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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

January 6, Part 5: The Theophany (A Theophany Photo Blog)

The Theophany Research Page  (Part 5, January 6, 2013)
Peter Paul RubensDeath of Semele, caused by the theophany of Zeus without a mortal disguise


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Theophany, from the Ancient Greek (ἡ) θεοφάνεια (theophaneia,[1] meaning "appearance of God"),[2] refers to the appearance of a deity to a human or other being, or to a divine disclosure.[3]
This term has been used to refer to appearances of the gods in the ancient Greek and Near Eastern religions. While the Iliad is the earliest source for descriptions of theophanies in the Classical tradition (and they occur throughout Greek mythology), probably the earliest description of a theophany is in the Epic of Gilgamesh.
The term theophany has acquired a specific usage for Christians and Jews with respect to the Bible: It refers to the manifestation of God to man; the sensible sign by which the presence of God is revealed. Only a small number of theophanies are found in the Hebrew Bible, also known as the Old Testament.

Greek tradition

At Delphi the Theophania (Θεοφάνια) or Theophanies was an annual festival in spring celebrating the return of Apollo from His winter quarters in Hyperborea. The culmination of the festival was a display of an image of the gods, usually hidden in the sanctuary, to worshippers. Later Roman mystery religions often included similar brief displays of images to excited worshippers.[4]
The appearance of Zeus to Semele, is more than a mortal can stand and she is burned to death by the flames of His power.[5] However, most Greek theophanies were less deadly.
File:Raffael 099.jpg
Ezekiel's Vision by Raphael
Ezekiel in his description is not so reserved as Isaiah. The divine throne appears to him as a wonderful chariot. Storm, a great cloud, ceaseless fire, and on all sides a wonderful brightness accompany the manifestation. Out of the fire four creatures become visible. They have the faces of men; each one has four wings; and the shape of their feet enables them to go to all four quarters of the earth with equal rapidity and without having to turn. These living creatures are recognized by the prophet as cherubim (Ezek. x 20 ). The heavenly fire, the coals of which burn like torches, moves between them. The movement of the creatures is harmonious: wherever the spirit of God leads them they go.
Beneath the living creatures are wheels (ofannim) full of eyes. On their heads rests a firmament upon which is the throne of God. When the divine chariot moves, their wings rustle with a noise like thunder. On the throne the prophet sees the Divine Being, having the likeness of a man. His body from the loins upward is shining (ḥashmal); downward it is fire (in Ezek. viii. 2 the reverse is stated). In the Sinaitic revelation God descends and appears upon earth. In the prophetic vision, on the other hand, He appears in heaven, which is in keeping with the nature of the case, because the Sinaitic revelation was meant for a whole people, on the part of which an ecstatic condition can not be thought of.

The burning bush

In Midian, while Moses was keeping the flock of Jethro his father in law, the angel of the Lord appeared to Moses in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush that burned but was not consumed (Exod 3:1-2). God called to Moses out of the midst of the bush, and told him that He has heard the affliction of his people in Egypt, and gives Moses orders to speak to Pharaoh and to lead the Israelites out of Egypt(Exod 3:3-12).
File:Moses Pluchart.jpg
God Appears to Moses in Burning Bush. Painting fromSaint Isaac's Cathedral, Saint Petersburg
The burning bush is an object described by the Book of Exodus[3:1–22] as being located on Mount Horeb; according to the narrative, the bush was on fire, but was not consumed by the flames, hence the name.[1] In the narrative, theburning bush is the location at which Moses was appointed by God to lead theIsraelites out of Egypt and into Canaan.

Interpretations from Eastern Orthodoxy

File:Neopalimaya kupina.jpg
In Eastern Orthodoxy a tradition exists, originating in the Orthodox Fathers of the Church and itsEcumenical Synods (or Councils), that the flame Moses saw was in fact God's Uncreated Energies/Glory, manifested as light, thus explaining why the bush was not consumed. Hence, it is not interpreted as a miracle in the sense of an event, which only temporarily exists, but is instead viewed as Moses being permitted to see these Uncreated Energies/Glory, which are considered to be eternal things; the Orthodox definition of salvation is this vision of the Uncreated Energies/Glory, and it is a recurring theme in the works of Greek Orthodox theologians such as John S. Romanides.
In Eastern Orthodox parlance, the preferred name for the event is The Unburnt Bush, and the theology and hymnography of the church view it as prefiguring the virgin birth of Jesus; Eastern Orthodox theology refers to Mary, the mother of Jesus as the Theotokos ("God bearer"), viewing her as having given birth to Incarnate God without suffering any harm, or loss of virginity, in parallel to the bush being burnt without being consumed.[22] There is an Icon by the name of the Unburnt Bush, which portrays Mary in the guise of God bearer; the icon's feast day is held on the 4th of September (Russian:Неопалимая Купина, Neopalimaya Kupina).
While God speaks to Moses, in the narrative, Eastern Orthodoxy believes that the angel was also heard by Moses; Eastern orthodoxy interprets the angel as being the Logos of God, regarding it as the Angel of Great Counsel mentioned by the Septuagint version of Isaiah[23]


The pillar of cloud and of fire

God reveals His divine presence and protection to the entire people Israel by leading them out of Egypt and through the Sinai desert by appearing as a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night (Exod 13:21-22).
File:He led them by a pillar of cloud.jpg
"He led them by a pillar of cloud", illustration from a Bible card published between 1896 and 1913 by the Providence Lithograph Company

Pillar of Cloud

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
pillar of cloud (Hebrew: עמוד ענן) was one of the manifestations of the presence of theGod of Israel in the Torah. According to Exodus, the pillar of cloud guided the Israelites by day during the Exodus from Egypt (circa the 18th Dynasty; see dating of the Exodus). The pillar of cloud is traditionally paired with the manifestation of the divine presence by night as the pillar of fire, which provided light. This was so they "could travel by day or night"
File:Mount Sinai Egypt.jpg
Summit of Mount Sinai
Elevation2,285 m (7,497 ft)
LocationSaint CatherineSouth Sinai GovernorateEgypt

Mount Sinai

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Mount Sinai (Arabicطور سيناء‎ Ṭūr Sīnāʼ  or جبل موسى Jabal Mūsá Egyptian Arabic:Gabal Mūsa, lit. "Moses' Mountain" or "Mount Moses"; Hebrewהר סיני Har Sinai ), also known as Mount Horeb, is a mountain in the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt that is the traditional and most accepted identification of the Biblical Mount Sinai. However, several archeologists believe the true location of Mount Sinai is Jabal al-Lawz inSaudi Arabia.[1] The latter is mentioned many times in the Book of Exodus in theTorah, the Bible,[2] and the Quran.[3] According to JewishChristian and Islamictradition, the biblical Mount Sinai was the place where Moses received the Ten Commandments

[edit]On Mount Sinai

The theophany at Mount Sinai is related in calm, simple language in Exodus xix. 16-25. God's manifestation is accompanied by thunder and lightning; there is a fiery flame, reaching to the sky; the loud notes of a trumpet are heard; and the whole mountain smokes and quakes. Out of the midst of the flame and the cloud a voice reveals the Ten Commandments. The account in Deut. iv. 11, 12, 33, 36 and v. 4, 19 is practically the same; and in its guarded language it strongly emphasizes the incorporeal nature of God. Moses in his blessing (Deut. xxxiii. 2) points to this revelation as to the source of the election of Israel, but with this difference: with him the point of departure for the theophany is Mount Sinai and not heaven. God appears on Sinai like a shining sun and comes "accompanied by holy myriads" (comp. Sifre, Deut. 243).
Likewise, in the song of Deborah the manifestation is described as a storm: the earth quakes; Sinai trembles; and the clouds drop water. It is poetically elaborated in the prayer of Habakkuk (Hab. iii.); here past and future are confused. As in Deut. xxxiii. 2 and Judges v. 4, God appears from Teman and Paran. His majesty is described as a glory of light and brightness; pestilence precedes Him. The mountains tremble violently; the earth quakes; the people are sore afraid. God rides in a chariot of war, with horses—a conception found also in Isa. xix. 1, where God appears on a cloud, and in Ps. xviii. 11, where He appears on a cherub.
In biblical Hebrew, the Ten Commandments are called עשרת הדברים (transliterated Asereth ha-D'bharîm) and in Rabbinical Hebrew עשרת הדברות (transliterated Asereth ha-Dibroth), both translatable as "the ten words", "the ten sayings" or "the ten matters".[2] The Tyndaleand Coverdale English translations used "ten verses". The Geneva Bible appears to be the first to use "tenne commandements", which was followed by the Bishops' Bible and the Authorized Version (the "King James" version) as "ten commandments". Most major English versions follow the Authorized Version.[3]
The English name "Decalogue" is derived from the Greek translation δέκα λόγους deka logous "ten terms", found in the Septuagint (or LXX) at Exodus 34:28[3] and Deuteronomy 10:4.[4]
The stone tablets, as opposed to the commandments inscribed on them, are called לוחות הברית: Luchot HaBrit, meaning "the tablets of the covenant".
File:Decalogue parchment by Jekuthiel Sofer 1768.jpg
And the LORD said unto Moses, Come up to me into the mount, and be there: and I will give thee tables of stone, and a law, and commandments which I have written; that thou mayest teach them. 13 And Moses rose up, and his minister Joshua: and Moses went up into the mount of God.
— First mention of the tables in Exodus 24:12,13


Theophany at Dormition of the Theotokos Orthodox Church, Norfolk, VA



Theophany (from Greek theophania, meaning "appearance of God") is one of the Great Feasts of theOrthodox Church, celebrated on January 6. It is the feast which reveals the Most Holy Trinity to the world through the Baptism of the Lord (Mt.3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22).
Copyright © by St. Isaac of Syria Skete (Boscobel, Wisconsin). All Rights Reserved.
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Baptism of Christ

This observance commemorates Christ's baptism by John the Forerunner in the River Jordan, and the beginning of Christ's earthly ministry. The Feast of Theophany is the culmination of the Christmas Season, which starts on December 25 and ends on January 6. In mystic commemoration of this event, the Great Blessing of Water is performed on this day, and the holy water so blessed is used by the local priest to bless the homes of the faithful.
The feast is called Theophany because at the baptism of Christ the Holy Trinity appeared clearly to mankind for the first time—the Father's voice is heard from Heaven, the Son of God is incarnate and standing physically in the Jordan, and the Holy Spirit descends on Him in the form of a dove.
This feast is also sometimes referred to as Epiphany by English-speaking Orthodox Christians, but that name more properly refers to the Western Christian feast falling on that same day and commemorating the visit of the Magi to the child Jesus. The term epiphany does appear in some of the service texts for this feast, however.
Originally, there was just one Christian feast of the shining forth of God to the world in the human form of Jesus of Nazareth. It included the celebration of Christ's birth, the adoration of the wise men, and all of the childhood events of Christ such as his circumcision and presentation to the temple as well as his baptism by John in the Jordan. There seems to be little doubt that this feast, like Pascha and Pentecost, was understood as the fulfillment of a previous Jewish festival, in this case the Feast of Lights. The Armenian Apostolic Church still keeps January 6 as a feast of both Christ's Nativity and baptism.

Celebration of the feast

The services of Theophany are arranged similarly to those of the Nativity. (Historically the Christmas services were established later.)
The Royal Hours are read and the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great is served with Vespers on the eve of the feast. The Vigil is made up of Great Compline and Matins. On the morning of the feast, the Divine Liturgy is served.
The Liturgy of the feast begins with psalms of glorification and praise instead of the three normal Antiphons. And the baptismal line fromGalatians 3:27 replaces the Thrice-Holy.
For as many as been baptized into Christ have put on Christ: Alleluia.
The Gospel readings of all the services tell of the Lord's baptism by John in the Jordan River. The epistle reading of the Divine Liturgy tells of the consequences of the Lord's appearing which is the divine epiphany.
Since the main feature of the feast is the blessing of water. It is prescribed to follow both the Divine Liturgy of the eve of the feast and the Divine Liturgy of the day itself. But most local parishes do it only once when most of the parishioners can be present. The blessing verifies that mankind, and all of creation, were created to be filled with the sanctifying presence of God.
In connection with the feast, it is traditional for the priest to visit all the homes of the faithful for their annual house blessing using the water that has been blessed at the Theophany services.


When Thou, O Lord, wast baptized in the Jordan, worship of the Trinity wast made manifest; for the voice of the Father bore witness to Thee, calling Thee His beloved Son. And the Spirit in the form of a dove confirmed the truth of His word. O Christ our God, Who hath appeared and enlightened the world, glory to Thee.
Kontakion (Tone 4)
On this day Thou hast appeared unto the whole world, and Thy light, O Sovereign Lord, is signed on us who sing Thy praise and chant with knowledge: Thou hast now come, Thou hast appeared, O Thou Light unappproachable.

Forefeast hymns

Troparion (Tone 4)
Be thou ready, Zabulon; prepare thyself, O Nephthalim. River Jordan, stay thy course and skip for gladness to receive the Sovereign Master, Who cometh now to be baptized. O Adam, be thou glad with our first mother, Eve; hide not as ye did of old in Paradise. Seeing you naked, He hath appeared now to clothe you in the first robe again. Christ hath appeared, for He truly willeth to renew all creation.
Kontakion (Tone 4)
In the running waters of the Jordan River, on this day the Lord of all crieth to John: Be not afraid and hesitate not to baptize Me, for I am come to save Adam, the first-formed man.

Eve and Afterfeast hymn

Troparion (Tone 4)
The River Jordan receded of old by the mantle of Elisha when Elijah ascended into heaven; and the water was separated to this side and that, the wet element turning into a dry path for Him, being truly a symbol of Baptism, by which we cross the path of transient age. Christ appeared in the Jordan to sanctify its waters.

Holy water

(Redirected from Great Blessing of Water)
Holy water is water that has been blessed by a bishop or priest for use in the rites of the Orthodox Church including baptism, blessing persons, places, and objects or as a means of repelling evil.


A quantity of holy water is typically kept in a font placed near the entrance of the church where it is available for anyone who needs it. Holy water is sometimes sprinkled on items or people when they are blessed, as part of the prayers of blessing. For instance, in Alaska, the fishing boats are sprinkled with holy water at the start of the fishing season as the priest prays for the crews' safety and success. Orthodox Christians most often bless themselves with holy water by drinking it. It is traditional to keep a quantity of it at home, and many Orthodox Christians will drink a small amount daily with their morning prayers. It may also be used for informal blessings when no clergy are present. For example, parents might bless their children with holy water before they leave the house for school or play.

Holy Water Font
The use of holy water is based on the story of Jesus' baptism by Saint John the Baptist in the River Jordan and the Orthodox interpretation of this event. In this view, John's baptism was a baptism of repentance, and the people came to have their sins washed away by the water. Since Jesus had no sin, but was God himself, his baptism had the effect of Jesus blessing the water, making it holy, that is used fully for its original created purpose to be an instrument of life.


The Great Blessing of Water is held on the eve of the feast of the Theophany (January 5) and/or the feast of Theophany itself (January 6), following the Divine Liturgy. The blessing remembers the event of the Lord's baptism, the revelation of the Holy Trinity, and also expresses Orthodoxy's belief that creation is sanctified through Christ.
Jesus' baptism is commemorated in the Orthodox Church at the Feast of Theophany (literally "God shining forth"). At the Vespers of this feast, a font of holy water is typically blessed in the church, to provide holy water for the parish's use in the coming year. The next morning in some parishes, the prayers often include a trip to a nearby river, lake or other public source of drinking water, to bless that water as well. This represents the redemption of all creation as part of humanity's salvation. In the following weeks, the priest typically visits the homes of the parish's members and prays prayers of blessing for their families, homes and pets, sprinkling them with holy water. Again, this practice is meant to visibly represent God's sanctifying work in all parts of the people's lives.
Holy water can also be blessed at any other time of the year if there is a need, and this is usually done on the first day of a month. The holy water used for a baptism is blessed as part of the baptism service.

Great Blessing of Water

On the feast of Holy Theophany holy water is blessed twice, at the conclusion of the Divine Liturgies both on the eve and on the feast itself. After processing to the place where the vessel of water is prepared to the singing of appropriate troparia there are a group of Scripturereadings culminating in the baptism account from the Gospel of Saint Mark (1:9-11) followed by the Great Litany. This is sung just as for the Liturgy, but with the following additional petitions which make clear what is being asked of God and what the use, purpose, and blessing of the water is believed to entail.
That these waters may be sanctified by the power, and effectual operation, and descent of the Holy Spirit:
That there may descend upon these waters the cleansing operation of the super-substantial Trinity:
That he will endue them with the grace of redemption, the blessing of Jordan, the might, and operation, and descent of the Holy Spirit:
That Satan may speedily be crushed under our feet, and that every evil counsel directed against us may be brought to naught:
That the Lord our God will free us from every attack and temptation of the enemy, and make us worthy of the good things which he hath promised:
That he will illumine us with the light of understanding and of piety, and with the descent of the Holy Spirit:
That the Lord our God will send down the blessing of Jordan and sanctify these waters:
That this water may be unto the bestowing of sanctification; unto the remission of sins; unto the healing of soul and body; and unto every expedient service:
That this water may be a fountain welling forth unto life eternal:
That it may manifest itself effectual unto the averting of every machination of our foes, whether visible or invisible:
For those who shall draw of it and take of it unto the sanctification of their homes:
That it may be for the purification of the souls and bodies of all those who, with faith, shall draw and partake of it:
That he will graciously enable us to perfect sanctification by participation in these waters, through the invisible manifestation of the Holy Spirit:
Then, following a lengthy set of didactic prayers that expound on the nature of the feast and summarize salvation history, praising God's creation of and mastery over the elements, the priest makes the Sign of the Cross over the water with his hand and prays specifically for the blessing to be invoked upon it. At the climax of the service, he immerses the hand cross into the water three times in imitation of Christ's baptism to the singing of the festal troparion and then blesses the entire church and congregation with the newly consecrated water.

Blessing the water

The blessing the water begins with the chanting of special hymns, with the censing of the water, and concludes with Bible readings, petitions and prayers.
The water is in a large container in the middle of the nave, or the service may be held at a freely flowing natural source. If celebrated indoors, the container of water may be decorated with candles and flowers as the symbol of the beauty of God's original creation through his Word and Spirit. During the service, a cross is dipped three times into the water.
After the blessing service, the faithful fill their containers to take some holy water home with them. This water is also used to bless homesduring the Theophany season.
Water is seen by the Church as the prime element of creation. In blessing water, it is asked that the original purpose of water, as a source of life, blessing and holiness be revealed as one drinks it. In the Book of Genesis, creation began when the Spirit of God moved over the face of the waters.
In the blessing of water it is seen that the world and everything in it is "very good" (Gen. 1:31) and when it becomes corrupted, God saves it once more by effecting the new creation in Christ, his divine Son and our Lord by the grace of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 6:15).
The celebration of the Great Blessing of Water is an affirmation that through Christ's own baptism, he has lifted the curse of Adam's sin, and given the creative goodness of God's creation back to mankind once again. Thus when Christians are baptized, they are baptized into Christ, part of the creation that is sanctified in Christ.

Life-Giving Spring

The Life-Giving Spring or Life-Giving Font of the Mother of God (Greek: Ζωοδόχος Πηγή; Russian: Живоносный Источник) is a feast day in the Orthodox Church that is associated with a historic churchjust west of Constantinople in Valoukli, as well as an icon of the Theotokos.
The feast day of the Life-Giving Spring is commemorated on Bright Friday of each year (the Friday following Pascha), being the only feast day which may be celebrated during Bright Week, while the commemoration of the Life-Giving Spring Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos is observed on April 4.
File:Theotokos the Life-Giving Font.jpg
Icon of the Theotokos the Life-Giving Font. 17th c.

Revelation of the Life-Giving Spring

The Holy well (Hagiasma) of the Church of the Life Giving Font (Istanbul).

Procession on the feast day of the Life-giving Spring, Bright Friday1959, Arcadia, Greece.
There are two accounts extant concerning the revelation of the Life-Giving Font just outside the City of Constantinople. It is likely that in either case, before the 5th-6th century monastery was erected, a shrine was already in existence with a spring of water, near a grove of trees, and was dedicated to theTheotokos from early times. Over time, the grove had become overgrown and the spring became fetid.[1]
Nicephorus Callistus
The traditional account is recorded by Nikephoros Kallistos Xanthopoulos, the last of the Greek ecclesiastical historians, who flourished around 1320. This tradition begins with a miracle that occurred involving a soldier named Leo Marcellus, who would later become the Byzantine Emperor Leo I the Thracian (457-474). While Leo was on his way to Constantinople he encountered a blind man near theGolden Gate who was thirsty. Though he agreed to search for water, he was unable to find any. A female voice was then heard who told the future Emperor that there was water nearby. Looking about, he could see no one, and neither could he see any water. Then he heard the voice again:
"Emperor Leo, go into the deepest part of the woods, and you will find water there. Take some of the cloudy water in your hands and give it to the blind man to drink. Then take the clay and put it on his eyes. Then you shall know who I am."[2]
The same voice added that she had chosen that very place to be worshiped and prophesied that he would one day receive the crown to the empire. Leo followed her order and at once the blind man recovered his eyesight. After his accession to the throne, the Emperor erected a magnificent church on this place, and the water continued to work miraculous cures. Therefore, it was called "The Life-Giving Spring."
A second account is given by the prominent Byzantine scholar Procopius of Caesarea (flourishing ca.500-565).[note 1] In this version, the Emperor Justinian was out hunting when he came upon a small chapel in a beautiful wooded area, surrounded by a large crowd of people and a priest in front of a spring. Inquiring about this site, he was told that this was the “source of miracles”. He at once ordered that a magnificent church be built there, utilizing materials that had remained after the erection of the Hagia Sophia.[3] The church was erected in the last years of his reign, ca.559-560, near the holy spring.[note 2] After the erection of the sanctuary, the Gate that was situated outside the walls of Theodosius II was named by the Byzantines Gate of the Spring (Greek: Πύλη τῆς Πηγῆς).[4]

The Icon

The icon representing the Virgin of the Spring shows the Virgin blessing and embracing the Child. She is surrounded by two angels, and is sitting on the more elevated of two basins, presumably representing the "living water" which is Christ.[note 3] The living water from the more elevated basin flows into a larger marble basin below, which is in the shape of a cross.[note 4]
In one version of the icon that was found on Naxos island, Greece,[note 5] some differences are shown with respect to the ancient type. Around the cross-shaped basin stands the Emperor with his guard, while on the right is the Patriarch with his bishops. In the background, is represented Leo I with the blind man, and the walls of the City. Under the basin a paralytic and a madman are healed with the spring’s water.


In Orthodox hymnography, the Theotokos is frequently compared with a Holy Fountain. The hymns and prayers of the feast are combined with the Paschal hymns, and there is often a Lesser Blessing of Waters performed after the Divine Liturgy on Bright Friday. In old Russia, continuing Greek traditions, there was a custom to sanctify springs that were located near churches, dedicate them to the Holy Mother, and paint icons of her under the title The Life Giving Spring.[5]
Apolytikion (Tone 3)[6]
As a life-giving fount, thou didst conceive the Dew that is transcendent in essence,
O Virgin Maid, and thou hast welled forth for our sakes the nectar of joy eternal,
which doth pour forth from thy fount with the water that springeth up
unto everlasting life in unending and mighty streams;
wherein, taking delight, we all cry out:
Rejoice, O thou Spring of life for all men.
Kontakion (Plagal of Tone 4)[6]
O Lady graced by God,
you reward me by letting gush forth, beyond reason,
the ever-flowing waters of your grace from your perpetual Spring.
I entreat you, who bore the Logos, in a manner beyond comprehension,
to refresh me in your grace that I may cry out,
“Hail redemptive waters.”
File:Panagia Argokiliotissa.JPG
Greek icon of the Theotokos the Life-giving Spring ("Panagia Argokiliotissa", Naxos).



INSIDER INFORMATION - The Time Has Come To Tell... NIBIRU & DECEPTION - What Nobody Ever Told You...


o=oContinued in Part 6