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Could "the Dormition" written by (pseudo)John be a tradition from Apostle St. John?


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#1 Mary Horey

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Posted 20 November 2011 - 01:56 AM

I know modern "theologians" like to think that such accounts were concocted out of thin air, but I like to think there was an oral tradition behind it, a tradition-- possibly from St. John the Theologian himself-- that was finally written down in the 5th century, or before. What do you think?

#2 Olga

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Posted 20 November 2011 - 03:17 AM

A feast which is one of the Twelve Great Feasts cannot have been concocted out of thin air. Such a notion makes a mockery of Orthodoxy and her apostolic tradition. I truly hope the "theologians" who subscribe to this idea are not Orthodox ....

As to who actually wrote the Dormition attributed to St John, it matters not if someone else actually wrote it, if what is written conforms with Orthodox doctrine and theology. The Church has deemed many documents whose true authorship is unclear to inform and illustrate many aspects of Orthodox teaching, including large amounts of hymnography and iconographic imagery.

#3 Jesse Dominick

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Posted 20 November 2011 - 04:56 AM

it is certainly possible, and it quite plausible

#4 Mary Horey

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Posted 20 November 2011 - 09:31 PM

A feast which is one of the Twelve Great Feasts cannot have been concocted out of thin air. Such a notion makes a mockery of Orthodoxy and her apostolic tradition. I truly hope the "theologians" who subscribe to this idea are not Orthodox ....

As to who actually wrote the Dormition attributed to St John, it matters not if someone else actually wrote it, if what is written conforms with Orthodox doctrine and theology. The Church has deemed many documents whose true authorship is unclear to inform and illustrate many aspects of Orthodox teaching, including large amounts of hymnography and iconographic imagery.


I was thinking of protestants, who do mock any devotion at all to Our Lady.

The reason I am interested in knowing as precisely as possible what happened at Our Lady's "translation," is because protestants say we violate God's laws against communing with the dead by praying to Mary. I thought if, from the account of the Dormition, it could be shown that Mary did not actually die, then that "protest" from the protestants would vanish.

#5 Olga

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Posted 20 November 2011 - 09:46 PM

I thought if, from the account of the Dormition, it could be shown that Mary did not actually die, then that "protest" from the protestants would vanish.


The Orthodox teaching, as clearly expressed in the hymnography of the feast, is that the Mother of God did, indeed, die, in the presence of eleven of the Apostles (Thomas was the exception), and was buried at Gethsemane. Three days after her death, Thomas arrived, and, grieving, went to her grave. He found it empty, except for a garment of hers. Her body had been translated (or assumed) to heaven. One tradition holds that, in place of her body, the grave was filled with fragrant roses, which, to me, is a most fitting tribute to the Unfading Rose herself.

The feast of the Dormition is surely the loveliest of all the feasts of the Mother of God. The use of the word Dormition (Koimisis, Ouspeniye, Falling-asleep) to name the feast is not accidental.

protestants say we violate God's laws against communing with the dead by praying to Mary.


We also pray to saints. But that's a topic for another thread. :-)

#6 Paul Cowan

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Posted 20 November 2011 - 09:47 PM

But Mary DID actually die. 3 days later Thomas came to show his respects (late again) and her tomb was found empty.

#7 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 20 November 2011 - 10:42 PM

We don't "commune with the dead" so there is obviously no problem here. "… God is not the God of the dead, but of the living." (Matthew 22:32)

Edited by Herman Blaydoe, 20 November 2011 - 10:57 PM.


#8 Mary Horey

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Posted 21 November 2011 - 11:58 PM

We don't "commune with the dead" so there is obviously no problem here. "… God is not the God of the dead, but of the living." (Matthew 22:32)


I've told them this, but it makes no difference to them. I suppose that's indicative of a spiritual problem that requires prayer.

#9 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 22 November 2011 - 12:06 AM

Sooooo they don't believe in the Bible? I thought Protestants believed in the Bible. Who knew?

#10 Mary Horey

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Posted 22 November 2011 - 12:37 AM

The Orthodox teaching, as clearly expressed in the hymnography of the feast, is that the Mother of God did, indeed, die, in the presence of eleven of the Apostles (Thomas was the exception), and was buried at Gethsemane.
The feast of the Dormition is surely the loveliest of all the feasts of the Mother of God. The use of the word Dormition (Koimisis, Ouspeniye, Falling-asleep) to name the feast is not accidental.


Yes, at Vespers we sing "... the Source of Life is placed in a tomb; the grave becomes a means of ascent to Heaven!" which indicates her Holy and Most Pure Body was certainly buried, but we also sing at the Divine Liturgy, (kontakion) "...The grave and death did not detain the Mother of God..." and, at the Hirmos, "In you, O Pure Virgin, the laws of nature were overcome; in giving birth you remained a virgin, and in you death heralded life. You remained a virgin after giving birth, and remained alive after death . . . ."

This certainly speaks of a great mystery to me. Her death was certainly not like the death of one of us! "She remained alive after death." "In you death heralded life." These verses hint that the separation of her soul from her body did not occasion the usual "death" of her body. This high honor shown to her by God is something those who call themselves Christians (and even the non-believers) should face.

In the tradition "gathered and expounded by Nikephoros Kallistos during the fourteenth century," the Mother of God's body, after her soul's ascent to Heaven, was radiant and exuded a most sweet fragrance. A golden cloud of light surrounded it. Perhaps I'm thinking about this too deeply, but it seems to me her body was immediately translated to the "glorified" state, though it would not be reunited with her soul and assumed into Heaven for three days. This is what I mean when I say I wonder if we can or should call what Our Lady underwent at the end of her earthly life "death." It was certainly not "death" in the usual terms.

I agree with you that "the use of the word Dormition to name the feast is not accidental." Yes, Dormition, as if, the Apostles dare not call it "death."

I know the term "sleep in Christ" was used for the deaths of the saints, but I'm unaware of any of their feast days being celebrated with the term "Dormition." It is a beautiful mystery. :)

Edited by Mary Horey, 22 November 2011 - 12:44 AM.
The site logged me out, and my post was gone when I logged in. The auto-saved version was not as updated as the lost version.


#11 Mary Horey

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Posted 22 November 2011 - 12:42 AM

I got this from the OCA website:

"The circumstances surrounding the Dormition of the Mother of God are well known in the Orthodox Church from the time of the Apostles. St. Dionysius the Aeropagite wrote in the first century about her Dormition. In the second century, the story of the Most Holy Virgin’s bodily translation into heaven is found in the works of Meliton, Bishop of Sardica. In the fourth century, St. Epiphanius of Cyprus refers to the tradition of the Dormition of the Mother of God. In the fifth century, St. Juvenal, Patriarch of Jerusalem said to the holy right-believing Greek Queen Pulcheria, 'Although there is nothing written in Holy Scripture about the circumstances surrounding her (the Theotokos’s) death, we nevertheless know about them from ancient and most reliable tradition.'"

My question: Where can I read what St. Dionysius the Aeropagite, Bp. Meliton of Sardica, St. Epiphanius of Cyprus, and St. Juvenal, Patriarch of Jerusalem wrote about the end of the Theotokos' earthly life?

Thank you very much for any help you may be able to give me concerning this!!!

#12 Olga

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Posted 22 November 2011 - 12:53 AM

I know the term "sleep in Christ" was used for the deaths of the saints, but I'm unaware of any of their feast days being celebrated with the term "Dormition." It is a beautiful mystery. :)


The feast of St Anna, mother of the Mother of God, is known as the Dormition of St Anna.

The iconography showing the death of many of the saints who were not martyred, but whose earthly life ended by non-violent means, is inscribed "Dormition of St (X)". Some of the examples I have on file are of Sts Ephraim the Syrian, Nicholas of Myra, Irene Chrysovalantou, and Gerasimos of Kephallonia. In all cases, these dormition icons are modelled on the composition of the Dormition of the Mother of God, but with one major difference: the soul of the departed saint is taken heavenward by an angel. Only the Mother of God, who is greater in honour than the angels, has the distinction of having her soul escorted by her Son and God, Christ Himself.

#13 Mary Horey

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Posted 22 November 2011 - 03:35 AM

@ Olga. Thank you!

#14 Mary Horey

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Posted 22 November 2011 - 03:58 AM

Sooooo they don't believe in the Bible? I thought Protestants believed in the Bible. Who knew?


They believe most of everything, except the sixth chapter of John, 1 Corinthians 23-30, Hebrews 13:10, Colossians 1:24, Romans 15:16, the book of Sirach, the books of Maccabees, Judith, Tobit, etc; actually, they disbelieve quite a bit, unfortunately.




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