The Works of Saint Cyril of Jerusalem - Vol. 1

The Works of Saint Cyril of Jerusalem - Vol. 1

The Works of Saint Cyril of Jerusalem - Vol. 1

The Works of Saint Cyril of Jerusalem - Vol. 1

Excerpt

St. Cyril delivered his pre-baptismal catechetical lectures in the Lent of (probably) 349 A.D. The audience consisted principally of the higher class of catechumens, i.e., those who, having decided to "take the plunge," had, before Lent, given in their names with a view to receiving Christian initiation through baptism by total immersion, chrism and Holy Communion in the night of Holy Saturday and the early morning of Easter Sunday. Since a common name for baptism was "enlightenment," the candidates were called phōtizomenoi, "those to be enlightened" or "those being enlightened." Adult baptism, except in emergency, was the rule in the fourth century. Among those present were also many baptized Christians, for whom the Lenten exposition of the creed served as a refresher course. Men and women were separated, occupying opposite sides of the church.

Cyril never formally published his Catecheses. According to a scribal note, we owe the preservation of their text to the fact that some of the spotidaioi (dévots, probably the local monks and nuns) reported Cyril in shorthand as he was speaking. According to this note, Cyril's lectures were taken down in one year only. This statement is a little difficult to square with the extensive variations in the manuscripts, which suggests stratification there, i.e., that the manuscripts . . .

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