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« on: June 19, 2006, 12:24:17 PM »

Greetings,

Could anyone give me any background on the Apostle's Fast?  I am beginning it today, but as a recent convert I don't have any idea of the developement and "ethos" of this fast. 

Thanks.
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« Reply #1 on: June 19, 2006, 12:26:44 PM »

Could anyone give me any background on the Apostle's Fast?ÂÂ  I am beginning it today, but as a recent convert I don't have any idea of the developement and "ethos" of this fast.ÂÂ  

I posted on this very issue just a couple of hours ago! Wink

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php?topic=9307.0

That post, of course, references this recent thread (which explains the history and purpose of the Apostles' Fast): http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php?topic=8905.0
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« Reply #2 on: June 23, 2006, 09:30:31 AM »

Here's an entry from the 'Rites Encyclopedia' on www.copticheritage.org, pertinent to your inquiry:

The rite of the Fast and Feast of the Apostles, including the rite of the lakkan.

Quote
Introduction

The Fast of the Apostles is one of the oldest fasts in the church, and was previously known as the "Fast of Pentecost". However, during the Ecumenical Council of Nicea in 325 A.D., its name was changed to "Fast of the Apostles" which is carried through till today. In the Holy Dioscolia (collected in the third century), it is written: "After you complete the Feast of Pentecost, have a feast for another week... then we fast after the rest." However, in the book The Canon of the Apostles, which was one of the books of Clement of Rome (collected in the fourth century), it states: "They continued to speak in the new tongues of the nations, in which they preached, and He told them what must be done by the congregations with regards to prayer, worship, and the laws, and they thanked God for this knowledge they received. They fasted for forty days, thanking God through it, and then Peter washed the feet of the disciples... then they departed to all the nations to call people to the faith." As for the book The Lamp that Enlightens the Service, written by the fourteenth-century scholar Shams Al-Ri'asa Ibn Al-Sheikh Al-Akmal Al-As'ad, who is also known as the "Father of Blessings", Ibn Kabar, the priest of a church referred to as the Hanging Church, wrote: "The Fast of the saintly Fathers, the Disciples, which is also called 'Fast of Pentecost,' begins with the Monday after the Holy Fifty Days, and it ends on the fourth of Epip, the night that commemorates the martyrdom of the Apostles Peter and Paul..." Currently, this is the accepted opinion of the Coptic Orthodox Church, as well as the Syrian and Greek Orthodox Churches.

From these sources, we find that the Apostles fasted after the descent of the Holy Spirit on them, as well as between the Ascension of the Christ and the Feast of Pentecost. The aim of these fasts were different: the fast after the Ascension was because the Apostles were waiting for the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which was promised to them by the Lord of glory. This sort of fasting is also the reason why we fast before communion and baptism, or the fasting of a bishop before his ordination - it prepares us to receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit. As for Apostles' fast after Pentecost, it was a fast of thanksgiving to God for the gifts of the Holy Spirit that they received, and it served a purpose of preparing them for another service, which was to preach to the world. Thus, service and preaching are an important cornerstone to this fast. Moreover, the work of the Holy Spirit is clearly seen in the Church. The Church fasts during the week that follows the Feast of Pentecost, but this does not contradict the rules of the Feast, because, as Saint Basil and Saint John Chrysostom say, "to feast is not to break a fast." The same applies to the Feast of the Annunciation, where we do not contravene our fast for the Great Lent. The Feast of Transfiguration, which usually occurs during the Fast of the Virgin, is another occasion where we do not break the fast. We fast during the Minor Feasts of the Lord (the Circumcision Feast, the Feast of the Lord's Entry into the Temple, the Feast of the Lord's Entry to Egypt, the Feast of the Wedding of Cana of Galilee, and Maundy Thursday) if they come on a Wednesday or Friday. We fast as well on some of the feasts of the Virgin Mary and any of the feasts of the martyrs or saints. Hence, breaking the fast does not follow the celebration of Pentecost, but rather we celebrate with fasting, prayer, and thanksgiving.

Accordingly, we can conclude that the Apostles fasted for ten days after the Ascension of Christ, to prepare themselves to receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit. This accords with the Lord's saying: "The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast" (Mt. 9:15). On Pentecost day, the Holy Spirit descended with His gifts on the disciples, so they fasted with thanksgiving to God and to prepare themselves for service and preaching. In this way, the disciples did exactly as their Lord, who fasted for forty days after the Holy Spirit descended on Him. This is also evident in the Acts of the Apostles: "While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, 'Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.' Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off. So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit... they proclaimed the word of God" (Acts 13:2-5). Therefore, the Fast of our Fathers, the Apostles, has an important place in our church, since it is related to the work of the Holy Spirit in the believers.


The article goes on to explain the Coptic rite of this Fast and Feast: http://copticheritage.org/PagEd+index-page_id-358.phtml

I'd be curious to know how similar/different our rite is to the rites practised by other Churches. For example, do other Churches practise the "rite of the lakkan" (i.e. "liturgy of the water")?
 


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« Reply #3 on: June 23, 2006, 10:39:26 AM »

Here's an entry from the 'Rites Encyclopedia' on www.copticheritage.org, pertinent to your inquiry:

I'm not aware of the scholarly quality of this Encyclopedia, but a number of things in this particular entry seem questionable to say the least. I suppose I'll just take them one at a time.

Quote
However, during the Ecumenical Council of Nicea in 325 A.D., its name was changed to "Fast of the Apostles" which is carried through till today.

I cannot remember any text from the Ecumenical Council of Nicaea I that does any such thing. Perhaps the later Coptic translations of the original Greek texts have had some scribal additions? (This is certainly not unheard of, since even the governmentally approved Latin -- and sometimes even the original Greek manuscripts -- vary on important points.) At any rate, I would like to see the exact quote from the Coptic versions of Nicaea I that mentions this "Fast of the Apostles" -- if it actually exists!

Quote
In the Holy Dioscolia (collected in the third century), it is written: "After you complete the Feast of Pentecost, have a feast for another week... then we fast after the rest."

I assume this is a reference to the Syriac Didascalia Apostolorum (since this is the third century text that forms the basis of the early-fifth-century Apostolic Constitutions). It's been a long time since I have read this text, but I do remember that its manuscript history is rather shabby and quite confused, and that there are significant differences between the Syriac, the later Latin translation and the reconstructed Greek text. At any rate, this text is of Syrian provenance and does not necessarily reflect the universal practice of the Church in the 3rd century. It is not systematic, dogmatic or even very well organized. Rather, it is a kind of pastoral manual put together by a particular Bishop in Syria.

At any rate, I think one would need to see what the actual text says in the various manuscripts before jumping to conclusions. Even this quote, however, does not use the term "Fast of the Apostles," nor does it describe anything similar to the "Fast of the Apostles" as we now know it in either the EO or OO traditions. In fact, the quote speaks of a fast-free week (which we still have in the EO tradition), but then only speaks of fasting "after the rest," which sounds more like saying: "Go back to the usual Wednesday and Friday fast." (This would make the most sense, considering what I remember about the Syriac text.) Regardless, this quote certainly does NOT say one should fast for a certain amount of time in a certain way for a certain reason with certain rituals.

Again, the text needs to be looked at, since this particular quote may be corrupt and is possibly misleading and/or misconstrued.

Quote
However, in the book The Canon of the Apostles, which was one of the books of Clement of Rome (collected in the fourth century), it states: "They continued to speak in the new tongues of the nations, in which they preached, and He told them what must be done by the congregations with regards to prayer, worship, and the laws, and they thanked God for this knowledge they received. They fasted for forty days, thanking God through it, and then Peter washed the feet of the disciples... then they departed to all the nations to call people to the faith."

Yet another troubling sign about this Encyclopedia's reliability. I assume we are talking about the Apostolic Constitutions, which is an expanded early-fifth-century Greek version of the Syriac Didascalia. This early-fifth-century version also includes a number of canons, usually referred to in the Orthodox tradition as the Apostolic Canons or the Canons of the Apostles. As a fifth-century Greek text, none of the parts of this work have any authentic connection to St. Clement of Rome, a fact which makes one wonder about the quality of this Encyclopedia. At any rate, even if the quote in this Encyclopedia is authentic, it too gives us no indication that the early Church observed a "Fast of the Apostles." In fact, the quote simply describes a bit of history. It does not say: "So, you should do likewise" or "Thus, the Church has always followed their example."

Assuming, for the sake of argument, that this quote is, in fact, intended as more than a description of the Church's history, we run into other strange difficulties, since none of the Apostolic Canons (which are taken from a section of the larger Apostolic Constitutions), make any mention of a "Fast of the Apostles." This is quite significant, since several of the canons in question deal with Church fasts, describe when they should occur, and explain what the penalty is for not observing them. Why would the early-fifth-century authors of the Apostolic Constitutions write a story about the Apostles' action in the historical part of their text (intending this to be an instruction about the "Fast of the Apostles" -- which they don't mention!), and then not write a canon about this "Fast of the Apostles," nor even mention it along with the other fasting stipulations?

I think even pious Orthodox sources, such as St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite, have admitted for many years that the Apostles' Fast is not an ancient tradition (for that matter, neither are the Nativity and Dormition Fasts!). There is no basis for its antiquity, nor its universality, in any of the documents of the early Church. This is how St. Nikodemos puts it in the Rudder:

Quote
For notwithstanding the fact that these particular fasts are not ordained by the Apostles**, we are nevertheless in duty bound to observe also the traditions handed down by the Fathers on account of long consuetude, which has the force of a law, according to the sacred and civil laws. And because, according to St. Basil the Great (see his sermon on morals LXX), even in those matters wherein nothing is particularly stated in the Bible, we ought to exhort everyone towards what is best and of the greatest benefit of the soul.

** St. Nikodemos mentions "the Apostles" because of the canon on which he is commenting, namely, Canon LXIX of the Holy Apostles. Basically, he is admitting that even the early-fifth-century "Canons of the Holy Apostles" do not make any mention of the "Fast of the Apostles" (as I pointed out above), but then goes on to offer a spiritual justification for this later practice of the Church.

Perhaps I'll post more later. I would be interested in hearing more about the current Coptic practices. I wonder if there are any Coptic liturgists who have examined the sources carefully. Based on my exposure to the Greek and Latin sources -- and the way textual corruption occurred and liturgical traditions arose in Late Antiquity -- I wouldn't be surprised if the traditions are no older than the 10th or even 14th century.
« Last Edit: June 23, 2006, 11:21:23 AM by pensateomnia » Logged

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« Reply #4 on: June 24, 2006, 05:58:57 PM »

pensateomnia,

I'll have to get back to you on just about every criticism you made, since I admittedly do not know enough in this area to adequately address the issues you've raised. Regarding your final comment however:

Quote
I wouldn't be surprised if the traditions are no older than the 10th or even 14th century.

Wouldn't it be difficult to draw such a conclusion in light of the fact that both EO's and OO's essentially share the same traditions?
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« Reply #5 on: June 24, 2006, 06:18:59 PM »

Wouldn't it be difficult to draw such a conclusion in light of the fact that both EO's and OO's essentially share the same traditions?

1) It's simply a fact that the Apostles' Fast is not an ancient practice of the Church.

2) As far as I know, the EO and OO traditions during the Apostles' fast are quite different. The only similarity seems to be that there is a fast, it starts about the same time in the liturgical year and it is called the Fast of the Apostles. The severity, length, reasoning and liturgical services during this period, however, are quite different.

3) That said, why would both traditions have a "Fast of the Apostles" of any kind if said fast didn't originate before the schism? Well, that's a very interesting question. I'm beginning to uncover a few ways in which there have been liturgical and manuscript-related exchange between the Copts and the Byzantines well after the schism. Ecclesiastical marriage/re-marriage seems to be one such example. This may be another.
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« Reply #6 on: June 13, 2012, 11:37:57 PM »

BUMP!!! just curious to now the the different OO traditions of the number of days of fasting in the Apostes' fast...and EO as well.
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« Reply #7 on: June 13, 2012, 11:47:39 PM »

BUMP!!! just curious to now the the different OO traditions of the number of days of fasting in the Apostes' fast...and EO as well.
In the Greek Orthodox Church (it's only this that I can say with certainty), the Apostles' Fast begins the Monday following All Saints' Day (the Sunday after Pentecost, always) and continues until June 28, no matter what. Of course, this year, since June 28 lands on a Thursday, fasting will continue until June 29, it being a Friday Smiley This means that the Apostles' Fast can last anywhere between 0 and 28 days. Hope I helped, God bless.
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« Reply #8 on: June 13, 2012, 11:48:47 PM »

Oh, and this year the Apostles' Fast is 18 days Smiley
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« Reply #9 on: June 13, 2012, 11:54:48 PM »

BUMP!!! just curious to now the the different OO traditions of the number of days of fasting in the Apostes' fast...and EO as well.
In the Greek Orthodox Church (it's only this that I can say with certainty), the Apostles' Fast begins the Monday following All Saints' Day (the Sunday after Pentecost, always) and continues until June 28, no matter what. Of course, this year, since June 28 lands on a Thursday, fasting will continue until June 29, it being a Friday Smiley This means that the Apostles' Fast can last anywhere between 0 and 28 days. Hope I helped, God bless.

The possibility of no Apostle's Fast (as in 2013)... one of my peeves about the New Calendar. But I digress.

By the Julian ("Old") Calendar, the fast can be from 8 to 42 days in length.
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« Reply #10 on: June 14, 2012, 12:01:42 AM »

BUMP!!! just curious to now the the different OO traditions of the number of days of fasting in the Apostes' fast...and EO as well.
In the Greek Orthodox Church (it's only this that I can say with certainty), the Apostles' Fast begins the Monday following All Saints' Day (the Sunday after Pentecost, always) and continues until June 28, no matter what. Of course, this year, since June 28 lands on a Thursday, fasting will continue until June 29, it being a Friday Smiley This means that the Apostles' Fast can last anywhere between 0 and 28 days. Hope I helped, God bless.

Ya, it begins on the same day in the Coptic Church, only the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul is on July 12, not June.
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« Reply #11 on: June 14, 2012, 12:07:50 AM »

BUMP!!! just curious to now the the different OO traditions of the number of days of fasting in the Apostes' fast...and EO as well.
In the Greek Orthodox Church (it's only this that I can say with certainty), the Apostles' Fast begins the Monday following All Saints' Day (the Sunday after Pentecost, always) and continues until June 28, no matter what. Of course, this year, since June 28 lands on a Thursday, fasting will continue until June 29, it being a Friday Smiley This means that the Apostles' Fast can last anywhere between 0 and 28 days. Hope I helped, God bless.

Ya, it begins on the same day in the Coptic Church, only the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul is on July 12, not June.

The Orthodox Church that follow the Old Calendar celebrates it on July 12th as well.
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« Reply #12 on: June 14, 2012, 06:43:52 PM »

Ya, it begins on the same day in the Coptic Church, only the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul is on July 12, not June.

I.e. June 28 on the Julian calendar.
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« Reply #13 on: June 14, 2012, 06:48:43 PM »

What about the other OO Churches? Just curious.
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« Reply #14 on: June 14, 2012, 07:48:48 PM »

This year, I have a dentist's appointment on Sts. Peter and Paul's Day. Lucky me.  Tongue
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« Reply #15 on: June 14, 2012, 07:51:38 PM »

Ya, it begins on the same day in the Coptic Church, only the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul is on July 12, not June.

I.e. June 28 on the Julian calendar.
June 29, O.S.
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« Reply #16 on: June 14, 2012, 07:57:40 PM »

This year, I have a dentist's appointment on Sts. Peter and Paul's Day. Lucky me.  Tongue
But you get to eat what you want thereafter Grin
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