The Lukan Jump

From the Desk Manual of the Moscow Patriarchate

...N.D. Uspensky, a professor of the Leningrad Religious Academy thus explains the origins and practice of the September ("Lukan")jump in the Gospel readings:

The first Christian Feasts were established as the Church's witness to the world of the divine dignity of the Lord Jesus Christ and of the historicity of His incarnation. None of the Evangelists more deeply revealed the Divine personhood of Jesus Christ than did the Apostle John the Theologian, and nothing confirms more powerfully the Lord's divine nature than the fact of His resurrection, Therefore the Church prescribed that from the Feast of Pascha throughout the period of the Fifty Days the Gospel of John would be read.

Of the Feasts celebrated on the immovable dates of the year, the most ancient is the Feast of Christ's Nativity. The establishment of the practice of celebrating that Feast on December 25th was quickly followed by the appearance on March 25th of the Feast of the Annunciation of the All-Holy Theotokos, as the day of the conception by Her of Jesus Christ.

However, the event of the Annunciation transpired in the sixth month after the conception of John the Baptist, according to the appearance of the angel to Saint Zechariah (Luke I:26). On this basis two Feasts were established: Conception of John the Precursor--23 September and his Nativity--24th of June.

These holy events which preceded the Incarnation of the Son of God are attested to by Saint Luke only. For this reason the Church prescribed that on the Monday after the Sunday after the Elevation, without any regard to which Sun-day Gospel had been read before that, the Gospel of the 18th week (Luke, "begin" 10) is to be read, and from thence the readings from the Gospel of Luke are to continue in sequence.

This is called the September (Elevation) Jump in the Gospel reading.

If the readings from the Gospel of Matthew run out long before the Sunday after the Elevation, even then the Gospel of Luke ought not be begun earlier than the above-mentioned term. Rather, one must turn back to the selections of Matthew already read and use them, as many as are needed, while beginning to read the Gospel of Luke after the Sunday after Elevation.

It must be remarked that the September gap and jump do not affect the apostolic readings, because, from the aspect of their content, the Epistles have no connection to the history of the establishment of the Feasts cited above. Therefore for all the Apostolic writings, beginning with the book of the Acts of the Holy Apostles there exists only a single sequential listing of selections while each separate Gospel has its own independent one.

The question of the September Jump is not solved in the same way by all liturgists.

One of the points of departure in determining the sequence of the Tetraevangelium was always the concern that the Sacred Scripture would be read in the course of the year in entirety

Date:19 Sep 1996 List: Orthodox Christianity From: Bishop Tikhon


Below is the text of a translation of an extract from an article by the late N. D. Uspensky, a great liturgical scholar of the Church of Russia, done by the reader Daniel Olson:

Here is an excerpt from an article by the well-known church historian, N.D. Uspensky, on the "Lucan Jump" (translated from the "Solovetsky Orthodox Church Calendar" for 1997):

"The feast of the Nativity of Christ is the most ancient of the feasts celebrated on fixed dates of the year.

The establishment of this feast on the 25th of December soon gave rise to the appearance of the feast of the Annunciation of the Most Holy Theotokos on the 25th of March, as the day of the conception of Jesus Christ by her. But the event of the Annunciation took place in the sixth month after the conception of John the Forerunner (Luke 1:26), following the appearance of the angel to Saint Zacharias.

On the basis of this, two feasts were established: the Conception of John the Forerunner -- 23 September; and his Nativity -- 24 June. Only the Evangelist Luke recounts both of these sacred events, which preceded the Incarnation of the Son of God.

Therefore, the Church has prescribed that the Gospel for Monday of the 18th Week (Lucan pericope 10) be read on the Monday following the Sunday after the Exaltation, regardless of what Sunday of the Gospel has been read until then, and that the sequential reading of the Gospel according to Luke continue thenceforth. This is called the September (Exaltation) 'omission' ['prestupka'] of Gospel readings. If the pericopes of the Gospel according to Matthew end long before the Sunday after the Exaltation, then the Gospel according to Luke should, all the same, not be read earlier than the aforementioned time, but one is required to turn back to [previously] read pericopes of Matthew, taking as many of them as needed, and to begin the reading of the Gospel according to Luke on the Monday following the Sunday after the Exaltation. This is called the September 'regression' ['otstupka'].

It is necessary to remember that the September 'omission' and 'regression' do not concern the readings from the Apostolos, because the Epistles of the Apostles, from the point of view of their content, bore not relation to the history of the establishment of the aforementioned feasts. Therefore, one common numbering of the pericopes exists for all of the apostolic Epistles, beginning with the book of the Acts of the Holy Apostles, whereas each of the four Gospels has its own, special [numbering]. The September 'omission' and 'regression' are an ancient ecclesiastical enactment, and they are observed in all of the Local Orthodox Churches."

Daniel Olson


The "Lucan jump" sounds rather clumsy, but seems to be the best we can do in English to render the Greek and Slavonic terms. What it refers to is the rubric in the 10th chapter of the Typicon, "From the new year, that is, from the Sunday after the Exaltation [of the Cross], the Gospel according to St. Luke is read".

This rubric has been explained in various ways.

In the Greek tradition, the Gospel of St. Luke begins at this point and from then on the Epistles and Gospels follow separate schedules. In the Slavonic tradition this rubric seems to have been ignored altogether for centuries. However, since about the beginning of the present century, Russian rubrical authorities have devoted more and more attention to it, as for example in the Tula Diocesan Instructions for 1904-1905. Prof. Mironositsky presented a detailed exposition of these rubrics at the All-Russian Council of 1918, reprinted in "Bogosluzhebnyja Ukazanija na 1999 g.", Moscow, 1998.

The idea behind this "jump" is that the number of weeks between Pentecost of one year and the beginning of the Lenten cycle the following year can vary greatly. The date of Pascha may be as early as March 22 [OS], or as late as April 25 [OS]. A late Pascha one year may be followed by an early one the next year, resulting in a shorter period after Pentecost, or the opposite may occur, with an early Pascha one year, and a late Pascha the next, resulting in a longer period after Pentecost.

Thus we have 37 weeks after Pentecost before the Sunday of the Publican and Pharisee, which will fall on Feb. 7/20, 2000. The "prestupki" or "jumps" after the Exaltation of the Cross in September and the feast of Theophany in January are used as points of adjustment for these variations in the length of the post-Pentecost period. Our Synod has not, to the best of my knowledge, addressed the details of the Lectionary, since calendars with and without the "Lucan jump" have been published with hierarchical approval. The Jordanville calendar itself is the work of the editors at Holy Trinity Monastery, and not of the Synod of Bishops per se. In the Patriarchate as well, there have been various versions of the calendar for the same year.

Fr. John R. Shaw





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