Wednesday, August 11, 2010

New Issue of The Antiochian

Fr. Elia Khalife of the Antioch Centre has just published a new issue his newsletter, The Antiochian. It can be read here.

In it are articles about his recent visit to the United States, a description of a trilingual Arabic-Greek-Syriac icon from Kaftoun, and a meditation on the spiritual significance of working with manuscripts. It is well worth reading and Fr. Elia's amazing work needs to be better known.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Fr. Elia, he is a Lebanese monk now based in Oxford. He is working to preserve and make known the Antiochian Orthodox heritage by cataloging and examining all available manuscripts produced or related to the Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch. He is especially interested in documenting the use of Syriac and Christian Palestinian Aramaic among the Orthodox. A more detailed paper about his work can be found here and an article about him from the magazine Road to Emmaus can be found here.

Far too many people assume that the division among the churches in the Near East between Melkites (that is, the Orthodox) and Jacobites (today called Syrian Orthodox) was an ethnic division between Greeks and Syrians. In fact, the Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch was up until comparatively recent times perhaps the most cosmopolitan of the Orthodox churches-- at least until the 18th Century, liturgies were celebrated primarily in Arabic, but also in Greek, Syriac, Christian Palestinian Aramaic, and Georgian.

This is all to say, the heritage of the Orthodox Church of Antioch is deeper and broader than many of us are aware. We should support, encourage and pray for those, like Fr. Elia, who are working to preserve it and transmit it to us!

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