Olesya Sidorova, Assistance Manager, SFI Publishing unit (Moscow)
The article is devoted to the understudied issue of the testimony to the catechumens of faith in the Church. On the example of early Christian sources from the 2nd to the 5th centuries, a comparison is made of the usage of three definitions in catechistic and non-catechistic texts: “Church is the body of Christ”, “Church is the assembly of believers” and “Church is the people gathered around the bishop”. As a result, a conclusion is drawn about the peculiarities of the testimony of the Church to the catechumens in comparison with faithful members of the Church. In catechetical texts there is a conscious selection of those definitions, which can be called primary for ecclesiological consciousness of the Ancient Church. Important for a number of ancient texts, the idea of the unity of the Church around the Bishop is not reflected in catechetical texts, while the definition of the Church as an Assembly of believers is already found at the earliest stages of the catechism. The revelation of the Eucharistic, mysterious aspects of the unity of the Church through the image of the Body of Christ in different catechetical practices was carried out in different ways. In Theodore of Mopsuestia’s “Catechetical Homilies” this sacramental aspect is one of the central, whereas Clement of Alexandria and St John Chrysostom reveal through the image of the Body of Christ, first and foremost, the ethical commandment of love for brothers – members of the same Body.
Keywords: Church, the Body of Christ, Assembly of believers, catechetical homilies, sacraments.