And Moses declared unto the children of Israel the appointed seasons of the Lord. (Lev 23:44) It is part of their observance that the section relating to each one of them should be read in its season.If this oral history is accurate, then the principle of having a lectionary -- and some of the readings used in that lectionary, still used today -- are over three thousand years old. Those of us who belong to traditional churches may pause and consider the depth of our roots. Whenever I see a reference to Christian history as if it started two thousand years ago, I cringe inside. Christ was a long-expected branch of an ancient tree; we are more than two thousand years old.
Our Rabbis taught: Moses laid down a rule for the Israelites that they should enquire and give expositions concerning the subject of the day — the laws of Passover on Passover, the laws of Pentecost on Pentecost, and the laws of Tabernacles on Tabernacles. (Megilah 32a)
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
How old is the lectionary?
Many Christian groups have put together lectionaries, orderly sequences of reading the Scriptures throughout the year. The practice of reading Scriptures during a worship service dates back to Biblical times, and there are various references in the Talmud to appointed lectionary-style readings. But the reference which points back furthest in history is not a record of the events in the days when the Talmud was written, but a part of the Talmud claimed to be an oral history passed along from ancient times -- even back to the days of Moses.