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Canons of the seven ecumenical councils

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99.

 And this too occurs in the country of the Armenians, we have learned, to wit, that some persons, roasting pieces of meat within the space of the sacrificial altars of sacred temples, offer parts assigned to priests, distributing them in a Jewish fashion. Hence, with the object of maintaining the unblemished sanctity of the Church, we decree that none of her priests shall be permitted to accept consecrated pieces of meat from those offering them, but shall be content with only what the offerer is pleased to offer, any such offer being made outside of the church. If anyone fail to do so, let him be excommunicated.

 

Interpretation.

Zonaras, and Balsamon, and Aristenus, and the Anonymous Expositor all in common explain that the Armenians were wont to roast meat inside of the sacrificial altars. But to me it seems that these expositors, failing to punctuate, but, on the contrary, running together the wordsroasting pieces of meat” with the words “within the space of the sacrificial altars,” fell into an error. Such was not the meaning intended. For the phrase “within the space of the sacrificial altars” is not to be combined with the phraseroasting pieces of meat,” but, on the contrary, being divided off with a comma, it should be combined with the phraseoffer parts assigned.” For it is highly improbable and too absurd to believe, that meat should be actually roasted within the space of the holy Bema wherein is situated the sacrificial altar of the church, thus turning it into a kitchen. So what the present Canon says is that this custom which was practiced in Armenia, where some persons would roast meat at home and afterwards offer parts of it in the holy Bema to the priests (just as the Jews offer the breast or a leg or some other part of the animals being sacrificed to their priests) — that custom, I say, is not to be followed hereafter, but neither are priests to have permission to take those parts of an animal which they want, but, on the contrary, must be content with whatever parts a Christian offers them; the offer of such meat, moreover, must take place outside of the church, and not inside of the sanctuary, or sacred Bema, of the church. Hence the sense of the words as set forth by us above becomes evidently manifest from the context. For had it been an actual fact that they were roasting that meat in the Bema, the Canon ought necessarily to have prohibited this, as something highly improper, as it prohibited the offering of the meat. Let anyone guilty of violating this rule be excommunicated. But Balsamon states (in his interpretation of Ap. c. III) that he saw an abbot-priest deposed and ousted from the abbacy because he brought meat and cheese into the holy Bema. See also the Interpretation of Ap. c. III.

 

Concord.

Note, according to Zonaras, that the Canon permitted priests to take parts of the meat, not in common and on a universal basis, throughout the world, but only in Armenia, and this on account of the custom, which had then come to prevail among the Armenians.[251]

 

 




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