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Question 13.

Morning Father, hope you are well. A couple of silly questions really. Why are the services in Church conducted in Ancient Greek? Also why do priests have to have a long beard?    


Answer to Question 13.


Church Greek is not actually Ancient Greek neither is the New Testament written in Ancient Greek, it is Greek known as Koine or Common Alexandrian dialect Greek and was the common language of the 1st century.  The Church uses many books in her services and each day of the year has its own service. These were written many years ago when everyone understood the Koine language. Today it is not simply a problem of translating these books to Modern Greek. All the hymns are sung in a special way and the translations would have to be translated to the original melodies which is indeed very difficult. The Liturgy has been tried in Modern Greek, but without too much success. Also the chanters would have to be retrained to sing in Modern Greek.  For the majority of the Orthodox World a beard is a recognizable sign of a Priest which is deep rooted in Orthodox tradition. Priests with beards go as far back as the time of Moses when God commanded him to tell the priests (the sons of Aaron) not to shave or cut the beard of their chins (Lev. 21:5). In general this applies to all men for God created man with a beard to distinguish him from a woman. Although we are no longer under Mosaic Law, priests continue to wear beards since the Law was observed by both the Lord and the Apostles. A canon (96) from the Sixth Ecumenical Council concerning hair says that: “Those who have put on Christ through baptism have solemnly promised to emulate and imitate the manner of life He led in the flesh.” Since a priest represents an image of Christ he should resemble him in outward appearance with both beard and long hair. Much of the Priest’s outward appearance is influenced by monastic traditions. In older times monks were not allowed to have long hair and many kept their head shaven on the top similar to the style of the Western Benedictine monks, but under the influence of hermits who paid no attention to their outward appearance and let their hair grow, the tonsure was abandoned and long hair became the normal for both monks and Priests.