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Re: Orientation Hypothesis

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  • thomas@laudasion.org
    It is an intriguing, and attractive, hypothesis. I would have a concern about methodology. In the absence of documentary evidence, or something similar,
    Message 1 of 21 , Dec 1, 2007
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      It is an intriguing, and attractive, hypothesis. I would have a concern
      about methodology. In the absence of documentary evidence, or something
      similar, testing the hypothesis would be based upon fitting it to observed
      structures, then retrospectively explaining the observations to the
      speculated motives. The danger in this is that it favours interpreting data
      retrospectively in a way that fits the preconceived hypothesis. If, for
      example, we found some structures that fit the idea, but others did not,
      how would we assess whether this was a positive finding? Even if we found a
      relatively large percentage of structures that seemed to fit the hypothesis,
      could we rule out other explanations? It is an old problem with any
      observational science: How do we investigate in a way that we can see
      things as they are, and avoid seeing things the way we wish to see them? The
      tricky part is that if we re not careful, we end up contaminating the field
      with so much extraneous bias that even good hypotheses become difficult to
      test reliably.

      thomas

      Walt Knowles writes:

      > James,
      >
      > Hypotheses are good at getting generalizations that more or less hold.
      > With Simon's tuning of "east," I'd be willing to bet that this would
      > hold in the overwhelming majority of cases. You might even be able to
      > include more if you allowed for significant geologic features that force
      > the building in a non-oriented fashion. And then if you accommodated for
      > reuse of already existing basilicas, you'd probably get well above 95%.
      >
      > However, as much as I'd like a universal hypothesis you aren't going to
      > get one. If you check Erwan Marec's study of buildings in Hippo Regius
      > (Augustine's see city), I think you'll find that about the only
      > explanation is that somebody donated plots of land, and buildings were
      > "longitudenized" rather than "oriented": how can we fit a basilica-like
      > structure on this plot of land? The Basilica maior is oriented with the
      > apse to the north-west!
      >
      > Walt Knowles,
      > GTU
      > Berkeley, CA
      >
      >
      >
      > James O'Regan wrote:
      >> I have come up with an hypothesis that I would like to test.
      >>
      >> That when churches built in the first millennium do not orient east, it
      >> is a function of some obstruction blocking the natural light that would
      >> appear from the east in the morning. For example, a mountain or a
      >> high building that would prevent the site to orient. So that the
      >> orientation defaulted to the first source of good light.
      >>
      >> Does anyone know if this is supportable within an historical context of
      >> the building origins and environments of such churches?
      >>
      >> All the best,
      >>
      >> James O'Regan
      >> http://www.jamesoregan.com
      >> tel 613-824-4706
      >>
      >>
      >>
      >>
      >>
      >> Visit the liturgy-l homepage at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/liturgy-l/To write to the owners/moderators, please send an email to:
      >> liturgy-l-owner@yahoogroups.com
      >> Yahoo! Groups Links
      >>
      >>
      >>
      >>
      >>
      >
      >
      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      >
    • asteresplanetai
      +++ hi. ... from what i ve read, that s at least true in the west, where the failure of the expected sunbeam to shine on the altar on the patronal feast in
      Message 2 of 21 , Dec 3, 2007
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        +++

        hi.

        > Posted by: "James O'Regan" oregan@... jamesoregan
        > Date: Fri Nov 30, 2007 11:00 am ((PST))
        >
        > I have come up with an hypothesis that I would like to test.
        >
        > That when churches built in the first millennium do not orient
        > east, it
        > is a function of some obstruction blocking the natural light that
        > would
        > appear from the east in the morning. For example, a mountain or a
        > high building that would prevent the site to orient. So that the
        > orientation defaulted to the first source of good light.
        >
        > Does anyone know if this is supportable within an historical
        > context of
        > the building origins and environments of such churches?
        >

        > Posted by: "Simon Kershaw" simon@... qazkershaw
        > Date: Fri Nov 30, 2007 1:59 pm ((PST))
        >
        > I have seen it suggested that many churches are oriented to the rising
        > sun of the day either of their (original) patron or dedication, or of
        > the day on which the alignment was actually done.

        from what i've read, that's at least true in the west, where the
        failure of the expected sunbeam to shine on the altar on the patronal
        feast in many large cathedrals was one of the things that led to the
        gregorian calendar reform. the churches didn't 'work' any more!

        > When I suggested this a year or so ago to anarchitect living in
        > Athens I
        > seem to recall that he went and chcked the orientation of a number of
        > churches in that city and found that they were consistent with sunrise
        > on their patronal festivals.

        this is the first i've heard of the practice of orienting to a feast
        day in the eastern church. i'd like to know more!

        > Posted by: "Walt Knowles" waltk@... waltknowles
        > Date: Fri Nov 30, 2007 2:50 pm ((PST))
        >
        > Hypotheses are good at getting generalizations that more or less hold.
        > With Simon's tuning of "east," I'd be willing to bet that this would
        > hold in the overwhelming majority of cases. You might even be able to
        > include more if you allowed for significant geologic features that
        > force
        > the building in a non-oriented fashion. And then if you
        > accommodated for
        > reuse of already existing basilicas, you'd probably get well above
        > 95%.
        >
        > However, as much as I'd like a universal hypothesis you aren't
        > going to
        > get one. If you check Erwan Marec's study of buildings in Hippo Regius
        > (Augustine's see city), I think you'll find that about the only
        > explanation is that somebody donated plots of land, and buildings were
        > "longitudenized" rather than "oriented": how can we fit a basilica-
        > like
        > structure on this plot of land? The Basilica maior is oriented with
        > the
        > apse to the north-west!

        the explanation i've always seen is that geological features have
        sometimes dictatated. a modern example would be holy trinity russian
        cathedral (oca) in san francisco. it's oriented eastwards, but the
        door is placed so that you have to make a u-turn as soon as you
        enter. it works well, but it's unusual. without that insistence on
        orientation, they'd just have built with a westward direction, but
        because the surrounding buildings are so close there was no choice
        but to contort the entrance.

        regards from kampala-among-the-mosquitos,

        john burnett
        >
      • James Morgan
        The ROCOR cathedral in San Francisco (Joy of All who Sorrow) faces north, I believe, and you come in right off the street. And is it true that St. Peter s in
        Message 3 of 21 , Dec 3, 2007
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          The ROCOR cathedral in San Francisco (Joy of All who Sorrow) faces north, I
          believe, and you come in right off the street. And is it true that St.
          Peter's in Rome faces west?

          Rdr. James

          -----Original Message-----
          From: liturgy-l@yahoogroups.com [mailto:liturgy-l@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf
          Of asteresplanetai
          Sent: Monday, December 03, 2007 10:45 AM
          To: group liturgy-l
          Subject: Re: [liturgy-l] Orientation Hypothesis

          hi.

          from what i've read, that's at least true in the west, where the failure of
          the expected sunbeam to shine on the altar on the patronal feast in many
          large cathedrals was one of the things that led to the gregorian calendar
          reform. the churches didn't 'work' any more!

          the explanation i've always seen is that geological features have sometimes
          dictatated. a modern example would be holy trinity russian cathedral (oca)
          in san francisco. it's oriented eastwards, but the door is placed so that
          you have to make a u-turn as soon as you enter. it works well, but it's
          unusual. without that insistence on orientation, they'd just have built
          with a westward direction, but because the surrounding buildings are so
          close there was no choice
          but to contort the entrance.

          regards from kampala-among-the-mosquitos,

          john burnett
        • dlewisaao@aol.com
          According to the map in front of me, it does indeed face west. David Lewis In a message dated 12/3/2007 8:08:59 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,
          Message 4 of 21 , Dec 3, 2007
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            According to the map in front of me, it does indeed face west.

            David Lewis


            In a message dated 12/3/2007 8:08:59 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,
            rdrjames@... writes:

            And is it true that St.
            Peter's in Rome faces west?

            Rdr. James





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          • Douglas Cowling
            ... All of the Roman basilicas are oriented to the west. The Tridentine rite was always celebrated with the celebrant facing east towards the nave and the
            Message 5 of 21 , Dec 3, 2007
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              On 12/3/07 8:53 PM, "dlewisaao@..." <dlewisaao@...> wrote:

              > According to the map in front of me, it does indeed face west.
              >
              > David Lewis
              >
              >
              > In a message dated 12/3/2007 8:08:59 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,
              > rdrjames@... writes:
              >
              > And is it true that St.
              > Peter's in Rome faces west?


              All of the Roman basilicas are oriented to the west. The Tridentine rite
              was always celebrated with the celebrant facing east towards the nave and
              the people, although whether this is an argument for prayer "versus populum"
              is debated among liturgical historians. Neither is it an argument against
              prayer "ad Deum".


              Douglas Cowling
              Director of Music
              St. Philip's Church, Toronto
            • dlewisaao@aol.com
              Aren t we talking about two different things here, i.e., (1) the orientation of the basilicas in Rome and (2) the much-later Tridentine Rite, which would
              Message 6 of 21 , Dec 3, 2007
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                Aren't we talking about two different things here, i.e., (1) the orientation
                of the basilicas in Rome and (2) the much-later Tridentine Rite, which would
                have been celebrated facing "liturgical east" in most churches throughout
                the world?

                David Lewis


                In a message dated 12/3/2007 9:21:40 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,
                dcowling@... writes:

                All of the Roman basilicas are oriented to the west. The Tridentine rite
                was always celebrated with the celebrant facing east towards the nave and
                the people, although whether this is an argument for prayer "versus populum"
                is debated among liturgical historians. Neither is it an argument against
                prayer "ad Deum".





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              • Douglas Cowling
                ... The principle in the Roman basilicas of praying towards the actual east was so strong that the high altar was never rearranged so that the celebrant came
                Message 7 of 21 , Dec 3, 2007
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                  On 12/3/07 9:25 PM, "dlewisaao@..." <dlewisaao@...> wrote:

                  > Aren't we talking about two different things here, i.e., (1) the orientation
                  > of the basilicas in Rome and (2) the much-later Tridentine Rite, which would
                  > have been celebrated facing "liturgical east" in most churches throughout
                  > the world?

                  The principle in the Roman basilicas of praying towards the actual east was
                  so strong that the high altar was never rearranged so that the celebrant
                  came around and faced towards the western apse with his back to the people.
                  In St. John's Lateran, the pope's cathedral, the cathedra is in the apse
                  facing down into the nave. Thus, the pope when praying the collect of the
                  mass from his chair is facing the geographical east. This difference
                  between the basilica and parishes churches outside of Rome still gives grief
                  to commentators who stress the perennial character of the Tridentine rite.

                  Doug Cowling
                  Director of Music
                  St. Philip's Church, Toronto
                • cantor03@aol.com
                  In a message dated 12/3/2007 8:08:54 P.M. Eastern Standard Time, rdrjames@comcast.net writes: The ROCOR cathedral in San Francisco (Joy of All who Sorrow)
                  Message 8 of 21 , Dec 3, 2007
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                    In a message dated 12/3/2007 8:08:54 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,
                    rdrjames@... writes:

                    The ROCOR cathedral in San Francisco (Joy of All who Sorrow) faces north, I
                    believe, and you come in right off the street. And is it true that St.
                    Peter's in Rome faces west?>>>>

                    Yes. All the major ancient basilicas in Rome were built with the facade
                    the east, and the high altar [often over a tomb] in the west. The free
                    standing altars, so eagerly imitated after Vatican-2, were so constructed
                    that the celebrant/presider stood behind them facing the main portals
                    in the east. Thus, despite the fact that the celebrant/presider was standing
                    "behind" the altar, he was "ad orientem".


                    David Strang.









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                  • James Morgan
                    Just a quick question: when in Rome in earlier times, did the people also face east (towards the main door of the basilica, in order to pray towards the rising
                    Message 9 of 21 , Dec 4, 2007
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                      Just a quick question: when in Rome in earlier times, did the people also
                      face east (towards the main door of the basilica, in order to pray towards
                      the rising sun? I've heard that facing the east in prayer is one of the
                      oldest traditions. I can see that building churches in a older city with
                      irregular geography might issue in churches with various 'orientations'.

                      Rdr. James

                      -----Original Message-----
                      From: liturgy-l@yahoogroups.com [mailto:liturgy-l@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf
                      Of cantor03@...
                      Sent: Monday, December 03, 2007 7:59 PM
                      To: liturgy-l@yahoogroups.com
                      Subject: Re: [liturgy-l] Orientation Hypothesis

                      In a message dated 12/3/2007 8:08:54 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,
                      rdrjames@... writes:

                      The ROCOR cathedral in San Francisco (Joy of All who Sorrow) faces north,
                      I
                      believe, and you come in right off the street. And is it true that St.
                      Peter's in Rome faces west?>>>>

                      Yes. All the major ancient basilicas in Rome were built with the facade
                      the east, and the high altar [often over a tomb] in the west. The free
                      standing altars, so eagerly imitated after Vatican-2, were so constructed
                      that the celebrant/presider stood behind them facing the main portals
                      in the east. Thus, despite the fact that the celebrant/presider was
                      standing
                      "behind" the altar, he was "ad orientem".


                      David Strang.
                    • cantor03@aol.com
                      In a message dated 12/4/2007 10:38:12 P.M. Eastern Standard Time, rdrjames@comcast.net writes: Just a quick question: when in Rome in earlier times, did the
                      Message 10 of 21 , Dec 4, 2007
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                        In a message dated 12/4/2007 10:38:12 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,
                        rdrjames@... writes:

                        Just a quick question: when in Rome in earlier times, did the people also
                        face east (towards the main door of the basilica, in order to pray towards
                        the rising sun? I've heard that facing the east in prayer is one of the
                        oldest traditions. I can see that building churches in a older city with
                        irregular geography might issue in churches with various 'orientations'i>>>

                        Benedict XVI in his book, "The Spirit of the Liturgy", quotes
                        Cyrille Vogel on this subject: "Even when the orientation of the
                        church enabled the celebrant to pray toward the people when
                        at the altar, we must not forget that it was not the priest alone
                        who then turned East: it was the whole congregation together
                        with him".


                        David Strang.









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                      • James Morgan
                        I forgot I had that book. He s right, of course. Rdr. James ... From: liturgy-l@yahoogroups.com [mailto:liturgy-l@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of
                        Message 11 of 21 , Dec 5, 2007
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                          I forgot I had that book. He's right, of course.
                          Rdr. James

                          -----Original Message-----
                          From: liturgy-l@yahoogroups.com [mailto:liturgy-l@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf
                          Of cantor03@...
                          Sent: Tuesday, December 04, 2007 7:52 PM
                          To: liturgy-l@yahoogroups.com
                          Subject: Re: [liturgy-l] Orientation Hypothesis

                          Benedict XVI in his book, "The Spirit of the Liturgy", quotes Cyrille Vogel
                          on this subject: "Even when the orientation of the church enabled the
                          celebrant to pray toward the people when at the altar, we must not forget
                          that it was not the priest alone who then turned East: it was the whole
                          congregation together with him".

                          David Strang.
                        • Lewis H Whitaker
                          But would the turn occur only during the Anaphora? Or would the entire service be conducted facing East? I m sure we must have talked about this before, but
                          Message 12 of 21 , Dec 5, 2007
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                            But would the turn occur only during the Anaphora? Or would the entire service be conducted facing East?

                            I'm sure we must have talked about this before, but I'm slow...

                            L


                            -----Original Message-----
                            >From: James Morgan <rdrjames@...>
                            >Sent: Dec 5, 2007 3:08 PM
                            >To: liturgy-l@yahoogroups.com
                            >Subject: RE: [liturgy-l] Orientation Hypothesis
                            >
                            >I forgot I had that book. He's right, of course.
                            >Rdr. James
                            >
                            >-----Original Message-----
                            >From: liturgy-l@yahoogroups.com [mailto:liturgy-l@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf
                            >Of cantor03@...
                            >Sent: Tuesday, December 04, 2007 7:52 PM
                            >To: liturgy-l@yahoogroups.com
                            >Subject: Re: [liturgy-l] Orientation Hypothesis
                            >
                            >Benedict XVI in his book, "The Spirit of the Liturgy", quotes Cyrille Vogel
                            >on this subject: "Even when the orientation of the church enabled the
                            >celebrant to pray toward the people when at the altar, we must not forget
                            >that it was not the priest alone who then turned East: it was the whole
                            >congregation together with him".
                            >
                            >David Strang.
                            >
                            >
                            >
                          • Douglas Cowling
                            ... Interstingly, in the Tridentine rite the celebrant was instructed to turn to the people when greeting them with Dominus vobiscum , but the visual
                            Message 13 of 21 , Dec 5, 2007
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                              On 12/5/07 3:08 PM, "James Morgan" <rdrjames@...> wrote:

                              > Benedict XVI in his book, "The Spirit of the Liturgy", quotes Cyrille Vogel
                              > on this subject: "Even when the orientation of the church enabled the
                              > celebrant to pray toward the people when at the altar, we must not forget
                              > that it was not the priest alone who then turned East: it was the whole
                              > congregation together with him".

                              Interstingly, in the Tridentine rite the celebrant was instructed to turn to
                              the people when greeting them with "Dominus vobiscum", but the visual
                              connection was negated by the later custom of "custodes oculurum" which made
                              celebrant lower his during the greetings lest in look people in the eye.


                              Doug Cowling
                              Director of Music
                              St. Philip's Church, Toronto
                            • cantor03@aol.com
                              In a message dated 12/5/2007 3:16:01 P.M. Eastern Standard Time, aspern@mindspring.com writes: But would the turn occur only during the Anaphora? Or would the
                              Message 14 of 21 , Dec 5, 2007
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                                In a message dated 12/5/2007 3:16:01 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,
                                aspern@... writes:

                                But would the turn occur only during the Anaphora? Or would the entire
                                service be conducted facing East?

                                I'm sure we must have talked about this before, but I'm slow...

                                L>>>>>

                                I'm not sure "The Spirit of the Liturgy" explains this detail, but
                                I've read repeatedly that all turned East during the Eucharistic
                                Prayer.

                                Pastor Senn may wish to comment.


                                David Strang.








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                              • cantor03@aol.com
                                In a message dated 12/5/2007 3:29:12 P.M. Eastern Standard Time, dcowling@sympatico.ca writes: On 12/5/07 3:08 PM, James Morgan
                                Message 15 of 21 , Dec 5, 2007
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                                  In a message dated 12/5/2007 3:29:12 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,
                                  dcowling@... writes:




                                  On 12/5/07 3:08 PM, "James Morgan" <_rdrjames@..._
                                  (mailto:rdrjames@...) > wrote:

                                  > Benedict XVI in his book, "The Spirit of the Liturgy", quotes Cyrille Vogel
                                  > on this subject: "Even when the orientation of the church enabled the
                                  > celebrant to pray toward the people when at the altar, we must not forget
                                  > that it was not the priest alone who then turned East: it was the whole
                                  > congregation together with him".

                                  Interstingly, in the Tridentine rite the celebrant was instructed to turn to
                                  the people when greeting them with "Dominus vobiscum", but the visual
                                  connection was negated by the later custom of "custodes oculurum" which made
                                  celebrant lower his during the greetings lest in look people in the eye.

                                  Doug Cowling
                                  Director of Music
                                  St. Philip's Church, Toronto







                                  The downcast eyes are especially noticeable for the
                                  Tridentine clergy where I sing. I sometimes wonder
                                  how they keep from bumping into things during processions
                                  with their eyes glued to the floor.

                                  ABC Coggins was an Anglican clergyman who was much
                                  given to the some demeanor. I recall his processing down
                                  the entire length of Winchester Cathedral [I think the longest
                                  in England] staring at the pavement. The contrast with JPII
                                  in his heyday [such as working the crowd and upstaging
                                  the USA President at Sacred Heart Cathedral, Newark, NJ]
                                  was notable.


                                  David Strang.



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                                • asteresplanetai
                                  +++ ... there has been a conscious imitation of the layout of the jerusalem temple in christian church architecture since at least a few hundred years after
                                  Message 16 of 21 , Dec 6, 2007
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                                    +++

                                    On 2007 Dec 4 David Strang wrote:

                                    > All the major ancient basilicas in Rome were built with the facade
                                    > the east, and the high altar [often over a tomb] in the west. The
                                    > free
                                    > standing altars, so eagerly imitated after Vatican-2, were so
                                    > constructed
                                    > that the celebrant/presider stood behind them facing the main portals
                                    > in the east. Thus, despite the fact that the celebrant/presider
                                    > was standing
                                    > "behind" the altar, he was "ad orientem".


                                    there has been a conscious imitation of the layout of the jerusalem
                                    temple in christian church architecture since at least a few hundred
                                    years after christ. however, one of the main differences is that
                                    christian temples always face east. How to explain this. The
                                    jerusalem temple was to be a "copy" of the model shown to moses on
                                    the mountain (i am conflating temple and tent, but they're basically
                                    the same for the present purposes); its main gate faced east (see
                                    ezekiel) and the sun, rising, entered the holy of holies, or would
                                    have if the curtain were open. which i take it must have been the
                                    case at least some of the time in the early days, since the bible
                                    says somewhere that you could see the ends of the poles of the ark
                                    inside it. and there is strong Yhwh/sun imagery in the bible, enough
                                    to convince many scholars that yhwhism was a kind of solar cult in
                                    some senses; the sunrise would have lit up the inside of the holy of
                                    holies. 'Yhwh is God and has shone on us'; 'The rising sun of justice
                                    will come with healing in his wings,' and all that.

                                    i suspect the jerusalem temple was a "copy" in the sense of "mirror
                                    image": Yhwh/sun came daily from his house in the east to his house
                                    in jerusalem; he traveled, as the sun does, in a straight line, and
                                    therefore the door of the temple had to open to the east so that,
                                    traveling from the east, the the light would enter. Thus the house
                                    had to be like his "real" house, only backwards. (Interesting, by the
                                    way, that the veil of the temple tore in two at the crucifixion,
                                    since the crucifixion took place to the west of the temple. you
                                    wouldn't actually have been able to see the tearing take place at the
                                    time, but this perhaps the entry of Yhwh into his temple for real;
                                    the reoccupation of the holy place after the exile.)

                                    anyway, within the framework of such an architectural language, that
                                    christian temples are oriented east would seem to suggest that the
                                    christian temple is the "true" house of god, no longer an image or
                                    shadow. it is not a mirror image, but the real thing. Precisely as we
                                    find affirmed in Hebrews and elsewhere.

                                    Nevertheless, even if this architectural theory is true, it may not
                                    have been the universal everywhere in the early church. And that
                                    *all* the early roman basilicas are oriented *westward* (and not, on
                                    the other hand, northwest or south-southeast, telling us that it
                                    wasn't just a random and ad hoc or geographical choice)-- this might
                                    suggest that the early roman theory was to imitate the jerusalem
                                    architecture directly. Church as 'New' Jerusalem. But the (eastern?)
                                    idea of Church as 'True' Jerusalem won out, perhaps under the
                                    influence of the construction of the holy sepulchre church etc;
                                    dunno, can't say, only speculating.

                                    but i am wondering if there is, in fact, any evidence for conscious
                                    adoption, in the early roman church, of the *orientation* of the
                                    jerusalem temple as a model for its great temples.

                                    regards,

                                    john burnett
                                  • Douglas Cowling
                                    ... Eastward orientation is not a unique defining feature of either Jewish or Christian buildings. Egyptian temples such as Abu Simnel were oriented so that
                                    Message 17 of 21 , Dec 6, 2007
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                                      On 12/6/07 4:14 PM, "asteresplanetai" <asteresplanetai@...> wrote:

                                      > but i am wondering if there is, in fact, any evidence for conscious
                                      > adoption, in the early roman church, of the *orientation* of the
                                      > jerusalem temple as a model for its great temples.

                                      Eastward orientation is not a unique defining feature of either Jewish or
                                      Christian buildings. Egyptian temples such as Abu Simnel were oriented so
                                      that the rising sun illumined the gods' statues in the deepest interior on
                                      specific days. Stonehenge is aligned so that the summer solstice rise over
                                      the Heel Stone and is framed in the arches. Some architectural historians
                                      might even make a case that the Jewish Temple was influenced by Egyptian
                                      architecture, and the English orientation of churches was influenced by the
                                      layout of pagan circles and temples.


                                      Doug Cowling
                                      Director of Music
                                      St. Philip's Church, Toronto
                                    • asteresplanetai
                                      +++ ... you re mostly correct, but in fact eastward orientation is NOT a feature of jewish architecture. As I mentioned, the Temple had a westward direction
                                      Message 18 of 21 , Dec 8, 2007
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                                        +++

                                        On 2007 Dec 7, at 14:57, liturgy-l@yahoogroups.com wrote:

                                        > Orientation Hypothesis
                                        > Posted by: "Douglas Cowling" dcowling@...
                                        > Date: Thu Dec 6, 2007 6:47 pm ((PST))
                                        >
                                        > On 12/6/07 4:14 PM, "asteresplanetai"
                                        > <asteresplanetai@...> wrote:
                                        >
                                        >> but i am wondering if there is, in fact, any evidence for conscious
                                        >> adoption, in the early roman church, of the *orientation* of the
                                        >> jerusalem temple as a model for its great temples.
                                        >
                                        > Eastward orientation is not a unique defining feature of either
                                        > Jewish or
                                        > Christian buildings. Egyptian temples such as Abu Simnel were
                                        > oriented so
                                        > that the rising sun illumined the gods' statues in the deepest
                                        > interior on
                                        > specific days. Stonehenge is aligned so that the summer solstice
                                        > rise over
                                        > the Heel Stone and is framed in the arches. Some architectural
                                        > historians
                                        > might even make a case that the Jewish Temple was influenced by
                                        > Egyptian
                                        > architecture, and the English orientation of churches was
                                        > influenced by the
                                        > layout of pagan circles and temples.


                                        you're mostly correct, but in fact eastward orientation is NOT a
                                        feature of jewish architecture. As I mentioned, the Temple had a
                                        westward direction (one entered from the east, or would have, if the
                                        main gate had not been shut (cf. Ezekiel); among synagogues, not
                                        eastward, but jerusalem orientation is the rule (and within
                                        jerusalem, temple orientation). I have read that one of the ways they
                                        know the holy sepulchre church does in fact enshrine the holy
                                        sepulchure is that an archaeological dig somewhere near the Cenaculum
                                        revealed a *christian* synagogue (think how early this is) which was
                                        oriented towards the h.sepulchre, unlike all other synagogues in
                                        jerusalem, which pointed to the temple. however, this orientation
                                        towards the h.sepulchre was not the eventual decision for christian
                                        architecture as a whole, from very early times: "we have in this
                                        world no lasting city", as Hebrews says, not even jerusalem, a point
                                        i suspect was brought home in that very synagogue with some force in
                                        70 AD. So we have to read the eastward orientation of christian
                                        architecture in part against the general human tendency to build
                                        temples facing the rising sun, but more specifically against the
                                        jewish tendency to build facing jerusalem and the temple.

                                        i do suspect the eastward orientation of english churches had *far*
                                        less to do (if anything) with that of the pagan circles and temples
                                        they overlaid, than with the canons of christian architecture which
                                        were well in place by the time they were being built. Not, of course,
                                        that the congruence would have been felt unserendipitous.

                                        regards,

                                        john burnett.
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