Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Mar Yaakov day on 10/23 - 11/05


James the Greater (died in 61) was the first bishop of Jerusalem, heading the Early Church. Yaakov\יעקב [Hebrew: "heel"]- Иаков - Iakobos adelphotheos - Ιακωβος ο αδελφοθεος (brother of G-d) was seemingly a high priest, highly respected by the Jews and he was going to the Temple everyday. He took the first synod decision at Jerusalem allowing the Gentile to be "adopted" without having to be circumcised, but having to respectfully fulfill the Noahide laws. The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem [my home and Church where I serve] commemorates his day on November 4th/5th following the Julian old style calendar. In the West, it will be on Oct. 23rd, always starting with the evening prayers = on 10/22nd. He was indeed considered as a צדיק - Just (tsaddik), having an ascetic way of living. His decision is most important because it enabled the Gentiles/Nations to enter the Covenant to the full.

av aleksandr

Photograph:
מר יעקב א בהעיה"ק - Mar/Mor Yaakov - Bishop A of Jerusalem

2 comments:

Av_A said...

Fr. A. James Bernstein (Seattle, WA) wrote
at 4:08pm on October 22nd, 2008
St James the Just is my patron saint. He presided at the first Council of Jerusalem described in Acts chapter 15 (also see Galatians chapter 2).
An aspect of the Council's decree that I find most amazing are the guidelines required of Gentiles coming into the Church (becoming Christian). In the earliest days the Jews who followed Jesus were not called Christians but were called Nazarenes. The title 'Christian ' first arose in the Gentile city of Antioch which included Gentiles as well as Jews.

The requirements provided the Gentile to be received into the Church were minimal. Yet today among various ethnic Churches requirements are often extensive.

I believe that one of the most amazing things presented by the earliest Church was their willingness to transcend culture in their desire to embrace converts.

This is all the more astounding when we consider how strict James and his party were in observing the Mosaic Law (see Galatians 2:12). They did not require the Gentile Christians to adhere to the Mosaic Law, to learn Hebrew or Aramaic, to adopt Jewish customs and traditions, or to become Jewish. The Jewish Christians were not only very accepting, but were also highly supportive of the development of a Gentilized Christianity.

This is a model that present day Orthodox Christians should follow. Unfortunately within National Churches and Ethnic Groupings there is such a strong identification of ethnicity and culture with the Orthodox Faith that they become one and the same. So as the result to become Orthodox means to become Greek, or to become Russian or to become Arabic. In contast the early Jewish Christians did not require the Gentile believers to become Jewish. They were able to somehow have faith transcend culture. We should do the same.
Fr A. James Bernstein

Av_A said...

"In contrast the early Jewish Christians did not require the Gentile believers to become Jewish. They were able to somehow have faith transcend culture. We should do the same".

Thank you so much for your comment, Fr. James. Have a blessed Name Day and we shall congratulate you once again on November 5. But this is a veery good and insightful remark.
av a.