Difference between revisions of "User talk:Basil"

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== Prothesis ==
'''Prothesis''' Greek, 'setting forth' of the bread and wine for the Eucharist; and, by extension, the table or surface on which this occurs and the area of the sanctuary in which it is situated, normally north of the holy table. The rite is also called Proskimidi, 'offering', the word used in the Old Testament for the 'shewbread', called in Greek the 'loaves of preparation', ''artoi tis protheseos''. These are given typological significance by Origen, and Isidor of Pelusium writes: 'When we sanctify the bread of proposition on the cloth/winding sheet, we undoubtedly find the Body of Christ.' John of Damascus uses the same expression: 'The bread of proposition, and wine and water, is by the invocation and coming of the Holy Spirit supernaturally changed into the body and blood of Christ.'
The Prothesis is in a sense the equivalent of the Western Offertory, but this does not imply that it originally took place after the dismissal of the catechumens and before the anaphora. Robert Taft has demonstrated that there never was an 'offertory procession' in the Western sense in Eastern rites; the faithful brought their offerings and handed them to the deacons on arrival at church, as they still do. From these the bread and wine for the eucharist, chosen before the service, are brought to the altar by the clergy at the beginning of the Liturgy of the Faithful. in some Eastern churches preparation and selection of the bread is an elaborate ceremony, though the earliest manuscript of the Byzantine liturgy simply has the rubric: 'Prayer which the priest says in the ''skeuophylakion'' when the bread is placed on the ''diskos''.' That this takes place before the liturgy is clear from Theodore the Studite, who says: 'The complete proskomidi takes place at the beginning.' That originally the deacons brought the gifts into the church at the Great Entrance does not exclude the possibility of the priest's being present in the ''skeuophylakion'' to help select and bless the elements chosen. Inspection and selection of sacrificial victims is a priestly function in ancient Judaism and in other ancient religions.
Two things in particular influenced the development of the Byzantine Prothesis: the increasing use of symbolic understandings of the liturgy, especially those that saw the liturgy as a symbolic re-enactment of the life of Christ (see Germanos I); and the practice of cutting particles from the eucharistic loaf or loaves to commemorate the living and the dead, documented with certainty from the eleventh century, though recording the names of 'those who offer and those for whom they are offered' in the Prayer of the Prothesis is attested at least from the fifth century.
The number and form of the loaf or loaves have varied, and continue to do so. The present Byzantine rite knows three forms of prosphora:
#five small loaves recalling the five loaves at the miracle of the multiplication of loaves and fishes recorded in the gospel, three stamped with the words IC. XC. NI-KA, 'Jesus Christ conquers' (see bread stamps), one with a triangular seal, for the Theotokos, and one with nine triangles in three rows for the Nine Ranks (see below);
#one large loaf stamped with the five seals in the form of a cross;
#two small loaves, one stamped with the words IC. XC. NI-KA, for the amnos, and one stamped with the other four seals.
This last is usual on Mount Athos. The wine is traditionally red and, since many communicants are small children, sweet.
After vesting and washing their hands, priest and deacon go to the Table of the Prothesis and the priest, raising the prosphora together with the lance (see sacred utensils), saying the apolytikion for Holy Friday. Signing the loaf three times 'In memory of our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ', he cuts a cubic piece, the Lamb, from the centre of the loaf with the IC. XC. NI-KA seal, making four incisions, and removes it from the loaf, while reciting Isaias 53:7–8. To facilitate the fraction, he cuts deeply into the crumb of the Lamb in the form of a cross and pierces it in the side, below the letters IC, while saying John 19:34. Wine and water are poured into the chalice and the priest then begins to cut commemorative particles from the other seals or prosphoras. He first cuts one for the Mother of God, which he places to the north of the Lamb, saying Psalm 44:10. he then cuts nine particles from the third seal and arranges them in Nine Ranks (Greek: tagmata) to the south of the Lamb, to represent the different categories of saint:
#John the Baptist
#holy bishops
#holy ascetics
#holy anargyroi
#Joachim and Anna, the saint of the day and all the saints
#the saint of the liturgy, either John Chrysostom or Basil of Caesarea.
The three rows of three as such symbolize the Nine Orders of the Bodiless Hosts, as the Large Euchologion makes clear. Modern Greek use, however, gives the first particle to the angels and numbers the Forerunner among the prophets, though one current edition of the Hieratikon gives the first particle to the angels and the Forerunner. Manuscripts and eiletaria have many other arrangements, some commemorating the Holy Cross. The other two seals are used to cut commemorative particles for the living and the dead; these always include the bishop of the diocese, the bishop who ordained the celebrating priest, the founders of the church or monastery and the civil rulers, though many priests commemorate the latter only if Orthodox. Finally the priest commemorates himself.
It is customary to bring prosphoras and offer them with lists of names of the living and departed for commemoration. In Russian use small loaves for this purpose are normally sold at the back of the church. Greeks normally bring home baked prosphoras. (In modern practice at a pontifical liturgy the bishop cuts commemorative particles during the singing of the Cherubikon, the covers the gifts with the star and veils.) The arrangement of the particles on the circular ''diskos'' symbolizes the world; at its centre stands Christ, the Lamb of God, surrounded by the members of the church, his mystical body. The priest covers the ''diskos'' with the star (''asterikos''), and both chalic and ''diskos'' with three veils. He censes them and says the Prayer of Offering, given in the earliest manuscript for the Liturgy of St. Basil, but today used also for that of John Chrysostom. At the end of the liturgy the commemorative particles are placed in the chalice, with the words: 'Wash away, Lord, by your holy Blood the sins of your servants here remembered, through the prayers of the Mother of God and of all your Saints.
''—Archimandrite Ephrem in'' Blackwell Dictionary of Eastern Christianity.
Thanks for putting this up Basil - it's interesting and helpful and I hadn't seen it before. I am a bit worried about the copyright issue, so we'll have to work this out...
::Well, you've read it now, so we'll do with it as you wish. It wasn't intended to be permanent.
I do have two questions or comments about the article: First, I always understood the procession from the skeuphylakion into the church to the be equivalent of the Western offeratory procession. I wonder what Taft says, or what Archimandrite Ephrem means to say about this -- maybe I'm just dense or should read more carefully.
::Perhaps he means that an offering wasn't ever taken as part of the liturgical procession. Not sure how old that custom is in the Latin rite. He does seem to be contrasting the undescribed Western practice with a description of the customary way that the faithful offer their gifts. (BTW, taking up offerings during the service bug me a lot, and perhaps its because they're a foreign custom tacked on in imitation of the West.)
The second thing is that the Prothesis goes back well before the 11th c. -- at least there's an O.T. precedent in Lev. 24 -
:24:5 “You shall take fine flour and bake twelve loaves from it; two tenths of an ephah [2] shall be in each loaf. 6 And you shall set them in two piles, six in a pile, on the table of pure gold [3] before the Lord. 7 And you shall put pure frankincense on each pile, that it may go with the bread as a memorial portion as a food offering to the Lord. 8 Every Sabbath day Aaron shall arrange it before the Lord regularly; it is from the people of Israel as a covenant forever. 9 And it shall be for Aaron and his sons, and they shall eat it in a holy place, since it is for him a most holy portion out of the Lord's food offerings, a perpetual due.

Revision as of 18:29, February 16, 2005