"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

An Electronic Epiclesis

First published in 2008, and now this month released as an e-book, is the important study of John McKenna, The Eucharistic Epiclesis: A Detailed History from the Patristic to the Modern Era (Hillenbrand). The epiclesis, as I noted before, is one of those issues that certain Eastern apologists sometimes make into a major issue even though they have little to no factual basis for doing so.

About this book the publisher tells us:
For centuries the Eucharistic epiclesis, one of the gems of the early Christian anaphoras, has become a point of controversy rather than a bond of unity between various Christian traditions. The Eucharistic Epiclesis: A Detailed History from the Patristic to the Modern Era, seeks new avenues in exploring this question.

A healthy theology must rest on solid historical and liturgical foundations.  The first part of this study, presents the data of the early liturgical texts on the epiclesis as well as a brief history of the prayer's entanglement with the "moment of consecration question." Part II focuses on the interpretations of modern liturgists and theologians of the Eucharistic epiclesis. Finally in a synthesis, John McKenna suggests new approaches to this discussion in Eucharistic theology and draws out the implications from this prayer which is so central to the ancient anaphoras.
John H. McKenna's classic study examines the interpretations of the Eucharistic epiclesis by modern theological writers.  This thorough text will deepen the appreciation, understanding beauty of the theology of the epiclesis. 
And the greatest liturgical historian of our time, Robert Taft, has this to say about McKenna's work:
Some issues in the history of theology never go away. John McKenna's 1965 book Eucharist and Holy Spirit, of which the present update is more precisely entitled The Eucharistic Epiclesis, tackles one such intractable problem. Along with Edward Schillebeeckx's 1963 Christ, the Sacrament of the Encounter with God, McKenna's study remains one of the most important liturgical publications in English to emerge from that heady, immediate post-Vatican II fallout that changed Catholic sacramental theology for the better and-dare we still hope?-forever. McKenna's deceptively simple discourse and clear language, like that of Schillebeeckx, results from the clarity, not the simplicity, of his thinking on a still disputed and more often than not misunderstood topic in eucharistic and ecumenical theology: in the eucharist who offers what, to whom, when, and how? Every professor of liturgical and ecumenical theology should  have this book in his or her library.
Robert F. Taft, S.J
Professor Emeritus of Oriental Liturgy
Pontifical Oriental Institute, Rome

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