The Eucharistic Liturgies: Their evolution and
Paul F. Bradshaw and Maxwell E. Johnson
SPCK (Alcuin Club Collection 87) £20
Church Times Bookshop £18 (Use code CT231
FOR 115 years, the liturgical publications of the Alcuin Club
have sought to serve the Church and Academia by having a twin
concern for scholarly research and liturgical renewal.
Although the authors of the Club's latest collection claim that
they are "informers" rather than "reformers", Paul F. Bradshaw and
Maxwell E. Johnson's magisterial survey of the eucharist does far
more than trace the origins and development of the central act of
Christian worship. True to their word, the authors are careful not
to relate their findings to contemporary issues. Nevertheless, no
one can read this wide-ranging study of the history and theology of
the eucharist without being challenged to ask questions about the
liturgical practices of the modern-day Church.
In the space of just eight chapters, Bradshaw and Johnson not
only attempt to describe how the eucharist has been celebrated from
the Early Church to the present day, but also provide a thorough
theological analysis of the rites considered, focusing
particularly on the historically complex and controversial issues
of eucharistic presence and eucharistic sacrifice.
Assisted by a number of helpful charts that compare the
structure of various rites, extensive quotations of liturgical
texts, and a brief summary at the end of each chapter, the clarity
and comprehensiveness of this volume make it essential reading for
students of liturgy as well as for any general reader with an
interest in the eucharist - perhaps particularly those who have the
responsibility for presiding at it.
While many studies of this kind have limited their attention to
either West or East, a significant strength of this volume is its
inclusion of the rites of the Christian East. Although,
understandably, they do not always receive the same depth of
treat-ment as their Western counterparts, the concise introduction
to the liturgical uses of the different Eastern Churches, which
begins chapter five, provides an invaluable starting-point for the
If critical comments have to be made, they can only be about
unexpected omissions. Given the amount of space devoted to
eucharistic sacrifice, this reader was surprised to find no
mention of Robert Daly's important study Sacrifice
Unveiled; and, when it came to the discussion of Thomas
Cranmer's eucharistic theology, no mention of Diarmaid MacCulloch's
contribution to this area of debate. In the final chapter,
the observation that 20th-century liturgical revisions have
witnessed a convergence in the shape of eucharistic rites could
have acknowledged the influence of Gregory Dix's four-fold
At first sight, this may look like the sort of volume that is
best dipped into rather than read from cover to cover. Not so!
Bradshaw and Johnson's style has a lightness of touch which engages
the reader, unravels complex theories, and makes them accessible.
This excellent study, dedicated affectionately to the memory of
their friend and colleague, Kenneth Stevenson, is not just for
True to the best traditions of the Alcuin Club, it will be of
immense value to Academia and the Church alike.
The Revd Dr Simon Jones is Chaplain and Fellow of Merton
College, Oxford, and a member of the Church of England's Liturgical