What are the Fast Days Mentioned in the Lectionary?
According to the Biblical command, we fast on Wednesdays and Fridays from solid foods. Soups, broths, water, juices and the like are permitted. Fasting is not incumbent upon persons who are too young or who are ill or advanced in age. If one is taking certain medications or vitamins that require solid food, then one should refrain from the fast and recite additional Psalms and prayers instead. In addition to the regular fasting periods, the pious are in the habit of refraining from certain forms of entertainment on Wednesdays and Fridays, such as television, radio and visiting the theatre. There are certain other Fast days according to Scripture or Tradition that are periodically found in the liturgical calendar. Click here for further information about fasting and the eve of Sabbath.
How Do Thomasines Define Day/Evening?
For Thomasines, the evening (the dark of night) is the beginning of the next day. For example, if the secular calendar says January 1, and it is night in your area of the world, Thomasines reckon this as January 2. The evening is the beginning of the new day.
Do Thomasines Observe the Sabbath?
Like our Jewish brethren, on Friday evening, just before dark, we light two candles to welcome the Holy Sabbath into our homes. A rule of thumb for the time to light candles is to watch the sky. If it is not cloudy, when the sun is just before sinking below your view of the horizon or tree line, it is time to light candles. This is the beginning of Sabbath. Sabbath ends at the dark of night on Saturday. We refrain from all unnecessary labor, buying and selling on this holy day of the week, however, we do not neglect our family duties or neglect the care of our animals in the field or domestic animals. Using the internet during Sabbath is encouraged if it is for spiritual educational purposes and not for entertainment.
On Saturday morning, we read from the Law of Moses along with additional assigned Biblical texts.
Do Thomasines Observe the Biblical Holy Days?
All Biblical Holy Days and Biblical Feasts, including the birth, resurrection and other life events of our Lord are observed as High Sabbaths for which a special liturgical text is used known as the Liturgy of St. James the Righteous. Unless otherwise noted in the lectionary, every seventh Sabbath is a High Sabbath. We determine the first Sabbath of the year to be the first Saturday morning after the Spring Equinox. The Spring Equinox is our official New Year, however, we also observe Rosh Hashana with our Jewish brethren. Our New Year, in March, is also a High Sabbath.
Is There a Particular Bible Translation Favoured by Thomasines?
There is no specific translation of the Bible that is favoured by the Thomasine Community. However, some individuals do have translations that they prefer over others. We encourage brethren to learn the original languages (Aramaic, Hebrew), but this is not practical for everyone. Thus, we encourage the use of a translation that is as close to the Aramaic Peshitta text as possible. There are very few good, and accurate, or fairly accurate translations in English (though not perfect). Four of these happen to be, the Aramaic English Standard Version (1987-2007), James Murdock’s and John Etheridge’s translations of the “New Testament,” and George Lamsa’s translation. While none of these translations are perfect, these are probably the most popular among Thomasines who speak English. Spanish speaking brethren often quote from the Spanish translation known as Biblia Peshitta, available in a variety of print formats. The Thomasine Community does not endorse any particular translation of the Scriptures at this time.
Are the Thomasines Connected to the Assyrians, Catholics, Orthodox or Anglicans?
Some ask if we are affiliated with the Assyrians, or Church of the East. Or if the Thomasines are in communion with the Pope of Rome or part of the Eastern Orthodox or Anglican churches. We answer no to each of these questions. We are in no way associated with Assyrians, Rome or the Orthodox and Anglican churches. While we have many traditions and some beliefs in common with each of these, there are distinct differences. There are some Thomasines who have an Anglican/Episcopalian background and use an adapted edition of the 1928 Book of Common Prayer, authorised by the Chief Rabban. While Assyrians used to observe the Sabbath, they no longer do. Thomasines and some St. Thomas Christians, still observe the Sabbath to this day. The anti-semitic statements made by some Catholics and by some of the Orthodox church fathers are not condoned by Thomasines. The Thomasine Community is a province of the Assembly of Mshikhanim.
Why is Paul Not Mentioned in the Calendar of Apostles?
Throughout each month, the Apostles are honored with a simple meal. The list of Apostles is from the Gospel of Matthew, which does not list Paul. However, he hasn’t been left out. Thomasines commemorate Paul in September.
How are Thomasines Taught?
The Thomasine community is taught first and foremost by Yeshua Mshikha through the Three Pillars of our faith. Our leadership, consisting of the Teacher of Righteousness, the Bishop, the Archdeacon and the central priest, and pastoral assistants, teach the community through their writings, translations of the same, and through the spoken word. These teachings are usually passed down to the priests who in turn provide them to the community. The priests are responsible for adapting the teaching according to the needs of the individual community, especially in relation to the culture of an individual congregation or group.
Are the Laity Permitted to Teach Others?
The laity do not teach; rather, they share the teaching that was already given and they live their lives as examples of the true fruit that is produced by those who have the faith of Maran Yeshua. A lay person is not permitted to teach unless the Bishop or Archdeacon grants that individual the privilege to do so. Even then, he or she does not do so in an authoritative manner — for example, he or she is not permitted to chastise or discipline others within the faith. The only exception would be when a father or mother who are lay persons, discipline their children — which is the responsibility of all parents.