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DavidH
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« on: September 06, 2009, 09:24:22 PM »

What is the earliest evidence for incense being used in Christian worship? The earliest written evidence I have found is the Apostolic Constitutions which is dated after Nicea and the earliest archaeological evidence may be a reference one Orthodox speaker made to a censer found in a ante-Nicene church c. 250 AD although he did not give any details....
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« Reply #1 on: September 06, 2009, 09:44:14 PM »

Heavenly worship is described as using incense in Revelation, chapter 5.
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« Reply #2 on: September 06, 2009, 10:06:49 PM »

Heavenly worship is described as using incense in Revelation, chapter 5.

Thank you, Salpy- I know and accept the biblical passages for the use of incense. However, I have been told that the pre-Nicene Church did not use incense due to its association with emperor worship. I am wanting to find references to defend the practice either in pre-Nicene times or for an explanation of when and why it became the norm after the persecutions. I already have my own ideas on this but I don't want to influence any answers.
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scamandrius
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« Reply #3 on: September 06, 2009, 10:08:36 PM »

Incense was used in Jewish worship (Psalm 140: 2) and early Christian worship was a continution out of the Jewish tradition.  Despite written evidence, I think it is very safe to say that incense was commonplace even within the house churches of the first and second centuries onwards to today.
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« Reply #4 on: September 06, 2009, 11:26:13 PM »

Look at the psalm verses (from Ps 104) at "Lord, I have called" at Vespers.
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« Reply #5 on: September 10, 2009, 06:32:14 PM »

David is not looking for proof texts about the use of incense in the Old Testament and in Heaven. He wants to know when exactly in Church history Christians began using incense in Christian liturgy.
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« Reply #6 on: September 10, 2009, 07:46:35 PM »

Thank you, Samkin!
I am looking for the earliest patristic use/ acceptance of incense despite some of the ante-Nicene Fathers apparent statements against it, or at least the most reasonable Orthodox apologia for the later use of it. I myself accept the Biblical rationale and believe the use of incense to be right and appropriate- I am simply trying to find the best explanation for what appears to be the earlier non-use vs. the later use (preferably with patristic proof texts). The author of the article I linked could be Rasputin for all I care- his patristic citations should be dealt with on their own merits. How do we answer people who pull out these quotes?
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« Reply #7 on: September 11, 2009, 06:34:09 PM »

What is the earliest evidence for incense being used in Christian worship? The earliest written evidence I have found is the Apostolic Constitutions which is dated after Nicea and the earliest archaeological evidence may be a reference one Orthodox speaker made to a censer found in a ante-Nicene church c. 250 AD although he did not give any details....

That is correct.  With the extant writings we have today (many others were burned in the iconoclastic period which suggested icons and things of this nature), the only witness is the Apostolic Constitutions and archaelogical finds.   Much of the Apostolic Constitutions is from the early 200's, as we find in the Didascalia Apostolorum.  Since we do not find the text on incense there, we simply do not know if the use of incense might have been in use then or not based on this text.   We also have mention of its use in Dionysius the Areopagite.   But one must not discount the "liturgy of heaven" references to incense arising with the prayer of the Saints in revelation as a liturgical reference.   Thus, we have its use still in the late 1st century, archaelogical find from 130 years later, and the reference in the ApConst. which may date from the early 200's but can only with certainty be dated to the 4th century.   It is interesting that all of these are found in the east (asia minor and syria), whereas in Rome and Alexandria we have writings that specifically stand against the use of incense because of its use in emporer worship and in Rome especially due to the obvious close proximity to the emporer.   
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« Reply #8 on: September 11, 2009, 07:42:14 PM »

Simply put, there's not a lot of documentary evidence related to teleturgics from the first two centuries. And many sources that do mention something about worship are written by highly educated philosophers (e.g. Justin Martyr or Clement of Alexandria). This poses a historiographical problem, I think, because educated people of that time looked down on the use of incense in general. Hellenistic philosophers had been ranting against its use -- and against religious sculpture and painting -- for generations upon generations. This is especially true of the schools in Alexandria and Rome. Thus, any educated person would naturally be inclined to dismiss or condemn incense. To do otherwise would be plain ignorant and very plebian. IIRC, Clement more or less says so himself. He was a consummately urbane gentleman, fully in tune with the best philosophy and science of his time.
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