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Canons of the seven ecumenical councils

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65.

 We command that henceforth the bonfires lit by some persons on the occasion of the New Moon in front of their own workshops or houses, and over which some persons even leap, in accordance with an ancient custom, it is babled, shall be abolished and done away with. Whoever, therefore, who does any such thing, if he be a Clergyman, let him be deposed from office; but if he be a layman, let him be excommunicated. For it is written in the Fourth Book of Kings: “And Manasseh built an altar to the whole host of heaven, in the two courts of the Lord’s house, and passed his children through fire, and consulted augurs, and appointed ventriloquists, and multiplied seers, and he wrought much wickedness in the sight of the Lord, to provoke him to wrath (II Kings 23:46).

 

Interpretation.

Since, and in imitation of the Greeks and heathen, some Christians used to light a bonfire in front of their workshops and houses, over which bonfire they would leap and pass over it and above it, this Council deposes any clergymen that do such a thing, while, in the same connection, it excommunicates laymen guilty of the same offense. Wishing to show that if such Greek customs when observed by the imperfect Jews sufficed to provoke God to indignation and wrath, how much more they provoke Him when observed by us Christians who are perfect and disciples of the Gospel! It says that King Manasseh built an altar, implying that he offered sacrifices to the host and force of heaven, to the stars, that is to say (and especially to the moon; just as is written in Jeremiah: “to burn incense unto the queen of heaven, and to pour out libations unto her” — unto the moon, that is to say) within the two courts of the temple, and he passed his children through the fire, and consulted augurs,[199] and was wont to divine future events by auspication,[200] and appointed many ventriloquists and seers.[201] And he perpetrated wickedness in the eyes of the Lord and provoked His wrath. Note, too, that the expression “he passed his children through fire” is taken by the Council here to mean that Manasseh made his children hop over or through the fire, whereas Cyril of Alexandria, in his Commentary of Isaiah, interpreted it to mean that he made a burnt-offering of his children in the fire as a sacrifice to the demons.

 

 




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