Bema (βῆμα, rostrum), the third or innermost part of the ancient churches, corresponding to what we now call the chancel. The bema was the whole space where stood the altar, the bishop's throne, and the seats of the priests in which sense Bingham understands the fifty-sixth canon of Laodicea, which forbids priests to go into the bema and take their seats there before the bishop comes (see Chrysost. Hom. 35, de Pentecost. tom. 5, p. 553). The name bema arose from its being more exalted than the rest of the church, and raised upon steps. As the bema was especially devoted to the clergy, they were called sometimes οἱ τοῦ βήματος, and τάξις τοῦ βήματος, or "the Order of the Bema." — Bingham, Orig. Eccl. bk. 8, ch. 6; Suicer, Thesaurus, 1, 682; Landon, Eccl. Dict. 2, 143.

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