Reply To: Week 2 Discussion Topic: Do You Think We Need a New Typikon?

Trisagion School Forums Typikon 101 – Term 1 (Winter) 2024 Week 2 Discussion Topic: Do You Think We Need a New Typikon? Reply To: Week 2 Discussion Topic: Do You Think We Need a New Typikon?


    Creating a typikon seems to create a church as much as it reflects it, as it aligns theological principles with material praxis. Therefore, I think the question hinges on the degree to which changes in social and material realities begin to open a gap between the document’s guidelines (and the world they originally reflected) and the structural habitus and organization of the faithful’s lives.

    There are many dimensions to this issue. Time, space, and the relation between them matters tremendously for how a faith is practiced and experienced. For example, the lectures mentioned the significance of the shift from sun time to clock time with the advent of modernity and how that affected the order and pace of services. In my own experience, going to church every day was just a matter of course in an environment where there were Orthodox churches on every other corner that were open dawn to dusk and which followed common rituals; so wherever my day’s errands took me, I could still go in. Language is another issue. Languages change all the time. Moreover, all translation is interpretation at least to some extent. Not the least, the character of institutional authority itself is cultural, historically contingent, and situated. I had some fun looking through some of the older Bulgarian typika (e.g., from 1890, 1909, etc.). Among other sources, the 1909 one went back to Palestinian models for some of the daily services, some of them reference Konstantinos, others mention TAS. This is not surprising, given the close proximity between Bulgarians and Greeks, the time Bulgarians were part of the Byzantine empire, and then the life in common under the Ottoman empire. Then the restoration of Bulgarian autocephaly in 1945 prompted the creation of a new typikon by the Synod. Each of these typika attempts to negotiate principles and material conditions for an institutional entity that makes some life in common possible.

    So, to get to the prompt about whether the Church should produce a new Typikon, frankly the question for me is “which Church”? The North American Orthodox scene is a collage of traditions, languages, and jurisdictions, that is as glorious as it is dizzying. The move toward English changes a lot for each of the “old country” churches here that aim to appeal to the second and third generations that lose touch with their heritage languages. Plus, this is a mobile society where people often need to move parishes. Yet, I am not sure whether the shared English language here will facilitate more unity or foster more competition and fragmentation between and within the different jurisdictions as well as in relation to the “old world” Churches from which they came. In sum, my hunch is that how a new typikon is created (by whom and for whom) may matter more for what it does than what it actually says.