Sunday, January 12, 2014

17th Century Liturgical Reform in the Patriarchate of Antioch

From time to time in the comments section of this blog there has been discussion of the process by which the Patriarchate of Antioch came to fully adopt the liturgical customs of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. A key figure in the final adoption of almost all aspects of Constantinopolitan liturgy was Meletius Karma, Metropolitan of Aleppo from 1612 to 1634 and then patriarch under the name Euthymius II from 1634-1635. Born in Hama in 1572 and known in the world as Abd el-Karim, as a young man he became a monk in Palestine at the Monastery of Mar Saba, where he mastered Greek. Two years later he returned to Hama to begin his clerical career. As metropolitan of Aleppo, Meletius devoted himself to re-translating the service books into Arabic on the basis of Greek texts recently printed in Venice. In this endeavor, he received the support of the Propaganda Fide in Rome and of the Roman Catholic missionaries active in Aleppo, whose activities he strongly encouraged. It was rumored by the Jesuits in Syria then that the reason he did not live long as patriarch was that he had been poisoned by elements opposed to his desired union with Rome. 

Below is my translation of Meletius' introduction to his translation of the Typikon of Mar Saba, which was apparently the first of his liturgical translations. It is very interesting with regard to the attitude toward liturgical variation that it reveals, as well as the evidence it gives to opposition in the Patriarchate of Antioch at that time to applying the monastic typikon in parishes. It is also interesting that Meletius claims that the typikon was not available in Arabic in his time, as the Typikon of Mar Saba had been translated since at least the 14th century. An example of a 14th century manuscript of the Typikon from Mount Sinai can be viewed here. 13th century Syriac examples can be viewed here and here. I am also somewhat mystified by which canon of the 7th Ecumenical Council he is referring to in the text, the only possibility I can see being Canon IX, which prohibits the possession of the books of iconoclasts. (If any readers have a better suggestion, I'd be grateful).

The Arabic text, on the basis of Choueir MS 88 ff. 1v-2v, is below the jump. I have slightly standardized its spelling but otherwise not altered it.

Glory to God who brings creation into being by His creating Word, enlightens the hearts of the faithful with the words of His books which speak the truth, and guides us through His apostles who are sent with the truth and their successors after them, who were created for the benefit of creation. To Him be constant thanks until the Day of Resurrection.

So when we observed the difference among the churches of the Christians in arrangement, ritual and order, the lack of bowing, prostration and fasting that has beset their people, the sincere and true ordinances of the books that they have abrogated, and the changes to the fasts and prayers that they have adopted from the feasts of the transgressors and customs of the heretics over the course of time, I did not cease seeking the root of their transgression and searching for the cause of their trespass until I found that the root of this error and corruption in the churches of the Arabs-- which deserves derision and anger-- that its reason, root and cause is the absence of the ancient Greek typikon, which was begun by the great saint Mar Saba and completed by the active, scholarly priest John of Damascus. I was amazed at how the people of that age neglected to put it into the language of the Arabs after realizing and learning that the Church of Christ was guided by it to the path of truth and correctness and that all Orthodox Christians boast of this book over all the sects of the heretics and the Arians. Since its compiler wrote it in the Greek language and it has never been translated into Arabic, I the wretched Meletius, when I was metropolitan of the city of Aleppo, with great effort and prayer translated it into the language of the Arabs, seeking reward and recompense from God. This was in the year 7120 of the world's creation, which corresponds to 1612 of the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. In translating it I was not seeking widespread acclaim, but rather it was out of my fear of being tormented with the one who buried the talent. May no one who looks over this book after my death dare to remove or add anything from its arrangement, because when he removes a single letter from its arrangement and prescriptions should know that in the opinion of the holy Mar Saba he is an ungrateful disbeliever who has departed from the path of right guidance and correctness, deserves humiliation on the Day of Resurrection and Reckoning, has introduced a shameful flaw into the Church of Christ and has caused himself to deserve torment with the transgressors in the fire. May God make us and you among the people of submission and obedience, so that we may act according to all the fasts and prayers in it, according to possibility and ability, as we received from the pure apostles, the holy righteous fathers, the seven greater and seven lesser councils, the great saint Mar Saba and all the doctors whose sayings are adorned in this book and whose testimonies are fixed and realized in it. May God benefit us with the blessings of their prayers and by answering their requests. Amen.

From the holy books, summarizing and repeating testimony to the honor of this glorious and sublime book and its blessing for those who make use of it and the categorical excommunication of those who add to it or subtract from it:

Know, may God grant you success, that this book is ancient, from the era of the holy councils. It is the ornament of the Church, who herself is established upon the rock of faith. Saint Antiochus, at the beginning of his book, praises those who hold fast to it and says that in all of Palestine there is to be found no other acceptable spiritual typikon like it. Saint Sophronius, the patriarch of Jerusalem who is called by the Church the Great Mouth of Christ, held fast to everything in this noble book and said that there has been no change or distortion in its words. Through it have come great fathers, perfect teachers and holy hierarchs like the confessors Kyr Theophanes and his brother Kyr Theodoros, Saint Andrew the Archbishop of Crete and many other holy fathers. All of them held fast to it. Saint Athanasius, the patriarch of Alexandria, says of this book, "I wish to know who are those who destroyed what the holy fathers and arranged and decreed in the typikon of the Holy Church and their words. If you go against this book, with what will you replace it or by what will you be guided, lest you invent for yourselves another typikon, write in it what you fancy and invent in it that which conforms to your desires?" As for myself, I will admonish you so that no one among you might dare to delete what they established or shake what the holy fathers set down in the typikon of the Holy Church, which is the ornament of the Church of Christ and our guide to the path of truth, because from it we have known the order of ritual of the Catholic Apostolic Church. From it we have learned how to celebrate the seven feasts of the Lord Christ. From it we have learned the arrangement of night-time prayers, the chanting of the morning praises, the daytime prayers of the hours, the exaltations of the divine liturgies, the ordering of ascetic life, the feasts of Our Lady the Mother of God, the feasts of the angels and archangels, the feats of the apostles, prophets, martyrs, hierarchs, righteous ones and the lofty ones of the Orthodox, prostration to the wood of the Venerable Cross. From it we have known the days when we must fast and make prostrations and from it also we have known the days when we do not fast or make prostrations because  prayer on those days is better than fasting,  because, even if the Apostles commanded us to fast and celebrate feasts, they neither demonstrated for us how fasting is to be nor how is to be the celebration of feasts. However, we have learned from this typikon how to fast, how to celebrate feasts, how to conduct asceticism, how to break fasts, how to make prostration and how to bow. We have it written with us that in the presence of the great Seventh Ecumenical Council in the city of Nicaea and the presence of the king Constantine the Great and his mother Irene in the year 6320 from the creation of the world which corresponds to the year 812 from the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ, it is said that they summoned all the books of prayers, canons, chants, commentaries, and sermons. They summoned this venerable typikon attributed to Mar Saba and other books of upright faith and refined opinion. They placed their signatures on them and confirmed them and excommunicated and condemned those who alter, mar, add to or subtract from it. Whether patriarch, metropolitan, bishop, priest or deacon, they should be cast out from among the Orthodox, having brought excommunication and deposition from the priesthood upon themselves and upon those laypeople who follow them. Those who want to remove themselves from this categorical excommunication and be saved from this being cut off and expelled should hold fast to everything in this venerable book, follow its ordinances as leader and guide and not transgress a single one of its words, however small, or abandon a single one of its traditions, however large, whether pertaining to prostrating or standing, fasting or breaking fast. They should not incline toward the hypocrites or sympathize with their bitter-tasting words because they speak delusion and pronounce lies and oppression. They say that this typikon was set down for the churches of monks and was not imposed on village churches. They claim that there is one for the churches of monasteries and another for the churches of cities. They lie in their claim and have gone astray in the darkness of their lie because this difference is not fitting for the faithful because it is an innovation of those who are contrary and the transgressors. Each one of their sects is named after the originator of its heresy. The rituals of their churches are different and hideous. The typikon does not exist in their churches and each church of theirs has its own ritual and ordinances. So we must go against their claims and not follow the paths of their error because Orthodox have one faith, our Church is one, the arrangement of our prayers is one, the calculation of our feasts is one, the ritual of our liturgy is one, our opinion is one, and we have one typikon for monasteries and towns, for people of the world and for monks. It is the book of ordinances particular to the Greeks [lit. al-Rum, as all reference to 'Greek' and 'Greeks' in this text]. Those who hold fast to it are blessed and those who go against it are excommunicated-- I mean by the great Seventh Ecumenical Council that was held in the city of Nicaea in the time of Constantine the Great and his mother Irene in the year 6320 from the creation of the world, corresponding to 812 from the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ, to Him be glory unto the ages. Amen.

المجد لله مكون البارايا بكلمته الخالقة ومنير قلوب المومنين بالفاظ كتبه التي هي بالحق ناطقة المهدي ايانا برسله المبعوثين بالحق وخلفائهم من بعدهم المخلوقين لنفع الخلق له الشكر على الدوام الى يوم الحشر والقيام.

اما بعد فاني لما رأيت اختلاف كنائس المسيحيين في الترتيب والطقس والنظام وما دخل على اهلها من النقص في السجود والركوع والصيام وما قد ابطلوه من فرائض الكتب المحقة الصادقة وما قد اثبتوه من عوائد المخالفين وسنن الاراتقة من تغيير الاصوام والصلوات على ممر الايام والاوقات فلم ازل افحص عن اصل مخالفتهم فحصاً شافياً وابحث عن علة تعديهم بحثاً كافياً حتى وجدت ان اصل هذا الغلط والعطب الموجود في كنائس اولاد العرب الذي محله محل السخط والغضب ان سببه واصله وعلته عدم وجود تيبيكون الرومي القديم الذي كان البادئ بتاليفه القديس مار سابا العظيم وكمله القس يوحنا الدمشقي العالم العامل الحكيم وعجبت كيف غفل اهل ذلك العصر عن اخراجه الى لغة الاعراب بعد ان تحققوا وعلموا ان كنيسة المسيح اهتدت به الى منهج الحق والصواب بان هذا الكتاب صار يفتخر جماعة النصارى الارثوذكسيين على كل طوائف الهراتقة والاريوسيين ولما كان مولفه وضعه في اللغة الرومية ولم ينقل في وقت من الاوقات الى اللغة العربية فبالغت انا الحقير ميلاتيوس بالكد والجد والطلب وانا يومئذ مطران في مدينة حلب فاخرجته الى لغة الاعراب طالب من الله الاجر والثواب وذلك بتاريخ سنة سبعة الاف ومائة وعشرون لكون الدنيا الموافق الف وستمائة واثني عشر لتجسد يسوع المسيح سيدنا ولم اقصد باخراجي اياه اشادة الذكر في الاقطار بل خوفي ان اعذب مع الذي دفن القنطار فالواقف بعد وفاتي على هذا الكتاب المجيد لا يتجاسر ان ينقص شيء من ترتيبه ولا يزيد لأنه متى ما حل من رسومه او من ترتيبه حرف واحد فليعلم انه لرأي القديس مار سابا ناكر وجاحد وقد خرج عن طريق الرشد والصواب واستحق الخزي في يوم البعث والحساب وادخل على كنيسة المسيح العيب العار واهل ذاته للعذاب مع المخالفين في النار فجعلنا الله واياكم من اهل الخضوع والطاعة لنعمل بكل ما فيه بحسب المكنة والاستطاعة ومن شروط الاصوام الدائمة وفروض الصلاة القائمة كما تسلمناه من الرسل الاطهار والاباء القديسين الابرار والسبعة المجامع الكبار والسبعة المجامع الصغار والقديس العظيم مار سابا وباقي المعلمين الاباء الذين اقوالهم في هذا الكتاب منمقة وشهاداتهم فيه ثابتة محققة نفعنا الله بركات صلواتهم وبمستجاب طلباتهم امين.
فصل من الكتب المقدسة مختصر معيد شهادة لشرف هذا الكتاب الجليل المجيد وبركته لمن يستفيد منه ويفيد وحرم قاطع لمن ينقص فيه ويزيد.

اعلم وفقك الله ان هذا الكتاب قديم من عهد المجامع المقدسة وهو جمال البيعة التي هي على صخرة الايمان مأسسة والقديس انتيوخوس في بدء كتابه يمدح المتمسكين به ويقول انه ليس يوجد في جميع فلسطين تيبيكون اخر روحاني مثله مقبول والقديس صفرونيوس بطريرك اورشليم الذي سمّي من الكنيسة فم المسيح العظيم كان متمسكاً بكل ما في هذا الكتاب الشريف وقال ان ليس في كلامه شيء من التبديل والتحريف وقد خرج من السيق الاباء معظمين ومعلمين كاملين ورؤساء كهنة قديسين مثل كير ثاوفانوس واخوه كير ثاودوروس المعترفين والقديس اندراوس رئيس كهنة اقريطش وغير هؤلاء اباء كثيرين وجميعهم كانوا به متمسكين والقديس اثناسيوس بطريرك الاسكندرية يقول بسبب هذا الكتاب كنت اوثر ان اعلم من هم هؤلاء الذين هدم ما قد رتبوه ورسموه الاباء القديسين في تيبيكون البيعة المقدسة واقوالهم اذا خالفتم هذا الكتاب بماذا تستدلون او بماذا تهتدون الا ان تبدعوا لكم تيبيكون اخر وتكتبوا فيه ما تهوون وتبتدعوا فيه ما يوافق مشيئاتكم اما انا فاشير عليكم بان لا احداً منكم يتجاسر ينقص ما أسسوه ولا يزعزع ما وضعوه الاباء القديسين في تيبيكون البيعة المقدسة الذي هو جمال كنيسة المسيح ودليلنا الى طريق الحق لاننا منه عرفنا طقس رسوم الكنيسة الجامعة الرسولية ومنه علمنا كيف نعيد اعياد المسيح السبعة السيدية ومنه تعلمنا تراتيب الصلوات الليلية وترتيل لتسابيح السحرية وصلوات الساعات النهارية وتماجيد القداسات الالهية وترتيب السيرة النسكية واعياد سيدتنا والدة الاله واعياد الملائكة ورؤساء الملائكة واعياد الرسل والانبياء والشهداء ورؤساء الكهنة والصديقين والابرار واسامي الارثوذكسيين والسجود لعود الصليب الكريم ومنه عرفنا الايام التي يجب ان نصوم فيها ونسجد ومنه ايضاً عرفنا الايام التي لا نصوم فيها ولا نسجد بل تكون الصلاة فيها افضل من الصوم لانه وان كان الرسل أمرونا بالصوم والتعييد الا انهم ما برهنوا لنا كيف يكون الصوم ولا كيف يكون التعييد اما هذا التيبيكون منه تعلمنا كيفية الصوم وكيفية التعييد وكيفية النسك وكيفية الفطور وكيفية السجود وكيفية الركوع ويوجد عندنا مكتوب ان في حضور المجمع السابع الكبير المسكوني في مدينة نيقية وحضور الملك قسطنطين الكبير وامه ايريني وذلك بتاريخ سنة ستة الاف وثلاث مائة وعشرين لكون الدنيا الموافق سنة ثمان مائة واثني عشر لتجسد يسوع المسيح سيدنا قيل انهم احضروا جميع كتب الصلوات والقوانين والترنيمات والتفاسير والعظات واحضروا هذا التيبيكون الجليل المنسوب الى مار سابا وغيره من كتب الامانة المستقيمة المهذب رأيها ووضعوا علائمهم عليها وثبتوها واحرموا ولعنوا من يغيرها او يعيبها او يزيدها او ينقصها ان كان بطرك او مطران او اسقف او كاهن او شماس فيكون مفروز من جماعة الارثوذكسيين ويكون قد رضي الحرم لنفسه والقطع من كهنوته ولمن يتبعه من العلمانيين فمن اراد ان يتبرئ من هذا الحرم القاطع وينجا من القطع والفرز المانع فليتمسك بجميع ما في هذا الكتاب الجليل ويقتدي برسومه كالمرشد والدليل ولا يخالف من كلامه كلمة وان صغرت ولا يترك من سننه سنة وان كبرت ان كان في السجود وان كان في القيام وان كان في الفطور وان كان في الصيام ولا يميل الى اهل النفاق ولا ينعطف الى الفاظهم المرة المذاق لانهم يتكلمون بالهذيان وينطقون بالفاظ الكذب والطغيان ويقولون ان هذا التيبيكون وضعوه لكنائس الرهبان وليس هو فرض على كنائس البلدان ويزعمون ان فيه واحد لكنائس الديورة واخر لكنائس المدن المعمورة فقد كذبوا في زعمهم وضلوا في ظلام كذبهم لان هذا الاختلاف لا يليق لجماعة المؤمنين لانه من بدع الاضداد والمخالفين واولئك كل طائفة منهم تنسب الى صاحب بدعة وطقوس كنائسهم مختلفة شنعة واما التيبيكون في كنائسهم معدوم وفي كل كنيسة لهم طقس ورسوم فالواجب علينا ان نخالف اقوالهم ولا نتبع سبل ضلالهم لاننا نحن معشر الارثوذكسيين امانتنا واحدة وكنيستنا واحدة وترتيب صلاتنا واحد وحساب اعيادنا واحد وطقس قداساتنا واحد ورأينا واحد ولنا تبيبيكون واحد للاديرة وللبلدان ولاهل العالم وللرهبان وهو كتاب الرسوم المختص بملة الروم فمن تمسك به مبارك ومن خالفه محروم اعني من المجمع السابع الكبير المسكوني المجتمع في مدينة نيقية على عهد قسطنطين الكبير وامه ايريني سنة ستة الاف وثلاث مائة وعشرين لكون الدنيا الموافق لسنة ثمان مائة واثني عشر لتجسد يسوع المسيح سيدنا له المجد الى الابد امين.


Richard Barrett said...

Lovely! So, is he railing against customs from the Roman Catholics, Islam, or un-Hellenized practice in general? I find it interesting that he insists that there's no such thing as the cathedral/monastery distinction with respect to rites; one wonders if he had any access to the work of St. Symeon of Thessaloniki. (Probably not?)

What's the register of the Arabic? (I'm not able to discern that after first year.) The way you've translated the first bit is a bit Chrysostom-esque, which is also interesting.

And is it just me, or is he subtly (or not-so-subtly) trying to make the point that the "Greek" typikon is actually of Arabic origin?

Samn! said...


He's up to a lot of things. In terms of talking about the "heretics" and the "transgressors", he's almost certainly referring to the Syriac Orthodox (or less likely, given his personal geography, the Maronites) and the last remnants of liturgical overlap with them. He was very pro-Catholic and I don't know of any anti-Latin postures on his part....

I haven't gone through this particular version of the Typikon (or its Venetian vorlage) to see, but the early Syriac and Arabic versions of the Typikon contain multiple references highlighting differences with the Studite typikon. I have no idea whether Meletius would've had access to St Symeon of Thessaloniki at the time, to be honest.

The register of Arabic is fairly standard Ottoman-era prose, especially for homilies and the like. There's a bit of saj' (rhyme) here and there, but nothing too too rhetorical and no colloquialisms but the occasional grammatical mistake, possibly the fault of copyists.

I wouldn't say that he's claiming it as Arabic so much as he's claiming it as Palestinian, especially given the Palestinian saints that he's careful to mention.... He does, after all, emphasize the Greek (Rumi) character of the Typikon.

Anonymous said...

Mamnounak iktîr. Again a great contribution. Symeon of Thessalonica is the last witness of the 'Typicon of the Great Church'. By the Time of Meletios Karma the entire Byzantien world has adopted, in different stages of development, the Sabbaitic Typicon, cfr. to this day the many peculiar russian customs, which in many ways are remnants of 'Studite' customs, especially on Feast-Days like the solemn processions during Vigils with the singin of the 'Praises' - Velichanije, while the icon is brought forth from the vêma at the time of polyeleos. In the slavic world four subsequent 'redactions' of the Typicon of Mar Saba are known until the last formal edition of Moscow of 1904. It would be most interesting to know whether in the melkite world something similar is known, due to rivalling constantinopolitan and hagiopolitan influence in roum orthodoxy.

Samn! said...

In the first decade of the 20th century, St Raphael Hawaweeny published in New York an Arabic translation of the Typikon (as well as a Euchologion and the Horologion) on the basis of both Slavonic and Greek texts, though I haven't looked into precisely which sources he used and how he used them. I'm also not sure if it got any use in the Middle East, but it was standard in Antiochian parishes in North America for a few decades.