Sunday, 3 May 2015

Joshua Falconer: The Role of the Divine Names in the Liturgical Tradition of the Church of the East

While the divine names are well-known in the Christian tradition from the Dionysian corpus and in the Islamic tradition from the ninety-nine beautiful names of God, what has been virtually passed over is a third tradition that may be seen as a kind of bridge between these two traditions in several notable respects. In order to bring this neglected area to light, this paper will present a short summary of some of the most prominent patterns in the role and transmission of the divine names in the liturgical tradition of the Church of the East. From a first glance at the ferial and festal service books, such as the Ḥudrā and the Gazzā, it becomes clear that the divine names play no small part in the liturgical cycle. A great variety of names are invoked, as each name performs a particular mystogogical function. To illustrate this, we will review the following key patterns and their place in the rāzē or mysteries of the Church of the East: Trinity, Power, Light, Life, Creativity, Beauty, Love, Good, and Wisdom. Each of these patterns culminates in a paradoxical pair brought together in the Incarnation: the hidden reality, as in the Power of God, and the kenotic manifestation, as in the Weakness of Man. By participating in the kenotic manifestations of these patterns throughout the feasts and fasts of the liturgical year, the faithful are to be drawn into the hidden realities of the divine life.

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