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The sinodik pravoslaviya corresponds to the synodicon adopted at the council of the Greek Orthodox Church in 843 that condemned the iconoclasts. By the twelfth century, the term also came to mean "memorial book."

The sinodik pravoslaviya contains the decisions of the seven ecumenical councils, the names of those under anathema, and a list of important persons who deserve "many years of life," that is, to be remembered eternally. The text was read only once per year in the Orthodox rite, on the first Sunday of Lent. In addition to the Greek version, there are also more recent Georgian, Serbian, and Bulgarian versions. The Russian Primary Chronicle mentions a sinodik under the year 1108, but the Greek form was probably not replaced by a Russian translation until 1274. Starting around the end of the fourteenth century, the names of fallen warriors were also entered in the sinodik pravoslaviya. In 1763, the metropolitan of Rostov, Arseny Matseyvich, read aloud the anathema in the sinodik pravoslaviya on those who touch church property as a protest against Catherine II's planned secularization of church landholdings.

The word sinodik took on a second meaning in twelfth-century Novgorod and later in Muscovite Russia. In this second sense it refers to a memorial book, corresponding to the Greek Orthodox diptych, containing the names of dead persons who are to be commemorated in the daily liturgical cycle. Around the end of the fifteenth century, when the number of donors began to grow rapidly, Muscovite monasteries developed a system not found in other Orthodox countries: Donors' names were entered in books organized around the size of the donation. So-called eternal sinodiki listed the names of donors who had given relatively modest gifts and were read throughout the day. "Daily lists" (the names vary) commemorated the donors of more substantial gifts and were read only at certain fixed points in the liturgical cycle. This segmented system flourished until the beginning of the seventeenth century. Beginning in the late fifteenth century, and quite often in the seventeenth, sinodiki included "introductions" that detailed the importance and value of care for the deceased. Many Russian monasteries and churches still maintain sinodiki.

See also: donation books; orthodoxy; primary chronicle; russian orthodox church

Ludwig Steindorff