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Re: [textualcriticism] clarification on the terms "synaxarion" and "menologion"

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  • Atef Wagih
    I am a Coptic Orthodox Christian, The Term Synaxarion is used in today s church to refer to a book that contains a collection of saints lives and church
    Message 1 of 9 , Jun 3, 2010
      I am a Coptic Orthodox Christian,
      The Term Synaxarion is used in today's church to refer to a book that contains a collection of saints lives and church related incidents, on dailyy bases based on the coptic calender.
      i.e. the feast of Nativity on the 29th of Kiahk, the martyrdom os St.... is on ..
      then the book details the events of the day.
      It is to be read in the liturgy and for any personal reading.
      Then there is another book called "Defnar" with a wider scope of explanation and teaching.
      The book that contains the scripture parts that are to be read in the liturgy is called
      "Kata-meros" i.e. " according to days" .
      God Bless

      From: chris jordan <jordancrd@...>
      To: textualcriticism@yahoogroups.com
      Sent: Fri, 4 June, 2010 5:01:22 AM
      Subject: RE: [textualcriticism] clarification on the terms "synaxarion" and "menologion"


      This is a belated response to James.

      I agree that the Synaxarion and the Menologion can be confusing terms if you're Orthodox or begin to read more on Byzantine Liturgy e.g. how can the term Synaxarion be used to describe a moveable cycle (in NTTC), a book of Saints' Lives (fixed calendar) and a Liturgical Typikon (the fixed cycle part)?

      I haven't found the term Synaxarion as a title in lectionaries and I doubt that one ever will. However, the term Menologion is usually found as the title of the lectionary section that follows the civil year. The term Synaxarion is frequently found in the title of the lectionary lists attached to the beginning or end of continuous text Gospel/Apostolos manuscripts. The term Synaxarion is usually found above the list of lections that follows the moveable calendar.  It seems that the term Synaxarion has been transfered from the titles of lectionary lists in CT MSS. 


      To: textualcriticism@ yahoogroups. com
      From: jamtata@yahoo. com
      Date: Wed, 28 May 2008 13:05:21 -0700
      Subject: [textualcriticism] clarification on the terms "synaxarion" and "menologion"

      Coming from a background in the Orthodox Church, I've
      been somewhat confused by the use of the terms
      "synaxarion" and "menologion" in scriptural studies.
      This post will be an attempt to gain a better
      understanding of the usage of these terms in both
      contemporary Orthodox circles as well as their use
      both historically and in modern scriptural
      scholarship. I will start by giving the definition of
      these terms in current Orthodox use. Then, I will
      outline how I understand these terms to be used in
      modern scholarly circles. Finally, I will review a bit
      of the terms's history.

      I was initially confused by the use of these terms in
      scholarship because I first came across the terms in
      the context of modern Orthodox worship and practice.
      The meaning assigned to these terms in that milieu is
      quite different from the meaning modern scripture
      scholars assign to them. In modern Orthodox circles,
      both terms refer to a written body of material that
      recounts the lives of saintly Christians and may also
      contain related hymns. The menologion is the more
      expansive of the two and, for those who might be
      familiar with hagiographical literature, it could be
      compared to such Western works as Butler's Lives of
      Saints. The synaxarion, on the other hand, is a more
      condensed version of this same sort of material. It
      differs from the menologion additionally in that, at
      least in monastic worship, its text is read from
      during worship services (during the service of
      Matins). This is a very cursory overview of what the
      terms menologion and synaxarion mean in modern
      Orthodox circles but one that should be sound in the
      main. I ask that anyone on-list who would like to
      either correct or enhance my description to please do

      In scriptural studies, however, these terms mean
      something quite different. In NT studies, the terms
      appear to refer to NT lectionaries, i.e., to
      manuscripts that contain readings from the NT that
      were slated for public reading in worship services
      through the course of an annual liturgical cycle. In
      other words, when one refers to a synaxarion in
      scholarly circles in the West, they most likely have
      in mind a manuscript containing NT texts or a NT
      manuscript tradition. The same is true of the term
      menologion: it refers to a NT lectionary manuscript or
      manuscript tradition. The difference between these two
      types of NT lectionary mss seems to be the way the
      readings each contain relate to the annual liturgical
      cycle: the synaxarion contains NT lections for the
      year starting and ending with Easter/Pascha- -a
      celebration that falls on different calendar dates
      each year--while the menologion contains NT lections
      for liturgical celebrations that are attached to
      specific calendar dates. Unlike the synaxarion, the
      menologion begins and ends with the Byzantine civil
      year, i.e., with September 1st.

      Reading I've done so far suggests that the synaxarion
      and menologion likely originally consisted in lists or
      tables that gave the parameters of NT readings and so,
      rather than comprising NT mss in their own right,
      synaxaria and monologia rather consisted in limited
      sections of NT mss. With the passage of time it was
      perhaps deemed expedient or more practical, instead of
      listing lection parameters in a separate section of a
      NT, to simply copy the text of the lections
      themselves, in the order in which they were to read
      during the annual liturgical cycle, into a ms and to
      forego the table. This is a bit of speculation on my
      part and I solicit any corrections anyone better
      informed than me on this topic may have to offer.

      One key question that arises in my mind regarding the
      use of these terms in modern scriptural studies
      circles is as follows. How did it come about that
      these terms were applied to these lectionary mss? Do
      the mss themselves typically contain some heading or
      title that identifies them as a synaxarion or
      menologion? In other words, does the terminology arise
      out of the mss themselves? If so, and if anyone could
      provide me with a link to any lectionary ms image so
      entitled, I would be most grateful.

      Finally, it is worth noting that, even historically it
      appears that the terms synaxarion and menologion were
      not used solely to describe NT mss. Looking at the
      entries "synaxarion" and "menologion" in the Oxford
      Dictionary of Byzantium, for example, the indication
      is that even in the Byzantine period, the terms were
      used in much the same way that they are used in modern
      Orthodox circles. That is, they referred not to tables
      of NT readings, or to the text of the NT itself, but
      to hagiographical material.

      Further informed input on this topic will be


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