Sessions held at the XVIII. International Conference on Patristic Studies Oxford

Date: 19.–24. August 2019

Uta Heil: Days of the Week in the Chronicon Paschale

Although it is well known that probably in the year 321 the Sunday law of Emperor Constantine was enacted, and although additional legal texts and ecclesiastical canons are also known, this is too little for a cultural history of Sunday. What did people do on Sunday? Think about Sunday? How was it that Sunday, and therefore the weekly rhythm, became the dominant general orientation framework, which was not the case for the time of the Roman Republic and before? Sunday veneration became more and more important in Late Antiquity but not directly after Constantine’s Sunday law, but later, since the beginning in the fifth century.

In this respect, one interesting though strange text is the Chronicon Paschale (7th century). One gets the impression, that the author has an interest in weekdays, and especially in Sundays. First of all, he uses the weekdays for chronological calculations. In addition, he obviously likes to present a sequence of events more precisely, including the weekdays. Perhaps he wants to enforce the dramatic steps of the story and stimulate the imagination of the reader. However, the author seems to be interested in the week beyond these calculatory and rhetorical aspects of the days of the week: Interestingly, he twice presents imperial laws on Sunday veneration and Sunday rest. The paper demonstrates in which respect Sunday is an identity marker of a Christian society for the author of the chronicle. This is part of a four years research project financed by the Austrian FWF.

Svenja Sasse: The Preliminary Edition of the Greek Didaskalia of Jesus Christ

The Greek Didaskalia of Jesus Christ, a rather unknown apocryphal text probably written in the sixth century, is composed as a conversation between the risen Christ and the Twelve Apostles: Because they are concerned about the transgressions of man and wonder how forgiveness can be obtained, the Apostles ask Christ who gives them further instructions for a God pleasing life. Among other subjects the dialogue also refers to the Christian Sunday observation as an essential topic. Besides instructions for an appropriate behavior on Sundays, this day even appears as a personification together with angels and heavenly powers in the Hereafter. The personification of the Sunday bears testimony for the soul which had fastened on Wednesday and Friday and had observed Sunday correctly. Thus, the Sunday undergoes a salvation-historical emphasis. Together with the Letter from Heaven the Didaskalia can therefore be regarded as a fruitful and important apocryphal source concerning the development of Sunday veneration. A critical edition of its text has already been published by François Nau in 1907. As his edition is only based on two manuscripts while ten manuscripts are meanwhile available, a preparation of a new critical edition has become necessary which is part of the broader project The Apocryphal Sunday at Vienna University directed by Prof. Dr. Uta Heil. The talk will give an impression of the present working results concerning the preliminary edition of the Didaskalia.