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Author Topic: History of the Dormition Fast  (Read 1073 times) Average Rating: 0
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DavidH
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« on: August 14, 2009, 09:48:24 PM »

I was recently trying to trace the history of the Dormition Fast online and was trying to find the earliest references to it in patristic writings. I have discovered that this fast is kept by the Eastern Orthodox, the non-Chalcedonians, and the Assyrian churches so I think it is reasonable to conclude that this fast was universally settled into the life of the Church before the Council of Ephesus when the Nestorians left. Does anyone have references from writers earlier than this to show the fast's earlier history?
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« Reply #1 on: August 15, 2009, 09:54:00 AM »

Does anybody know if the western church kept this fast? I know at one time they kept the fast of the Holy Apostles.
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« Reply #2 on: August 15, 2009, 10:37:37 AM »

If you can read Greek, this is what st. Theodore the Studite writes:
«Ἡ δέ γε τοῦ Αὐγούστου νηστεία εἰς τιμὴν ὑπάρχει τῆς τοῦ Θεοῦ Λόγου Μητρός, ἥτις προγνοῦσα τὴν μετάστασιν ἑαυτῆς, καὶ πάντοτε μὲν ἦν ἀγωνιζομένη ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν νηστεύουσα, μὴ χρείαν ἔχουσα νηστείας ἡ καθαρὰ καὶ πανάμωμος. Διὸ καὶ ἡμεῖς τότε νηστεύειν καὶ ἀνυμνεῖν αὐτὴν ὀφείλομεν, τόν τε βίον αὐτῆς ἐκμιμούμενοι καὶ εἰς τὰς ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν διεγείροντες ἱκεσίας»
[He roughly states that the Dormition fast exists to honour and imitate the Mother of God, who had foreknowlege of her passing and fasted before her Dormition].
St Nicodemus the Hagiorite writes:
«Ὅθεν φέρωντες εἰς τοῦτο καὶ ἄλλας ἀποδείξεις, στοχαστικώτατα ἔφερε καὶ τὸν τόμον τῆς Ἑνώσεως, ὅπου ἔγινεν, ὡς εἴπομεν, εἰς τοὺς 922, εἰς τὸν ὁποῖον βλέπομεν, πῶς οἱ Πατέρες ἐκείνης τῆς Συνόδου ἀναφέρουν κοντὰ εἰς τὴν ἁγίαν Τεσσαρακοστὴν καὶ τὰς ἄλλας δύω, ὅθεν συμπεραίνεται καὶ ἐκεῖθεν ἡ αὐτῶν ἀρχαιότης. Καὶ ἀληθινά, διὰ νὰ εἰποῦμεν καὶ ἡμεῖς ὡς ἐν παρόδῳ πρέπει νὰ ἔχουν καὶ αὐταῖς τὸ αἰδέσιμον, διὰ τί, ὅταν εἰς τὰ 922 ἔτη σημειώνονται, καὶ ἡμεῖς τώρα εὑρισκόμεθα εἰς τοὺς 1790 καὶ ἐπέκεινα, πῶς ἠμποροῦμεν νὰ τὰς λέγωμεν νεωτερίσματα; ἔπειτα τότε σημειώνωνται, μὰ ἀπὸ τότε δὲν ἄρχισαν, ἀλλὰ καὶ προτήτερα ἦσαν, ἤγουν ἐξ ἀρχαίων χρόνων ἐσυνειθίζοντο εἰς τὴν Ἐκκλησίαν, εἶχε διαμορφωθῆ ἤδη κατὰ τὸν Η' αἰῶνα»
[He roughly describes the Dormition Fast as an old one, because it's mentioned for the first time in 922 AD (3rd canon of the local synod of Neocaesarea, in 922 AD) therefore it is a much older custom, probably established in the 8th century]
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DavidH
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« Reply #3 on: August 15, 2009, 11:03:10 AM »

Thank you for the quote by St. Theodore. But I think the fast would have to have been established throughout the East at least by the early 4th century at the latest. I think this because it is kept by the Eastern Orthodox, the non-Chalcedonians, and the Nestorians alike. Since the Nestorians broke away after the Council of Ephesus in 431 and Chalcedon was in 451, I don't see both of these adopting an Eastern Orthodox practice that late. It seems that the fast and feast had to have been already well settled by the time of Ephesus or we wouldn't all three have this practice in common. Unfortunately it seems that the wriiten record on this is sparse.
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« Reply #4 on: August 15, 2009, 11:36:53 AM »

I think this because it is kept by the Eastern Orthodox, the non-Chalcedonians, and the Nestorians alike. Since the Nestorians broke away after the Council of Ephesus in 431 and Chalcedon was in 451, I don't see both of these adopting an Eastern Orthodox practice that late.

It happens. There are several major liturgical, doctrinal and canonical examples of cross-pollination among the various Eastern communions, most of which seemed to happen around the same time as the sources quoted by St. Nikodemos. Very interesting, if you ask me. I've been writing an article on this for a couple of years, but it's slow going b/c of my relative lack of knowledge of the Syriac, Coptic and Ethiopic sources.
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« Reply #5 on: August 16, 2009, 07:30:36 AM »

How can Assyrians have Dormition Fast as they do not consider Mary to be Theotokos?
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« Reply #6 on: August 16, 2009, 01:17:06 PM »

If you can read Greek, this is what st. Theodore the Studite writes:
«Ἡ δέ γε τοῦ Αὐγούστου νηστεία εἰς τιμὴν ὑπάρχει τῆς τοῦ Θεοῦ Λόγου Μητρός, ἥτις προγνοῦσα τὴν μετάστασιν ἑαυτῆς, καὶ πάντοτε μὲν ἦν ἀγωνιζομένη ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν νηστεύουσα, μὴ χρείαν ἔχουσα νηστείας ἡ καθαρὰ καὶ πανάμωμος. Διὸ καὶ ἡμεῖς τότε νηστεύειν καὶ ἀνυμνεῖν αὐτὴν ὀφείλομεν, τόν τε βίον αὐτῆς ἐκμιμούμενοι καὶ εἰς τὰς ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν διεγείροντες ἱκεσίας»
[He roughly states that the Dormition fast exists to honour and imitate the Mother of God, who had foreknowlege of her passing and fasted before her Dormition].
St Nicodemus the Hagiorite writes:
«Ὅθεν φέρωντες εἰς τοῦτο καὶ ἄλλας ἀποδείξεις, στοχαστικώτατα ἔφερε καὶ τὸν τόμον τῆς Ἑνώσεως, ὅπου ἔγινεν, ὡς εἴπομεν, εἰς τοὺς 922, εἰς τὸν ὁποῖον βλέπομεν, πῶς οἱ Πατέρες ἐκείνης τῆς Συνόδου ἀναφέρουν κοντὰ εἰς τὴν ἁγίαν Τεσσαρακοστὴν καὶ τὰς ἄλλας δύω, ὅθεν συμπεραίνεται καὶ ἐκεῖθεν ἡ αὐτῶν ἀρχαιότης. Καὶ ἀληθινά, διὰ νὰ εἰποῦμεν καὶ ἡμεῖς ὡς ἐν παρόδῳ πρέπει νὰ ἔχουν καὶ αὐταῖς τὸ αἰδέσιμον, διὰ τί, ὅταν εἰς τὰ 922 ἔτη σημειώνονται, καὶ ἡμεῖς τώρα εὑρισκόμεθα εἰς τοὺς 1790 καὶ ἐπέκεινα, πῶς ἠμποροῦμεν νὰ τὰς λέγωμεν νεωτερίσματα; ἔπειτα τότε σημειώνωνται, μὰ ἀπὸ τότε δὲν ἄρχισαν, ἀλλὰ καὶ προτήτερα ἦσαν, ἤγουν ἐξ ἀρχαίων χρόνων ἐσυνειθίζοντο εἰς τὴν Ἐκκλησίαν, εἶχε διαμορφωθῆ ἤδη κατὰ τὸν Η' αἰῶνα»
[He roughly describes the Dormition Fast as an old one, because it's mentioned for the first time in 922 AD (3rd canon of the local synod of Neocaesarea, in 922 AD) therefore it is a much older custom, probably established in the 8th century]

What is your source for this?  What book did you copy this from?
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« Reply #7 on: August 16, 2009, 02:18:01 PM »

What is your source for this?  What book did you copy this from?
It's from a thesis by dr (of Theology) Maria Soteropoulos that can be found here:
http://www.myriobiblos.gr/texts/greek/sotiropoulou_nisteia.html
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