Greeting the Resurrection through the Ages

Bright Tuesday Divine Liturgy, Constantinople, circa 1001 AD

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!

Yesterday we looked at a 14th-century Italian manuscript of the Divine Office in the Western tradition. Today as we continue our Easter Octave series, Greeting the Resurrection through the Ages, exploring Easter celebrations throughout the Church's history, we head East, to witness the great beauty of the Byzantine tradition.

“Byzantine” refers to Byzantium, the ancient name for the city of Constantinople, which is today Istanbul, Turkey. Constantinople remained the center of the Eastern Roman Empire after the collapse of the Western Empire in 476 AD, and so it exercised a large role in the growth and life of Eastern Christianity. The primary language of worship in the Eastern Empire was Greek, hence the common distinction between “Latin” and “Greek” Christians.

Today’s image is taken from a medieval Greek evangeliary—a book of the Gospels for reading during the Divine Liturgy (i.e. Mass), produced in Constantinople sometime between 1001-1025 AD. It is an example of majuscule script, which was the norm for Scriptural texts from the earliest copies of Scripture until around this time in the Medieval period, when a smaller, cursive script known as miniscule became more popular. It’s clear, bold letters assist with reading during the Liturgy, and with the blue and red ornamentation it shows the majesty of the sacred text.

Bodleian Library MS. Barocci 202. Used under CC BY-NC 4.0 DEED

The text of the left and upper right column records Luke 24:32-35, recounting how the disciples return from Emmaus to Jerusalem and receive one of the first Paschal greetings in history. Starting on the 4th line from the bottom of the left column, we read:

Egerthe ho kyrios ontos kai ophthe Simoni.
The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!

This section constitutes the conclusion of the Gospel reading for “Bright Tuesday,” or the Tuesday of Easter week. Interestingly, the cycle of readings used in the Byzantine liturgy has remained, with only a few exceptions, unchanged since the 7th century, and so this week our Byzantine brothers and sisters return to this wonderful reading once again. It is a model of Christian community, for the Lord had appeared to both the Apostles and to those who had gone out to Emmaus, causing them to gather again and share how the Lord had manifested Himself in power.

This Easter season, let us relive this ancient account which is echoed by the Church through the ages. Let us joyfully share how the Lord has manifested Himself in our lives, and hear how He manifests Himself in the lives of others.

Do you like this content? Check back tomorrow as we complete our survey of Easter celebrations in the history of the Church!