Friday, May 11, 2018

Footnote On A Point Made In An Earlier Post

The reference I couldn't recall or find was to the very early code of conduct and instructions for the behavior of clergy and rules for conducting what was developing into Christian liturgy, the Didascalia Apostolorum, which has been traced to the Church in Syria in about 230.  It was obviously more widely known because it is cited by later bishops and writers around the Mediterranean (including a fragment in Coptic) and is said to have been one of the important bases of the Apostolic Constitution of about a hundred fifty years later.

But if, as you are sitting, some one else should come, whether a man or a woman, who has some worldly honour, either of the same district or of another congregation: thou, O bishop, if thou art speaking the word of God, or hearing, or reading, shalt not respect persons and leave the ministry of thy word and appoint them a place; but do thou remain still as thou art and not interrupt thy word, and let the brethren themselves receive them. And if there be no place, let one of the brethren who is full of charity and loves his brethren, and is one fitted to do an honour, rise and give them place, and himself stand up. 

But if, while younger men or women sit, an older man or woman should rise and give up their place, do thou, O deacon, scan those who sit, and see which man or woman of them is younger than the rest, and make them stand up, and cause him to sit who had risen and given up his place; and him whom thou hast caused to stand up, lead away and make him to stand behind his neighbours  that others also may be trained and learn to give place to those more honourable than themselves. 

But if a poor man or woman should come [cf. James 2], (whether of the same district)  or of another congregation, and especially if they are stricken in years, and there be no place for such, do thou, O bishop, with all thy heart provide a place for them, even if thou have to sit upon the ground; that thou be not as one who respects the persons of men, but that thy ministry may be acceptable with God.

As the translator, R. Hugh Connolly notes, this is an application of what it says in the Epistle of James.

2 My friends, as believers in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, you must never treat people in different ways according to their outward appearance. 2 Suppose a rich man wearing a gold ring and fine clothes comes to your meeting, and a poor man in ragged clothes also comes. 3 If you show more respect to the well-dressed man and say to him, “Have this best seat here,” but say to the poor man, “Stand over there, or sit here on the floor by my feet,” 4 then you are guilty of creating distinctions among yourselves and of making judgments based on evil motives.

5 Listen, my dear friends! God chose the poor people of this world to be rich in faith and to possess the kingdom which he promised to those who love him. 6 But you dishonor the poor! Who are the ones who oppress you and drag you before the judges? The rich! 7 They are the ones who speak evil of that good name which has been given to you.

Letter of James 2:1-7

And I would add this:

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