Author Topic: Separation of nave and altar  (Read 1309 times)

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Offline casisthename

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Separation of nave and altar
« on: February 17, 2012, 07:47:51 PM »
Hey guys,

I'm curious does anyone know why the nave and altar are still separated? I go to an evangelical topic and the whole tearing of the temple curtain and the end of the holy of holies is kind of a big discussion topic on campus (and excuse to do just plain odd things and call it "church"...)

Offline casisthename

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Re: Separation of nave and altar
« Reply #1 on: February 17, 2012, 07:48:26 PM »
*I go to an evangelic college not topic...

Offline Benjamin the Red

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Re: Separation of nave and altar
« Reply #2 on: February 17, 2012, 11:26:27 PM »
The Temple curtain is torn in to, this is why every Christian rite that uses a curtain, whether only a small one before the royal doors of an iconostasis (like the EO, Copts, etc.) or a large one all across (like the Armenians, Syriac, etc.) retracts that curtain and reminds us that it is open to us.

It is also very important to note that in the Old Testament, sacrifices were given by the people and taken into the Holy Place to be offered up to God, but in the New Testament, after we offer our sacrifice (bread and wine) Christ Himself comes back out to us and gives us His sacrifice...the body and blood of the Eucharist. The curtain serves to remind us of the Old Testament, and it shows forth the New Covenant of Christ with that imagery.

As far as the general separation of the altar and the nave...just because Christ has come doesn't mean that there aren't still holy places, priests, sacrifices and the like. Christ Himself said He came not to abolish the Law and the Prophets but to fulfill them. We maintain the symbols, patterns and traditions of the Old Covenant because they are still with us, simply fulfilled in Christ. What was worship in type and shadow then is now worship in spirit and truth.
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Offline scamandrius

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Re: Separation of nave and altar
« Reply #3 on: February 17, 2012, 11:39:30 PM »
The Temple curtain is torn in to, this is why every Christian rite that uses a curtain, whether only a small one before the royal doors of an iconostasis (like the EO, Copts, etc.) or a large one all across (like the Armenians, Syriac, etc.) retracts that curtain and reminds us that it is open to us.

It is also very important to note that in the Old Testament, sacrifices were given by the people and taken into the Holy Place to be offered up to God, but in the New Testament, after we offer our sacrifice (bread and wine) Christ Himself comes back out to us and gives us His sacrifice...the body and blood of the Eucharist. The curtain serves to remind us of the Old Testament, and it shows forth the New Covenant of Christ with that imagery.

As far as the general separation of the altar and the nave...just because Christ has come doesn't mean that there aren't still holy places, priests, sacrifices and the like. Christ Himself said He came not to abolish the Law and the Prophets but to fulfill them. We maintain the symbols, patterns and traditions of the Old Covenant because they are still with us, simply fulfilled in Christ. What was worship in type and shadow then is now worship in spirit and truth.

Exactly.  And also, we must not forget the symbolism inherent in preserving a separate nave and sanctuary (i.e. altar).  Their meeting is the meeting of heaven and earth, of holiness with sin and a fallen creation.  The doors to the Kingdom are always opened from inside never from outside showing Christ coming to us.  Just because Christ rent asunder the curtain does not mean that there is no longer separation or exile between sinners and the Heavens.
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Offline J.M.C

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Re: Separation of nave and altar
« Reply #4 on: February 18, 2012, 07:58:42 PM »

^^What they said^^

Attending the Divine Liturgy for any length of time and seeing the Icon Screen (iconostasis) in action helps with the concept. Then it becomes self-evident that the opening of the royal doors communicates the unity between Heaven and earth through Christ far more powerfully than if there were no doors to open in the first place. And so the iconostasis is needed not as a barrier, but to show us the nature of Heaven’s unity with the created world.

Keeping the seals intact, O Christ, you rose from the tomb
…and have opened to us the gates of Paradise.

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Offline Seraphim98

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Re: Separation of nave and altar
« Reply #5 on: February 21, 2012, 11:59:44 PM »
The reason dates from the time the iconostasis began to grow.  The Divine liturgy is meant only for the eyes of baptized Christians in good standing with God and the Church.  That is why just before the Creed you hear the exclamation, "The doors, the doors, in wisdom let us attend." It was at that point in very ancient times visitors, inquirers, catechumens, and those not communing or not in good standing left, and then the deacons shut and barred the doors.  When the priest elevates the gifts and says holy things for the holy, it is meant.

However. after Christianity was made legal and tolerated and converting became much easier (no threat of persecution), and indeed fashionable in a sense, and catechumens and other's had ceased to be actually dismissed, there was a problem…you still had holy things meant only for the holy, and yet the congregation was full of everyone from open sinners, to lapsed believers, to catechumens to penitents, etc.  So the solution was the curtain, and later in some parts of the world, the iconostasis (which began as an altar rail raised to support the curtain and then later solidified and covered with icons). The icons still teach the things embodied in the holy mysteries being celebrated on the other side of the curtain.  And a person of genuinely spiritual heart will perceive what is transpiring regardless of the presences of curtains or icons or no.  So for those of us who are not yet there, the iconostasis and the curtain cut off the sight of holy things from the unprepared, and the idly curious while the icons instruct the hearts of those who would be made ready and come to the fountain of immortality in repentance to be healed.

Offline Carl Kraeff (Second Chance)

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Re: Separation of nave and altar
« Reply #6 on: February 24, 2012, 12:40:20 PM »
^^ another excellent explanation!