We deny to claim "any Superiority to ourself
to defyne, decyde, or determyn any Article or Poynt
of the Christian Fayth and Relligion,
or to chang any Ancient Ceremony of the Church
from the Forme before received and observed
by the Catholick and Apostolick Church."

Norman Simplicity

Norman Simplicity
Click image for original | © Vitrearum (Allan Barton)

Friday, January 15, 2016

Acta Pilati

A consideration of the Johannine signs in the liturgy, of course, proceeds from a modern and quite theological bent. Which, of course, may be completely anachronistic. How many are prepared to include in their cogitations "a famous apocryphal document which has exercised a great influence upon art, literature and theology, the so-called Acta Pilati" (p. 43)?

One lectionary tradition includes "The Feeding of the Five Thousand" as the last gospel before Advent. Because that tradition's Advent pericopes lead off with Matthew 21:1-9, the connection must be "Jesus ergo cum cognovisset quia venturi essent ut raperent eum, et facerent eum regem, fugit iterum in montem ipse solus." Jesus was to become king ... but not by force.

It would be lovely to discuss these and other issues with the scholars of the day. But who are they? Who takes up topics akin to the following?

Earlier I proposed some amateur hypothesis about the pre-1955 Palm Sunday rite. But peeking into a Cistercian missal suggests that things are much more complicated. There we have (1) a Benedictio Ramorum; (2) a Dominica in Ramis Palmorum [Philippians 2 and Matthew 21]; and then (3) a Passio Domini Nostri [Matthew 26].

The first of these -- the blessing -- seems to be copied directly from the Mozarabic.

In any event, the Gallican readings for that day are quite interesting, and a beautiful example on how the Prophecy fits with the Gospel in some detail, whereas the Epistle is a theological exposition of themes of the liturgical cycle. (Naturally, only the Epistle makes it into the RCL (on a Sunday or major feast day). The rest is probably too harsh or maybe deemed anti-Semitic. Shame.)

Isaiah 57.1-4a, 13b

The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart: and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come. He shall enter into peace: they shall rest in their beds, each one walking in his uprightness. But draw near hither, ye sons of the sorceress, the seed of the adulterer and the whore. Against whom do ye sport yourselves? against whom make ye a wide mouth, and draw out the tongue? But he that putteth his trust in me shall possess the land, and shall inherit my holy mountain.

1 Peter 2. 21-25.

For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

John 12.1-8, 12-16

Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead. There they made him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him. Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, which should betray him, Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein. Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this. For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always. On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord. And Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is written, Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass’s colt. These things understood not his disciples at the first: but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of him, and that they had done these things unto him.

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