Category Archives: Liturgics

The Revision of Byzantine Liturgical Books

The current form of the Byzantine rite is the result of the development of its liturgical books which have heterogonous origins (e.g., Constantinopolitan cathedral liturgical practice, Constantinopolitan monastic liturgical practice, the Palestinian monastic liturgical practice, and Jerusalemite cathedral liturgical practice). The Byzantine rite is thus an amalgam of different liturgical practices.

The most notably example is how the Euchologion, which originally belongs to the cathedral rite of Constantinople, has been combined with the Horologion, which originally belongs to the Palestinian monastic rite.

This is, for example, the reason why there are silent priestly prayers in Vespers and Matins since these prayers are remnants of the cathedral rite which did not really fit into the Palestinian monastic liturgical practice so they were bunched together to be read silently by the priest at the beginning of the service.

The liturgical books of the Byzantine rite became standardized through the invention of the printing press and the mass production of printed liturgical books.

The printing of Greek liturgical books was originally a private commercial enterprise in which Greek printers based in Venice produced the editiones principes in the early 16th century.

These printed editions which produced the standardized liturgical texts of the Byzantine rite were based on an arbitrary selection of manuscripts and often also included arbitrary editorial emendations.

From the 17th century onwards the Roman Catholic Church also began to print Byzantine liturgical books intended for Italo-Byzantine parishes and Uniates. The Roman editions were often superior from a philological perspective but also contained some unfortunate confessionally motived emendations intended to bring Byzantine liturgical practice more into line with post-Tridentine Catholicism.

It was first toward the end of the 19th century that official Greek editions of liturgical books began to be published by the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Unfortunately, these also reflect to a certain degree polemically or pastorally motivated editorial changes which deviate from the Byzantine manuscript tradition(s).

It was first in the 20th century that Greek scholars began to produce editions of liturgical books based on textual criticism and sound liturgical scholarship. A pioneer was Prof. Panayotis Trembelas (1886-1977) who edited the three liturgies and the Mikron Euchologion.

The most productive modern editor of liturgical books was Protopresbyter Constantine Papayannis (1929-2014), a collaborator of the prominent liturgical scholar Prof. John Fountoulis (1929-2007).

Papayannis worked as the main editor of the revised liturgical books published by Apostoliki Diakonia, the publishing house of the Church of Greece. His last contribution to the revision of the printed liturgical books was a posthumous edition of the Triodion. He also prepared editions published by other publishers, for example, an edition of the Horologion and a two-volume Anthologion.

However, the production of revised liturgical books based on textual criticism and liturgical scholarship in Greece does not seem to have come to end with the death of Papayannis in 2014. In the same year Dr Dionysios Anatolikiotis published a revised edition of the Euchologion to Mega based on textual criticism and scholarly principles. (One can also note that the Hellenic Bible Society published a Prophetologion in 2008.)

The following are the revised and critical editions of Greek liturgical books which to my knowledge are now in print:

P. Trembelas, ed., ΑΙ ΤΡΕΙΣ ΛΕΙΤΟΥΡΓΙΑΙ.

P. Trembelas, ed., ΜΙΚΡΟΝ ΕΥΧΟΛΟΓΙΟΝ, Τ. Α΄.

P. Trembelas, ed., ΜΙΚΡΟΝ ΕΥΧΟΛΟΓΙΟΝ, Τ. Β΄.

C. Papayannis, ed., ΩΡΟΛΟΓΙΟΝ ΤΟ ΜΕΓΑ.

C. Papayannis, ed., ΑΝΘΟΛΟΓΙΟΝ, Τ. Α΄.

C. Papayannis, ed., ΑΝΘΟΛΟΓΙΟΝ, Τ. Β΄.


C. Papayannis, ed., ΙΕΡΑΤΙΚΟΝ.

C. Papayannis, ed., Η ΑΓΙΑ ΚΑΙ ΜΕΓΑΛΗ ΕΒΔΟΜΑΣ.

C. Papayannis, ed., ΤΡΙΩΔΙΟΝ.


D. Anatolikiotis, ed., ΕΥΧΟΛΟΓΙΟΝ ΤΟ ΜΕΓΑ.

Incidentally one can also note that Eastern Christian Publications are reprinting the four-volume Roman edition of the Greek Anthologion: vol. 1, vol. 2, vol. 3, vol. 4.

Finally, one can note that Archimandrite Nikodemos Skrettas has recently published a critical edition of the Typikon of St. Sabbas which can be ordered here.

Selected literature

C. Calivas, Essays in Theology and Liturgy, vol. 3: Aspects of Orthodox Worship, 2003.

J. Chupungco, ed., Handbook for Liturgical Studies, 5 vols., 1997-2000.

J. Getcha, The Typicon Decoded, 2012.

P. Meyendorff, Russia, Ritual, and Reform, 1991.

T. Pott, Byzantine Liturgical Reform, 2010.

F. Taft, The Byzantine Rite, 1992.


Resources for Liturgical History

I noticed that the useful resource, Michael Zheltov’s Liturgical Website Logike Latreia is currently offline. This is very unfortunate, but in the meanwhile the following links to edition of liturgical sources and manuscripts might be of use:

Dmitrievskii’s classic edition of liturgical manuscripts in three volumes is available as pdfs here.

Papadopolous-Kerameus’ edition of manuscripts from the Holy Land is available as pdfs here. Vol. 2 contains an edition of the Typikon of the Anastasis.

Aleksey Pentkoviskiy’s edition of the Old Slavic translation of the Typikon of Patriarch Alexios the Studite is available here.

For digitized versions (pdfs) of classic printed edition of Greek liturgical books see here.

Some Digitized Resources on Hagiography and Heortology

Batiffol, Pierre. History of the Roman Breviary.

Delehaye, Hippolyte. The Legends of the Saints: An Introduction to Hagiography.

Delehaye, Hippolyte, ed. Synaxarium ecclesiae Constantinopolitanum.

Duchesne, Louis. Christian Worship: Its Origin and Evolution.

Kellner, Karl Adam Heinrich. Heortology: A History of the Christian Festivals from their Origin to the Present Day.

Martinov, Johannes. Annus ecclesiasticus graeco-slavicus.

Nilles, Nikolaus. Kalendarium manuale utriusque ecclesiae orientalis et occidentalis, vol. 1.

Nilles, Nikolaus. Kalendarium manuale utriusque ecclesiae orientalis et occidentalis, vol. 2.

Thurston, Herbet J. and Donald Attawater, eds. Butler’s Lives of the Saints, Complete Edition.


Readings in Academic Theology with an Eastern Orthodox Focus

Introduction to Orthodox Theology

A. Louth. Introducing Eastern Orthodox Theology.

E. Theokritoff and M. B. Cunningham, eds. The Cambridge Companion to Orthodox Christian Theology.

Church History

R. L. Wilken. The First Thousand Years: A Global History of Christianity.

J. M. Hussey. The Orthodox Church in the Byzantine Empire.

H. Chadwick. East and West: The Making of a Rift in the Church from Apostolic Times until the Council of Florence.

S. Runciman. The Great Church in Captivity: A Study of the Patriarchate of Constantinople from the Eve of the Turkish Conquest to the Greek War of Independence.

Th. Bremer. Cross and Kremlin: A Brief History of the Orthodox Church in Russia.

R. Roberson. The Eastern Christian Churches: A Brief Survey. 7th ed.

K. Parry, ed. The Blackwell Companion to Eastern Christianity.

K. Parry et al., eds. The Blackwell Dictionary of Eastern Christianity.

J. A. McGuckin, ed. The Encyclopedia of Eastern Orthodox Christianity.

Exegetical and Biblical Theology

Th. G. Stylianopoulos. The New Testament: An Orthodox Perspective.

E. J. Pentiuc. The Old Testament in Eastern Orthodox Tradition.

M. Simonetti. Biblical Interpretation in the Early Church: An Historical Introduction to Patristic Exegesis.

E. W. Klink III and D. R. Lockett. Understanding Biblical Theology: A Comparison of Theory and Practice.

W. Zimmerli. Old Testament Theology in Outline.

U. Schnelle. Theology of the New Testament.

X. Léon-Dufour, ed. Dictionary of Biblical Theology. 2nd ed.

R. E. Brown, ed. The New Jerome Biblical Commentary. 3d ed.

Th. C. Oden, ed. The Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture. 29 vols.

History of Doctrine and Theology

J. Pelikan. Credo: Historical and Theological Guide to Creeds and Confessions of Faith in the Christian Tradition.

J. Pelikan. The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine, Vol. 1: The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition (100-600).

J. Pelikan. The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine, Vol. 2: The Spirit of Eastern Christendom (600-1700).

A. Di Berardino and B. Studer, eds. History of Theology, Vol. 1: The Patristic Period.

L. D. Davis. The First Seven Ecumenical Councils (325-787): Their History and Theology.

H. R. Drobner. The Fathers of the Church: A Comprehensive Introduction.

J. Quasten. Patrology. 4 vols.

P. K. Chrestou. Greek Orthodox Patrology: An Introduction to the Study of the Church Fathers.

B. Tatakis. Byzantine Philosophy.

B. Tatakis. Christian Philosophy in the Patristic and Byzantine Tradition.

Dogmatic Theology

J. D. Zizioulas. Lectures in Christian Dogmatics.

D. Staniloae. The Experience of God: Orthodox Dogmatic Theology. 6 vols.

Spirituality and Christian Ethics

D. Staniloae. Orthodox Spirituality.

A. Louth. The Origins of the Christian Mystical Tradition: From Plato to Denys. 2nd ed.

T. Spidlik. The Spirituality of the Christian East: A Systematic Handbook.

T. Spidlik. Prayer: The Spirituality of the Christian East, Vol. 2.

S. S. Harakas. Living the Faith: The Praxis of Eastern Orthodox Ethics.

Ch. Yannaras. The Freedom of Morality.


P. F. Bradshaw. Early Christian Worship: A Basic Introduction to Ideas and Practice. 2nd ed.

J. Daniélou. The Bible and the Liturgy.

R. F. Taft. The Byzantine Rite: A Short History.

H. Wybrew. The Orthodox Liturgy: The Development of the Eucharistic Liturgy in the Byzantine Rite.

J. Getcha. The Typicon Decoded: An Explanation of Byzantine Liturgical Practice.

E. Wellesz. A History of Byzantine Music and Hymnography. 2nd ed.

A. Schmemann. Introduction to Liturgical Theology.


O. C. Edwards, Jr. Elements of Homiletic: A Method for Preparing to Preach.

Pastoral Theology

K. Kern. Orthodox Pastoral Service.

J. Chryssavgis. Soul Mending: The Art of Spiritual Direction.

J. K. Kornarakis. Pastoral Psychology and Inner Conflict.

J. Meyendorff. Marriage: An Orthodox Perspective. 3d ed.

Canon Law

P. Rodopoulos. An Overview of Orthodox Canon Law.

L. J. Patsavos. Spiritual Dimensions of the Holy Canons.

W. Hartmann and K. Pennington, eds. The History of Byzantine Canon Law to 1500.

New Edition of the Euchologion

Papadimitriou has this year published a new edition of the Great Euchologion (Ευχολόγιον το μέγα). This is the first new edition of the Great Euchologion since 1927. Other editions currently in print are photographic reprints of editions from the nineteenth century. The Great Euchologion contains the order for the celebration of the sacraments and other sacred rites. It contents corresponds somewhat to the Sluzhebnik and Trebnik in the Slavic rite. Apostoliki Diakonia publishes an edition of the Small Euchologion, but this does not contain the orders for the celebration of all the sacraments, but there are also other separate prints of individual services. Papadimitriou’s new edition of the Great Euchologion has a new typography and has been corrected against other editions and manuscripts. It also has a new introduction and notes. It can be ordered here.


Greek Editions of Lectionaries

The following are editions of the Greek lectionaries for the Byzantine rite:

Lectionaries with New Testament texts:

  • Apostolos (Readings from Acts and the letters)
  • Evangelion (Readings from the gospels)
  • Eklogadion (Selected readings from the Apostolos and Evangelion)

Lectionaries with Old Testament texts:

Greek Orthodox editions of the Byzantine version of the Bible:

Critical editions of the Bible:

Liturgical studies

Easter is the most intense period in the liturgical year in the Byzantine rite. This made me think about what would be good literature for a course in liturgical studies specialized in the Byzantine rite. The following are my suggestions.

Liturgical documents

Apostoliki Diakonia. Ιερατικόν.

Apostoliki Diakonia. Εγκόλπιο αναγνώστου και ψάλτου.

Apostoliki Diakonia. Μικρόν Ευχολόγιον.

K. Papayannis, ed. Ἀνθολόγιον τῶν Ἱερῶν Άκολουθιῶν τοῦ ὅλου Ἐνιαυτοῦ, vol. 1.

K. Papayannis, ed. Ἀνθολόγιον τῶν Ἱερῶν Άκολουθιῶν τοῦ ὅλου Ἐνιαυτοῦ, vol 2.

P. Trembelas, ed. ΛΕΙΤΟΥΡΓΙΚΟΝ.


P. Trembelas, ed. ΜΙΚΡΟΝ ΕΥΧΟΛΟΓΙΟΝ, vol. 1.

P. Trembelas, ed. ΜΙΚΡΟΝ ΕΥΧΟΛΟΓΙΟΝ, vol 2.

Byzantine chant


K. Pringos. Θεία Λειτουργία.

K. Pringos. Μουσική Κυψέλη, vol. 1.

K. Pringos. Μουσική Κυψέλη, vol. 2.

K. Pringos. Αναστασιματάριον.

K. Pringos. Η Αγία και Μεγάλη εβδομάς.


R. Messner. Einführung in die Liturgiewissenschaft. 2nd ed. 2009.

P. Bradshaw/J. Melloh, eds. Foundations in Ritual Studies: A Reader for Students of Christian Worship. 2007.

P. Bradshaw. Early Christian Worship. 2nd ed. 2010.

M. E. Johnson. The Rites of Christian Initiation. 2nd ed. 2007.

P. Bradshaw. The Eucharistic Liturgies. 2012.

P. Bradshaw/M. E. Johnson. The Origins of Feasts, Fasts, and Seasons in Early Christianity. 2011.

P. Bradshaw. Daily Prayer in the Early Church. 2nd ed. 2008.

R. Taft. The Liturgy of the Hours in East and West. 2nd ed. 1993.

A. Chupungco, ed. Handbook for Liturgical Study. 5 volumes. 1997-2000.

R. Taft. The Byzantine Rite: A Short History. 1992.

H. Wybew. The Orthodox Liturgy. 2nd ed. 2013.

J. Getcha. The Typikon Decoded. 2012.

K. Papayannis. Σύστημα Τυπικού. 2006.

Sarapion of Thmuis finally finished

I have finally finished my Swedish translation of Sarapion of Thmuis (see here and here) and submitted it to my publisher, Artos & Norma. The translation will be printed and distributed sometime after January next year.

Sarapion of Thmuis (Continued)

M. E. Johnson, The Prayers of Sarapion of Thmuis (Rome: PIO, 1995)

I have now made a translation draft of Bishop Sarapion (Serapion) of Thmuis’ prayers. I used Brightman’s edition for this translation; however, I have now had the opportunity to consult Johnson’s edition and study. This made me realize that Brightman’s reconstructions of the original liturgical rites are too speculative and introduce unnecessary hypotheses. (I am very fond of Occam’s razor.)

The order of the prayers: Another theory

There is another theory proposed by Schermann and Cuming (independently of each other), which claims that the order of the prayers in the manuscript is logical as it stands; however, the original used by the eleventh century copyist was a scroll with writing on both sides and he began to copy it from the wrong side, which explains why the preanaphora prayers come at the end of the collection.

Reordering my translation

I have accepted this theory in my translation and rearranged the material as follows: oil prayers (15-17), burial prayer (18), the liturgy (liturgy of the word, prayers 19-30; liturgy of the eucharist, prayers 1-6), initiation (prayers 7-11), and ordination (prayers 12-14).

I am currently reviewing my draft with the help of Johnson’s edition. He is very cautious in his edition and preserves the prayers in the order of the manuscript unlike my reordering based on the theory of Schermann and Cuming.

Serapion of Thmuis

My pastime this summer is to translate into Swedish the fourth century euchologion of Bishop Serapion (Sarapion) of Thmuis. This euchologion or pontifical is a collection of thirty liturgical prayers primarily intended for a bishop. It is one of the oldest preserved liturgical documents and an important source of liturgical history. The document belongs to the Egyptian or Alexandrian rite and is an early ancestors of the later Liturgy of St. Mark.

The manuscript

Bishop Serapion of Thmuis

This fourth century euchologion is preserved in an eleventh century manuscript, which belongs to the Lavra Monastery on Athos. It was first published in 1894 by the Russian liturgical historian Dimitrievsky in the journal of the Ecclesiastical Academy of Kiev. This edition went largely unnoticed in the West. Independently of Dimitrievsky the German scholar Wobbermin published an edition in Texte und Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der altchristlichen Literatur N.F. 2:3b, Leipzig: 1899. Wordsworth published an English translation of Wobbermin’s edition: Bishop Sarapion’s Prayer-Book, London: SPCK, 1899. The language of this translation is very awkward and the translator seems to have misunderstood the original Greek in some places.

The order of the prayers

The prayers in the manuscript were not preserved in their liturgical order but in order of importance (the manuscript begins with the anaphora and ends with the preanaphora prayers). Brightman reconstructed the original liturgical context of the prayers in a new edition based on photographs of the manuscript and Wobbermin’s edition. Brightman’s edition was published in Journal of Theological Studies 1 (1900): pp. 88ff., 246ff. I have used this edition but also consulted Wobbermin’s edition for my translation.

The euchologion contains prayers belonging the the following rites: the liturgy (the eucharist), initiation (baptism and chrismation), ordinations (deacons, presbyters, and bishops), unction of the sick, and burial of the dead.

UPDATE 2: The reconstruction of Brightman is very speculative. There is another simpler theory proposed by Schermann and Cuming (independently of each other), which claims that the order of the prayers in the manuscript is logical as it stands; however, the original used by the eleventh century copyist was a scroll with writing on both sides and he began to copy it from the wrong side, which explains why the preanaphora prayers come at the end of the collection. I have accepted this theory in my translation and rearranged the material as follows: oil prayers (15-17), burial prayer (18), the liturgy (liturgy of the word, prayers 19-30; liturgy of the eucharist, prayers 1-6), initiation (prayers 7-11), and ordination (prayers 12-14).

The character of the prayers

From a pastoral perspective it is interesting to note how layoriented the Serapion’s euchologion is unlike the later extremely monastified Byzantine rite; it contains explicit prayers for families, husbands, wives, and children.

Serapion’s euchologion is also interesting from the perspective of history of theology and dogma. All the prayers are addressed to God the Father through the Only-Begotten One in Holy Spirit (no definitive article). The most common Christological title in the prayers is “Only-Begotten One.” Interestingly the epiklesis of the anaphora (eucharistic prayer) is not addressed to the Spirit but to the Only-Begotten One. The prayers show an unreflected pneumatology; the focus is on the Father and the Son.

My translation of the prayers

Since I am busy writing my doctoral thesis I have not the time to catch up on the latest research concerning Serapion and the early Egyptian rite; therefore, I have turned to my former teacher of patristics, Anders Ekenberg, who also is specialized in liturgical history. He has kindly agreed to write an introduction to my translation. The translation will be published by Artos & Norma, the largest publisher of translated patristic texts in Sweden.

UPDATE 1: A friend  brought to my attention that there exists a later study of Serapion’s euchologion which also contains the Greek text and a new English translation: Johnson, M. E., The Prayers of Sarapion of Thmuis: A literary, liturgical, and theological analysis, Orientalia Christiana Analecta 249, Rome: PIO, 1995. Unfortunately I have not yet had the opportunity to consult this work.