A Gospel Book, Evangelion, or Book of the Gospels (Greek: Εὐαγγέλιον, Evangélion) is a codex or bound volume containing one or more of the four Gospels of the Christian New Testament – normally all four – centering on the life of Jesus of Nazareth and the roots of the Christian faith. The term is also used for a liturgical book, also called the Evangeliary, from which are read the portions of the Gospels used in the Mass and other services, arranged according to the order of the liturgical calendar.
Liturgical use in churches of a distinct Gospel book remains normal, often compulsory, in Eastern Christianity, and very common in Roman Catholicism and some parts of Anglicanism and Lutheranism. Other Protestant churches normally just use a complete Bible.
In the Middle Ages, the production of copies of the Bible in its entirety was rare because of the huge expense of the parchment required. Individual books or collections of books were produced for specific purposes. From the 4th century Gospel Books were produced for liturgical use, as well as private study and as "display books" for ceremonial and ornamental purposes.The Codex Washingtonianus (Freer gospels) is an early example of a book containing only the four gospels, in Greek, written in the 4th or 5th century. By the 7th century particular gospel texts were allocated to days in the liturgical calendar; previously gospel readings had often worked through the books in sequence. Many of these volumes were elaborate; the Gospel Book was the most common form of heavily illuminated manuscript until about the 11th century, when the Romanesque Bible and Psalter largely superseded it in the West. In the East they remained a significant subject for illumination until the arrival of printing. The Evangelist portrait was a particular feature of their decoration. Most of the masterpieces of both Insular and Ottonian illumination are Gospel Books, and there are very many Byzantine and Carolingian examples.
But most Gospel Books were never illuminated at all, or only with decorated initials and other touches. They often contained, in addition to the text of the Gospels themselves, supporting texts including Canon Tables, summaries, glossaries, and other explanatory material. Latin books often include the Letter of Jerome to Pope Damasus where Jerome set out to the Pope the reasoning behind his new Vulgate translation and arrangement of the texts, and many Greek ones the Epistula ad Carpianum (Letter to Carpian) of Eusebius of Caesarea explaining the Eusebian Canons he had devised.
Luxuriously illuminated gospel books were mainly a feature of the Early Middle Ages, as the evangeliary or a general lectionary gradually became more common for liturgical use, and other texts became most favoured for elaborate decoration.
In current Roman Catholic usage, the Book of the Gospels or Evangeliarycontains the full text of the passages from all four gospels that the deacon or priest is to read or chant at Mass in the course of the liturgical year. However, use of the Book of the Gospels is not mandatory, and the gospel readings are also included in the standard Lectionary.
The Book of the Gospels, if used, is brought to the altar in the entrance procession, while the Lectionary may not.When carried in procession, the Book of the Gospels is held slightly elevated, though not over the head. It is particularly proper for the deacon to carry the Book of the Gospels in procession, as the reading of the gospel is his particular province. When there is no deacon, the Book may be carried by a lector.
Upon reaching the altar, the deacon or lector bows in veneration of the altar, then places the Book upon the altar, where it remains until the Alleluia.
During the singing of the Alleluia, the deacon (who before proclaiming the gospel receives the presiding priest's blessing), or in his absence, a priest, removes the Book from the altar and processes with it to the ambo. If incense is used, the Book of the Gospels is censed by the deacon before the reading or chanting. An altar server or acolyte will swing the censer slowly during the reading or chanting.The Book of the Gospels remains on the ambo until the Mass concludes, unless it is taken to a bishop to be kissed, after which it may be placed on the credence table or another appropriate and dignified place.
If the Rite of Dismissal of catechumens is celebrated, the Book of the Gospels is carried in procession in front of the catechumens as they leave the church.
In the Episcopal Church in the United States of America the practice of using a Gospel Book was recovered with the 1979 US Book of Common Prayer, which suggests that the lessons and gospel "be read from a book or books of appropriate size and dignity".Following this several publishers have produced gospel books for use in the Episcopal Church, and other books have been privately compiled. A deacon, server or acolyte usually carries the gospel book in the entrance procession, holding the book as high as possible with arms fully extended, and places it on the altar until time for the gospel proclamation. Afterward, it may be returned to the altar or placed on a side table or a stand.
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Among Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholics the Gospel Book (Greek: Εὐαγγέλιον, Evangélion) is very important liturgically. It is considered to be an icon of Christ, and is venerated in the same manner as an icon.
The Gospel Book contains the readings that are used at Matins, the Divine Liturgy, Molebens, and other services. Among the Greeks the modern liturgical Gospel Book is laid out in order of the cycle of readings as they occur in the ecclesiastical year, with a section in the back providing the Gospel readings for Matins, Feasts and special occasions, and is thus strictly an evangeliary rather than a gospel book. In the Slavic usage, the Gospel Book contains the full text of the four Gospels in canonical order (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John), with annotations in the margins to indicate the beginning and ending of each reading, and a table of readings in the back. Occasionally it will contain pre-arranged texts of the more complex composite readings, such as the Twelve Gospels read at Matins on Good Friday.
Traditionally, the Orthodox will never cover the Gospel Book in leather—the skin of a dead animal—because the words of Christ are considered to be life-giving. Animal skins are also reminiscent of the Fall of Man, when God fashioned garments of skin for Adam and Eve after their disobedience (Genesis 3:21). The Apostle Paul speaks of Christ being the "New Adam" (1 Corinthians 15:22,47–49), and the Orthodox understand Christ as coming to clothe mankind in the original "garments of light" which Adam and Eve lost in Paradise. Traditionally, the Gospel is covered in gold, the earthly element which is best symbolizes the glory of Heaven. If gold is unavailable, the Gospel may be covered in cloth.
The Gospel Book rests on the center of the Holy Table (Altar), as the Cross of Christ was planted in the center of the earth. This placement of the Gospel Book also represents the activity of Christ at the Creation (the square Altar representing the created world). The Gospel rests upon the antimension, which remains on the Altar at all times, as Christ will remain with the Church until the end of the world (Matthew 28:20). Even when the antimension is unfolded to receive the chalice and diskos, the Gospel Book is not removed from the Holy Table, but is stood upright in front of the Tabernacle.
The Divine Liturgy begins with the priest lifting the Gospel Book high and making the sign of the cross with it over the Altar. The Gospel Book is carried in procession at specific times, accompanied by candles. The most frequent occurrence is during the Divine Liturgy when it is carried in the Little Entrancewhich precedes the Epistle and Gospel readings. It is also carried in the Crucessions at Pascha and Theophany. After reading from the Gospel, the priest will bless the faithful with it. At Sunday Matins, after the Gospel reading, all come forward to venerate the Gospel Book and receive the blessing of the priest or bishop.
Whenever an Eastern Christian goes to Confession he or she will confess before a Gospel Book and the Cross. In traditional Orthodox countries, when a person takes a vow or oath, he usually does so before a Gospel Book and Cross. Near the end of the Sacred Mystery of Holy Unction, the person or persons that were anointed will kneel and the Gospel Book is opened and placed on their heads, with the writing down. While the chief priest says a special Prayer of the Gospel.
When a Bishop is Consecrated, he kneels, touching his forehead to the Altar, and the Gospel Book is opened and placed with the text down over his neck, while the consecrating bishops place their hands on the Gospel and say the Prayer of Consecration. When a Synod of bishops meets, a Gospel Book is often enthroned in a prominent place to show that Christ Himself presides over the meeting. When a priest or bishop is buried, he is buried with a Gospel Book resting on his chest, as an indication of his vocation to preach the Gospel to all men. The funeral service for a priest and bishop will have several readings from the Gospels, to indicate the importance of the Gospel to his ministry.
In the Armenian Apostolic Church and the Armenian Catholic Church, during the reading of the Gospel, the deacon holds a piece of fine fabric in his hands, and with that he holds the Gospel Book. It is considered improper to touch the Gospel Book with bare hands. No lectern is provided for the Gospel reading in the Armenian sanctuary.
See also the categories at bottom.
Among gestures included are also actions and processions: of the priest going with the deacon and ministers to the altar; of the deacon carrying the Evangeliary or Book of the Gospels to the ambo before the proclamation of the Gospel ...
Divine Liturgy or Holy Liturgy is the Eucharistic service of the Byzantine Rite, developed from the Antiochene Rite of Christian liturgy which is that of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. As such, it is used in the Eastern Orthodox, the Byzantine Catholic Churches, and the Ukrainian Lutheran Church. Although the same term is sometimes applied in English to the Eucharistic service of Armenian Christians, both of the Armenian Apostolic Church and of the Armenian Catholic Church, they use in their own language a term meaning "holy offering" or "holy sacrifice". Other churches also treat "Divine Liturgy" simply as one of many names that can be used, but it is not their normal term.
In some traditions of Christianity, Holy Week is the most sacred week in the Church year. In Eastern Rite Churches, also known as Eastern Orthodox, Holy Week occurs the week after Lazarus Saturday and starts on the evening of Palm Sunday. In the rites of the Western/Latin/Roman Church it begins with Palm Sunday and concludes on Easter Sunday. For all Christian traditions it is a moveable observance. In Eastern Rite Churches, Holy Week starts after 40 days of Lent and two transitional days, namely Saturday of Lazarus and Palm Sunday. In Western Rite Churches, Holy Week falls on the last week of Lent or Sixth Lent Week.
An altar server is a lay assistant to a member of the clergy during a Christian liturgy. An altar server attends to supporting tasks at the altar such as fetching and carrying, ringing the altar bell, helps bring up the gifts, brings up the book, among other things. If young, the server is commonly called an altar boy or altar girl. In some Christian denominations, altar servers are known as acolytes.
A thurible is a metal censer suspended from chains, in which incense is burned during worship services. It is used in Christian churches including the Roman Catholic, Maronite Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic and Oriental Orthodox, as well as in some Lutheran, Old Catholic, United Methodist, Reformed, Presbyterian Church USA, Anglican churches. In Roman Catholic, Lutheran, and Anglican churches, the altar server who carries the thurible is called the thurifer. The practice is rooted in the earlier traditions of Judaism in the time of the Second Jewish Temple.
The Byzantine Rite, also known as the Greek Rite or the Rite of Constantinople, identifies the wide range of cultural, liturgical, and canonical practices that developed in the Eastern Orthodox Church of Constantinople.
In some Christian churches, a reader is responsible for reading aloud excerpts of scripture at a liturgy. In early Christian times the reader was of particular value due to the rarity of literacy.
A lectionary is a book or listing that contains a collection of scripture readings appointed for Christian or Judaic worship on a given day or occasion. There are sub-types such as a "gospel lectionary" or evangeliary, and an epistolary with the readings from the New Testament Epistles.
Easter Vigil, also called the Paschal Vigil or the Great Vigil of Easter, is a liturgy held in traditional Christian churches as the first official celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus. Historically, it is during this liturgy that people are baptized and that adult catechumens are received into full communion with the Church. It is held in the hours of darkness between sunset on Holy Saturday and sunrise on Easter Day – most commonly in the evening of Holy Saturday or midnight – and is the first celebration of Easter, days traditionally being considered to begin at sunset.
In Eastern Orthodox and Byzantine Catholic churches, an entrance is a procession during which the clergy enter into the sanctuary through the Holy Doors. The origin of these entrances goes back to the early church, when the liturgical books and sacred vessels were kept in special storage rooms for safe keeping and the procession was necessary to bring these objects into the church when needed. Over the centuries, these processions have grown more elaborate, and nowadays are accompanied by incense, candles and liturgical fans. In the liturgical theology of the Orthodox Church, the angels are believed to enter with the clergy into the sanctuary, as evidenced by the prayers which accompany the various entrances.
The Roman Rite is the main liturgical rite of the Latin or Western Church, the largest of the sui iuris particular Churches that make up the Catholic Church. It developed in the Latin language in the city of Rome and, while distinct Latin liturgical rites such as the Ambrosian Rite remain, the Roman Rite has over time been adopted almost everywhere in the Western Church. In medieval times there were very many local variants, even if they did not all amount to distinct rites, but uniformity grew as a result of the invention of printing and in obedience to the decrees of the 1545–1563 Council of Trent. Several Latin liturgical rites that survived into the 20th century were abandoned voluntarily in the wake of the Second Vatican Council. The Roman Rite is now the most widespread liturgical rite not only in the Latin Church but in Christianity as a whole.
The Euchologion is one of the chief liturgical books of the Eastern Orthodox and Byzantine Catholic churches, containing the portions of the services which are said by the bishop, priest, or deacon. There are several different volumes of the book in use.
The Mass is the central liturgical rite in the Catholic Church, encompassing the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist, where the bread and wine are consecrated and become the Body and Blood of Christ. As defined by the Church at the Council of Trent, in the Mass, "the same Christ who offered himself once in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross, is present and offered in an unbloody manner". The Church describes the Holy Mass as "the source and summit of the Christian life". It teaches that the sacramental bread and wine, through consecration by an ordained priest, become the sacrificial body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ as the sacrifice on Calvary made truly present once again on the altar. The Catholic Church permits only baptised members in the state of grace to receive Christ in the Eucharist.
The Evangeliary or Book of the Gospels is a liturgical book containing only those portions of the four gospels which are read during Mass or in other public offices of the Church. The corresponding terms in Latin are Evangeliarium and Liber evangeliorum.
The Gospel in Christian liturgy refers to a reading from the Gospels used during various religious services, including Mass or Divine Liturgy (Eucharist). In many Christian churches, all present stand when a passage from one of the Gospels is read publicly, and sit when a passage from a different part of the Bible is read. The reading of the Gospels, often contained in a liturgical edition containing only the four Gospels, is traditionally done by a minister, priest or deacon, and in many traditions the Gospel Book is brought into the midst of the congregation to be read.
The Epitaphios is a Christian religious icon, typically consisting of a large, embroidered and often richly adorned cloth, bearing an image of the dead body of Christ, often accompanied by his mother and other figures, following the Gospel account. It is used during the liturgical services of Good Friday and Holy Saturday in the Eastern Orthodox Churches, as well as those Eastern Catholic Churches, which follow the Byzantine Rite. It also exists in painted or mosaic form, on wall or panel.
Eastern Orthodox worship in this article is distinguished from Eastern Orthodox prayer in that 'worship' refers to the activity of the Christian Church as a body offering up prayers to God while 'prayer' refers to the individual devotional traditions of the Orthodox.
The ambon or ambo is a projection coming out from the soleas in an Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Catholic church. The ambon stands directly in front of the Holy Doors. It may be either rounded or square and has one, two, or three steps leading up to it.
The Matins Gospel is the solemn chanting of a lection from one of the Four Gospels during Matins in the Orthodox Church and those Eastern Catholic churches which follow the Byzantine Rite.
A liturgical book, or service book, is a book published by the authority of a church body that contains the text and directions for the liturgy of its official religious services.
The liturgical books of the Roman Rite are the official books containing the words to be recited and the actions to be performed in the celebration of Catholic liturgy as done in Rome. The Roman Rite of the Latin or Western Church of the Catholic Church is the most widely celebrated of the scores of Catholic liturgical rites. The titles of some of these books contain the adjective "Roman", e.g. the "Roman Missal", to distinguish them from the liturgical books for the other rites of the Church,.
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