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Bible Dictionaries

Charles Buck Theological Dictionary


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The act of bowing or bending the knee, or rather of kneeling down. The Jesuit Rosweyd, in his Onomasticon, shows that genuflection, or kneeling, has been a very ancient custom in the church, and even under the Old Testament dispensation; and that this practice was observed throughout all the year, excepting on Sundays, and during the time from Easter to Whitsuntide, when kneeling was forbidden by the council of Nice. Others have shown, that the custom of not kneeling on Sundays had obtained from the time of the apostles, as appears from St. Irenxus and Tertullian; and the Ethiopic church, scrupulously attached to the ancient ceremonies, still retains that of not kneeling at divine service. The Russians esteem it an indecent posture to worship God on the knees. The Jews usually prayed standing. Baronius is of opinion that genuflection was not established in the year of Christ 58, from that passage in Acts 20:36 , where St. Paul is expressly mentioned to kneel down at prayer; but Saurin shows that nothing can be thence concluded. The same author remarks, also, that the primitive Christians carried the practice of genuflection so far, that some of them had worn cavities in the floor where they prayed: and St. Jerome relates of St. James, that he had contracted a hardness on his knees equal to that of camels.

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These files are public domain.
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Bibliography Information
Buck, Charles. Entry for 'Genuflection'. Charles Buck Theological Dictionary. 1802.

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