Apostle Paul? Or who will set down the struggles and the toils, by which you toiled in the Gospel of Christ, that you might gain all people and bring the Church to Christ? But ask that she may keep safe your fair confession until her last breath, O Paul, Apostle and teacher of the Churches.

Verse: The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims the work of his hands.

Let us praise Peter and Paul, the great beacons of the Church; for they shone more brightly than the sun in the firmament of the faith, and with the rays of the proclamation they brought the nations from ignorance to the knowledge of God. The one was nailed to a cross and so found the path to heaven, where he was handed the keys of the kingdom by Christ; while the other was beheaded by the sword and so departed to the Saviour and is fittingly called blessed. Both denounced Israel for stretching out his hands unjustly against the Lord Himself. And so at their prayers, Christ our God, cast down those who are against us, and strengthen the Orthodox faith, as You love mankind.

A joyous feast has shone out today on the ends of the earth, the all-honoured memorial of the wisest Apostles and their princes, Peter and Paul; and so Rome dances and rejoices. Let us also, brethren, celebrate in songs and psalms this all-revered day, as we cry out to them: Hail, Peter, Apostle and true friend of your teacher, Christ our God. Hail, Paul, well-loved, herald of the faith and teacher of the inhabited world. Holy pair, chosen by God, as you have boldness, implore Christ God that our souls may be saved.

Troparion of the Feast:

First-throned of the Apostles and teachers of the inhabited world, intercede with the Master of all things to give peace to the world and to our souls His great mercy.

From Matins:

Sessional hymn:

Let us, the faithful, fittingly praise the champion Paul, the net of the world, and the most-praised Peter, the rock of the Church, who holds the keys of heaven, for the universe has been enlightened by them with the faith of the Trinity. Glory to Him who has glorified you, glory to Him who has strengthened you, glory to Him who because of you has given us everlasting life.

Magnification:

We magnify you, O Peter and Paul, Apostles of Christ, who enlightened the universe with your teachings, and led the ends of the earth to Christ.

Sessional hymn after the Polyeleos:

Let us praise Peter and the all-wise Paul, the great and radiant luminaries, who were shown to be pre-eminent among the disciples; for shining forth with the fire of the divine Spirit, they burned away all the gloom of deception. Therefore they have fittingly shown to be warriors of the Kingdom above, equally enthroned in grace. For this cause we exclaim: O Apostles of Christ our God, ask forgiveness of sins to those who with love celebrate your holy memory.

Sessional hymn after psalm 50:

Let us honour with hymns of praise the true preachers of piety, the all-radiant stars of the Church; Peter, the rock of faith, and Paul, the teacher of the truth and initiate of the mysteries of Christ. Having sown the word of truth in the hearts of the faithful, may they both entreat Christ our God, who gives abundantly to all, that our souls be saved.

There are two canons sung at this feast, one for each apostle. Some examples of complementary troparia:

From Ode 1:

Having foreknown you, O most-blessed Peter, the Pre-eternal One ordained you of old as the leader of His Church, the first-enthroned.

When Christ called existence out of non-existence, O most-blessed Paul, He chose you from your mother’s womb to carry His divine name which is above every name before the nations, for He has been gloriously glorified.

From Ode 3:

On the rock of your theology, Jesus the Master established the unassailable Church, and there we glorify you, O Apostle Peter.

You have been set as a precious foundation stone for the souls of the faithful, a cornerstone of the Saviour and Lord.

Ypakoi:

What dungeon did not hold you prisoner? What Church did not have you as an orator? Damascus extols you, O Paul, for it knew you blinded by the Light; and Rome, which received your blood, boasts in you; but Tarsus, your birthplace, rejoices yet more with love and honour. O Peter, rock of the Faith, and Paul, boast of the whole world, coming together from Rome, make us steadfast.

Kontakion:

The steadfast and divinely eloquent preachers, the foremost of Your apostles, O Lord, You have received into the delight of Your good things and into rest; for You have accepted their sufferings and death as greater than any whole-burnt offering, You who alone knows the hearts of men.

From Ode 7:

He who in latter times was called and surpassed all others in zeal, became the seal and crown of Your apostles, O Christ. With him the people of the Church sing to You: O God of our fathers, blessed are You. (this verse refers to Paul, not Peter).

From Ode 8:

O Christ who announced to Peter that the nations were cleansed, by spiritual radiance purify my thoughts, for I cry: Bless the Lord, all you works of the Lord.

You betrothed the Church to Christ, presenting it to Him as a bride; for you were shown to be its wedding-escort, O God-bearing Paul. Therefore, it glorifies you for all ages.

Exaposteilarion:

Let us all hymn the foremost among the apostles, the godly Peter and Paul, the universal luminaries, the preachers of the Faith, the divinely sounded clarions, the speakers of dogmas, the pillars of the Church and destroyers of falsehood.

From the Praises:

The most honoured feast of the apostles has arrived for the Church of Christ, bringing salvation to us all. Therefore, mystically weaving hymns for them, let us say: Hail, O lamps to those who are in darkness, shedding forth rays of the spiritual Sun! Hail, O Peter and Paul, unshakeable foundations of the divine doctrines, friends of Christ, precious vessels! Come into our midst, bestowing immaterial gifts to those who praise your feast with hymns.

Every single Orthodox church in the world uses the same text as this when celebrating this feast. Only the liturgical language used will vary. I ask again, in the light of the liturgical tradition, is it still possible to honestly and unreservedly conclude that Peter has the higher authority over all the other apostles, including Paul?




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