"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).

Friday, December 11, 2015

Saint-Serge Series in Eastern Christian Liturgics

I recently received in the mail two books from Aschendorff Verlag out of Münster, the 58th and 59th volumes in their series "Semaines d'études liturgiques Saint-Serge." The Saint-Serge Institute, of course, needs no introduction as the leading centre of French Orthodox intellectual culture for most of the last century. These are fascinating collections of scholarly articles.

The 58th volume, edited by two Orthodox scholars André Lossky and Goran Sekulovski, is entitled Jeûne et pratiques de repentance : dimensions communautaires et liturgiques (2015), 332pp.

About this collection the publisher tell us:

La question des jeûnes et autres restrictions est fréquemment objet d’annonces médiatiques; elle suscite des débats et des commentaires, parfois sans beaucoup de discernement sur le sens de ces pratiques, qu’il s’agisse d’actes religieux ou par exemple d’une grève de la faim. Les organisateurs des Semaines d’études liturgiques Saint Serge de Paris ont choisi de consacrer en 2011 un colloque ayant proposé plusieurs approches, principalement mais non exclusivement chrétiennes. Les lecteurs trouveront dans ces pages un éventail d’exposés soit introductifs, soit voulant présenter des réflexions et recherches plus spécifiques, ainsi que les riches échanges ayant suivi les communications. Par-delà les diversités, les pratiques religieuses de restriction, alimentaire ou autre, demeurent l’expression d’une attente et d’une soif de Dieu.
Depuis 1953, les Semaines d’études liturgiques organisées à l’Institut de Théologie orthodoxe Saint Serge à Paris réunissent des chercheurs principalement chrétiens invités à examiner ensemble des pratiques liturgiques observées hier ou aujourd’hui par diverses traditions, dans un but de découverte réciproque et de dépassement des incompréhensions.
This collection features articles on Lutheran and RC liturgical issues, but the majority of the chapters are devoted to Orthodox liturgical questions, with several on Lenten liturgical practices in both Byzantine usage as well as in the Coptic church; there are also numerous chapters on monastic practice, along with several on fasting customs. About 90% of the collection is in French, but the chapters on fasting in the Ethiopian Church, and in the Eparchy of Mukachevo, are both in English.

The 59th volume, under the same editorship, is entitled Liturges et liturgistes: fructification de leurs apports dans l'aujourd'hui des églises (2015), 371pp.

About this collection the publisher this time gives us an English blurb:
The 59th Semaine d’études liturgiques (Week of Liturgical Studies) offered its participants an opportunity to reflect on the issue of reception of the work of several known liturgists in various communities. These pages contain basic introductory presentations, followed by other studies of examples addressing liturgists and reputed liturgiologists, and the examination of some specific aspects concerning the concrete reception of the results of scholarly studies in liturgy. Since 1953, the Semaines d’études liturgiques organized at the Orthodox Theological Institute of Saint Serge in Paris bring together mainly Christian researchers. Participants are invited to examine together liturgical documents and observed practices, yesterday or today, by Christian communities, from an ecumenical perspective and with a scholarly approach. The purpose of these meetings, animated by a fervent hope of overcoming misunderstandings, is a mutual discovery of the various liturgical traditions and their possible convergences
As with the above collection, the majority of articles are in la plus belle langue, though three are in English. Many of the articles engage well-known liturgists, liturgical scholars, or historians of the 20th century including Dom Odo Casel, Dom Gregory Dix, Cipriano Vagaggini, Dom Bernard Capelle, and Anton Baumstark. There are chapters on Mt. Athos, and Slovakia, this latter focusing on prostop'enie chant among Greco-Catholics.

Both collections clearly merit a place in every serious liturgical library.

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