There are many useful features on the VMR that some users may not know about. One feature, which was added about a year ago, is lectionary indexing. While the complex structure of lectionaries makes them inherently difficult to index, this new feature hopes to facilitate this process.
In the VMR, manuscripts are indexed page by page, which makes sense for continuous text manuscripts. Because lectionaries are organized by lections, this can make indexing less than straightforward. Ideally, it would be feasible to index the contents of the page as well as the lection(s) on each page—even when they fall on more than one page.
Let’s take L547 as an example. In the NT.VMR, f. 9v suppl. (Page Id 210) of L547 contains Mark 16:5-8 and John 4:46-52, which encompass the end of one lection and the beginning of another. The middle of the page contains information that signals the beginning of a new lection.
In the image above, the reading that begins in the middle of the page is for the 2nd day (τη Β) of the 3rd week (της Γ) and is from John (Ιω). The reading begins with a typical incipit (which often replaces words), τω καιρω εκεινω, and then continues with Jn 4:46: ην τις βασιλικος. This lection falls in what is called synaxarion period 1, which contains readings from Easter to Pentacost. (For more on the calendar system in lectionaries, see the works listed below.)
The lection continues to the next page of the manuscript and ends with verse 54. Therefore, we have identified the lection for synaxarion period 1 (S1), week 3 (W3), the 2nd day of the week (WD2), as John 4:46-54. After this information is entered in the VMR (explained below), it is displayed in red on the page where the lection begins.
How to record lection headings
The lection details are recorded as a manuscript feature in the VMR. To do this, hover your curser at the bottom of the window and a tab will pop up with the option to “Add Feature”.
Here, select “Lection Identifier” under the heading “Liturgical”.
In general, Greek New Testament lectionaries are comprised of two sections: the synaxarion (the moveable church calendar) and the menologion (the fixed annual calendar beginning with September). Whereas the synaxarion is organized by periods, weeks, and days of the week, the menologion is organized by months and days of the month.
After clicking on "Liturgical Identifier", the VMR offers two main options for lectionary indexing under “Lection Type”. The default is “Synaxarion” but changing it to “Menologion” will offer a different set of fields.
The most important information to enter for the synaxarion is the period (S), week (W), and day (WD), as well as the “Biblical Content” for the lection. Taking the example above from L547, you can see that there is no explicit indication on that folio for which synaxarion period this lection is. But we do know what the biblical contents are and that the day is “2” and the week is “3”. In light of this information, we can check a lection guide (more on this below) and easily ascertain that this is period “1”. In the “Biblical Content” field, we simply type “Jn 4:46-54”.
The most crucial information to enter for indexing the menologion is the month (M) and day (D), as well as the “Biblical Content” for the lection. (There is no synaxarion period in the menologion.)
Remember, you must refresh the page in order for the lection identifier to appear!
That's it. These are the basics of lectionary indexing on the VMR.
For those wishing to delve deeper, it is possible to record even more information than what we’ve discussed so far. Concerning the use of lectionaries in church, you can select which service a lection was read in (e.g. vespers, liturgy, hours), which reading of the day (reading: 1st, 2nd, etc.), the reading type (Gospels, Apostolos, prokeimenon, alleluia), and which tone it was sung in (e.g. tone 1, tone 1 plagal). The Menologia in particular are often read in remembrance of a saint, for festivals, dedications, or other special occasions. If this information can be gathered from the manuscript, it can be typed in the “Commemoration” field.
There is also the option to record the pericope number, but this may be more commonly found in continuous text manuscripts that have liturgical headings. For example, in GA 35 f. 26v (Page Id 640) you can see the numbers λ (30) and λα (31) in the margin.
While pericopes are numbered sequentially in continuous text manuscripts, the two lections on the image above are designed to be read weeks apart. (Not to mention that pericope 31 is read prior to 30!) When the same type of information appears more than once on a single page, such as with two lections, you can select the same feature again after you have entered the information in the first time. After this is recorded for this page of GA 35, the lection identifiers are displayed in the indexing column, as described above.
As you can see here, the pericope numbers are not displayed but are found rather with the full indexing information in the pop up menu at the bottom of the page.
The VMR is versatile and is capable of capturing practically any information from manuscripts so long as the parameters of the information can be provided. If you have not looked into “Add Features” yet, you might be surprised at the options there.
You can also get search results for manuscripts that have information recorded for certain features. When you are in the online Liste, simply select a feature from the “Has Feature” field and see what you find. For example, select “Purple Parchment” under “Physical Attributes” and then click search. The results will display all manuscripts in the Liste that are written on purple parchment. Keep in mind, though, that not all manuscripts have had all of their features recorded. We are only in the infancy stages of capturing this information.
In closing, lectionaries are an oft neglected witness to the Greek New Testament with great potential to shine new light on the New Testament text and its transmission. We hope to offer a promising platform on the NT.VMR for recording and organizing basic information about lectionaries so we can obtain a better understanding of these important books used by Christians throughout the centuries.
For More Information
If you are new to lectionaries and want to learn more, a great place to begin is:
Carroll Osburn, “The Greek Lectionaries of the New Testament,” in The Text of the New Testament in Contemporary Research: Essays on the Status Quaestionis, ed. Bart D. Ehrman and Michael Holmes (2nd edn; Leiden: Brill, 2013), 93–113.
For more detail about the lection system see:
Sergei Ovsiannikov, “The paschal spiral and different types of Byzantine and Slavonic lectionaries,” in A Catalogue of Byzantine Manuscripts in Their Liturgical Context: Challenges and Perspectives: Collected Papers Resulting from the Expert Meeting of the Catalogue of Byzantine Manuscripts Programme Held at the PThU in Kampen, the Netherlands on 6th-7th November 2009, ed. Klaas Spronk, Gerard Rouwhorst, and Stefan Royé (Brepols: Turnhout, Belgium, 2013), 117–152.
For a more in-depth discussion of the importance of researching the synaxarion and menologion systems, see:
Gregory S. Paulson, “A Proposal for a Critical Edition of the Greek New Testament Lectionary,” in Liturgy and the Living Text of the New Testament: Papers from the Tenth Birmingham Colloquium on the Textual Criticism of the New Testament, ed. Hugh Houghton (Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias Press, 2018), 121–150.
Guides for Lectionary Indexing
Lists of Gospel and Apostolos lections from both the synaxarion and menologion can be found on pages 343–386 in the first volume of:
Caspar René Gregory, Textkritik des Neuen Testamentes (Leipzig: J.C. Hinrichs, 1900–1909).
For easy-to-use charts of Gospel lections from the synaxarion and menologion, see:
Pinakes of the Byzantine Synaxarion & Menologion Anagnosmata. Liturgical substrata of Biblical and Patristic anagnosmata as found in Evangelion, Apostolos, Prophetologion, Panegyrikon and other Byzantine codices, Part I: Evangelion Anagnosmata, by the Editors of the Catalogue of Byzantine Manuscripts Programme (Kampen: Brepols, 2009).
There is also the IGNTP guide that has synaxarion and menologion readings for the Gospels:
Full Lectionary Index
See here for other IGNTP documents.
For Apostolos readings in the synaxarion, see:
Samuel Gibson, The Apostolos: The Acts And Epistles In Byzantine Liturgical Manuscripts, TS 18 (Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias Press, 2018)
Gibson’s lection charts can be downloaded here.
The official lectionaries from the Greek Orthodox Church (published by Apostoliki Diakonia) are also helpful to use as guides: