Elaine Pagels is at it again, hawking as silk purse that sow’s ear of the Gospel of Judas. My beloved godson David Mills slices and dices her recent interview with Salon.com: “This is really very dim. Remarkably dim. Dim beyond belief.” It’s a must-read.
One of the great vexing questions of early Christianity concerned (believe it or not) when to celebrate Easter. N.S. Gill has done a nice job explaining the various positions. Wikipedia’s rundown is also pretty good.
But it’s best to engage the primary texts. So I hope Father Raniero Cantalamessa’s excellent Easter in the Early Church: An Anthology of Jewish and Early Christian Texts is atop your reading list for the season that begins next week.
Egeria, a nun from Gaul on pilgrimage in the Holy Land, left us a lively record of Holy Week celebrations in fourth-century Jerusalem. Here’s her play-by-play account of Palm Sunday:
On … the Lord’s Day that begins the Paschal week (which they call here the “Great Week”), when all the customary services from cockcrow until morning have taken place in the Church of the Resurrection and at the Cross, they customarily proceed … to the greater church, which is called the martyrium. It is called the martyrium because it is in Golgotha behind the Cross, where the Lord suffered. When all the customs have been observed in the great church, and before the dismissal is made, the archdeacon lifts his voice and says first: “Throughout the whole week, beginning from to-morrow, let us all assemble in the martyrium, that is, in the great church, at the ninth hour.” Then he lifts his voice again, saying: “Let us all be ready to-day in Eleona at the seventh hour.” So when the dismissal has been made in the great church, that is, the martyrium, the bishop is escorted with hymns to the Anastasis, and after all things that are customary on the Lord’s pay have been done there, after the dismissal from the martyrium, every one hastens home to eat, that all may be ready at the beginning of the seventh hour in the church in Eleona, on the Mount of Olives, where is the cave in which the Lord was wont to teach.
Today marks one year since I started this blog. So it probably marks about fifteen years since my son started bugging me to start blogging. I’m very glad I finally took him up on it. I’ve met so many fascinating people through these pages. I thank you all for visiting, commenting, and sending me notes. I’ve learned much from the give and take that comes with this territory, which was very new to me (and still is). My unpleasant experiences I can count on one hand — and still have fingers left over.
Here’s some trivia from Junior the Webmaster. I have no idea what any of it means.
In its first year, this blog racked up 845,546 hits, 386,086 page views, 164,258 visits, and 74,376 unique visitors.
The most visited posts were:
The Time Capsule (on the Didache)
Another bit of trivia: This blog is one of Google’s top hits for several searches. But my absolute favorite is “Christian baby names.” I earned this by posting on some ancient Christians’ choice to name themselves “Stercorius” (literally, Crap). I hope I haven’t started a trend.
The top-selling books through the site are (in order):
The Fathers of the Church (by far!)
The most popular non-Aquilina books are (in order):
Through Their Own Eyes: Liturgy as the Byzantines Saw It by Robert Taft, S.J.
The Spirit of Early Christian Thought: Seeking the Face of God by Robert Louis Wilken
The Christian Catacombs of Rome: History, Decoration, Inscriptions by Fabrizio Bisconti et al.
Four Witnesses: The Early Church in Her Own Words by my friend Rod Bennett
In Procession Before the World: Martyrdom As Public Liturgy in Early Christianity by Robin Darling Young
If all I did in the course of the last year was sell these books I’ve loved by authors I admire, I’d count myself a great success at blogging. I hope you who bought them enjoyed the books half as much as I did. If so, you’re pretty happy campers in this KOA (Kampground of the Ancients).
I can’t thank all of you enough for encouraging me in this work. I address my gratitude to Junior first, but to all of you who have clicked here. When you do that, I know that a tree has fallen in the forest.