Palmer: Origines Liturgicæ 12.
Vol. I: Diss. on Primitive Liturgies, Appendix.


 | Section XI | Contents | Antiquities Ch. I. |

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(See page 70.)

THE liturgy of the Armenians affords a very strong presumption, that the order and substance of Basil’s liturgy prevailed in the exarchate of Cæsarea long before his time. Armenia, an extensive country to the east of Cappadocia, had in part received Christianity before the time of the emperor Maximin, A.D. 235; (see Euseb. lib. ix. c. 8;) but the greater portion of the Armenians were converted by Gregory, surnamed the Illuminator, about the beginning of the fourth century. Gregory had been instructed at Cæsarea in Cappadocia, and was consecrated a bishop by Leontius, archbishop of that city. Armenia soon became entirely Christian, and was included in the exarchate of Cæsarea. Basil ordained many bishops in Armenia; and for a [192] considerable time the principal bishops of that country were always ordained by the exarchs of Cæsarea. See Basil, Epist. 99,120, &c. Blondel, de la Primauté, p. 656, &c. Tillemont, tom. ix. p. 187, &c. In the sixth century the Armenians adopted the Monophysite errors from Jacobus Baradæus, (Nicephorus, lib. xviii. c. 53,) and separated from the catholic church about A.D. 551; and from this period, at least, their principal bishop, who resided at Etzmiazim, assumed patriarchal authority amongst them, and took the title of Catholic of Armenia.

The Armenians have only one liturgy, which is written in the ancient Armenian language, and has been used by them from time immemorial. It was first published by Le Brun, in the fifth volume of his "Explication de la Messe," &c. from a Latin translation made by M. Pidou de S. Olon, a Romish bishop, who had spent many years in the east, and was well acquainted with the Armenian language and customs. The MS. from which M. Pidou translated, only contained that part of the liturgy which was repeated by the priest; the remainder, including the parts recited by the deacon and choir, were supplied from the Armenian missal, printed by the Propaganda at Rome, A.D. 1677, and from the memory of the translator. The sources from which this translation has been compiled are, therefore, not always such as to command implicit reliance; but we may at least depend on the authenticity of the part translated from the Armenian MS., which is amply sufficient for my present purpose.

This liturgy has, like most others, received many additions in the course of ages; some apparently from the Jacobites of Syria, some from the [193] Constantinopolitan offices, and others are peculiar to itself. There are several prayers extracted from the liturgy of Chrysostom, and actually ascribed to him. These were probably introduced at some time when the Armenians made a temporary reunion with the catholic church, which Photius says was the case in his time. (See Baronius, an. 863. p. 250, 251.) I will briefly notice the main order of the Armenian liturgy, omitting those parts which cannot be traced to primitive antiquity. All the introductory matter contained in articles 9, 10, 11, and 12, p. 70-138, must be omitted, as the liturgy originally began with lessons. The Trisagion mentioned in art. 13, p. 140, was introduced into the eastern liturgies in the fifth century. In article 14, p. 154, &c. we first meet with the really primitive part of the Armenian liturgy, which begins with a Psalm, and lessons from the Prophets, Epistles, and Gospels. There are no prayers for catechumens, penitents, &c. these having become obsolete; but the dismissal of those classes still remains, art. 15, p. 173. In article 16, p. 194, &c., the ancient anaphora begins; and I would now refer the reader to the description of the liturgy of Basil, which I have given at p. 65, 66, in order that he may compare it with what follows. The Armenian liturgy directs the "kiss of peace," p. 194; the benediction of "The grace of our Lord," &c. p. 196; "Sursum corda," &c. p. 197; the thanksgiving, p. 198,199; the hymn Tersanctus, sung by all, p. 200; a continuation of thanksgiving, p. 201, 202; a commemoration of our Saviour’s deeds and words at the last supper, p. 202, 203; a verbal oblation to God of his own creatures, p. 205; an invocation of the Holy Ghost, to make the [194] elements the body and blood of Christ, p. 207, 208; prayers for the church, for all men, and all things, p. 286, &c.; the Lord’s Prayer and benediction of the people, p. 310, &c.; the form "Sancta sanctis," p. 313 ; breaking of the bread, p. 322; the communion, p. 328; the thanksgiving after communion, p. 351.

The whole groundwork and order of the Armenian liturgy, therefore, coincides with the Cæsarean, as used in the time of Basil; and as there is no sort of proof or presumption that the Armenians have ever changed the order of their liturgy, (though they have added much to it, and taken away some things,) it affords a strong presumption, that the order of Basil’s liturgy was used at Cæsarea at the beginning of the fourth century, when the Armenians derived their liturgy from that church through. the instrumentality of Gregory the Illuminator.




THE Nestorian sect derives its appellation from Nestorius, a presbyter of Antioch, who was created patriarch of Constantinople A.D. 428, and for his errors with regard to the union of the divine and human nature in Jesus Christ, was deposed and excommunicated by the general council of Ephesus, A.D. 431. Nestorius, however, had many followers in Syria, and through the influence of Alexander of Hierapolis, Ibas of Edessa, but above all, by means of the celebrated academy of Edessa, his tenets spread rapidly in the East. His disciples received [195] the protection of the king of Persia when they were expelled from the dominions of the eastern emperors, and their bishops were placed in possession of all the sees in Mesopotamia, and the other territories of that prince. The Nestorians, thus firmly established in the fifth century, have frequently been called Chaldean Christians. Their catholic or patriarch resided at Seleucia, and subsequently at Bagdad, and Mosul; and in the following centuries they sent missionaries to India and China, whose exertions were attended with considerable success. See Mosheim’s Eccl. History, century 5; Le Brun, Explication de la Messe, tom. vi. p. 369, &c.

The Nestorian liturgies are three in number; the first is called "the liturgy of the Apostles, composed by S. Adæus, and S. Maris;" the second, "the liturgy of Theodorus;" and the third, that of "Nestorius." They are written in the ancient Syriac language, and were published by Renaudot, in the second volume of his Oriental Liturgies.

Renaudot thinks it probable, that the rites of the Nestorians are those of the Christians of Mesopotamia, before Nestorianism infected those churches, tom. ii. p. 599. The first of the Nestorian liturgies certainly, from its title, professes to be the apostolical liturgy of Mesopotamia; for, according to the universal tradition of the East, Thaddæus, or Adæus, otherwise called Lebbæus, and Jude, a disciple of our Lord, preached the Gospel at Edessa, and throughout Mesopotamia. See Eusebius, Hist. Ecel. lib. i. c. 13; lib. ii. c. 1. Renaudot. Liturg. Oriental. Coll. tom. ii. p. 567. Ephrem Syri Testamentum, p. 401. tom. ii. Oper. edit. Assemani. Assemani Bibliotheca Orientalis, tom. iii. pars ii. p. 4, &c. [196]  I cannot, however, concur in the opinion, that the Nestorians preserved the original liturgy of Mesopotamia; because Ephrem Syrus, who lived at Edessa (the very centre of apostolical preaching) considerably before the rise of Nestorianism, gives an account of the liturgy, which is totally at variance with all the Nestorian liturgies. The three Nestorian liturgies concur in placing the general prayers for all men before the invocation of the Holy Ghost; see Renaudot, p. 590, &c. 592; 620, 621; 630. 633; while the ancient liturgy of Edessa, as described by Ephrem Syrus, (see the quotation in note 53, p. 35,) placed the general prayers after the invocation of the Holy Ghost.

With regard to the other two liturgies, ascribed to Theodore of Mopsuestia and Nestorius, little need be said. They seem to have few claims to primitive antiquity. Leontius of Byzantium, A.D. 590, it is true, refers to the existence of a liturgy of Theodore, (see note 5, p. 46,) but this does not prove the genuineness of that liturgy; and in fact it seems improbable that either Theodore or Nestorius composed the formularies which bear their names, as a different order seems to have prevailed in their churches, and all the adjoining countries; and the documents under consideration are evidently more recent than the Nestorian "liturgy of the Apostles," resembling it very much in the order of their parts, and yet composed in a florid and verbose style, far removed from the simplicity of primitive liturgies.



CHRISTIANITY appears to have penetrated to India at an early period, as the name of a bishop of the church in "Persia and India" occurs amongst the acts of the general council of Nice, A.D. 325. (Gelasii Hist. Syii. Niceni, pars ii. c. 35. Labbe, Concilia, tom. ii. p. 267.) Cosmas, who, about the year 547, wrote a treatise on Christian topography, states that in Taprobana or Ceylon, and Male or Malabar, there were Christian churches; and in Calliana or Calinapore, a bishop who was ordained in Persia. The Nestorians must by this time have been established in India, as they had for nearly a century been in possession of the churches in Persia; and, of course, the bishops of India ordained by Nestorian prelates were themselves Nestorian. The liturgy of the Christians of Malabar, or St. Thomas, has not come down to us free from interpolations and alterations. Menezes, who in the sixteenth century was appointed archbishop of Goa by the Portuguese, some time after their discovery of India, took care to reform the Nestorian liturgy of Malabar. (See an account of his alterations in Le Brun, Cérémonies de la Messe, &c. tome vi. p. 451, &c.) This liturgy was translated from Syriac into Latin, and is found [198] in the Bibliotheca Patrum. Le Brun has endeavoured to restore it, as extant before the time of Menezes, (tom. vi. p. 468, &c.). When the dominion of the Portuguese in India was shaken by the Dutch and a portion of the native Christians in Malabar recovered their independence in the latter part of the seventeenth century, they received bishops from the Jacobite patriarchs of Antioch, and have ever since continued in the Jacobite communion. Of course they use the liturgy of St. James in Syriac, of which I have already spoken, section i. p. 16. 20, &c. and probably other liturgies of the Jacobites, many of which have been printed by Renaudot in the second volume of his Oriental Liturgies.


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