"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

A Byzantine Monastic Office

Of all the Eastern liturgical traditions, the Byzantine of course continues to command the greatest scholarly attention in part because it has the greatest number of faithful today--to say nothing of its historical-political prominence as the ritual tradition of empire. Scholarly attention has long focused heavily on the history of the Byzantine eucharistic liturgies, though more recent scholarship has been focusing on funerals, baptismal, and other rites, including monastic offices as in this book set for release later this month: Jeffrey C. Anderson, A Byzantine Monastic Office, A.D. 1105 (Catholic University of America Press, 2016), 368pp.

About this book we are told:
This book centers on a Greek text that was likely compiled in Constantinople, in 1105, for use in one of the monasteries located there. The book consists of a liturgical psalter, containing the fixed structure (the ordinary) in both the Greek original and in English translation, as well as a description of the hours themselves. The extensive commentary explains the development of the divine office, and the particular history of the translated manuscript, while brief notes clarify and explain, in a way suitable for non-liturgists, the more-technical aspects of the divine office.
Based on a single dated manuscript, the book presents the first, full example of the daily structure of monastic hours as they were celebrated at a time when services had reached a degree of maturity. The book, by presenting the ordinary of the office, compliments recent work on the propers of the office, and thus helps to complete our picture of the medieval monastic office in Byzantium.

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