Narrative Lectionary

Discussion in 'Non-Anglican Discussion' started by Jeffg, Jul 7, 2019.

  1. Jeffg

    Jeffg Member

    Posts:
    59
    Likes Received:
    37
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    Lutherpalian
    I came accross a few referances recently to using a "Narrative Lectionary" as opposed to the Revised Common Lectionary. Looks kind of interesting. Here's one web sight with some stuff: http://www.workingpreacher.org/?lect_date=07/14/2019&lectionary=nl

    Any insights/commentary/conversation/ history on where/how/what it got started . I am familiar with the 3 year cycle of the RCL, the two year lectionary of the Episcopal Church, and even a one year lectionary that one finds occasionally in Lutheeran (LCMS) church. But the Narative Lectionary is new to me.. so opening up for commentary.
     
    Liturgyworks likes this.
  2. Fr. Brench

    Fr. Brench Member Anglican

    Posts:
    63
    Likes Received:
    77
    Country:
    United States
    Religion:
    Anglican (ACNA)
    This is a four-year cycle of readings? Yikes, definitely not a good idea for the primary Sunday service, in my opinion. Could be an awesome study tool or small group program though... especially if it can be gotten through in, well, less than four years.
     
    Liturgyworks likes this.
  3. Shane R

    Shane R Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    284
    Likes Received:
    302
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    Anglican
    The interesting thing about that cycle is that it only provides 9 months of readings for each year. The assumption is that the pastor will fill out the three months of summer with a sermon series or two. So the entire cycle of readings can be completed in 36 months. But then you would be out of sync with their somewhat convoluted idea of the seasons of the church.

    I was horrified to see that a Lutheran seminary came up with this scheme. It looks like something some Baptists or Nazarenes would come up with if they wanted to dabble in lectionary readings.
     
    Liturgyworks and Brigid like this.
  4. Jeffg

    Jeffg Member

    Posts:
    59
    Likes Received:
    37
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    Lutherpalian
    I'm guessing it was an ELCA seminary...the "progressive/liberal" synod. Martin Luther is probably rolling over in his grave... or running for Rome to ask forgiveness.
     
    Liturgyworks likes this.
  5. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

    Posts:
    1,092
    Likes Received:
    939
    Country:
    America
    Religion:
    Anglican
    It's a pretty common misapprehension to blame the mainline Protestants for all these modern evils, when in truth they were started in 1965, by Rome, at Vatican II. The 3-year lectionary is a clear instance of this. Did the Lutherans conceive of such a thing prior to 1965?

    Maybe I'm wrong, and would love to be corrected. I know for a fact that Vatican II ended up destroying the Anglican liturgy. The Novus Ordo went on to produce the absolute train wreck that became the 1979 Episcopalian liturgy, and eventually the "Book of Common Worship" in England.

    So I don't think Luther would have apologized to Rome. If anything, seeing what they've caused he would have said, "I told you!"
     
    Liturgyworks likes this.
  6. Liturgyworks

    Liturgyworks Active Member

    Posts:
    138
    Likes Received:
    102
    Country:
    US
    Religion:
    Orthodox Christian
    I agree entirely, except I would say the problems really started when Pope Pius XII started messing with the Roman Rite lectionary, from which the old Anglican and Lutheran lectionaries are derived. The traditional one year lectionary of the Western Church was related conceptually to all of the other one hear lectionaries throughout Christendom (for example, the lessons on Holy Saturday Vigils in the Roman Mass, including, before the meddling of Pius XII, twelve Old Testament lessons that form the major proof texts for the Passion and Resurrection of our Lord, correspond with the Byzantine Rite lections for the same day, which differ only in that there are more of them, Romans ch. 6 is read as the Epistle instead of Colossians 3:1-4, and Matthew 28 is read in its entirety.

    Then, as we head further east, to Syria, Mesopotamia, Armenia and India, or south to Egypt and Ethiopia, bits of the Byzantine and Roman lectionaries are commonly held between most of the other churches. For example, Low Sunday in most churches, all that I am aware of, is the feast of St. Thomas and his interaction with our risen Lord, proving the resurrection is physical and not just spiritual.

    The lectionary of the Assyrian Church of the East is one of only four ancient lectionaries with an Old Testament lesson present in the Eucharist; the others being the disused Gallican Rite and its Spanish and Italian relatives, the Mozarabic and Ambrosian liturgies. And in the Assyrian lectionary, there are two lessons, corresponding to the Torah and haftarah lections of the Babylonian Talmud (unsurprising, since the Church of the East was headquartered in Seleucia-Cstesiphon, where the Babylonian Torah was compiled).

    The only three year lectionary from antiquity is indeed the lectionary of the Jerusalem Torah; all Christian lectionaries before the Novus Ordo were primarily annual lectionaries (a few, if memory serves, had two sets of Office lessons, which optionally could be split over two years).

    ~

    Of the Western lectionaries, the Anglican lectionary is particularly splendid, because of its monthly Psalter for Mattins and Evensong, which ensures different Psalms every Sunday (something you don’t get with a weekly Psalter, which is more appropriate, in my opinion, for monastic use), the excellence of the Coverdale Psalter, the exquisite composition of the Collects from the Eucharistic lectionary, and the superb, separate system of Old Testament and New Testament lessons for Mattins and Evensong. If an Anglican cathedral or large parish did what it was supposed to, and served the Divine Office daily, perhaps broadcasting it in the manner of Choral Evensong on the BBC (but in olden times, the lack of a congregation did not stop a pious Anglican rector from entering into his benefice twice a day to offer Morning and Evening Prayer; I trust you all have heard the story of the Farmer and the Priest?), the entire Holy Bible would be read through annually.

    Additionally, the RCL and the Novus Ordo lectionary from which it is derived, scandalously omit such crucial verses as 1 Corinthians 11:27-34 on Maundy Thursday. All other Christian lectionaries known to me read this pericope with the rest of the Institution Narrative in 1 Corinthians on Maundy Thursday. This change apparently freaked out even TEC; their RCL-based 1979 Lectionary allowed the priest to read through to verse 30 if he desired. I can think of lots of reasons why a liberal theologian might want to chop these “hard sayings”, none of which are legitimate from a pastoral care perspective. Oughtn’t people to know that partaking of the Eucharist unworthily can lead to sickness and death? But this wouldn’t fit the Liturgical Movement aims of mass communion of everyone, every Sunday, even the unbaptized; and I have seen no one provide any justification for why the unbaptized should receive communion. Nor can anyone tell me why a notorious evil liver should not be repelled from the sacrament, as the old Book of Common Prayer requires.

    I was extremely disappointed to see the RCL present in the 2019 BCP. The 2006 LCMS Lutheran Service Book, while retaining the inane Novus Ordo translation of “et cum spiritu tuo” as “and also with you” (which contradicts how the Sursum Corda has been translated into every language from the original Greek, since the second century, and is at odds with the ancient East and West Syriac, Coptic, Ethiopic and Armenian liturgies), to its credit did contain a modern language version of the traditional one-year Lutheran lectionary, which is fairly similar to the traditional Anglican lectionary (most English language Lutheran service books closely follow the BCP and Anglican hymnals, to the extent of including instructions on Anglican chant; the Oxford Guide to the Book of Common Prayer, which I highly recommend as a history despite the inane liberalism of some of its scholars, features a chapter on Lutheran service books, and another on Methodist BCP derivatives, but really, ultimately, all traditional English service books owe a debt to the BCP and its authors, even unrelated service books like the Triodion, the Lenten hymnal of the Orthodox Church, translated by Metropolitan Kallistos Ware and Mother Mary, which contains no overlapping content with the BCP, yet is written in a matching literary style).

    So, why couldn’t the 2019 BCP have done that?

    One of the best parts of the 1928 American BCP, the 1962 Canadian BCP, and the 1662 English BCP editions, is they still have the old lectionary, and for this reason, people should use them. The Revised Common Lectionary is in my opinion novel, innovative, theologically biased towards heretical ideas many ministers of it are unaware of, and wholly unsuited to Christian worship. And its an utter lie that the RCL represents some sort of magical Ecumenical moment, wherein Protestants and Catholics are finally reading the same scripture; they aren’t, as the RCL differs from the Novus Ordo in several places, and to the extent there is a parallelism, it should be stressed this wss also historically the case, since all liturgical Protestants adapted a version of the old Roman lectionary, such as the Sarum Rite lectionary, and used it as the basis for their services. And all of these Roman Rite variants are likewise similar. And because some survived, the Catholics were never even been reading the same lectionary; the Ambrosian and Dominican Rite lectionaries, used by millions of Catholics before Vatican II, are different in some key places from the Tridentine lectionary. And the Maronite, Greek Catholic and other Eastern Catholic lectionaries are even more different from that of Rome.

    So please, I beg of Anglicans, use the old lectionary. It is the best of breed as Western lectionaries go due to its comprehensive coverage of the Old and New Testament in the Divine Office, the monthly psalter, the elegant pairings of collects with the appointed epistle and Gospel for Holy Communion, and it also follows the tradition of the English rites of Sarum, York, Bangor and Hereford, in that the Old Testament is primarily read during Mattins and Evensong rather than Holy Communion.

    But don’t take my word for it. Here is a brilliant article in Liturgy Canada by an Anglican priest who demolishes the myths people use to justify the RCL, and who provides raw statistics on why the old lectionary, such as one will find in the exquisite 1962 Canadian BCP, is superior: http://liturgy.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/LitCan_Oct_05.pdf
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2019 at 2:28 AM
  7. Liturgyworks

    Liturgyworks Active Member

    Posts:
    138
    Likes Received:
    102
    Country:
    US
    Religion:
    Orthodox Christian
    :clap:

    We are on so much of the same page on this, my brother, I feel like hugging you @Stalwart

    I haven’t taken a close look at the Narrative Lectionary, as to be frank it grossed me out, but another four year system, Year D, I did purchase a copy of. I admire the forthright character of the minister who compiled it. However, far from fixing the RCL, Year D, while it does reintroduce some important content, breaks the entire lectionary further, and the huge disparity between Year D and Years A, B and C, resulting from a choice of scripture lessons which I can only describe as, at times, downright weird, is likely to irritate the laity substantially. And having to wait three years to hear one of the three synoptics is silly enough; a four hear gap seems unbearably long. But I do like that he tried to fix it. Ultimately though, the RCL is beyond repair; it is contrary to tradition, discards some of the best parts of the Anglican liturgy, and is pastorally unsound.

    This interesting article in Christian Century is where I first learned of Year D and the Narrative Lectionary, among other attempted repairs to the RCL, and read of these with a certain shocked horror (although I grew to admire the moral earnesty and scriptural devotion of the compiler of year D, who unlike most of the people mentioned therein, I feel I can connect to as a pious Christian, even though I would not want to belong to a church which uses his lectionary, or even on several occasions visit it, due to its highly anomalous selections, as mentioned above).

    Of course, the greatest amount of shock and horror came not from reading of tne pipus attempts of people like Year D’s Rev. Timothy Slemmons, but rather the smug conceit of the CCT’s representative Taylor Burton-Edwards, who at the time was also the United Methodist Director of Worship Resources, during a time when I might observe that his failure in his job led to my departure from the UMC for the current blissful realm of the apostolic churches, Orthodox, Assyrian and Anglican churches. Consider the arrogance of these sentiments, and his comments:

    Essentially, the CCT, the keepers of the RCL, seem happy to maintain it from principles that are purely liberal Christian, which is why I think traditional Anglicans in the ACNA and elsewhere must summon the courage to discard it in favor of the scriptural riches that only the traditional Anglican lectionary offers. The temptation to stick with the RCL must be strong, because several traditional Protestant churches in a similar position to the ACNA, like the NALC and Eco, are presumably using it, and the adoption by TEC, well before the current crises, of a three year lectionary similar to, but in my opinion, vastly superior to the RCL, if only because it allows the recitation of 1 Corinthians 11:27-30 and also features more traditional Apocrypha, which Anglicans have always read and profited from. But the 1928, 1962 and 1662 BCP editions feature lectionaries which are in every respect superior, for parish use, not only to the RCL, but also to every other Roman Rite-based lectionary I have seen (except perhaps in the extremely special case of Holy Saturday; there, if a parish with a large number of catechumens awaiting baptism, wanted to use the ancient lectionary with its massive number of Old Testament lessons, a lectionary historically intended to be read while people were baptized, hence the close similarity between the versions of it used in the Roman and Eastern churches, this would make some sense, and indeed a new BCP might do well to include a special Paschal Baptism Service for Those of Riper Years on Easter Even, among the proper services contained within).

    For further reference purposes, the talented scholar who runs the very useful site bombaxo.org publishes a comparison between the Tridentine lectionary, the Novus Ordo lectionary, the Revised Common Lectionary, and the old, disused lectionary from the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, which was the best of the three year lectionaries: http://www.bombaxo.com/biblical-stuff/lectionaries/modern-western-lectionaries/
     
    Fr. Brench likes this.
  8. Shane R

    Shane R Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    284
    Likes Received:
    302
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    Anglican
    I understand the impetus for a three year lectionary: it is an acknowledgment that the laity don't read the Bible in a substantive way at home. The proliferation of 'verse a day' materials in the Christian consumer goods industry and television and radio Christianity has led to most people approaching the Biblical text from a devotional perspective. It's insidious: what does this verse mean for me? What is God's promise to me today? It is also an acknowledgment that the practice of Morning and Evening Prayers has waned.

    And I think every preacher has some frustration with the one year lectionary. There are a couple of passages which are read multiple times in the year and a certain amount of redundancy in the Gospel selections; do we need to read every feeding miracle and every instance of Jesus healing the blind?
     
    Liturgyworks likes this.
  9. Liturgyworks

    Liturgyworks Active Member

    Posts:
    138
    Likes Received:
    102
    Country:
    US
    Religion:
    Orthodox Christian
    In answer to your question, I would say, yes, the miracle stories are important, and indeed the healing of the blind man is one of the major Sundays in Lent on the Syriac calendar (which interestingly appears to follow, for each Sunday before Easter, one of the Signs from the Gospel of John, and the overall pattern corresponds with the Beatitudes from Matthew, although alas nothing is made of this; there is nothing like a prokeimenon or versicle to introduce the lessons).

    But regarding the repetition, that is a legitimate complaint and something that could be fixed, without discarding the old lectionary. On the other hand, if you look at the statistics, there is more repetition in the RCL. And the main problem with the RCL is the absence of critical pericopes like 1 Corinthians 11:27-32

    I have to confess, if I were in the position where pastoral care required more than what the Anglican lectionary by itself offered, I would rather rotate it with other existing one year lectionaries, starting with the Mozarabic* and the Byzantine.

    * There is a draft Anglican Mexican prayer book in English and Spanish, which is translated entirely from the Mozarabic Rite; it is to my knowledge the only really substantial English language material on that rite.

    A dream of mine, but I admit it is a pipe dream, would be a monastic urban abbey, something like the Brompton Oratory in London, which would feature the usual monastic accommodations, but would specialize in serving and preserving all of the ancient liturgical rites. I also feel on a certain level that there is room for liturgical hybridization in new mission parishes, to address specific pastoral concerns. For example, if social isolation is a problem, the Coptic and Ethiopic liturgies are uniquely suitable; irreverence is best confronted with the traditional Anglican liturgy and the West Syriac liturgy, and iconoclasm or a loss of respect for the heritage of the Church, with the post Nikonian Russian Byzantine liturgy and the Tridentine mass.
     

Share This Page