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Parshat Shemini: The Kosher Animal Song

This video comes with a “warning” – don’t stop before getting to the second part at 1:50!

This is an animated version of the weekly Torah reading in the synagogue (in this case today’s)

I’m particularly interested, with Passover (Pesach) being “in sync” with Western Easter this year, whether it is easier to see any connection with Christian lectionaries and/or celebrations. The Western pre-Vatican II lectionary etc. (from Septuagesima to the last Sunday prior to Advent) moved completely with the date of Easter, I guess the Eastern Orthodox lectionary still does similarly, the current Western post-Vatican II lectionary is tied to the date of Easter from Ash Wednesday to Trinity Sunday.

Is there/was there any connection with the Jewish lectionary?

Or is it demonstrable that there is no connection…

I’m interested in any thoughts, reflections, suggested books, links to sites…

The Torah reading

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14 thoughts on “Parshat Shemini: The Kosher Animal Song”

    1. Thanks, Richard. I’m aware of Goulder’s work – and have some; and Spong’s working with that. I need to investigate Goodacre’s stuff on this – I am aware of him, but need to explore further. Thanks.

  1. I understand that there is a system of reading the Torah on Shabbat over a three-year cycle as opposed to the standard one-year cycle which is used in the Orthodox synagogues. Jewish congregations of the reform tradition have revived this practice:


    Could this be one of the inspirations for the Post-Vatican II Three Year Series for Sundays now morphed into our RCL?

    As church worship developed from the synagogue services, it’s not a coincidence that the Shabbat cycle provides for the Torah portion (Gen to Deut) which is followed by the Haftarah portion (mostly from the prophets and a few from the history books):


    This correlates in reverse order (ie Torah – Haftarah / Epistle – Gospel as the new Torah) to the fifth century ‘Comes’ of the Roman Church which provides Epistle and Gospel readings for the church year and on which the Book of Common Prayer lections for Holy Communion are based (which sadly lacked an OT and Psalm until the 20th century.)

    Apart from a few seasonal exceptions (Advent, Lent, Easter Vigil and a few feasts, eg 24 June – St John Baptist?), I don’t think the OT often features in the oldest lectionaries of the Western Church so similarities in lection choice between church and synagogue would not be apparent.

    PS: The animals/mandibles rhyme is clever!

  2. great song & hello from slovenia! 🙂
    as far as i know (i’ve studied theology), synagogue readings (Torah, Prophets and 18 blessings and another blessing in the end) are the fundament of christian readings.
    st ambrose and st augustine already mentioned 3 readings.
    about (catholic) lectionaries… you mean weekdays? there is lectionary only for advent, christmas, lent and easter weekdays – and two others for ordinary time.

    1. Thanks, Sasa, all the way here from Slovenia! I think you are right about Christians continuing the traditions of readings at services – what interests me is are there specific connections between Jewish and Christian lectionaries. Blessings.

      1. Perhaps is the first questions here … did all the Jews had the same lectionary (Qumran, Pharisees,…), because some say that there was more than one calendar.

        1. Sasa, from the very little I know, I think you are correct – there was not one agreed Jewish lectionary at the time of Jesus. I don’t think that is the end of my exploration, however. Blessings.

  3. There is also a question: have Jews the same lectionary since synod in Yamnia? The Temple Judaism is a bit different since that synod, because the worship is not concenrated to the Temple, but to Torah.
    As far as I know… in the beginning the bishop said which parts of the Bible they (the lectors) read during the mass. So people wrote down bookmarks to the passages in books called ‘comes’ and later wrote down the whole passages. And of course – they were not the same passages in the communities.
    And on the other hand – we know that the first Christians went to the Temple/synagogues. But did later accept ‘jewish tradition’ because it was a huge tension between ‘the Church and synagogue’.

    As a catholic theologian I can say that our lectionaries focus on mysterium paschale: OT reading is linked with the Gospel.

    Did we get any further? 🙂 But I like the question, it’s very interesting. I should ask my professor of liturgics what he knows 🙂

    1. The linking, Sasa, that we now do, is a very recent development. For most of our history there has been no OT reading at the Eucharist. So we are looking at the historic readings and their possible connections. When “the bishop said which parts of the Bible they (the lectors) read during the mass” did they have in mind the readings read in the synagogue? Blessings.

  4. The OT readings were there; the only book they had was LXX. And when the NT canon appeared and Marcion was against the OT, was he excommunicated.
    When the bishop said ‘stop’ to the lector… – I don’t think it was from the synagogue, because this was a period of improvisation and most of the bishops we know, were not jewish. Since 313AD they started to write down some prayers. I should check if something is written in the oldest sacramentaries – Leonine, Gelasian, Gregorian.

    Perhaps it’s something written in the Traditio Apostolica from Hyppolitus, because the main structure of the Mass it’s in this Traditio and the Catholic Church (since Vat II) uses his eucharistic prayer in the Missal (known as ‘the second eu. prayer). Here is the link, I’ve found english translatio 🙂


    1. My point was, Sasa, that the 3 year lectionary we now use, with the OT, is new since Vatican II. Prior to Vatican II there were normally no OT readings in the Eucharist – yes, they were there in the early church, and we have renewed that practice. Blessings.

  5. Before Vat II there were 3 orders ‘participating’ during the Eucharist: the lector, the subdeacon and the deacon. The lector read the OT.
    the difference between Tridentine and Vat II is also in number of readings – Tridentine Missal (i have it here) had only 2 readings (lectio+evangelium). sometimes lectio was from the OT, sometimes from the NT (a quick look – more NT readings than OT). only the Holy Saturday had 4 ‘lectio’ (now is 4 also minimum for that feast, and maximum is 7 I think).
    Lectionary (Vat II) has 3 readings for sundays and feasts (OT, NT and the Gospel). yes, we listen more now (the constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium wants more readings), but we cannot say, that the OT was not present during the celebration of the Eucharist before Vat II.

    I absolutely agree with you. Now we read almost the whole Bible in 3 years’ time, before wasn’t so.

    We really have a great discusion here 🙂 I hope I don’t spam on your website 🙂
    It’s 0:30 AM here so I’ll go to bed. Good night and all the best!

    1. Sorry, Sasa, to be clear: I am not referring to the weekday readings. My reflection is on the weekly, Sunday, readings in relationship to the weekly Sabbath readings. There are no Sunday readings from the OT in the pre-Vatican II mass lectionary. Blessings.

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