27 February 2021

Eastern Rite - Bema

Today is the Feast of St Macarius of Jerusalem, Bishop of Jerusalem. He was Bishop of the See from 312 to shortly before 335. St Athanasius, in one of his orations against Arianism, refers to Macarius as an example of "the honest and simple style of apostolical men..
The bema is the raised floor or platform in the eastern end of Eastern churches upon which the altar, with the altar table, is located. The word bema comes from the Greek, meaning a platform, step, tribunal, or judgement seat.

In general, the platform extends into the nave from the sanctuary and is separated by an iconostasis. The area in the nave is called the solea with the ambon.

The bema had its origin in antiquity as raised platforms used by Greeks and Romans for speakers addressing assemblies. In Greek law courts the two parties to a dispute presented their arguments each from separate bemas. Bema was also used as the name for a place of judgment, that is the raised seat of the judge, as described in the New Testament, in Matthew 27:19 and John 19:13, and further, as the seat of the Roman emperor, in Acts 25:10, and of God, in Romans 14:10, when speaking in judgement.

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