Readings from the Scriptures have been an essential part of the Church service since the very first century of its existence. The readings and even the canon of the books to select them from in the early Church were chosen by the bishop – primate of the local Church.
Tradition of dividing the Bible text into a circle of excerpts to be read during services has its roots in the 3 century and takes final shape in the 5–6 centuries. Present-day cycle of Scripture readings in the Orthodox Church sets a so called ‘ordinary’ reading for each day of the liturgical year.
This cycle begins on the Easter vigil with the very first passags from the Gospel of John and from the Acts of the Apostles, and continues until the next Easter. Thus the whole New Testament except the Book of Revelation is read in one year. On feast days special passages selected are either telling about the celebrated event or are in some way connected with the feast. The ordinary readings for that day can be either dropped or read together with those of the feast at the Divine Liturgy.
Besides, certain excerpts from the Gospels are read during matins and vespers.
The circle of Orthodox readings consists mainly of the ordinary readings for each day.
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