The Old Testament

Whereas the four Gospels are read each year almost in their entirety together with a considerable amount of the Acts and Epistles, outside Lent the Old Testament is little used liturgically.5 The surviving homilies of the Fathers suggest that something similar may have been the case quite early in the history of the Church. St John Chrysostom commented in detail on the Gospels of Matthew and John, on Acts and on the Epistles of Paul, including Hebrews, but his only surviving extended Old Testament series of homilies is that on Genesis, which were begun, significantly, at the beginning of Lent to a crowded church of enthusiastic people.

In present practice Genesis, Isaiah (Isaias) and Proverbs are read daily during the six weeks of Lent. In Holy Week they are replaced by readings from Exodus, Ezekiel and Job. The readings from the first three cover a fair amount of the text, but those for Holy Week can only scratch the surface. In the Septuagint the final verses of Job are read on Good Friday at Vespers, because they include some extra verses 'from the Syriac' which refer to his 'rising again'.

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