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== History and practice ==
===Ancient World===
The use of incense dates back to ancient times but the origin is uncertain. It may have originated in Sumerian and Babylonian cultures, where the gum, resins of aromatic trees, were imported from the Arabian and Somali coasts to be used in religious ceremonies. Its use was common in the pagan worship rituals of the ancient Greeks, Egyptians, Phoenicians, Assyrians, and Babylonians.<ref name=CHRISTODOULOS>{{el icon}} [[Christodoulos (Paraskevaides) of Athens]]. ''"[ Ἡ Προσφορά τοῦ Θυμιάματος]."'' Εγκύκλιοι. ECCLESIA: ΔΙΑΔΙΚΤΥΑΚΟΣ ΟΙΚΟΣ ΕΚΚΛΗΣΙΑΣ ΤΗΣ ΕΛΛΑΔΟΣ. 11/10/2001.</ref> In the Roman period there were cases of Christians being [[Martyr|martyred]] for refusing to offer incense to idols.<ref name="CHRISTODOULOS"/>
===Temple of Jerusalem===
Incense was used as a perfumed offering on the [[w:Altar_(Judaism)#Altar_of_Incense|altar of incense]] in the time of the [[Tabernacle (biblical)|Tabernacle]] and in the First and Second Temple periods, being an important component of priestly liturgy in the Temple in [[Jerusalem]]. The incense offered in the Temple is described in the [[Exodus|Book of Exodus]] as a mixture of [[w:Stacte|stacte]], [[w:Onycha|onycha]], [[w:Galbanum|galbanum]] and [[w:Frankincense|frankincense]].
===Christian Worship===
From an indication in Revelation 8:3-5 incense was used in [ sub-Apostolic] Christian worship, however there is no clear evidence of its Christian use until about the year 500.<ref name=NICON>Rev. Nicon D. Patrinacos. "Incense (Greek: θυμίαμα)." In: ''A Dictionary of Greek Orthodoxy - Λεξικον Ελληνικης Ορθοδοξιας.'' Light & Life Publishing, Minnesota, 1984. p. 205.</ref> Censers may at first have been fixed, with the introduction of portable censers originating later. The incensing of the [[altar]], [[church]], and [[congregation]], is first recorded in the 9th century.<ref name="NICON"/>
Emperor [[Justinian]] bestowed 36 golden censers with precious gems to the Cathedral [[Hagia Sophia (Constantinople)|Church of the Holy Wisdom]], and according to the testimony of Emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus (908-959), Byzantine Emperors entering the Church offered incense at specific censers.<ref name="CHRISTODOULOS"/>
The faithful will often burn incense using a hand [[censer]] in the home during Morning and Evening Prayers, and it is common for the head of the household to bless the Holy Icons and all of the members of the household with a hand censer.
==Theological significance==
:* Revelation 8:4 - "And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel's hand."<ref>Revelation 8:4. ''The Orthodox Study Bible (NKJV).'' Thomas Nelson Inc., 1982. p.1726.</ref>
==IngredientsComposition of the Holy Incense=====Biblical and Judaic Usage===The recipe for making the holy incense, given in Exodus 30:34-38, names four components. The same quantity of each was to be taken and, mixed with [[Salt in the Bible|salt]],<ref group="note">Only the salt of [[w:Sodom and Gomorrah|Sodom]] ("melaḥ Sedomit") could be used.</ref> made into a confection.<ref name=JEWISH-ENCYC>Immanuel Benzinger, Judah David Eisenstein. ''[ INCENSE].'' Jewish Encyclopedia, 1906.</ref> These were: [[w:stacte|stacte]], [[w:onycha|onycha]], [[w:galbanum|galbanum]], and pure [[w:frankincense|frankincense]] (the resin of the olibanum-tree, being one of the various species of ''[[w:Boswellia sacra|Boswellia]]'' indigenous to [[w:Arabia Felix|Arabia Felix]]).  In later tradition<ref group="note">Given by [[w:Maimonides|Maimonides]], "Yad," Kele ha-Miḳdash, ii. 1-5.</ref> seven others spices were added to these, namely: [[w:Myrrh|myrrh]], [[w:Cinnamomum aromaticum|cassia]], [[w:Spikenard|nard]], [[w:Saffron|saffron]], [[w:Costus|kostus]], [[w:Cinnamon|cinnamon]], and aromatic-[[w:Bark|bark]].<ref name="JEWISH-ENCYC"/>  Josephus speaks of thirteen ingredients, agreeing with the fact that in other sources the following two herbs are mentioned:<ref name="JEWISH-ENCYC"/> Jordan [[w:Amber|amber]], and a secret unknown ingredient - known in Hebrew as ''ma'aleh ashan'', literally "that which causes smoke to rise" - which has a quality which enabled the smoke to rise up to heaven in a straight column.<ref group="note">In our own time, some have speculated that this may be the plant ''[[w:Leptadenia pyrotechnica|Leptadenia pyrotechnica]]'', which contains nitric acid.<br>:* Rabbi Chaim Richman & The Temple Institute. ''[ INCENSE].'' The Temple Institute.</ref> ===Modern Usage===Normally, the resin of the ''[[w:Boswellia sacra|Boswellia thuriferasacra]]'' plant (frankincense) is used as a base for incense manufacturing; however, resin from fir trees has also been used. The resin is often infused with a floral oil, producing a fragrant scent when burned.
In the [[Mount Athos|Athonite]] tradition, incense is often sprinkled liberally with clay dust to prevent granules from clumping.
==See also==
* [[Censer]]
<references group="note" />
* Rev. Nicon D. Patrinacos. "Incense (Greek: θυμίαμα)." In: ''A Dictionary of Greek Orthodoxy - Λεξικον Ελληνικης Ορθοδοξιας.'' Light & Life Publishing, Minnesota, 1984. p. 205.
== External links ==
* [[w:Religious_use_of_incense#Christianity|Religious use of incense - Christianity]]
* [[w:Incense offering|Incense offering]] (Ketoret, Jerusalem temple incense)
* [[w:Spikenard|Spikenard]]
'''Online Catalogs'''
* [ Athonite Style Church Incense]. [[Hermitage of the Holy Cross (Wayne, West Virginia)|Holy Cross Hermitage]] - Online Catalog.
* {{el icon}} ''[ Λιβάνι].'' Βικιπαίδεια.
* Immanuel Benzinger, Judah David Eisenstein. ''[ INCENSE].'' Jewish Encyclopedia, 1906.
* Joseph Jacobs, Immanuel Löw. ''[ NARD].'' Jewish Encyclopedia, 1906.
* Rabbi Chaim Richman & The Temple Institute. ''[ INCENSE].'' The Temple Institute.
[[Category:Liturgical objects]]

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