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What Orthodox liturgical texts are best for private study?


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#1 Geoffrey McKinney

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 03:11 PM

I would like to purchase (for $100 or less) some texts of the Orthodox liturgy for private study. I have checked-out from my local library The Festal Menaion (translated by Mother Mary and Archimandrite Kallistos Ware), and it is giving me both edification and education of the teaching of the Church. I understand that Mother Mary and Kallistos Ware have also translated The Lenten Triodion, along with a companion volume entitled The Lenten Triodion: Supplementary Texts. Purchasing those three texts together would bring me to my $100 limit.

I hesitate, though. I think the above texts are missing the Pentecostarion. Then I saw mentioned the 1,123-page Book of Divine Prayers and Services (translated by Father Seraphim Nassar), which is a fraction of the above cost at about $30. But does this book include all of the texts mentioned in my first paragraph, plus the Pentecostarion?

Basically what I'm looking for is a book (or books) that consists of translations of the Orthodox liturgy. (Please note that I am not looking for the text of the regular Sunday morning divine liturgy.) Clearly the services of the twelve Great Feasts and of Pascha (along with the Great Fast) are central, so I certainly want those. Price permitting, I would like other services as well. I must admit to some bewilderment as to what I should actually buy. There are so many choices, and I myself am not entirely sure as to which services are the most essential for understanding the Orthodox Church.

Any guidance would be appreciated very much.

#2 Niko T.

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 08:20 PM

Before you even need to think about spending money on liturgical books, know that there are many free texts online for your prayer, study, etc.

I'm assuming that you are looking just for English texts. If you need any Greek texts, know that pretty much everything is available online for free here.

Fr. Ephraim Lash has a number of texts from the Menaion, Triodion and Pentecostarion translated on his website. Also, Fr. Seraphim Dedes posts the weekly Sunday Orthros service in English, along with Holy Week and certain larger feasts on his website. I remember hearing that the Antiochian archdiocese posts a number of services online too, but I can't seem to find them right now.

#3 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 10:21 PM

The three main liturgies (of St John Chrysostom, St Basil, and the Pre-Sanctified) are published by Oxford University Press. The texts were produced by the direction of Elder Sophrony of Essex and are used at the monastery here in Essex. The great advantage from a study point of view is that the texts are fully footnoted to the scriptural sources. In addition, the texts are very beautiful. The volume also contains the prayers of preparation for receiving holy communion, and the vesting prayers for the clergy.

#4 Father David Moser

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 10:28 PM

I would like to purchase (for $100 or less) some texts of the Orthodox liturgy for private study.
...
Basically what I'm looking for is a book (or books) that consists of translations of the Orthodox liturgy. (Please note that I am not looking for the text of the regular Sunday morning divine liturgy.) Clearly the services of the twelve Great Feasts and of Pascha (along with the Great Fast) are central, so I certainly want those. Price permitting, I would like other services as well. I must admit to some bewilderment as to what I should actually buy.


There is no way that you can even begin to compile any semblance of a "complete" collection of Orthodox services with only $100. I know that I have spent thousands of dollars just to put together the library that I have and need for Church services. You might want to reevaluate your budget.

The Festal Menaion (translated by Mother Mary and Archimandrite Kallistos Ware), ...The Lenten Triodion, ...The Lenten Triodion: Supplementary Texts. Purchasing those three texts together would bring me to my $100 limit.

I hesitate, though. I think the above texts are missing the Pentecostarion. Then I saw mentioned the 1,123-page Book of Divine Prayers and Services (translated by Father Seraphim Nassar), which is a fraction of the above cost at about $30. But does this book include all of the texts mentioned in my first paragraph, plus the Pentecostarion?


The Nassar "10 pounder" is a venerable compilation, one of the very first things available in English - however it is not complete by any stretch of the imagination. It will have a severely abbreviated text of some of the Sunday and Great Festal services - but not the complete texts by any stretch of the imagination. In the "good old days" Nassar and Hapgood were about the only things easily available in English but now there is much much more (almost a complete liturgical set can be had), but as with everything there is a cost. As mentioned there are a lot of general texts available on the internet so you might want to Google to find out what's there. A good place to start might be here or here

Fr David Moser

#5 Theophan

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 10:33 PM

Forgive this sinner, I did not consider your post thoroughly before replying, this is an edited response. I used to peruse The Great Horologion, and would recommend it to you, and am certain there's an addition in English for under $100. The copy I borrowed contained the Penetcostarion. God leads us all in different ways, and I must admit I am not certain it helped me understand the Orthodox Church. The Jesus Prayer, and my little rope of 33 knots, has done so much more.

Edited by Marc Leonard, 12 April 2012 - 10:55 PM.
poor response


#6 Geoffrey McKinney

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Posted 13 April 2012 - 06:08 PM

Many thanks to all for your responses thus far.

My reading of the complete texts for the Dormition feast and for the feast of the Birth of the Theotokos have taught me more about the Theotokos than anything else I have read. I'm sure that my readings of the complete texts for the other twelve Great Feasts (and the texts for Pascha and for the Great Fast) will be similarly edifying and enlightening.

If I purchased the three volumes translated by Mother Mary and K. Ware, plus downloaded the Pentecostarion from Archimanrite Ephrem's website, then I would have all the texts for all the Great Feasts, for Pascha, and for the Great Fast. These texts (amounting to somewhere between 1,000 and 2,000 pages) surely give all of the Orthodox Church's major teachings in authoritative form. If I had these texts, would I be missing anything essential to an understanding of the Orthodox Church?

I know that there is a lot of liturgical material out there, not least of which the 12-volume Menaion (for well over $1,000!). But is there any central teaching of the Orthodox Church contained in the 12-volume Menaion that is not contained in the four texts mentioned in my previous paragraph? I know that the 12-volume Menaion contains much of value, including texts regarding a great host of saints. But in terms of theology, would I be missing anything? Wouldn't Mother Mary's three volumes plus the Pentecostarion teach me everything I needed to know regarding the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Theotokos, and the central events of the earthly lives of Christ and of His Mother?

I apologize if my questions seem less than cogent. I wish I could afford to own and read every single liturgical text of the Church, but that is far beyond my means. Thus I'm trying to get the central texts.

#7 Father David Moser

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Posted 13 April 2012 - 08:18 PM

But in terms of theology, would I be missing anything? Wouldn't Mother Mary's three volumes plus the Pentecostarion teach me everything I needed to know regarding the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Theotokos, and the central events of the earthly lives of Christ and of His Mother?


To say the Jesus prayer with attention and constancy will also teach you everything you need to know about the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Theotokos and the central events of the earthly lives of Christ and of His Mother. In fact, even the Jesus prayer is not necessary - but simply a life lived before God alone with no other considerations will teach you all this. Look at the life of St Mary of Egypt and you will see how God revealed to her heart the words of the services that St Zosimas recognized but she had never seen the books nor heard them in the Church. These came to her directly from the Holy Spirit while she lived her life of repentance before God alone in the desert.

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#8 Dcn Alexander Haig

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Posted 13 April 2012 - 10:30 PM

If you want to understand the theology of the Church then experience it in worship where you can see, hear, touch, smell and taste our Faith. Theology is not a way of thinking but a way of being: we are beings with a body as well as a mind and both can be, and must be, nourished in the Church.

If you are not near a parish which can hold many services, see if there's a monastery where you can stay for a few days - you will learn more theology there in those days than you will in years of reading.

In Xp
Alexander

#9 Geoffrey McKinney

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 12:01 AM

I'm certainly not looking for liturgical books as a replacement for faithful Church attendance and prayer. Rather, I'm looking for liturgical books to supplement faithful Church attendance and prayer.

#10 Mary Lanser

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 12:37 AM

If you want to understand the theology of the Church then experience it in worship where you can see, hear, touch, smell and taste our Faith. Theology is not a way of thinking but a way of being: we are beings with a body as well as a mind and both can be, and must be, nourished in the Church.

If you are not near a parish which can hold many services, see if there's a monastery where you can stay for a few days - you will learn more theology there in those days than you will in years of reading.

In Xp
Alexander


I agree with Alex here, FWIW. I think that several complete cycles of the liturgical year should be experienced first before spending loads of either time or money on printed material of any sort.

There is something about the Word when it is imbedded in the memory. It comes unbidden at the most opportune time. Also the virtue of hope is associated with the memory in the teachings of the Holy Father, St. Gregory Nyssa, and this Father knew a thing or two about the experience of the Indwelling.

The only thing that truly imbeds the Word in memory is chanting the words in community...or alone...It can be done alone, I can attest to that by experience, but it is not nearly as effective as fast or as easily recalled.

.02

In Christ,

M.

#11 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 01:57 PM

As we know, the teaching of the Church and its theology is to be found in the liturgical texts but these are but one part of the Church's Holy Tradition which we have. Other parts are also edifying and instructive and form an organic whole such that it would be a mistake to concentrate on only one aspect of Holy Tradition. One should gain familiarity with the holy icons which also express the Church's theology; one should read the chief doctrinal definitions of the Ecumenical Councils. Reading the Bible, especially the New Testament and Psalms, is obviously key. But then one must not read the Bible without guidance from the commentaries thereon by the Holy Fathers. Clearly, one must avoid the danger of scholasticism, and Fr David' counsel is to be noted: see his post #7. One does not have to be a learned theologian to be a Christian. To be an Orthodox Christian is to live a life in Christ, to love Christ above all else. This entails repentance and prayer, and partaking of the sacraments. Orthodoxy is to be lived, not studied. It is mystical, not academic. Books are useful for reference but cannot be a substitute for a life of prayer, and 'simply a life lived before God alone'. There are some who have attained to great spiritual heights without reading anything.

When Elder Sophrony came to Essex, he and his little group were so poor they had no books but the liturgy. That is why he developed the practice of the Jesus Prayer in church as well as in the cell. The Elder used to say that the Divine Liturgy is the centre of our lives. The text of the Divine Liturgy alone is so full, rich and deep that the study of it alone could occupy much of the time and energy as a person has.

#12 Mary Lanser

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 05:20 PM

had not read original carefully enough




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