Orthodox Christian Scripture Lectionary
An Examination of how the Gospel and Apostolos Lectionary is used throughout the year

The Orthodox Church uses two lectionaries -- one for the Gospel, which regulates the four Gospels, and one for the Apostolos, which regulates the other writings of the Apostles, including the acts and the various Epistles, but excluding the Apocalypse (Revelation).


A. The Gospel lectionary.   a. The Gospel lectionary begins each year on Pascha with the Gospel according to John. This Gospel is read sequentially, for the most part, for fifty days through the Sunday of Pentecost. There are, however, several exceptions to the sequential reading:
  1. On three days, the Gospel lessons are taken from other Gospels:

  2. (a) On Bright Tuesday, from Luke

  3. (b) On the Sunday of the Myrrhbearers, from Mark

  4. (c) On Ascension Day, from Luke
  5. The Gospel lessons on the Sundays during this period (except the
  6. Sunday of the Myrrhbearers) are all taken from John, but they do not
  7. follow any particular sequence.
  8. On certain other days during the fifty-day period, the strict
  9. sequential reading from John is broken.

b. Beginning on the Monday after Pentecost (i.e., the Day of the Holy Spirit), the Gospel according to Matthew is read. For this Gospel, there are actually three different sequences:

  1. Sunday readings. These are a selection of readings which follow
  2. sequentially through the 17th Sunday after Pentecost
  3. Saturday readings. These are a selection of readings which follow
  4. sequentially through the 17th Saturday after Pentecost
  5. Weekday readings. These are almost all of the remaining readings
  6. (i.e., not found among the Saturday and Sunday selections), which follow
  7. sequentially through Friday of the 11th Week after Pentecost. An
  8. exception to the sequential readings occurs on the Day of the Holy Spirit.

c. Beginning on Monday of the 12th Week after Pentecost, the Gospel according to Mark is read sequentially on weekdays through Friday of the 17th Week after Pentecost.
d. Beginning of Monday of the 18th Week after Pentecost, the Gospel according to Luke is read. For this Gospel, there are also three different sequences.
  1. Sunday readings. These are a selection of readings, which follow
  2. sequentially, for the most part, until the beginning of Great Lent.
  3. Exceptions to the sequential readings occur on the 22nd Sunday after
  4. Pentecost, the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee, and the Sunday of
  5. the Prodigal Son. Furthermore, on Meatfare Sunday and Cheesefare Sunday,
  6. the readings are taken from the Gospel according to Matthew. The
  7. sequential readings are interrupted by the special Gospel reading
  8. appointed on the Sunday before the Nativity of Christ, and they may be
  9. further interrupted by the special Gospel readings appointed for the
  10. Sunday after the Nativity and the Sundays both before and after Theophany,
  11. depending on the realignment of the lectionary that takes place at that
  12. time.
  13. Saturday readings. These are a selection of readings, which follow
  14. sequentially until the beginning of Great Lent. An exception to the
  15. sequential readings occurs on Cheesefare Saturday, when the reading is
  16. taken from the Gospel according to Matthew. The sequential readings may
  17. also be interrupted by the special Gospel readings appointed for the
  18. Sunday after the Nativity and the Sundays both before and after Theophany,
  19. depending on the realignment of the lectionary that takes place at that
  20. time.
  21. Weekday readings. These are almost all of the remaining readings
  22. (i.e., not found among the Saturday and Sunday selections), which follow
  23. sequentially through Friday of the 29th Week after Pentecost and then are
  24. resumed again during Cheesefare Week (part of the reading for Monday of
  25. Cheesefare Week is out of sequence).

e. Beginning on Monday of the 30th Week after Pentecost, the Gospel according to Mark is read sequentially again, picking up from where it left off on Friday of the 17th Week after Pentecost. The Gospel according to Mark continues to be read on weekdays through Friday of Meatfare Week. One interesting point that should be noted is that the readings from the Gospel according to Mark for the 32nd Week after Pentecost duplicate the readings appointed for the 17th Week after Pentecost.


f. During Great Lent, the Gospel according to Mark is read through the Fifth Week. During this period, there are only two sequences:
  1. Saturday readings. These are a selection of readings, which follow
  2. sequentially, except for the First Saturday.
  3. Sunday readings. These are a selection of readings, which follow
  4. sequentially, except for the First Sunday, when the lesson is read from
  5. the Gospel according to John.

g. Adjustments to the Gospel lectionary.
  1. The first major adjustment takes place after the feast of the
  2. Exaltation of the Cross. According to the Typicon, the Gospel according
  3. to Luke always begins on the Monday following the Sunday after the
  4. Exaltation of the Cross. This means that the Gospel readings for the 18th
  5. Week after Pentecost always begin on that particular Monday, whether or
  6. not the 18th Week actually begins on that day. In those years in which
  7. Pascha occurs late, it is possible, therefore, that some Saturday and
  8. Sunday readings from the Gospel according to Matthew may be omitted as
  9. well as some weekday readings from the Gospel according to Mark. The
  10. readings for the 17th Week after Pentecost are omitted the most
  11. frequently.
  12. The second major adjustment is the realignment that takes place
  13. before the beginning of the Lenten Triodion. Since it affects both the
  14. Gospel and the Apostolos lectionaries, it will be discussed separately
  15. later (see paragraph 3 below).
  16. There is also a minor adjustment that pertains to the Sunday of
  17. the Holy Forefathers (the second Sunday before the Nativity), for which the
  18. Gospel reading is always taken from the 28th Sunday after Pentecost. If
  19. the Sunday of the Holy Forefathers falls on some Sunday other than the
  20. 28th Sunday after Pentecost, the Gospel reading appointed for that other
  21. Sunday is read on the 28th Sunday.

A. The Apostolos lectionary.

a. The Apostolos lectionary begins each year on Pascha with the Acts of the Holy Apostles, which are read sequentially, for the most part, for fifty days through the Sunday of Pentecost. There are, however, several exceptions to the sequential reading:

  1. Thomas Sunday
  2. Mid-Pentecost
  3. Sunday of the Samaritan Woman
  4. Ascension Day
  5. Pentecost Sunday
  6. It is also interesting to note that most of Chapter Seven of the Acts of
  7. the Apostles is omitted from the lectionary (on the beginning and ending
  8. verses are read).
b. Beginning on the Monday after Pentecost (i.e., the day of the Holy Spirit), the Epistles are read sequentially in the same order as given in the English Bible (from Romans to Jude) until the beginning of Great Lent. There are three different sequences:
  1. Sunday readings. These are a selection of readings, which follow
  2. sequentially. Exceptions to the sequential readings occur on the Sunday of
  3. the Prodigal Son, Meatfare Sunday and Cheesefare Sunday. The sequential
  4. readings are interrupted by the special Apostolos reading appointed on the
  5. Sunday before the Nativity of Christ, and they may be further interrupted
  6. by the special Apostolos readings appointed for the Sunday after the
  7. Nativity and the Sundays both before and after Theophany, depending on the
  8. realignment of the lectionaries that takes place at that time.
  9. Saturday readings. These are a selection of readings, which follow
  10. sequentially. Exceptions to the sequential readings occur on Meatfare
  11. Saturday and Cheesefare Saturday. The sequential readings may also be
  12. interrupted by the special Apostolos readings appointed for the Sunday
  13. after the Nativity and the Sundays both before and after Theophany,
  14. depending on the realignment of the lectionaries that takes place at that
  15. time.
  16. Weekday readings. These are almost all of the remaining readings
  17. (i.e., not found among the Saturday and Sunday selections) in sequential
  18. order. An exception to the sequential readings occurs on Monday of the
  19. Holy Spirit.
c. Adjustment to the Apostolos lectionary.
  1. There is only one major adjustment to the Apostolos lectionary,
  2. and
  3. that is the realignment that takes place before the beginning of the
  4. Lenten Triodion. Since it affects both the Gospel and Apostolos
  5. lectionaries, it will be discussed separately later (see paragraph 3
  6. below).
  7. There is also a minor adjustment that pertains to the Sunday of the
  8. Holy Forefathers (the second Sunday before the Nativity), for which the
  9. Apostolos reading is always taken from the 29th Sunday after Pentecost.
  10. If the Sunday of the Holy Forefathers falls on some Sunday other than the
  11. 29th Sunday after Pentecost, the Apostolos reading appointed for that
  12. other Sunday is read on the 29th Sunday.
c. During Great Lent, the Apostolos readings are take from Hebrews through the Fifth Week. During this period, there are only two sequences:
  1. Saturday readings. These are a selection of readings, which follow
  2. sequentially, except for the 3rd Saturday.
  3. Sunday readings. These are a selection of readings, which follow
  4. sequentially, except for the 1st Sunday.
  5. . On the Saturdays and Sundays before and after the Nativity and
  6. Theophany, special readings are appointed. These readings are generally
  7. sufficient to cover any gaps that might occur in the lectionary as a
  8. result of the realignment with the beginning of the Lenten Triodion. In
  9. most cases, the usual Saturday and Sunday lectionaries are interrupted by
  10. these special Saturday and Sunday readings. Following the Saturday and
  11. Sunday after Theophany, the usual Saturday and Sunday lectionaries are
  12. resumed as needed in order to accomplish the realignment with the
  13. beginning of the Lenten Triodion. However, when Pascha occurs late, there
  14. is a need for readings for one additional Saturday and Sunday. These
  15. reading are then taken from the 17th Saturday and Sunday after Pentecost.
    • On the Saturdays and Sundays before and after the Nativity and
    • Theophany, special readings are appointed. These readings are generally
    • sufficient to cover any gaps that might occur in the lectionary as a
    • result of the realignment with the beginning of the Lenten Triodion. In
    • most cases, the usual Saturday and Sunday lectionaries are interrupted by
    • these special Saturday and Sunday readings. Following the Saturday and
    • Sunday after Theophany, the usual Saturday and Sunday lectionaries are
    • resumed as needed in order to accomplish the realignment with the
    • beginning of the Lenten Triodion. However, when Pascha occurs late, there
    • is a need for readings for one additional Saturday and Sunday. These
    • reading are then taken from the 17th Saturday and Sunday after Pentecost.
    • On weekdays, the Apostolos and Gospel lectionaries are read through
    • without a break until the readings for Friday of the 33rd Week after
    • Pentecost have been completed. If additional weeks remain until the
    • beginning of the Lenten Triodion, the readings for the final weeks of the
    • Apostolos and Gospel lectionaries are then repeated as needed. It should
    • be noted that the lessons are only repeated on those particular days when
    • there is no readings appointed in the Menaion or when the repeated lesson
    • was previously omitted in connection with the feasts of the Nativity or
    • Theophany (including the day before and after each feast) and the
    • Circumcision.

Daniel Olson daniellector@hotmail.com
Taken from a post to the Ustav mailing list, Thu, 24 Feb 2000
See Ustav information at http:/www.orthodox.net/ustav
The ustav mailing list's archives are at http:/www.egroups.com/group/ustav





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