Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Apostolic Testimony of Evodus Concerning the Theotokos

Holy Apostle Evodus of the Seventy (Feast Day - September 7) [In this icon of the Seventy Apostles, St. Evodus is on the third row from the top towards the middle and looks like traditional icons of Jesus]

The Apostle Evodus is numbered among the Seventy Apostles and was consecrated by the Apostle Peter as the first bishop of Antioch. It is said that it was under his bishopric that the followers of Christ in Antioch first became known as "Christians" instead of Nazareans or Galileans. Hieromartyr Ignatius the God-Bearer, disciple of the holy Apostle John the Theologian, mentions him in his Letter to the Antiochians: "Remember your blessed father Evodius, who was made your first pastor by the Apostles."

Tradition holds that St. Evodus was a fairly prolific author among first century christian writers. Unfortunately, as with many writings from the early Church, none of his writings have survived, which his biographers say was due to persecutions. Fortunately we do have information from the fourteenth century historian Nicephorus Callistus Xanthopoulos regarding a book authored by the Apostle Evodus titled The Luminary (or The Star or The Beacon).

The passage that has survived is an amazing apostolic testimony confirming later Patristic teachings regarding the early life of the Virgin Mary passed over in silence in the New Testament and only revisited a century or so later in the Protoevangelium of James. He wrote:

"At the age of three she [Mary] was brought into the Temple of the Lord where she lived for eleven years. She was entrusted to Joseph by the priests, and when she had lived in his home for four months, she received the joyous annunciation from the angel. She then bore Christ, the Light of the World, in the fifteenth year of her life."

Such traditions are usually thrown out by scholars and not considered, but as Orthodox Christians we know that our teachings are of apostolic origin and regarding these aspects of the life of the Theotokos we see here a clear testimony. It only leaves one wondering what treasures all the lost writings of the Apostles and early Fathers held within them.

The historian Josephus (The Jewish War, Book 7, Ch. 3) writes concerning the martyrdom of Evodus when he records the visit of Emperor Vespasian to Antioch. Many Jews were put to death because they would not adore the idols; among them were many Christians. Saint Evodus, as their leader, suffered execution in the year 71.

The feast of St. Evodus is celebrated with his fellow apostle and martyr Onesiphorus on September 7th.

Apolytikion (Third Tone)
O Holy Apostles, intercede to our merciful God, that He may grant our souls forgiveness of sins.

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