Eastern Orthodox/jesus circumsion


QUESTION: The Eritrean orthodox tewahdo church believes and teaches that Jesus didn't circumcised physically. they say that his blood has to be only shed in the cross. Does the Coptic or other orthodox churches believe and teach the same?

ANSWER: The Orthodox Church most definitely believes and teaches that Christ Jesus was indeed circumcised. We celebrate this event every 1 January, eight days after the Nativity of Christ.

Through circumcision, Christ was now "made under the law," being conformed to the prescriptions of the Mosaic Law (Galatians 4:4) and "fulfilling" the Law (St. Matthew 3:15), in order to elevate the Church of the Law into a Church of Grace, into a new "Israel of God" (cf. Galatians 6:16), into a Theanthropic organismóinto His Body.

In observance of the Feat of the Circumcision of the Lord, the Orthodox Church sings:

"Enthroned on high with the Eternal Father and Your divine Spirit,
O Jesus, You willed to be born on earth of the unwedded handmaid, your Mother.
Therefore You were circumcised as an eight-day old Child.
Glory to Your most gracious counsel;
Glory to Your dispensation;
Glory to Your condescension, O only Lover of mankind."
(Troparion-Tone 1)

And this:

"The Lord of all accepts to be circumcised,
Thus, as He is good, excises the sins of mortal men.
Today He grants the world salvation,
While light-bearing Basil, high priest of our Creator,
Rejoices in heaven as a divine initiate of Christ"
(Kontakion - Tone 3)

The Saviorís circumcision was the occasion of the first shedding of His precious blood. The Cross overshadowed the Lord Jesus even while He lay in a crib bound by swaddling bands. The knife which cut the Lordís flesh on that day foreshadowed the centurionís spear which would pierce His side, releasing the saving torrent, the blood and water (John 19:34).

The Egyptian Coptic and Ethiopian Churches also celebrate this feast so I would have to believe they also teach that He was, in fact, physically circumsized.

Your servant,

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Dear Herman thank you very much. Even the Eritrean church celebrates the feast of circumcision like the copts and Ethiopians but according to the church's tradition, when the baby Jesus went to be circumcise the child said "my blood has to be shed only in the cross" and when Simon tried to circumcise him, the knife melted miraculously...etc. But really the feast is there. I wait the church tradition especially what the copts say? Thank you in advance.

There is nothing in the Orthodox tradition or in our hymnody that indicates any such thing happened. We teach that Christ Jesus was, in fact, cut by the circumcision knife and He was marked. No melted knives are shown in any icons, and there are no hymns that say any such thing. The Orthodox Church is pretty clear on the subject.

I have not seen anything on the Coptic websites in English that I have come across that says different. My Arabic is weak I don't know Ge'ez, so my sources may be limitied. But official American Coptic sites do not say anything different than what Orthodoxy teaches.

It would be my belief and my opinion that Christ our Lord was circumcised and the teaching of the Orthodox Church backs that up.

I have noted a difference between traditions on the Apostle Thomas however. Orthodoxy teaches that he did, in fact, touch the wounds of the Risen Christ in the upper room, while the official Coptic position appears to be that this did not happen. I personally go with what my Church teaches.

Your servant,

Eastern Orthodox

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