The liturgical season of Lent begins today in the western Christian churches. If you don’t know what this is, Lent is a penitential season of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving that culminates in the celebration of Easter / Pascha. As far as liturgical seasons go, it’s a pretty old one that had emerged clearly by the council of Nicaea in AD 325, and perhaps earlier in some form. Today it is universally celebrated by different Christian denominations (even the anabaptist and brethren in Christ college where I teach usually serves up an Ash Wednesday service to students). Sometimes eastern and western calendars are closely aligned so that Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant Christians are celebrating the season (nearly) simultaneously. This year, these traditions have conspired against each other to produce about the greatest timespan possible between the celebration of western Easter (March 27) and Orthodox Pascha (May 1). This means that between eastern and western calendars, Christians will be in a lenten penitential season for nearly three months this year. And that’s a whole lot of Lent.
This liturgical season intersects in a number of ways with Corinthian studies. The New Testament letters of 1 and 2 Corinthians, with all their discussion of repentance, salvation, the memorial of the last supper, and resurrection, among others, have made good material for for the lenten cycle of scripture readings (even this morning, at an Ash Wednesday mass, I heard 2 Corinthians 5.20-6.2). And the Corinthian saint Leonidas and his companions were martyred and are celebrated during Pascha/Easter (Sneak peak for next year: Orthodox, Catholics, and Protestants will be celebrating Easter / Pascha the same day and on April 16, the feast day of Leonidas and companions. I’m working now with some Latin students at Messiah to prepare a little translation of the relevant passages about those saints from the Acta Sanctorum)
So it only seems appropriate that I re-launch my weekly series on resources and books for reading and understanding 1 and 2 Corinthians, early Christian communities, and religion in Roman Corinth. Yes, I planned to do this two years ago but wasn’t on my game. In fact, I’m pretty bad at delivering any series consistently. But I have a little more time this semester, and will aim to deliver a Wednesday series.