The Apostol (Gk. Apóstolos) is a liturgical book containing those New Testament readings in the liturgy which do not come from the Gospel, but from ths "Apostolic writings". This volume is sometimes called the "Epistle book", but the original title is more accurate, as the Apostol contains readings from both the Epistles and the Acts of the Apostles.
Contents of the Apostol
The Apostol contains all of the New Testament readings which are chanted by the reader. Like the Gospel Book, the readings are not organized in sections called pericopes (pe-rik'-a-pēz). The readings are presented in the order in which they occur liturgically, rather than in their original order.
Because the Apostol is the "reader's book", it often contains the other texts assigned to the reader: the prokeimena and their verses, the verses at the Alleluia, and the Communion hymns. Thus, the short Ruthenian Apostol (for Sundays and feast-days) contains:
Apostolic readings for Sundays and feast-days of the moveable calendar
The resurrectional troparia, kontakia, prokeimena, and alleluia in the eight tones
The Apostolic readings for feasts of the Lord, the Theotokos, and the major saints,
from September 1 through August 31
The common Apostolic readings for the days of the week
The common Apostolic readings for classes of saints
The weekday Apostolic readings for the departed
The Apostolic reading for general intentions of the living
Outline of the Divine Liturgy, containing the reader's and people's responses
Special rules for the Divine Liturgy on the Sunday of Pascha, and during Bright Week
Note that each of the Apostolic readings is accompanied by the appropriate troparia, kontakia, prokeimena, alleluia, and communion hymns. Thus, the Apostol is a complete service book for the reader and cantor at the Divine Liturgy.
The large Apostol is similar in format, but contains the weekday Apostolic readings for the moveable calendar, and the complete calendar of saints.
The Apostol in Church Slavonic
The L'viv Sluzebnik, following the customs of the time, provided the individual Gospel and Epistle readings in their proper places in the liturgical cycle (in the same fashion as the Roman Missal). This allowed the priest to celebrate the Liturgy at the altar, without the need for a reader.
As part of the Ruthenian reform of the 1940's, a new Apostol for the Ruthenian Recension of the liturgy was published, in two different formats:
- A large Apostol containing all the Apostolic readings for the year and associated hymns of the Divine Liturgy. and
- a smaller Apostol, containing the Apostolic readings and hymns of the Divine Liturgy for Sundays and major feasts, and the common readings for the days of the week and for classes of saints.
The Apostol in English
Msgr. William Levkulic prepared an edition of The Epistles and Old Testament Readings for the Liturgical Year, using the English translation of the New American Bible (1970), which became the standard "Epistle book" in the Byzantine Catholic Church.
This volume, which differered in a number of details from the Ruthenian Apostol, added both Old Testament readings for Vespers and the Great Fast, and Apostolic readings for the Great Fast for those parishes in which the Divine Liturgy was celebrated on Lenten weekdays. It is available from the Byzantine Seminary Press.
The calendar used in the Ruthenian Apostol, along with the hymns (troparia, kontakia, prokeimena, alleluia and communion hymns) for each day, can be found in the Menaion for the Divine Liturgy, prepared by the Metropolitan Cantor Institute.