Ancient Christian Worship: Early Church Practices in Social, by Andrew B. McGowan

By Andrew B. McGowan

This creation to the origins of Christian worship illuminates the significance of old Christian worship practices for modern Christianity. Andrew McGowan, a number one student of early Christian liturgy, takes a clean method of knowing how Christians got here to worship within the specific kinds nonetheless standard at the present time. Deftly and expertly processing the bewildering complexity of the traditional resources into lucid, fluent exposition, he units apart universal misperceptions to discover the roots of Christian ritual practices--including the Eucharist, baptism, communal prayer, preaching, Scripture examining, and music--in their earliest recoverable settings. scholars of Christian worship and theology in addition to pastors and church leaders will worth this paintings.

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Preliminaries for the banquet could include washing of hands, offering of an opening prayer or hymn, and libations. The meal proper followed, with the variety and quality of foods depending on the means of the host or group and on the nature of the occasion. After eating, tables were removed and wine was brought and mixed with water, typically in a large bowl, or kratēr, and then shared by the diners in individual cups after further prayers or libations to the relevant deity. A number of such large bowls of mixed wine might be prepared over the evening—three was regarded as ideal.

However, the earliest explicit evidence for eucharistic prayer—rather later than these NT texts, as we will see—does not include the institution narrative at all. That absence suggests some other use, such as a recitation intended to explain or interpret the meal;15 Paul’s own earliest presentation of the story has precisely such a use, and to this we turn. Commensality at Corinth Although many NT stories and traditions reflect the beliefs and practices of the early Christians about their shared meals, the first explicit discussion of them is in Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians.

The Christians’ participation in the blood and body of Christ is for Paul concrete, communal, and cultic. Paul’s presentation of the Corinthian common meal relies not on belief that it was a sacrifice per se but on the nexus between sacrifice and meal common in Jewish and Greek religion. Paul also says this eating and drinking is to “proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (1€Cor. 11:26), alluding again to the place of the Last Supper within a broader Passion Narrative. A reader of Luke or Acts might just as readily have seen the meal as a participation in Jesus’ risen life (Luke 24:35) as in his death, but these were not exclusive alternatives.

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