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Headword: *)asw/maton
Adler number: alpha,4191
Translated headword: incorporeal, bodiless
Vetting Status: high
[There are] two senses: the one by number, as the angels, such as Michael, Gabriel; for [this is] by number; the other not, as the totality of things.
Greek Original:
*)asw/maton: o(/ti ditto/n, to\ me\n tw=| a)riqmw=|, w(s oi( a)/ggeloi, oi(=on *mixah\l, *gabrih/l: a)riqmw=| ga/r: ta\ de\ ou), w(s ta\ kaqo/lou.
Same entry in ps.-Zonaras.
The term a)sw/maton could refer to any incorporeal being. As such, it formed an important element in early patristic arguments against Docetism (on which see web address 1). A liturgical festival is observed on November 8 in honor of the Bodiless Spirits. The celebration in Constantinople honored the entire Heavenly Host and the important archangels Michael and Gabriel. The Eucharist of the Bodiless Spirits commemorated Michael's elevation to the command of God's "army". The title of "archistrategos" (Field Marshal) designated Michael's appointment as a replacement for the fallen Lucifer; cf. sigma 1147. The Byzantine liturgy adopted the festival from the Coptic Church which, by the sixth century, had designated the twelfth of Hidar (Nov. 8) as a special universal feast day in honor of the "archistrategos." As was customary for important ferial stations in Constantinople, a sunrise procession made its way from Hagia Sophia to the Forum. After offering prayers, the worshippers went on to the Sophian harbor. A Michaeline church built by Justin I (518-527) stood there in the Addan quarter. According to the partial service preserved in tenth-century manuscripts, a particular troparion ushered the officiants into the sanctuary: "You, Michael, who offer to the Sovereign the triumphant hymn, the unceasing praise of glory, great captain of the heavenly army and the first at the side of God, do not stop praying for our souls." The celebrants also read an abridged version of a Coptic text in which Michael, at the fall of Lucifer, led the remaining angels in hymns of praise to God, glorifying the triumph of light over darkness. The unabridged Coptic text claimed itself as a teaching of Christ delivered to the Apostles during the days between the Resurrection and the Ascension. The original recounted Michael's battle with Satan, his victory over evil, and his "investiture" as "archistrategos." The Gospel reading consisted of Luke 10.16-21, the Mission of the Seventy. Jesus said to the disciples: "I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you." Hebrews 2.2-10 formed the epistolary lection (God "did not subject the coming world . . . to angels").
Menologion, Nov. 8, PG 117:149, reproduces the abridged hagiography read at the service. The Coptic original appears as "Die Buecher der Einsetzung der Erzengel Michael und Gabriel", Coptic ed. and German trans. by C. D. G. Mueller, Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium 225-226, Scriptores Coptici 31-32 (Louvain, 1962).
H. Delehaye "Le calendrier d'Oxyrhynque pour l'anne 535-536," Analecta Bollandiana, vol. 42 (1924), pp. 83-99, discusses the sixth-century Coptic liturgical calendar.
The liturgical readings appear in C.R. Gregory, Textkritik des Neuen Testamentes (Leipzig, 1900).
Additional information on the festival can be found in: R. Janin, "Les sanctuaires byzantins de saint Michel," Phos d'Orient, vol. 33 (1934); C.D.G. Mueller, Die Engellehre der koptischen Kirche (Wiesbaden, 1959); Le Typicon de la Grande Eglise. Edition by J. Mateos. Orientalia Christiana Analecta 165 (Rome, 1962), pp. 94-95; U. Zanetti, "Fetes des anges dans les calendriers et synaxaires orientaux," Culto e insediamente micaelici nell'Italia meridionale fra tarda antichita e medioevo, ed. C. Carletti and G. Otranto, Atti del Convegno Internazionale Monte Sant'Angelo 18-21 Novembre 1992 (Bari, 1994), pp. 323-349.
Associated internet address:
Web address 1
Keywords: Christianity; definition; meter and music; religion
Translated by: John Arnold on 26 June 2000@14:47:31.
Vetted by:
Catharine Roth (cosmetics) on 17 January 2002@15:58:58.
Catharine Roth (restorative cosmetics; removed links to retired web site) on 26 August 2002@11:37:01.
Catharine Roth (attempted to supply Coptic month-name: correction will be welcome) on 26 August 2002@11:49:19.
David Whitehead (modified translation; augmented note; cosmetics) on 27 August 2002@03:17:17.
Catharine Roth (added a keyword) on 4 October 2005@11:34:21.
Catharine Roth (deleted defunct links, other cosmetics) on 8 January 2012@22:59:33.
Catharine Roth (tweaks) on 13 January 2012@01:08:17.
David Whitehead (another note) on 25 April 2012@05:35:46.
Catharine Roth (coding) on 11 October 2014@22:42:52.
Catharine Roth (tweaked note) on 27 November 2015@14:38:59.


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