Terminology - Glossary B

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Term Definition

BALDACHIN –  A canopy over the altar, usually supported on pillars.


BANNERS – Metallic or of brocaded cloth with sacred icons, attached to poles, carried at the head of processions.


BANNS OF MARRIAGE – The public announcement of the names of persons intending marriage. The object of their publication in church is to discover impediments, to avoid secret marriages, and to give interested parties an opportunity to intervene if they have reasons to do so. Banns are usually announced in church three successive times.


BAPTISM – (from Gr. baptizo, “to be plunged”) The sacrament whereby one is born again, buried with Christ, resurrected with Him and united to Him. In baptism, one becomes a Christian and is joined to the Church. In Christ’s baptism, water was set apart unto God as the means by which the Holy Spirit would… Read More


BAPTISMAL FONT – A basin on a stand which contains the water in which the child to be baptized is immersed.


BAPTISMAL GARMENT – (Sl. Krizhma) The white linen cloth which is placed on the arms of the godfather to receive the child immediately after the immersion. Placing the child the priest says: The servant of God (N) is clothed with the robe of righteousness. . . .


BAPTISMAL NAME – The name given in Baptism, preferably a saint’s name. It is a common custom to receive the name of the saint on whose day one was born.


BARLAAMISM – Rejection of hesychasm heresy, assertion that highest knowledge is mental/philosophical.


BEADS – A string of beads with a tassel or cross worn on the wrist by a bishop as a reminder of continuous prayer. They were used to help the memory in devotions or set numbers of prayers were involved. (Sl. Chotky)


BEATITUDE – (1) Literally, “exalted happiness. Blessings promised to individuals for various reasons. (2) “ The nine fold blessing of Christ in the Sermon on the Mount is called the Beatitudes (Matt. 5:3-12).  (3) Salutation addressed to an Orthodox Patriarch (“Your Beatitude”).  (4) Liturgically, the Blessedness replace the third antiphon at Divine Liturgy. (All that… Read More


BEGINNING AND END (of the creation of God) – (an appellation or Title of Jesus)   “And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith theAmen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;” Rev 3:14 “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the… Read More


BEGOTTEN NOT MADE – In the creed, the phrase,  “Begotten not made” is said to contradict the false doctrine of Arius who impiously taught that the Son of God was made.


BELFRY – The tower where the church bells are hung. The tower may be attached to the church or separate.


BELIEF – The acceptance of the truths of the gospel. More than a mental assent, belief as used in the NT includes trusting in God from the heart. Such belief results from (1) hearing the Word of God (Rom. 10:17) and (2) a gift of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 2:8). Although a Christian is saved… Read More


BELLS – The ringing of the bells serves two functions in the Orthodox Church. The first is for calling the faithful to divine services, and the second is to announce the beginning of various parts of the services to those faithful who are absent from the church.


BELOVED –  (an appellation or Title of Jesus) “To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.” Eph 1:6


BEMA –  the raised floor or platform in the eastern end of Orthodox churches upon which the altar, with the altar table, is located. The word bema comes from the Greek, meaning a platform, step, tribunal, or judgment seat. In general, the platform extends into the nave from the sanctuary and is separated by an… Read More


BENEDICTION – Literally, “good word”; blessing. Benedictions were given by Christ (Luke 24:50, 51) and by the Apostles (2 Cor. 13:14), and are given by the bishop or priest at the close of every Divine Liturgy.


BETROTHAL– (Sl. Obrucheniye) The first part of the Rite of Matrimony in which a formal and binding promise of marriage is made and rings are placed on the fingers of the bride and groom.


BIBLE, THE HOLY – (Gr. the books) A collection of Sacred Writings divided into the Old Testament, consisting of 39 books written before the Incarnation of our Lord, and the New Testament, 27 books written after the life of Christ on earth. The Bible contains truths revealed by God through inspired writers. The Church, through… Read More


BIER -This is the structure that houses the Epitaphion following the procession of Holy Friday Vespers, and is used to carry it in the procession of Holy Saturday Matins that evening.


BISHOP – (Gr. episkopos) Overseer. A bishop is the leader of a local community of Christians. In the New Testament there is no clear distinction between the offices of bishop and elder (presbyter), both of which function as leaders of the community. However, by the mid- to late first century, the Church began to reserve… Read More


BLAGOVEST – The Announcement. This is a slow rhythmic, unhurried striking of one bell, which is usually rung for the announcing of the beginning of services: Before the All-Night Vigil (also accompanied by the Trezvon); before each group of services of the daily cycle (9th Hour Vespers Compline; Nocturns Matins 1st Hour; 3rd Hour 6th… Read More


BLAHOCHINIYE – (Sl.) A district of a diocese supervised by a Dean.