From Morals to Mystery by Patrick Henry Reardon

As It Is Written . . .

From Morals to Mystery

by Patrick Henry Reardon

I have long esteemed the ancient and traditional lectionaries of the Church, in which the biblical readings chosen for special days and seasons are sometimes juxtaposed by reason of some perceived affinity between them. Because of the readings prescribed for the Holy Saturday vigil, for instance, my deepest memory of the parting of the Red Sea associates that event with the Creator's dividing the water above the firmament from the waters below the firmament.

Such juxtapositions, a feature of the old Christian lectionaries, are apparently rooted in the earlier lectionaries of the synagogue. Indeed, the most primitive Christian assemblies surely followed the scheduled sequences in those Jewish lectionaries to which they were accustomed; there are notable traces of this in the apostolic corpus. Many decades ago, Philip Carrington, relying especially on the format of the Codex Vaticanus, argued that the Gospel of Mark was structured to correspond to the seasonal synagogue readings.

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Patrick Henry Reardon is pastor emeritus of All Saints Antiochian Orthodox Church in Chicago, Illinois, and the author of numerous books, including, most recently, Out of Step with God: Orthodox Christian Reflections on the Book of Numbers (Ancient Faith Publishing, 2019).

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