Author Topic: Signs of the Cross before and after Chalcedon  (Read 867 times)

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Offline Regnare

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Signs of the Cross before and after Chalcedon
« on: June 19, 2014, 04:08:55 PM »
I've seen it claimed, both times in polemical works claiming that the non-Chalcedonian churches are Monophysite, that people of said churches cross themselves with only one finger to signify the one nature of God the Word incarnate. However, I'm pretty sure they cross themselves with three fingers like Chalcedonians do, only left-to-right rather than right-to-left. Was there ever a time where they crossed themselves with one finger?
Now that I think about it, the three-finger cross is a new thing for Chalcedonians as well, since the old way was with two. But that sounds like a post-Chalcedonian development, since the two fingers signify the two natures of Christ. So how did Christians cross themselves before Chalcedon, and how did non-Chalcedonians cross themselves after?

Offline dhinuus

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Re: Signs of the Cross before and after Chalcedon
« Reply #1 on: June 19, 2014, 05:56:37 PM »
I'm pretty sure they cross themselves with three fingers like Chalcedonians do, only left-to-right rather than right-to-left.

You are right about Non-Chacedonians(aka Oriental Orthodox) crossing from left to right. But not all Chalcedonians cross from right to left. Only the "Byzantine" Chalcedonians (aka Eastern Orthodox) cross themselves right to left. The "Latin" Chalcedonians (aka Roman Catholic) cross from the left to right.  Also it might be interesting for you to know that the Nestorian Church of the East cross themselves right to left.
« Last Edit: June 19, 2014, 05:57:07 PM by dhinuus »
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Offline Regnare

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Re: Signs of the Cross before and after Chalcedon
« Reply #2 on: June 19, 2014, 07:17:34 PM »
I'm pretty sure they cross themselves with three fingers like Chalcedonians do, only left-to-right rather than right-to-left.

You are right about Non-Chacedonians(aka Oriental Orthodox) crossing from left to right. But not all Chalcedonians cross from right to left. Only the "Byzantine" Chalcedonians (aka Eastern Orthodox) cross themselves right to left. The "Latin" Chalcedonians (aka Roman Catholic) cross from the left to right.  Also it might be interesting for you to know that the Nestorian Church of the East cross themselves right to left.
That's true; I was speaking primarily of those two churches which claim the title "Orthodox". I'm aware that the Assyrians cross themselves the same way as the Eastern Orthodox do (I'd be also interested to learn where they picked it up). As for the Roman Catholics, they actually crossed themselves the same way as the Eastern Orthodox until around the time of the Council of Trent in the late 1500s, so I'm not concerned with their example.

Offline kijabeboy03

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Re: Signs of the Cross before and after Chalcedon
« Reply #3 on: June 20, 2014, 03:49:30 PM »
I've seen it claimed, both times in polemical works claiming that the non-Chalcedonian churches are Monophysite, that people of said churches cross themselves with only one finger to signify the one nature of God the Word incarnate. However, I'm pretty sure they cross themselves with three fingers like Chalcedonians do, only left-to-right rather than right-to-left. Was there ever a time where they crossed themselves with one finger?
Now that I think about it, the three-finger cross is a new thing for Chalcedonians as well, since the old way was with two. But that sounds like a post-Chalcedonian development, since the two fingers signify the two natures of Christ. So how did Christians cross themselves before Chalcedon, and how did non-Chalcedonians cross themselves after?

How Oriental Orthodox cross themselves varies from tradition to tradition. In Ethiopia/Eritrea you are generally supposed to make a cross with your fingers - I've most often seen people curve their last three fingers with the pointer finger and thumb relatively straight up, with the pointer crossing the curved last fingers to make a cross. (There's a ton of variation though.) I don't know about the other traditions - I've only rarely had the opportunity to visit their churches, and I was more taken with the services themselves than with how people were making their crosses.
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