Friday, November 23, 2012

Constantinople Lecture, 2012

The Anglican and Eastern Churches Association in conjunction with The Nikean Club organised this year's Constantinople Lecture at Lambeth Palace, on the 22nd of November 2012. The evening began with Evensong in the Archbishop's Chapel, within Lambeth Palace. The Service was conducted by The Rev'd Dr. William Taylor, Chairman of the A.E.C.A. It was a fantastic experience giving the opportunity to everyone to join in a tradition of worship that has been offered by Archbishops of Canterbury and their households on this site since at least the 13th century. 



A magnificent surprise for all was the choir, which sang angelically. The choir that sang during Evensong is from the "Sing Evensong" project whose mission is to bring this ancient and beautiful service to churches where it has not been sung for many years, to churches without a choral tradition and to other atmospheric but unusual places, always at a time that is convenient for people who work nearby and those who have busy evenings. Fr William Taylor pointed out, "The Sing Evensong Choir is one of the best things that have come out of the Anglican Church".
The lecture, which followed Evensong, was given within the Archbishop's Chapel by The Rt Revd Dr Vahan Havhanessian, Primate of the Armenian Church in the U.K. and Ireland. His talk was on "The New Testament Apocrypha and the Armenian Church Canon of the Bible". 
He began his talk by explaining numerous terms, in order for everyone to understand their true meaning and for all to follow his paper. He explained that,
Bible: comes from the Plural of Greek word meaning book. Thus the word Bible means books, a collection of books. 
Biblical Canon: is the collection or list of books considered to be divinely inspired and authoritative. The word canon derives from the Greek κανών, meaning rule or measuring rod. The Canon of the Scriptures was formed in order to have a minimum of readings which were necessary for the Christian. Also it was a way of marking which were the accepted books and which were heretical. However, an interesting point is that there is no Ecumenical Council which has marked what books are to be in the Canon and which are not accepted. The West have a Synod in the 12th or 13th century, whilst the East has only a local synod, the Synod of Jerusalem.



Apocrypha, is a Greek word (απόκρυφα), meaning things that are hidden away. 
After giving the background history in regards to the Canon, the speaker examined the Armenian Bible, which was one of the first translations of the Bible. It is called the "Queen of Translations". However, until its translations, in the 4th century, the Church life and the Church Fathers spoke and worked using Greek. After the first translation of the Bible Armenian was used. The interesting fact is that together with the Canon, a number of Apocrypha were also translated and incorporated in the Armenian Bible. 
The 4 Apocrypha, which are part of the Armenian Canon are:


1. The Rest of the Evangelist John. This is a compilation of speeches and prayers attributed to the apostle John. In this book, the Evangelist knows that he will die, so he organises a Liturgy and makes his students dig his grave, in which he voluntarily rests while offering his final prayer. 
2. Third Corinthians. It is a two-letter correspondence between the Corinthians and Paul. The key theme of the correspondence is the fleshly resurrection of the dead. 
3. The Petition of Euthaliuse. It is a petition and exhortation to pursue the Christian way, to endure the consequent challenges and suffering and not to give up. 
4. The Sailings of the Apostle Paul to Rome. This small paragraph narrates the path of the Apostle's  journey, and the various stops, from Caesarea to Rome. 


There are of course more Apocrypha books, which are not used in Liturgical life as are the above four. The Rt. Revd concluded that a lack of an Ecumenical Council on this matter has left the fathers of the Armenian Church in the midst of a tension between two forces in the early centuries of Christianity. This resulted in the gradually developing of the universal canon list and the popularity of New Testament Apocrypha that were used by the early evangelists and preachers of Christianity in Armenia. The tension between these two forces can be clearly traced in the different lists of the Canon and the various Church Fathers of the Armenian Church.
The night concluded with supper, giving thus the opportunity to all the members of both the A.E.C.A. and the Nikean Club to come closer and talk about the lecture and current situations in regards to the relations between Western and Eastern Christianity. 

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