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date: 02 December 2020

Eucharistic Liturgy and Theologyfree

  • John BaldovinJohn BaldovinSchool of Theology and Minstry, Boston College


The Eucharist is a liturgical meal of bread and wine, which is almost always preceded by a service of reading the Scriptures. Christians attribute the origin of the Eucharist to Jesus Christ himself at the Last Supper on the night before he died. Many Christians regard the Eucharist as a sacrament and as their central ritual, and many celebrate the Eucharist weekly or even more often. This sacred meal has had various names throughout history: the Lord’s Supper, Holy Communion, the Offering, the Divine Liturgy, the Mass. The most common name in the early 21st century, however, is Eucharist, which derives from the Greek word Eucharistia, a thanksgiving.

What we know since the 3rd century as the basic form of the Christian Eucharist is most probably the result of a number of trajectories from the first 150 years of Christianity coming together, including: fellowship meals in remembrance of Jesus, celebrations of his passion and resurrection, and the tradition of his significant meals such as the Last Supper and the Supper at Emmaus (Luke 24).

In the late 4th and 5th centuries, many local traditions coalesced to produce (1) a basic common form of Eucharistic liturgy consisting of entrance rite, liturgy of the word, homily, prayers, the sharing of a kiss of peace, presentation of gifts of bread and wine, Eucharistic prayer, Lord’s Prayer, fraction of the bread, distribution of communion, and dismissal; and (2) the various traditional liturgical families tied to major Christian cities: Byzantine (Constantinople, Jerusalem, Antioch), Coptic (Alexandria), East Syrian (Edessa), and Roman.

The church of the first millennium knew a common affirmation of the understanding of Christ’s real presence in the Eucharistic elements as well as a variety of ways of expressing the notion of Eucharist as sacrifice. The first controversies over how to express Christ’s presence arose in the 9th century, and they rose to a crescendo with Berengar of Tours in the 11th century. The most sophisticated explanation of that presence (transubstantiation) was provided by Thomas Aquinas in the mid-13th century.

The Protestant reformers of the 16th century made various criticisms of traditional Roman Catholic theology and practice. They insisted on using the language of the people, giving communion in both bread and wine, and dismissing the language of Eucharistic sacrifice. The Reformed tradition (John Calvin) and the Lutheran differed considerably, however, on how to affirm Christ’s presence in the Eucharistic celebration, with Luther taking a much more realist position and Calvin a more “spiritual” understanding. The Church of England was reluctant to take sides in this discussion and its own theological position on the Eucharist remains a matter of debate.

The liturgical movement of the 19th and 20th centuries, combined with renewed interest in biblical and patristic scholarship, has produced a remarkable convergence among various Christian churches, and it has led to Eucharistic liturgies among Catholics, Anglicans, Lutherans, and Methodists that bear a notable similarity to one another.

New Testament

Although many Christians regard the New Testament accounts of the Last Supper as a historically accurate account of the institution of the Eucharist by Jesus, a number of scholars, using historical-critical methods, question this assumption and look elsewhere in the ancient world for elements that went into what became the Eucharist in its “classic” form in the 4th century.1 In this scenario, the earliest disciples of Jesus would have been inspired to start holding a meal that celebrated their experience of the risen Lord.

That Eucharistic practice had an effect on the development of the New Testament text is evident in the stories of the miracles of the loaves and fishes (Mark 6:8, Matt. 14:15; Luke 9; John 6) as well as the post-resurrection Emmaus story. In all of these, the four verbs that characterize Jesus’ actions at the Last Supper are included, namely “take,” “bless,” “break,” and “give.”

Acts 20:711 provides another witness to Eucharistic practice when Paul discourses at an evening gathering on the first day of the week (Saturday? or Sunday?). The discourse goes on so long that a young man, overcome by the heat of the upper-story room, falls out the window to his death below. Paul revives him and then proceeds to “break bread.” The meeting ends at dawn, which some take to be an association of the celebration of the Eucharist with Sunday and the resurrection of Jesus.

A final significant passage that relates to the Eucharist in the New Testament is found in John 6, the discourse on the bread of life. The discourse is not related to the Last Supper (which lacks a direct reference to the Eucharist); rather, it follows a miraculous feeding at Passover time. In this account, Jesus insists that his disciples must eat his flesh and drink his blood to have eternal life. The discourse is most likely a kind of midrash (commentary) on Psalms 78:24 (“He gave them bread from heaven to eat”). Verses 51–58 are taken to be explicitly Eucharistic, although whether they were originally a part of the Gospel is disputed.2

Although it is important not to read later doctrines and disputes back into the New Testament, it can be said that these passages provide the basis for a number of developments that arise in the course of time; for example, considering the bread and wine to be Christ’s body and blood; relating the meal, Passover, and Christ’s death (sacrifice on the cross); the relation between the sacramental meal and the community of the church (1 Cor. 10–11); and the meal as a kind of foretaste of the heavenly banquet.

Jewish Context

In the first place these individuals were Jews who had experience of formal Jewish religious meals, which included blessings before and after eating and drinking. Although we do not possess documents that give us the exact wording of these blessings at the time of Jesus, later Jewish evidence can provide a sense of what these blessings entailed. The Hebrew word for blessing came from the root brk. The singular form of this feminine noun is berakah, the plural is berakoth. In combined form, as in the “blessing of the meal,” it is rendered birkat-ha-mazon.3 The typical beginning of such a blessing is: “Blessed are you, Lord, God of the universe . . .” A motive follows and frequently the key concept is repeated as a kind of response (“seal”—chatimah). For example, “Blessed are you who give us food.” It is important to note that what is essentially sacred, as belonging to God, is “released” for human use by the proper acknowledgment of God as its source.4 These are the kinds of prayers referred to when the Last Supper accounts refer to Jesus “saying the blessing” (Mark 14; Matt. 26:26; Mark 6:41) and “giving thanks (1 Cor. 11:24; Luke 22:17,19; Luke 24:30; John 6:11; Matt. 26:27).” One of the meals over which berakoth were spoken was the Passover.

Considerable debate is waged over the question of whether Jesus’ Last Supper was a Passover meal.5 The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke all clearly regard the Last Supper as a Passover, but John puts the sacrifice of the Passover lambs on the next day, Friday, at the time of Jesus’ death. Each of the gospel writers has a theological motive for dating the Last Supper, and it is impossible to know who is correct. In any case, it is clear that the gospel writers and Saint Paul (1 Cor. 5:7) associate Jesus’ death with the Jewish Passover and its significance as the liberation of God’s people.

Another Jewish source of prayer that has been tied to Christian Eucharistic practice is the todah (thanksgiving), and especially as related to a sacrifice (zebach todah = thank-offering) performed in gratitude for a favor bestowed by God.6 A good example can be found in the prayer of Ezra (Neh. 9:6–37). As opposed to the birkat-ha-mazon, which is tripartite and consists of two blessings and a petition, the todah form of prayer is bipartite and includes a thanksgiving and a petition. These structures are relevant to the later development of Eucharistic prayers.

Related as well to the Jewish thought world is the concept of “memorial.” Both Paul (1 Cor. 11) and Luke (22) include the command to repeat “Do this in memory of me” in their accounts of the Last Supper. The Greek word for “memorial” is αναμνησις‎ (anamnesis), which is a translation of the Hebrew zikkaron. For the Israelites, faith memorial had a strong meaning; that is, it did not refer to mere psychological remembering but to a kind of re-presentation of the event being remembered.7 Deuteronomy 26:1–11, which tells of the offering of the first fruits, is a useful example of a remembrance that identifies the worshippers with the original event (liberation from Egypt).

Another fruitful area of research for the origin and development of the Christian Eucharist lies with the practice of holding meals, with drinking and conversation to follow. This could be the pattern that underlies 1 Corinthians 11–14. Some Jewish scholars, such as Zvi Zahafy, have suggested that these Hellenistic meals may even have influenced the development of our first written sources with regard to the celebration of the Passover meal since those sources postdate the New Testament.8

The First Three Centuries

The early Christian centuries do not provide elaborate descriptions of the Eucharist, but a good deal of information can be pieced together from explanations of Christianity (Apologies), letters, homilies, manuals of church order, and even archeology. The 2nd-century apologist Justin Martyr (Rome, c. 150) describes the Eucharistic meal twice. First, he describes a Eucharist that follows baptism (1 Apology 65). The assembled Christians first pray (prayers of intercession) with the newly baptized and then all exchange the kiss of peace, which the nonbaptized had not been permitted to do. Bread and wine are brought forward and the leader or presider (no formal title is given) prays a prayer or prayers of thanksgiving over them at length. The people signify their assent to the prayer by saying “Amen.” The assistants (deacons) distribute the “eucharistized” bread and wine to the congregants. These are also brought to those who cannot attend the gathering. After a paragraph in which he explains the meaning of this meal as partaking in the body and blood of Christ, Justin adds a description of the normal Sunday gathering (1 Apology 67). This gathering began with the reading of the Scriptures of both the Old Testament and the New Testament (as far as time allowed), followed by a discourse from the leader, the intercessions, the prayer(s) over the bread and wine, and their distribution. Justin adds that gifts are received at the Eucharist for distribution to the poor.

Another and even earlier source for the early Eucharist is found in the “proto-church manual” called the Didache, which dates from the late 1st century or the early 2nd century. This document contains a kind of catechism of moral instruction followed by directions for ordering the church and its ceremonies. Chapters 9 and 10 give prayers and directions for a communal meal. A series of three prayers precedes and follows a meal. The prayers themselves seem to be Christianized forms of the Jewish berakoth. Most scholars today consider these prayers to be part of a Eucharist (10:1 says “After you have had your fill “eucharistize” thus . . .) even though the prayers neither contain the words of Jesus at the Last Supper nor refer explicitly to the death and resurrection of Jesus. The elements of the meal are to be given only to the baptized. Chapter 14 of the document refers again to the breaking of bread and “eucharistizing” on the “Lord’s Day of the Lord” (Sunday). Here we learn that members of the community need to be reconciled to one another before sharing the meal. The document refers to a kind of warrant for this in the prophet Malachi’s declaration of a “pure sacrifice offered from the rising of the sun to its setting” (Mal. 1:11).

A number of features of the later Eucharist in the first three centuries remain unknown. For example, it is not known how many communities substituted water for wine, though some did, given the 3rd-century letter (Ep. 63) of Cyprian, the bishop of Carthage, in which he decried the practice. It is also not clear when or where the meal dropped out or whether it always included some reading of the Scriptures.

In addition to the Didache, some evidence exists of the manner in which Christians prayed over the bread and wine during these centuries. A number of prayers or fragments seem to be Eucharistic in this period. They include prayers in apocryphal literature; for example, the 2nd-century Acts of John (85; 109), which consist only of the praise of God over bread. A fragment known by its manuscript designation, Papyrus Strasbourg Greek 254, may well be the body of a complete Eucharistic prayer that once again contains no institution narrative but rather praise of God for Christ and petition. In common with Didache 14 this prayer employs Malachi 1:11 as a kind of scriptural warrant. Enrico Mazza finds a scriptural warrant in every Eucharistic prayer, for example, a citation of Deuteronomy 8:10 in Didache 10.9 The meal prayers found in Didache 9–10 are expanded in Apostolic Constitutions VII (probably 3rd century), in which the larger part of the prayer comes after the meal.

Finally, the Anaphora of Saints Addai and Mari (or Anaphora of the Apostles), which probably originated in the 3rd century, is preserved in the Church of the East (the Assyrian Church that broke with the rest of the Christian Church after the Nestorian controversy and the Council of Ephesus in 431). This prayer shows some signs of great antiquity in that part of it which is addressed directly to Christ. It also contains the angelic hymn (threefold “Holy” or Sanctus) as well as a petition for the Holy Spirit to sanctify the bread and wine (epiclesis), but it includes no institution narrative.10

To sum up, Eucharistic praying in these early centuries seems to have involved a number of different elements that came together in the 4th century, including prayers at meals that are similar to Jewish prayers, prayers of praise and thanksgiving, petitions that call God’s power down upon the congregants or the gifts or both, and scriptural warrants such as Malachi 1:11 and Deuteronomy 8:10.

In terms of the meaning of the Eucharist, a number of factors figure in later, more developed theology and theological debates, although it is always important not to read these specific debates anachronistically back into earlier periods. Four areas that stand out are: (1) the presence of Christ at the meal, (2) the sacrificial nature of the meal, (3) the relation of the meal to the community, and (4) the relation between Eucharist and martyrdom.

Authors who refer to Christ’s presence at the meal, such as Justin Martyr in the First Apology 66 and Irenaeus in Book 4 of Against the Heresies, 18:5 (both 2nd century), quite clearly associate the bread and wine with Christ’s body and blood in the most intimate way. It is true that a theologian such as Tertullian (3rd-century Carthage, Adversus Marcionem 3.19.3–411) can employ a term such as figura (figure or form) in speaking of the Eucharist, but caution must be exercised about imposing our own sense of language upon the ancient world. In antiquity a symbol or figure was understood in a more or less Platonic way, that is, it participated in the reality to which it pointed. Therefore, for the people of the early Church it would be anachronistic to force a distinction between symbol and reality.

It is also clear that the language of sacrifice was applied very early on to the celebration of the Eucharist—but in several different ways. As noted above, Didache 14 refers to the need for reconciliation before offering the sacrifice that is the Eucharist with an appeal to Malachi 1:11. Justin Martyr contrasts the Christian sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving with the former sacrifices of Israel (Dialogue with Trypho 117:2–3), but elsewhere in the same document (41:1–3) he compares the Christian Eucharist to the zebach todah, or thank-offering of the Jews.12 Irenaeus of Lyons in his attack on the Gnostics, who disparaged the material creation (Adversus Haereses 4.17.5), emphasizes the presence of Christ in the created element (bread) and at the same time refers to the Eucharist as a kind of sacrifice of the first fruits. He too makes reference to Malachi 1:11 as a warrant for this new sacrifice. Another form of sacrifice is found in the self-offering of the 2nd-century martyr Polycarp, whose prayer of self-offering has clear Eucharistic overtones.13

A rather different interpretation of the relation between the Eucharist and sacrifice (one that was to take hold in the medieval imagination and that became quite controversial at the time of the Protestant Reformation) is given by Cyprian of Carthage in his Epistle 63:14, in which he relates the bread and wine of the Eucharistic sacrifice to Christ’s passion. Cyprian also introduces the idea that it is the priest (sacerdos, which meant bishop at the time) who offers the sacrifice in imitation of Christ.14

One of the major concerns of the Christians of the first three centuries was the bond of unity that the Eucharist created. This concern is already evident in Paul’s admonition to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 11) that the authenticity of their celebration depended on how they treated one another. It is also clear in the admonition in Didache 9 not to “give what is holy to dogs” (i.e., the unbaptized). Justin (1 Apology 65) makes it clear that only those who believe and are willing to live in a Christian fashion are taught to pray and fast and are admitted to baptism.

Much attention has been paid recently to the relationship between martyrdom and the Eucharist. One clue can be found in the account of the martyrdom of Polycarp of Smyrna in the mid-2nd century. Polycarp offers himself as a sacrifice to Christ in language that is clearly reminiscent of Eucharistic praying (Martyrdom of Polycarp 14). A similar allusion can be found even earlier in Ignatius of Antioch’s Letter to the Romans (4, 6–7) in which the bishop writes of his coming death as a sacrifice and relates it to Christ’s body and blood. The historian Ramsey MacMullen has argued recently that the cult of the martyrs accounts for a great deal of the popularity of Christian worship, including the Eucharist, in the early centuries.15 The early Christians associated the cult of the martyrs with great spiritual power, and it is not unreasonable to think that participating in the sacrifice and presence of the greatest martyr, Jesus, was also considered an experience of power.

The Flowering of Christian Liturgy in the 4th Century to the Rise of Islam

The decriminalization of Christianity that accompanied the conversion of the emperor Constantine in the 4th century allowed Christians much greater freedom to celebrate their rituals in public as well as made possible enormous outlays of money to build the edifices in which to celebrate them. The disparate and scattered evidence of the first three centuries begins to coalesce especially in materials that come from some of the major urban Christian centers. Thus a move toward similarity in the Christian celebration of the Eucharist is evident in the 4th century. This same similarity will again become diverse in the various “rites” (Byzantine, Coptic, Roman) that spring from these centers.16 Robert Taft has pointed out that the earlier core of the celebration, which centered on the reading of the Scriptures and the Eucharistic prayer and Communion, now tends to be contextualized by the action (or “soft”) points of the celebration, namely, the points at which a good deal of action takes place: the entrance procession, the procession of the gifts, and the procession for Communion. Large and beautiful churches were built following several plans. The first is the basilica, basically a large public building rectangular in shape and culminating in an apse.17 Pre-Christian basilicas, such as the Basilica of Maxentius, can still be seen in the Roman Forum. The Christians made a major alteration to these buildings by “turning them around” on a longitudinal axis, most likely to facilitate processional movement. Basilicas functioned as meeting places for ordinary Christian worship. Another type of church building also emerged during the 4th century—the shrine. Given the importance of the martyrs, Christians began constructing churches at their burial places, which were naturally in the cemeteries that surrounded cities and towns. But now the focus was not so much on the community that was gathering to worship as on the holy site itself, which enshrined the relics of the martyrs. The most famous of these buildings are the complex centered on the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ in Jerusalem and the tomb of Saint Peter on the Vatican hill in Rome.

The most useful data for understanding the shape of the Eucharistic liturgies in the 4th century come to us from several great preachers who gave instructions to those who had just been baptized or were about to be baptized. Four of these figures stand out: Cyril of Jerusalem, Ambrose of Milan, John Chrysostom (Antioch and Constantinople), and Theodore of Mopsuestia (in Syria).18 These individuals tell us, for example, that the Lord’s Prayer had been introduced into the liturgy (Cyril, Mystagogical Catecheses 5:11) and that the priest washes his hands before entering into the Eucharistic prayer (Cyril, Mystagogical Catecheses 5:2). We learn that the people are invited to Communion with the phrase: “Holy things for the holy people,” to which they respond “One is holy, one is Lord, Jesus Christ . . .” (Cyril, Mystagogical Catecheses 5:19). We also find that the people received the consecrated bread in their hands and that Psalm 34 (“Taste and see that the Lord is good”) was sung during the Communion procession. “The Body of Christ/Amen” seems to have been the formula for the distribution of Communion, according to both Ambrose (De Sacramentis 4:25) and Theodore (Baptismal Hom. 5:28).

In the 4th century the liturgy seems to have begun simply with a greeting followed by the readings (Augustine, City of God 22).19 However, entrance psalms seem to have distinguished the Jerusalem liturgy about the end of the 4th century.20 Sometime during the 5th century an entrance psalm seems to have been introduced into the Eucharistic liturgy at Rome.21 As far as the service of readings is concerned, more than one scripture reading appears to have been read before the Gospel in a number of churches (although this has never been proven definitively for the Roman Rite). Psalms seem to have been chanted between the readings and an Alleluia before the Gospel.22

Various litanies (series of invocations with brief responses), which originally accompanied processions, were added to the liturgy.23 In the Roman liturgy the litany was gradually reduced to a simple repetition of the response, Kyrie eleison/Christe eleison (Lord have mercy/Christ have mercy) during the entrance rite. Another form of intercessory prayer followed the readings and homily. These prayers often involved a diaconal invitation followed by silent prayer (kneeling outside during the fifty days of Easter) and a concluding prayer by the priest. This type of prayer disappeared from the Eucharist in the Roman Rite at the beginning of the 6th century, but, it was retained for the solemn liturgy on Good Friday.24 In every rite but the Roman the greeting and exchange of peace took place at some point between the end of the intercessions and the beginning of the Eucharistic prayer.

By the 5th century the major rites (Alexandrian, Coptic, Roman, Antiochene [West Syrian], East Syrian, Armenian, Georgian, and Byzantine [Constantinople])25 were taking shape. Although the basic structure of the rite would be differentiated over time, the characteristics of each rite can be seen in the structure and content of their Eucharistic prayers (or anaphoras = prayers of offering). Each of these traditions most likely combined elements of preexisting prayers (such as those in the first three centuries) in their own way. By the time the various traditions had stabilized, each included the following elements (although in differing order and with varying theological emphasis): dialogue; praise and thanksgiving for creation and/or salvation history in Christ; the hymn “Holy, Holy, Holy” [Sanctus]; a prayer after the “Holy” that flowed into the narrative of institution; a formula of response to the command “Do this in memory of me,” which included remembrance of God’s acts in Christ (passion, death, resurrection, ascension) and some articulation of offering the gifts and invocation of the Spirit (or Logos) upon the gifts and the communicants; intercessory prayers; a concluding act of praise (doxology); and the people’s “Amen.”

The pattern outlined is characteristic of the Antiochene or West Syrian structure, which was adopted as well by the Byzantine Rite. The major prayers that follow this pattern are: [the anaphoras of] Basil, John Chrysostom, and James.26 In their classic form, these prayers are Trinitarian in structure, with the opening section praising and thanking the Father, the section after the Sanctus a remembrance of God’s acts in salvation history and particularly in Christ leading up to the narrative of institution. This type is easily detectable by the use of the word holy as a connection from the Sanctus to the post-Sanctus portion. There follows an anamnesis and offering and then the invocation of the Holy Spirit and intercessions. Cesare Giraudo has divided Eucharistic prayers into two types: anamnetic and epicletic. This kind of prayer falls into the anamnetic category because the institution narrative comes before any request for consecration (invocation or epiclesis).

The Roman Canon is a prime example of the epicletic type. Parts of this prayer date from at least the 4th century, which we know because they are quoted by Ambrose of Milan in his lectures on the sacraments to the newly baptized (De sacramentis 4:21–27). Here he cites a central portion of the prayer, although at a crucial point he writes: “Make for us this offering approved, reasonable, acceptable, because it is the figure of the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.”27 The received version that we know from manuscripts several centuries later has: “Make this offering wholly blessed, approved, ratified, reasonable, and acceptable; that it may become to us the body and blood of your dearly beloved Son Jesus Christ our Lord.”28 The Roman Canon begins with the usual dialogue and thanksgiving followed by the “Holy, Holy,” but then quickly turns to invocation and plea for consecration preceding the narrative of institution. The anamnesis and offering follow, but then, curiously, there is another plea for consecration, this time that God’s angel may bring the gifts to the heavenly altar. The canon also contains intercessions for the living and (at least after the 9th century) for the dead as well as several lists of saints (apostles and [Roman] martyrs). This kind of Eucharistic prayer is clearly not as logically composed as those of the West Syrian type, which has convinced Mazza and others that the received form is a composite of a number of earlier texts.29 The Roman Canon served as the single Eucharistic prayer of the Roman Catholic Church until the post-Vatican II reforms of the Catholic liturgy.

Mention of a third prayer tradition, the Alexandrian or Egyptian, will serve to round out this consideration of the classic prayers. In its final form this prayer is known as the Anaphora of Saint Mark, although it seems to have been composed of a number of earlier fragments (the Strasbourg Papyrus Greek 254, Deir Balizeh papyrus, British Museum tablet, and Louvain Coptic papyrus).30 This Egyptian tradition is characterized by a lengthy series of intercessions following a thanksgiving in the pre-Sanctus part of the prayer. It connects the Sanctus with the rest of the prayer using the language of “full” or “fill” or both. A plea for consecration precedes the institution narrative. The expression of offering is in the aorist (past tense) “have set before you”; another invocation, this time upon the gifts and the communicants.31

Space does not permit a discussion of the East Syrian or Roman western European traditions (the Gallican and Mozarabic) except to point out that the Gallican and Mozarabic Rites featured a number of Eucharistic prayers that were completely different from one another, except for the Sanctus, institution narrative, and doxology.

Perhaps the most important theological development in the 4th and subsequent centuries was the language of what Alexander Schmemann has called “mysteriological piety.”32 By this he means the shift from an understanding of the liturgy that comes directly from liturgical participation to one that is overlaid with extraneous interpretation and the language of fear and awe that appears in the 4th century. Bradshaw and Johnson see this as one of the consequences of the end of the age of martyrdom.33

Christ’s presence in the Eucharist is reaffirmed unequivocally during these centuries, for example, by Cyril of Jerusalem and Ambrose of Milan, who clearly call the elements the body and blood of Christ (Cyril, Mystagogical Catecheses 4:6; Ambrose, De sacramentis 4:4). Ambrose also relates the change to the repetition of Christ’s words: “This is my Body . . .” (De sacramentis 4:22ff.).

Augustine relates the real presence to his understanding of “horizontal” Communion—namely, the unity of Christians with one another in the body of Christ at the Eucharist—in his famous sermon to the newly baptized: “If you then are the body and members of Christ, it is your mystery laid on the table of the Lord, your mystery that you receive” (Augustine, Sermon 272). At the same time a great preacher such as John Chrysostom could make clear connections between what goes on at the Eucharist and the obligation of Christians to those in need:

Do you want to honor Christ’s body? Do not neglect Him when He is naked; do not, while you honor Him here with silken garments, neglect Him perishing outside of cold and nakedness. For He that said “This is my body,” and by His word confirmed the fact, also said, “You saw me hungry and you did not feed me” and “Whatever you did for one of the least of these, you did for me.” . . . For what is the profit, when His table indeed is full of golden cups, but He perishes with hunger? First fill Him, being hungry, and then abundantly deck out His table also. Do you make for Him a cup of gold, while you refuse to give Him a cup of cold water? And what is the profit? Do you furnish His table with cloths bespangled with gold, while you refuse Him even the most basic coverings? And what good comes of it? (John Chrysostom, Homilies on St. Matthew 25)

Cyprian’s understanding of the Eucharist as representing Christ’s passion begins to gain traction in this period especially with use of the language of awe and fear, notably in the Syrian catechesis of Theodore of Mopsuestia, who also initiates the interpretation of the Eucharistic liturgy as a dramatic unfolding of the Passion.34 John Chrysostom makes it clear that the Eucharistic sacrifice is not another sacrifice of the cross but rather its representation (John Chrysostom, Homilies on Hebrews 17:3). With a somewhat different accent, Augustine (City of God 10:6, 21) connects the sacrifice to that of the Christian Church sacrificing itself, thus the sacrifice of head and members.

The Eucharistic prayers themselves vary in the way they articulate the sacrifice. The Anaphora of Addai and Mari refers to the “commemoration of the body and blood.”35 Mark (65), Byzantine Basil (119), and John Chrysostom (133) say that “we offer you your own from your own.” Sarapion (77), Cyril (86), James (92), and Chrysostom make reference to the “living sacrifice, bloodless offering.” Apostolic Constitutions VIII says simply “bread and cup” (110). Sarapion, employing the aorist (past) tense, says that “we have offered the bread, the likeness [homoioma] of the body” and similarly the cup (77).

With its characteristic rhetoric, the Roman Canon says: “We offer . . . from your gifts and bounty [de tuis donis ac datis] a pure victim, a holy victim, an unspotted victim, the holy bread of eternal life and the cup of everlasting salvation” (165).

Various forms of commentary on the liturgy stem from this period. The most famous are the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy of the Syrian Dionysius the Areopagite in the 6th century and the Mystagogy of Maximus the Confessor of Constantinople in the 7th century. These commentaries took an allegorical approach (as opposed to the more historical approach of Theodore of Mopsuestia), which interpreted the liturgy in terms of the heavenly mysteries.36

The Byzantine Liturgy

Space does not permit a description of all of the Eastern Christian Eucharistic rites. A brief treatment of the Byzantine Rite, which is the most used among them, must suffice.

The Byzantine Divine Liturgy (as the Eucharist is called) was heavily influenced by its development in the urban environment of the great Christian capital, Constantinople. Many processions characterized the city’s liturgy, especially to and from the Great Church (Hagia Sophia), the great plazas of the city (like the nearby Forum of Constantine), and other churches and shrines. This factor most probably influenced the processional nature of the Eucharist itself with its processional psalms (“The Office of Three Antiphons” and the Trisagion hymn) and even its elaborate procession of the gifts, the Great Entrance, from the exterior sacristy of Hagia Sophia to the altar.37 In addition, more than any other liturgy, the Byzantine Divine Liturgy needs to be appreciated in its architectural setting, which since the Middle Ages has included an elaborate system of iconography and an emblematic icon screen (iconostasis) with three entrances. The Byzantine liturgy thus becomes a series of epiphanies or manifestations. Of great importance as well is the Byzantine musical tradition. Unlike in the West where music could accompany the service, a nonmusical liturgy is basically a contradiction for the Byzantines.38

Two other factors that shape the Byzantine Eucharist should be mentioned. The Byzantines, like the rest of the Christian East, retained the use of leavened bread for the Eucharist. They also kept Communion in the form of both the consecrated bread and wine.

An important tradition of liturgical commentaries from the 8th-century Ecclesiastical History of the Patriarch Germanus of Constantinople to the 14th-century commentary by Nicholas Cabasilas has shaped the Byzantine appreciation of the Eucharistic liturgy up to the present. The kinds of theological disputes over the liturgy that exercised the Westerners do not appear to have been a concern for the Byzantines.

The Medieval West

Dealing with the Eucharist across the vast expanse of a continent and a time span of about nine hundred years is obviously going to lack nuance, but some broad lines can be discerned. Emphasis is given here on the Roman Rite, that is, the rite of the city of Rome that was imported throughout Europe in the course of the 8th century. Much is known about the shape of the Roman Eucharist from a handbook (the Ordo Romanus Primus) that was copied in Gaul in the 8th century but that depends on a description of the Roman liturgy at the Basilica of St. Mary Major on Easter Sunday that dates from about the end of the 7th century.39 It contains a complete solemn celebration of the Eucharist with all of the various “orders” of the Church (the bishop of Rome [pope], assistant bishops, presbyters, deacons, subdeacons, acolytes, choir, etc.) participating in an elaborate ceremony. Taft’s “soft points” (see the section *The Flowering of Christian Liturgy in the 4th Century to the Rise of Islam*) are all filled in with a chanted psalm accompanying each of three movements: the entrance procession, the receipt of the gifts of bread and wine, and the Communion of the people. Each of these is concluded with a short prayer by the pope. Two other chants have appeared: the “Lord, have mercy” (Kyrie eleison) in the entrance rite and the “Lamb of God” (Agnus Dei) at the breaking of the bread before Communion. Acolytes take sacks with the consecrated bread to other churches in the city where the priests in charge drop a piece into the chalice to signify their union with the bishop and the main celebration of the day. Developments through the Middle Ages can be viewed easily below in the chart that compares the earliest description (Justin, 2nd century) with the Ordo Romanus Primus, a 7th-century description of the non-Roman Gallican Rite, and the fully developed Roman Rite c. 1300, a form of the rite that remained relatively stable up until the reforms of Vatican II in the 20th century (and it is still employed by some Roman Catholics today).

Development of the Eucharist in the West

Justin Martyr, c. 150

Ordo Romanus Primus, c. 700

Gallican Rite, c. 650

Medieval Roman Rite, c. 1300

Liturgy of the Word

Liturgy of the Word

Liturgy of the Word

Liturgy of the Word

Private Prayers

Introit Chant

Introit Chant (“Ingressa”)

Introit Chant




Gloria in excelsis


Gloria in excelsis



Benedictus (canticle)





















Dominus vobiscum/Oremus

Litany ?

Dominus vobiscum/Oremus


Liturgy of Eucharist

Liturgy of Eucharist

Liturgy of Eucharist

Liturgy of Eucharist




Preparation of Table




Prayer over Gifts


Offertory Prayers


Prayer over Gifts







Lord’s Prayer


Lord’s Prayer


Lord’s Prayer






Postcommunion Collect

Two Collects

Postcommunion Collect







The invention of the printing press in the 15th century made it easier to reduce small regional differences (such as the 13th-century Sarum/Salisbury Use in England) and follow what was essentially the shape of the Eucharistic liturgy celebrated in the papal chapel at the Lateran in Rome, which was popularized by itinerant Franciscan friars.40 In addition, the celebration of the Eucharist differed vastly in scale from the grand cathedral liturgies to celebrations in a small village church or chapel which often took place without musical accompaniment or even much of a congregation (on weekdays). Reception of Communion by the laity became so infrequent that the Fourth Lateran Council (1215) had to legislate the reception of Communion at least once a year. A number of other factors greatly affected the lived experience of the Eucharist in the medieval West. Here is a list of the major changes that took place in the course of about four hundred years:

silent Eucharistic prayer (late 9th century)

Communion on the tongue (9th century)

use of unleavened bread (11th century)

priest touching gifts during institution narrative (11th century)

bells at the Sanctus and consecration (12th century)

loss of the cup (13th century)

kneeling during the Eucharistic prayer (13th century)

elevation of the host (13th century)41

In addition to the retention of Latin, which was less and less used by the people, each of these factors proved influential in distancing the laity from what was actually happening at the liturgy, although they clearly appreciated its significance, as a number of contemporary historians (e.g., John Bossy and Eamon Duffy) have pointed out.42

In terms of theology, a virtual explosion in reflection took place in the Middle Ages. From the first controversy that arose between two monks of the same abbey (Paschasius Radbertus and Ratramnus of Corbie) in the 9th century until the Reformation in the 16th century much time and energy was given over to debate about the Eucharist. The first controversy arose when Paschasius and Ratramnus took different approaches to describing the presence of Christ in the consecrated bread and wine—a belief that both individuals held. Paschasius was concerned to affirm the identity of the consecrated gifts with the physical body of Christ, born of Mary, whereas Ratramnus (in a somewhat more sophisticated fashion) tried to distinguish between the physical body of Christ (in heaven) and the sacramental body of Christ on the altar. Neither monk was condemned for his opinion. The situation changed, however, in the 11th century when Berengarius of Tours insisted on the sharp distinction between the sacramental and the physical bodies of Christ. He was attacked by a number of theologians, chiefly Lanfranc of Bec, and condemned by a number of church synods, being forced at one to declare that the consecrated gifts “are taken and broken by the hands of the priests and crushed by the teeth of the faithful.”43 In addition, other theologians began to debate questions such as the exact moment that consecration took place. Was it when the words “This is my Body” were spoken over the bread and “This is the cup of my Blood” over the wine? Was it only when the entire institution narrative had been spoken?44 The conviction that the essence of the ordained priesthood consisted primarily in the power to recite the consecratory formula over the bread and wine (as well as the power to remit sins in the sacrament of penance) lay in the background of this and other questions.

In the 12th century the Church in the West also faced a number of movements, such as the Cathars and Albigensians, that denied the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist and indeed the Catholic priesthood and the whole sacramental system. These beliefs made reflection on the theology of the Eucharist even more urgent.

Clearly a more sophisticated and nuanced way of dealing with questions such as the real presence than that witnessed by Berengarius’s oath was wanting. The (re)discovery of the works of Aristotle in the course of the 12th and 13th centuries was of substantial help in this effort. A number of theologians employed Aristotle’s metaphysical categories, such as substance, accidents, matter and form, but the most famous (and justly so) was Thomas Aquinas, whose analysis of the questions surrounding Eucharistic theology had an enormous impact on Roman Catholic theology and doctrine. Thomas was able to employ Aristotle’s categories (in conjunction with an extraordinary appreciation of the Scriptures and Christian theological tradition) to fashion a theology of transubstantiation (the change of the entire underlying metaphysical “substance” of bread and wine into the real body and blood of Christ). This enabled him to affirm the real presence of Christ without the crude physicalism of Berengarius’s oath. On the question of what a mouse ate when it got into the tabernacle (where the consecrated bread was kept) Thomas was able to affirm that the mouse ate the real body and blood of Christ but did not, of course, eat it sacramentally or with any spiritual benefit (Summa Theologiae 3:80:4). Thus, Thomas was able to distinguish between those who ate physically only, spiritually only (spiritual Communion), and both physically and spiritually. He also defended the taking of Communion under the form of bread only by what was called concomitance, the affirmation that where the true body was, there the blood was also since the Eucharistic body was a living, risen, and glorious body, not a corpse.45

Thomas Aquinas did not deal at length with the question of Eucharistic sacrifice, although, like everyone at that time, he believed that the Eucharist represented the sacrifice of Christ on the cross and that the performance of the Mass was beneficial for the living and the dead. A century later, the Franciscan theologian Duns Scotus distinguished among the effects (“fruits”) of the Mass. Since Christ’s passion and death were sufficient for the salvation of the world, how could it be that one Mass celebrated for a particular intention did not suffice? Scotus and others argued that the Eucharistic sacrifice had to be applied for various intentions and that the devotion of the offerers—the priest, individuals, and Church—was taken into account in the application of the fruits of the Mass.46

Further philosophical speculation, especially by the Franciscan William of Ockham and the priest John Wycliffe (both at Oxford in the 14th century), led to extremely elaborate and complicated theories about the Eucharist. Ockham questioned the wisdom of transubstantiation, arguing that it was just as reasonable to suppose that the substance of bread and wine remained along with the body of Christ after the consecration, but he was willing to affirm transubstantiation because of the Church’s authority. John Wycliffe went much further than Ockham and denied transubstantiation on the grounds of scripture. A follower of Wycliffe, the Bohemian theologian Jan Hus agreed with his theology of the real presence and also argued strongly against the withdrawal of the cup from the laity. For these positions he was condemned and executed at the Council of Constance in 1416.47

As in the Christian East a tradition of liturgical commentary flourished in the medieval West, but it did not constitute an important aspect of Scholastic theology. The most influential commentary was the Rationale Divinorum Officiorum of William Durandus of Mende, written in the second half of the 13th century.48

The Reformations of the 16th Century

The 16th century was probably the most tumultuous era in the history of Christianity with regard to the Eucharist. Not only did northern Europe witness a virtual explosion of religious (and liturgical) change, but also the Roman Catholic Church clarified its teaching with regard to the Eucharist and regularized the texts of the liturgy. Much of the inspiration for reform came from the instability of previous centuries (plagues that decimated the population as well as schisms within the Western Church), rising nationalism and population growth, and advancing technology (the invention of the printing press in the 15th century, which made the dissemination of ideas easier). Bradshaw and Johnson note that it is not really possible to deal with liturgy and theology separately in this period since so many theological concerns shaped the formation of liturgical practice.49

A good example is the Eucharist in the Lutheran Reformation. Martin Luther’s concerns about the priority of divine grace, justification by faith, the centrality of scripture, and the priesthood of all believers shaped his approach to worship. He was, however, relatively conservative with regard to Eucharistic theology. He strongly criticized the Roman Catholic Church for three “captivities” of the Eucharist: the withholding of the cup, insistence on the (philosophical) term transubstantiation, and, above all, the idea that the Mass was a propitiatory sacrifice, that is, a good work that could mitigate the punishment due to the sins of the dead.50 He also forbade the “private Mass,” that is, celebrations in which the priest alone took Communion.

On the other hand, he strongly opposed the iconoclasm of his more radical followers and earnestly argued for a very realistic understanding of the real presence of Christ “in, with, and under” the Eucharistic bread and wine. He produced two Eucharistic liturgies, not as mandatory texts as did the English Reformation but as models. The first, the Formula of Mass and Communion (1523),51 was meant for more learned congregations. It was written in Latin and followed the basic pattern of the Roman Mass, with the exception that the offertory prayers and most of the Roman Canon (Eucharistic prayer), “that mangled mass of filth and scum” that was a “good work,” had been eliminated. Luther retained the preface, which was followed immediately by the Eucharistic institution narrative, chanted aloud. The Sanctus and Benedictus follow the words of institution and during the latter both bread and cup are elevated. (The elevation of the cup had not been hitherto universal in the Roman Mass.) The Lord’s Prayer, Agnus Dei, and distribution of Communion follow. Luther allowed for considerable flexibility with regard to this liturgy. He stated: “All that matters is that the Words of Institution should be kept intact and that everything should be done by faith.”52

Three years later Luther produced a German Mass (1526).53 Luther substituted German hymns for the old Latin chants and introduced an admonition together with a paraphrase of the Lord’s Prayer after the sermon. The Eucharistic institution narrative followed immediately, now outside of any prayer context. The consecrated bread was to be distributed immediately after the words over the bread while the German Sanctus was sung. The consecrated wine was to be distributed after the cup words and the German Agnus Dei.

Since Luther had not provided a mandatory order of service, various Lutheran churches adopted forms that resembled either the “Formula” or the “German Mass.” Probably the most conservative adaptation of Lutheran principles was the liturgy produced for the Lutheran Church in Sweden.54

A very different spirit characterized the Eucharistic theology and practice of the reform that began in Switzerland contemporaneously with Luther. Ulrich Zwingli, a former priest, was the major figure of the reform that began in Zurich. Like Luther he produced two orders of service in quick order, the Epicheiresis (Attack on the canon of the Mass) in 1523 and the Action oder Brauch des Nachtmahls (Action or use of the Lord’s Supper) in 1525. Zwingli insisted that the Eucharist was a memorial of the Last Supper, a reminder of Christ’s gift and not a sacrament that conveyed grace. Therefore, the words of institution were to be taken symbolically and not literally. Christ’s humanity has been raised to heaven and remains there. Zwingli was very much a “Platonist” in his insistence on the separation of spirit and matter. The position of Zwingli and his followers was thus directly opposed to that of the Lutherans and, despite attempts to reconcile (the Colloquy of Marburg, 1529), the parties could not agree on the Eucharistic presence. Thus Zwingli’s approach has sometimes been referred to as the “real absence.”55

Omitting the offertory prayers Zwingli followed the order of the Roman Mass in his Epicheiresis (1523) up to the end of the preface and Sanctus.56 Then he substituted four prayers for the Roman Canon—in Latin. The first prayer is a recital of the history of salvation concluding with the Lord’s Prayer. The second prayer is a petition for spiritual food and the third a petition for the fruitfulness of taking Communion. The fourth prayer contains the institution of the Eucharist and is followed immediately by the reception of Communion in both bread and wine.

Zwingli’s second order of service, the “Action or Use” of 1525, was written in German.57 In it he insisted on holding the service only four times a year (in contrast to Luther’s desire for weekly Eucharist). The prayers of the Epicheiresis were dropped and long exhortations and a prayer of humble access were added. The Eucharistic institution narrative stands alone and is followed by the reception of Communion but now the communicants are seated at tables at which the Communion is passed. The altar, along with all of the connotations of sacrifice, has disappeared.

Subsequent protagonists of the “Reformed” tradition took a position that mediated between Zwingli’s strict memorialism and Luther’s ardent Eucharistic realism. One of these was the Strasbourg reformer Martin Bucer, who strongly held what could be called a “receptionist” theory of Holy Communion, namely that the bread and wine were not themselves changed but that, by worthily receiving them, the communicant was lifted up to Christ’s presence in heaven.58 This approach was adopted by the greatest theologian of the “Reformed” movement, John Calvin, whose mature thought can be found in the fourth (last) edition of his Institutes of the Christian Religion (1559). In this work Calvin proposed a realistic understanding of Communion similar to that of Bucer.59 He emphasized the role of the Holy Spirit in making Christ’s body and blood present to the communicant. Calvin’s approach to the real presence has sometimes been described as adverbial as opposed to Luther’s (and Rome’s) adjectival understanding. In other words, for Calvin and the Reformed tradition in general, Christ’s body and blood are really present to the communicant whereas for Luther Christ’s real body and blood are received. This explains the debate between the Reformed and the Lutherans over the reception of the unworthy. For Luther, since the bread and wine have been consecrated, even the unworthy communicant receives them. For Calvin, this cannot be the case.

Calvin advocated weekly celebration of the Eucharist in his reformed Geneva, but the city council overruled him. The common people held to medieval attitudes with regard to the infrequency of receiving Communion and so it was not likely that many would want to communicate on a weekly basis. Moreover, Calvin made reception more difficult by his stringent “fencing of the table,” namely, the moral examination that prospective communicants were required to undergo. In the order of service that he prepared for Geneva in 1542, The Form of Church Prayers, Calvin replaced a Eucharistic prayer with a long exhortation that included the Eucharistic institution narrative from Saint Paul.60 The exhortation ends with what has been called the “Calvinist Sursum Corda” (Lift up your hearts):

Let us raise our minds on high, where Jesus Christ is, in the glory of his Father, and from whence we look for him at our redemption. Let us not be bemused by these earthly and corruptible elements which we see with the eye and touch with the hand, in order to seek him there, as if he were enclosed in the bread and wine.

The story of the Eucharist in the English Reformation is rather complex. Henry VIII, although he broke from Rome, was traditional in his theological and liturgical outlook. It was only after his death, with the accession of the young Edward VI, that Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, was able to impose a reformed liturgy.61 Both the 1549 and the 1552 Book of Common Prayer are attributed mainly to the work (and genius) of Cranmer. The 1549 book was a rather conservative reform of the Roman Mass, of course now in the vernacular and with Roman sacrificial prayers, such as the offertory prayers, removed. A “Prayer for the State of Christ’s Church” (“For the Church Militant”) was inserted between the preface and Sanctus and the rest of the Eucharistic prayer. Cranmer retained a petition for consecration prior to the institution narrative, invoking the power of the Holy Spirit, and, after the narrative, he revised the understanding of sacrifice to mean praise and thanksgiving as well as self-offering: “entirely desiring of thy fatherly goodness to accept this our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving . . . And here we offer and present unto thee, O Lord, our self, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable and holy sacrifice unto thee.”62 A general confession, absolution, and “Prayer of Humble Access” were added before Communion, which was distributed under both kinds. The words of distribution were easily understood in a traditional way: “the body of our Lord Jesus Christ . . . the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Within three years, however, a new Book of Common Prayer was introduced. Some of Cranmer’s more traditional episcopal colleagues, especially Stephen Gardiner of Winchester, claimed that the 1549 book could be accepted in a very Catholic manner. This was not to be the case with the 1552 book. In it the “Prayer for Humble Access” was moved to a position between the preface and the rest of the Eucharistic prayer. The “Prayer for the Church Militant,” confession of sins, and absolution all preceded the preface. All mention of consecration of the elements was eliminated and the prayer of sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving as well as self-offering was moved along with the Lord’s Prayer to a position after the reception of Communion. The bread and wine were distributed immediately after the institution narrative.63 In addition, the words of distribution were radically changed to eliminate the notion of consecration attaching to the elements of bread and wine. For example, the distribution of the bread was accompanied by: “Take and eat this, in remembrance that Christ died for thee, and feed on him in thy heart by faith and with thanksgiving.” Although considerable debate exists about the exact nature of Cranmer’s own Eucharistic theology, this formula easily lends itself to a “Zwinglian,” or memorialist, interpretation.64

English Eucharistic practice and theology followed the fortunes of the Crown and government. The Roman Mass was reintroduced after the death of Edward VI and the accession of Mary, a Catholic. But after her death in 1558 and the accession of Elizabeth I, a new prayer book was introduced. The 1559 Book of Common Prayer constituted somewhat of a compromise between 1549 and 1552. A century of turmoil followed, including the Puritan revolution and the restoration of the Stuart monarchy. The 1662 Book of Common Prayer became the standard for most of the Anglican churches throughout the world but not without a significant challenge from the more traditional 1549 theology that shaped a Scottish prayer book in 1637. That book was to be influential in the American Episcopal prayer book tradition.65 In England the Oxford or Tractarian Movement in the mid-19th century inspired the reintroduction of a number of medieval Eucharistic practices, such as vestments, as well as a more traditional church architecture.

The fortunes of Anglican Eucharistic theology mirrored the diversity represented in attitudes toward the prayerbook. Consequently, approaches ranged from a Calvinist theology (e.g., Richard Hooker) to the traditional sacramental views of figures such as Lancelot Andrewes and Jeremy Taylor in the 17th century, Edward Pusey and Robert Wilberforce in the 19th century, and E. L. Mascall in the 20th century.

The Roman Catholic Church also experienced a reformation of sorts in the 16th century. The Council of Trent (1545–1563) dealt with many doctrinal and disciplinary issues in an effort to respond to the call for reform from Protestants as well as members of the Church. Printing made it possible to regularize the various usages of the medieval Mass and the Missale Romanum was promulgated by Pope Pius V in 1570. The council did allow for rites that were older than two hundred years to remain in use, and so some of the rites of the religious orders (e.g., the Dominicans) and regions (Mozarabic, Ambrosian) continued to be celebrated. In addition to the sacraments in general (1547), the council dealt with the theology of the Eucharist in three separate decrees: the Sacrament of the Eucharist (1551), Communion under Both Kinds (1562), and the Sacrifice of the Mass (1562). These decrees affirmed that the sacraments confer grace objectively (DS 1608),66 that sinful ministers validly perform the sacraments (DS 1612), and that “by the consecration of the bread and wine, there takes place a change in the whole substance of the body of Christ our Lord and of the whole substance of wine in the substance of his blood. This change the holy Catholic Church has fittingly (convenienter et proprie) called transubstantiation” (DS 1642). The council also affirmed the Church’s power to withhold the cup from lay communicants (DS 1728) by virtue of “concomitance,” namely, that the whole Christ is contained under each form (bread and wine) (DS 1729). With regard to the sacrificial nature of the Eucharist the council taught that, despite the once-for-all nature of Christ’s death on the cross, the Eucharistic sacrifice is the same as that of the cross (the manner alone being different) and that this sacrifice is truly “propitiatory” (DS 1743). Thus the Mass could be offered for both the living and the dead. The decree also defended the practice of Masses at which the priest alone communicates (DS 1747) and defended the use of Latin without absolutely condemning the use of the vernacular (DS 1749).

The Jesuits and other religious orders that did not celebrate the Liturgy of the Hours in common also influenced the practice of the Eucharist through construction of churches that eliminated the choir section of the chancel, thus making the altar much more visibly accessible to the people (e.g., the Church of the Gesù in Rome). Since the consecrated sacrament was normally reserved in the retable behind the altar this had the effect of making churches into “throne rooms for the Blessed Sacrament.”

Although the theological issue of the Eucharistic presence had been “settled” by canonizing the term “transubstantiation,” the decree on Eucharistic sacrifice was vague enough to encourage a good deal of subsequent speculation on how exactly to define it. Robert Daly has described four different post-Tridentine approaches: (1) that the Mass contains a figure of Christ’s immolation (e.g., Melchior Cano), (2) that the sacrifice requires a change in the substance of the bread and wine (e.g., Francisco Suarez), (3) that the change in the bread and wine affects Christ himself (e.g., Robert Bellarmine, who understood sacrifice to be the destruction of the species in the priest’s Communion), and (4) that the change takes place only in the species of the sacrament (e.g., Gabriel Vasquez, who affirmed that the Mass is a relative sacrifice).67 None of these theories has ever won definitive acceptance in Catholic doctrine.

The 20th Century: Liturgical and Ecumenical Movements

The past century has witnessed remarkable development in both Eucharistic theory and practice. The liturgical movement began as a historical retrieval within a renewed monasticism in France and Germany in the 19th century in the wake of the French Revolution. It took a turn toward pastoral concerns in the early 20th century, encouraged by Pope Pius X and under the guidance of figures such as Dom Lambert Beauduin OSB of Belgium. This movement was greatly aided by historical and critical scholarship that had begun during the Renaissance and Reformation. In addition, the ecumenical movement began in the wake of World War I and flowered after World War II with the founding of the World Council of Churches. The Roman Catholic Church embarked on its own liturgical reform and renewal beginning with the 1947 encyclical letter of Pope Pius XII Mediator Dei and reaching a peak with the Second Vatican Council (1962–1965) and the implementation of reforms mandated by the council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 1963).

With the promulgation of the Roman Missal of Paul VI (1969) a new era began for Roman Catholics. The liturgy was now completely translated into the vernacular languages, Communion could be given under both kinds, priests were allowed to concelebrate instead of saying private Masses individually, active participation by the laity was encouraged, and the readings from the Scriptures for the Eucharist were completely revised on a three-year (Sunday) and a two-year (weekday) cycle. The ceremonies and the text of the Mass were greatly streamlined. For example, the complex of prayers that had formed the Offertory was replaced by two simple formulae based on the Jewish berakah. The Roman Canon had for centuries been the old Eucharistic prayer in use in the Roman Rite. Now three prayers were added, two of them (II and IV) loosely based on ancient prayers (the Anaphora of the Apostolic Tradition and the Egyptian Anaphora of Saint Basil). Three Eucharistic prayers were allowed for use at Masses with children and two new compositions for Masses with the theme of reconciliation. A “Eucharistic Prayer for Use in Masses for Various Needs” containing four variations in the preface and in the intercessions was issued for the Swiss Synod in 1974. It was subsequently translated into various languages and finally included in the Roman Missal (3d ed., 2002).

After 1964, altars were required to be set apart from the wall so that priests might face the people while presiding at the liturgy. Much new music was composed for the Eucharist and widely adopted.

Protestant moves toward liturgical reform had begun before Vatican II especially with the new Church of South India formed in the late 1940s, whose liturgy incorporated features from a number of traditions.68 Liturgical reform flourished in the Anglican and Protestant churches after Vatican II. Many churches adopted a good part of the new Roman Catholic three-year cycle of biblical readings for Sundays. Many churches also followed Rome’s practice of including multiple Eucharistic prayers in their books, such as the United Methodist Book of Worship (22 prayers—1989) and the Church of England’s Common Worship (8 prayers—2000). The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) inserted multiple Eucharistic prayers in its Lutheran Book of Worship (1978) after a great deal of debate as to whether Eucharistic prayers were faithful to Lutheran tradition.69 Many churches have also adopted an outline similar to the reformed Roman Rite (which in many respects reflects the medieval Ordo Romanus Primus), including prayers of the people in litany form and the exchange of a greeting and sign of peace.

Considerable theological reflection and even ecumenical efforts at doctrinal agreement have taken place in the post–World War II period. A number of bilateral conversations (among Lutherans, Anglicans, Methodists, Roman Catholics, and Orthodox) have manifested a good deal of agreement on issues such as Eucharistic real presence and sacrifice.70 The latter issue, in particular, has benefited from modern studies on biblical theology and especially the concept of anamnesis.

Roman Catholic thinkers such as Louis-Marie Chauvet, Jean-Luc Marion, Edward Schillebeeckx, and Herbert McCabe have searched for different ways to express the doctrine of transubstantiation, ways that avoid the misunderstandings brought about by a physical idea of substance. They have sought for a more personal ontology, one that recognizes Christ’s personal risen presence in the Eucharistic celebration and elements. A good deal of these advances stem from post-Kantian philosophy and theology of the symbol. Chauvet’s theory, for example, is called “symbolic exchange.”

Other contemporary Roman Catholics have pursued the trajectory begun in the early 20th century by theologians such as Eugène Masure, Maurice de la Taille, Anscar Vonier, and Odo Casel as well as the Reformed Max Thurian—a trajectory that seeks to disentangle the post-Tridentine theories of sacrifice from their captivity to notions derived purely from the history of religions. Following the lead of French thinker René Girard, who has written extensively about subverting the traditional notion of sacrifice in favor of one that prizes nonviolence and sees the death of Christ as the end of sacrifice, theologians such as Edward Kilmartin and Robert Daly have proposed theologies of Eucharistic sacrifice that pay more attention to the idea of gift and to a Trinitarian understanding of self-offering.

Probably the most emblematic document with regard to contemporary convergence on issues of Eucharistic theology, doctrine, and practice is the 1982 statement of the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches entitled: “Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry (BEM),” also known as the “Lima Document” or “Lima Text.”71 This document owes a great deal to the work of Max Thurian and the British Methodist theologian Geoffrey Wainwright. It describes the Eucharist under five headings: Thanksgiving to the Father, Memorial (Anamnesis) of the Christ, Invocation of the Spirit, Communion of the Faithful, and Meal of the Kingdom. In this way it summarizes much of the modern discussion surrounding Eucharistic theology. The first three headings are clearly Trinitarian and are meant to use the Eucharistic prayer as a way of addressing issues such as presence and sacrifice. The Communion of the Faithful adds a robust consideration of the ethical dimensions of Eucharistic participation. Finally, the Meal of the Kingdom acknowledges the eschatological dimension of the Eucharist as the banquet of the end-time and the relation of the Eucharist to the fate of the world. The churches were asked to make official responses to this “convergence statement” and these responses fill six volumes.72

The Christian Eucharist has known a rich and varied history over the past two thousand years. Something like a classic shape emerged with a liturgy of the word followed by the Eucharistic meal and with the meal itself generally following the New Testament pattern of taking, eating, blessing, and breaking. Classic Eucharistic prayers (at least since the 4th century) have included the elements of thanksgiving, memorial (anamnesis), narrative of the institution of the Eucharist, invocation of the Holy Spirit, and intercessions, but they have done so in varying order. As has been noted, theologies of the Eucharist have differed widely over the centuries, leading to some divisive issues that have yet to be definitively settled. Participation in Communion has varied over time with only the 20th century seeing anything like a majority of the faithful receiving Communion regularly. The frequency of celebration has also varied widely among the churches, although a move is evident toward more frequent celebration in the Anglican Church and among more mainline Protestant congregations. Through all of this the Eucharist remains the central and primary ritual expression of Christians of all stripes.

Primary Sources

The sources for the study of the Eucharist include the Gospels and letters of the New Testament as well as the references within the homilies and other writings of the Greek and Latin authors of the early Christian Church.73 In addition, a number of documents containing prayers related to the Eucharist (especially Eucharistic prayers) have been discovered.74 Sources providing ample commentary and debate on the theology of the Eucharist are also available from the 9th century onward.75 Contemporary Eucharistic texts can be found in the service books of the various churches; for example, the Roman Missal (2002; English trans., 2011) or Book of Common Prayer (Church of England, 2000).


Scholarly interest in both the history of the Eucharistic liturgy and the history of Eucharistic theology has been voluminous. Modern study of the history of the Eucharistic liturgy was heavily influenced by Hans Lietzmann’s Mass and Lord’s Supper,76 which proposed a dual origin of the Eucharist: a Pauline memorial of the death and resurrection of Jesus and a Palestinian fellowship meal. Although this approach was found simplistic, later scholarship has more and more accepted the notion of multiple origins for what comes to be recognized as the Christian Eucharist in the 3rd century.

Gregory Dix has argued that it is impossible to discern a single origin to the Eucharistic prayer, but that a fourfold shape (taking, blessing, breaking, giving) developed quickly in the apostolic period from the seven actions of Jesus recounted at the Last Supper.77 At first this theory found general acceptance (and even became influential in the liturgical reform of various churches), but it has been challenged more recently by a number of scholars who find even greater diversity of practice in the early centuries.78

Some scholars have expressed a great deal more skepticism with regard to the New Testament traditions of the Last Supper itself.79 The question of whether the Last Supper was a Passover meal has been thoroughly examined by Joachim Jeremias and refuted by Xavier Léon-Dufour.80

Scholarly study of the Eucharistic prayer developed significantly in the late 20th century following the lead of Louis Ligier and Thomas Talley, who considered the Jewish blessing prayers (berakoth) to be an important key for understanding the development of Eucharistic prayers.81 This trajectory was followed by Enrico Mazza, who traced a threefold pattern (two blessings and a petition) from the Jewish blessing after meals (birkat-ha-mazon).82 Another approach was followed by Cesare Giraudo, who argued that some Eucharistic prayers (e.g., the one found in the Apostolic Tradition and Papyrus Strasbourg Gk. 254) were bipartite in structure and followed a Jewish sacrifice of thanksgiving (todah) formula.83 Current study84 suggests that what comes to coalesce in the various liturgical families (e.g., West Syrian, Alexandrian, Roman) in the 4th century is a result of multiple sources of Eucharistic praying, recognizing how much of this praying in the ante-Nicene period was extemporary.85

Study of the historical development of the Roman Rite Eucharist was strongly influenced by Josef Jungmann’s Missarum Sollemnia: The Mass of the Roman Rite.86 The same can be said for the Byzantine Rite with equally magisterial multivolume works by Juan Mateos and Robert Taft.87

In terms of Eucharistic theology the most significant developments of the 20th century have been inspired by the study of the biblical idea of memorial (Heb. zikkaron; Gk. anamnesis), for example, in the groundbreaking work by the Reformed theologian Max Thurian88 and the “mystery theology” of the Roman Catholic Odo Casel.89 The recovery of memorial has also inspired a number of theologians to take renewed interest in the theology of Eucharistic sacrifice,90 most arguing that the model of the atonement that stems from the Anselmian satisfaction theory and from a traditional history of religions approach needs to be modified. Similar attempts at freeing Roman Catholic theology of the Eucharist from a neo-Scholastic paradigm had been made early in the 20th century by Anscar Vonier and Maurice de la Taille.91

Advances have also been made in the study of Christ’s presence in the Eucharist, for example in the work of Edward Schillebeeckx, Karl Rahner, and Joseph Powers.92 At the same time some Protestant theologians have been inspired to find common ground with Catholics on this issue.93

Another important aspect of 20th-century research into the theology of the Eucharist has been the recovery of the eschatological dimension of the Eucharist.94

All of these developments in Eucharistic theology have led to considerable ecumenical convergence on various issues possible in a number of bilateral church discussions and especially in the landmark convergence document of the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches.95

Further Reading

  • Alikin, Valeriy. The Earliest History of the Christian Gathering. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2010.
  • Bradshaw, Paul, ed. Essays on Early Eastern Eucharistic Prayers. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1997.
  • Bradshaw, Paul. Eucharistic Origins. London: SPCK, 2004.
  • Bradshaw, Paul, and Maxwell Johnson. The Eucharistic Liturgies. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2012.
  • Casel, Odo. The Mystery of Christian Worship. New York: Crossroad, 1999.
  • Chilton, Bruce. A Feast of Meanings. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 1997.
  • Crossan, John Dominic. The Birth of Christianity. San Francisco: Harper, 1999.
  • Daly, Robert. Sacrifice Unveiled. New York: T&T Clark, 2009.
  • Dix, Gregory. The Shape of the Liturgy. Edited by Simon Jones. London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2005. Originally published in 1945.
  • Foley, Edward. From Age to Age: How Christians Have Celebrated the Eucharist. 2d ed. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2008.
  • Foley, Edward, John Baldovin, Mary Collins, and Joanne M. Pierce, eds., Commentary on the Order of Mass of the Roman Missal. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2011.
  • Giraudo, Cesare. La struttura letteraria della preghiera eucaristica. Rome: Gregorian University, 1989.
  • Hunsinger, George. The Eucharist and Ecumenism. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2008.
  • Jasper, R. C. D., and G. J. Cuming. Prayers of the Eucharist: Early and Reformed. 3d ed. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1990.
  • Jeremias, Joachim. The Eucharistic Words of Jesus. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1966.
  • Johnson, Maxwell, ed. Issues in Eucharistic Praying in East and West. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2010.
  • Jungmann, Josef. The Mass of the Roman Rite: Its Origins and Development. Translated by Francis Brunner. 2 vols. Notre Dame, IN: Christian Classics, 2012. English translation originally published in 1950.
  • Kilmartin, Edward. Eucharist in the West: History and Theology. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1998.
  • Léon Dufour, Xavier. Sharing the Eucharistic Bread. New York: Paulist, 1987.
  • Macy, Gary, Ian C. Levy, and Kristen van Ausdall. A Companion to the Eucharist in the Middle Ages. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2012.
  • Marxsen, Willi. The Beginnings of Christology, Together with the Lord’s Supper as a Christological Problem. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1979.
  • Mateos, Juan. La célébration de la parole dans la liturgie byzantine. Rome: Pontifical Oriental Institute, 1971.
  • Mazza, Enrico. The Origins of the Eucharistic Prayer. Translated by Ronald Lane. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1995.
  • McGowan, Andrew. Ascetic Eucharists. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.
  • Metzger, Marcel. History of the Liturgy: Major Stages. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1997.
  • Power, David. The Eucharistic Mystery. New York: Crossroad, 1994.
  • Powers, Joseph. Eucharistic Theology. London: Burns & Oates, 1968.
  • Rahner, Karl. “The Presence of Christ in the Lord’s Supper.” In Theological Investigations IV: More Recent Writings. By Karl Rahner, 287–311. New York: Crossroad, 1973.
  • Rahner, Karl. “The Theology of the Symbol.” In Theological Investigations IV: More Recent Writings. By Karl Rahner, 221–252. New York: Crossroad, 1973.
  • Schillebeeckx, Edward. The Eucharist. London: Burns & Oates, 2005.
  • Spinks, Bryan. Do This in Remembrance of Me: The Eucharist from the Early Church to the Present Day. London: SCM Press, 2013.
  • Stone, Darwell. A History of the Doctrine of the Holy Eucharist. 2 vols. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2006. Originally published in 1909.
  • Taft, Robert. A History of the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom. Orientalia Christiana Analecta 200, 238, 261, 281. Rome: Pontifical Oriental Institute, 1978–2008.
  • Taft, Robert. Beyond East and West: Problems in Liturgical Understanding. 2d rev. ed. Rome: Pontifical Oriental Institute, 1997.
  • Taille, Maurice de la. The Mystery of Faith. Vol. 1. London: Sheed & Ward, 1941.
  • Thurian, Max. The Eucharistic Memorial. 2 vols. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2002.
  • Vonier, Anscar. A Key to the Doctrine of the Eucharist. Bethesda, MD: Zaccheus, 2003.
  • Wainwright, Geoffrey. Eucharist and Eschatology. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2002.


  • 1. Valeriy Alikin, The Earliest History of the Christian Gathering (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2010); Dennis Smith and Hal Taussig, Meals in the Early Christian World (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012); Paul Bradshaw, Eucharistic Origins (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004); Bruce Chilton, A Feast of Meanings (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 1994); Étienne Nodet and Justin Taylor, The Origins of Christianity (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1998).

  • 2. Raymond Brown, The Gospel of John IXII (New York: Doubleday, 1966), 281–304.

  • 3. Louis Finkelstein, “The Birkat-ha-mazon,” Jewish Quarterly Review 19 (1928–1929): 211–262; Joseph Heinemann, Prayer in the Talmud (New York: De Gruyter, 1977); Thomas Talley, “The Eucharistic Prayers of the Ancient Church according to Recent Research,” Studia Liturgica 11 (1975): 138–158.

  • 4. Lawrence Hoffman, “Rabbinic Berakhah and Jewish Spirituality,” in Asking and Thanking, edited by C. Duquoc and C. Florestan (Philadelphia: Trinity Press International, 1990), 18–30.

  • 5. Joachim Jeremias, The Eucharistic Words of Jesus (New York: Scribner’s, 1966); Xavier Léon-Dufour, Sharing the Eucharistic Bread (New York: Paulist, 1987).

  • 6. Hartmut Gese, “The Origins of the Last Supper,” Essays in Biblical Theology (Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1981), 117–140.

  • 7. Nils Dahl, “Anamnesis: Memory and Commemoration in Early Christianity,” in Jesus in the Memory of the Early Church, by Nils Dahl (Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1976), 11–29; Brevard Childs, Memory and Tradition in Israel (Naperville, IL: Allenson, 1962); Max Thurian, The Eucharistic Memorial (Richmond, VA: John Knox Press, 1961).

  • 8. Tzvee Zahafy, “Three Stages in the Development of Early Rabbinic Prayer,” in From Ancient Israel to Modern Judaism: Intellect in Quest of Understanding; Essays in Honor of Marvin Fox, vol. 1, edited by Jacob Neusner, Ernest S. Frerichs, and Nahum M. Sarna (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1989), 233–265; Blake Leyerle, “Meal Customs in the Greco-Roman World,” in Passover and Easter: Origin and History to Modern Times, edited by P. Bradshaw and L. Hoffman (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1999), 29–61.

  • 9. For the development of Eucharistic prayers, see Enrico Mazza, The Origins of the Eucharistic Prayer (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1995), and Maxwell Johnson, ed., Issues in Eucharistic Praying in East and West (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2010).

  • 10. Guidelines for Admission to the Eucharist between the Chaldean Church and the Assyrian Church of the East.

  • 11. See Paul Bradshaw and Maxwell Johnson, The Eucharistic Liturgies, (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2012), 48–49.

  • 12. Bradshaw and Johnson, Eucharistic Liturgies, 51–52.

  • 13. See Bradshaw and Johnson, Eucharistic Liturgies, 54–55.

  • 14. John Laurance, Priest as Type of Christ: The Leader of the Eucharist in Salvation History according to Cyprian of Carthage (New York: Peter Lang, 1984).

  • 15. Ramsey MacMullen, The Second Church: Popular Christianity, A.D. 200400 (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2009); see also Maxwell Johnson, “Sharing ‘The Cup of Christ’: The Cessation of Martyrdom and Anaphoral Development,” in Acts of the Third International Congress of the Society of Oriental Liturgy, edited by B. Groen and S. Hawkes-Teeples (Leuven, Belgium: Peeters], 2012), 109–126.

  • 16. Robert Taft, “How Liturgies Grow: The Evolution of the Byzantine Divine Liturgy,” in Beyond East and West: Problems in Liturgical Understanding, 2d ed. (Rome: Pontifical Oriental Institute, 1997), 203–238.

  • 17. Richard Krautheimer, Early Christian and Byzantine Architecture, 4th ed. (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1984).

  • 18. Their works are conveniently provided in translation by Edward Yarnold, The Awe-Inspiring Rites of Initiation (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1994).

  • 19. Also John Chrysostom, see Frans van de Paverd, Zur Geschichte der Messliturgie in Antiocheia u. Konstantinopel gegen Ende des vierten Jahrhunderts (Rome: Pontifical Oriental Institute, 1970), 86–87; also John Baldovin, “The Introductory Rites: History of the Latin Text and Rite,” in A Commentary on the Order of Mass of the Roman Missal, edited by Edward Foley, John Baldovin, Mary Collins, and Joanne M. Pierce (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2011), 115–116.

  • 20. See “The Old Armenian Lectionary” in John Wilkinson, Egeria’s Travels, 3d ed. (Oxford: Oxbow Books, 1999), 175–194. The “Armenian Lectionary” is a witness of the Jerusalem liturgy in the early 5th century.

  • 21. By Celestine I, see Book of the Pontiffs (Liber Pontificalis), translated by Ramond David (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1989), 34.

  • 22. See Bradshaw and Johnson, Eucharistic Liturgies, 72–75.

  • 23. John Baldovin, The Urban Character of Christian Worship: The Origins, Development, and Meaning of Stational Liturgy (Rome: Pontifical Oriental Institute, 1987), 234–252.

  • 24. An example of the tendency of the liturgy to retain older forms on more solemn days; see Anton Baumstark, Comparative Liturgy, 3d ed. (Westminster, MD: Newman Press, 1958), 23.

  • 25. The West also had several non-Roman Rites that more or less died out in the course of the Middle Ages: the Gallican (France and Germany), Ambrosian (Milan and northern Italy), and Mozarabic (or Visigothic in the Iberian Peninsula).

  • 26. Although the West Syrians employ many more. For a detailed description and analysis, see Bradshaw and Johnson, Eucharistic Liturgies, 75–171.

  • 27.. R. C. D. Jasper and G. C. Cuming, eds., Prayers of the Eucharist: Early and Reformed, 3d ed. (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1990), 145 (emphasis mine)

  • 28. Jasper and Cuming, Prayers, 165 (emphasis mine).

  • 29. Mazza, Origins, 240–286.

  • 30. See Jasper and Cuming, Prayers, 52–66.

  • 31. See Bradshaw and Johnson, Eucharistic Liturgies, 82ff.

  • 32. Alexander Schmemann, Introduction to Liturgical Theology (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1966).

  • 33. Bradshaw and Johnson, Eucharistic Liturgies, 128.

  • 34. See Johannes Quasten, “The Liturgical Mysticism of Theodore of Mopsuestia,” Theological Studies 15 (1954): 431–439.

  • 35. Jasper and Cuming, Prayers, 43 (hereafter the pages numbers will appear in parentheses in the text).

  • 36. Bradshaw and Johnson, Eucharistic Liturgies, 185–189.

  • 37. See Baldovin, Urban Character, 209–228; Robert Taft, “The Liturgy of the Great Church: An Initial Synthesis of Structure and Interpretation on the Eve of Iconoclasm,” Dumbarton Oaks Papers 34, 35 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1980–1981), 45–75.

  • 38. See Hans-Joachim Schulz, The Byzantine Liturgy (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1986), and Stefano Parenti, “The Eucharistic Liturgy in the East: Various Orders of Celebration,” in Handbook for Liturgical Studies, vol. 3, The Eucharist, edited by Anscar J. Chupungco (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1999), 61–75.

  • 39. See John Romano, Liturgy and Society in Early Medieval Rome (Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2014), with translation and commentary, 229–276; also Alan Griffiths, Ordo Romanus Primus: Latin Text and Translation with Introduction and Notes (Norwich, UK: Hymns Ancient and Modern, 2012).

  • 40. See S. J. P. van Dijk and Joan Hazelden Walker, The Origins of the Modern Roman Rite: The Liturgy of the Papal Court and the Franciscan Order in the Thirteenth Century (Westminster, MD: Newman Press, 1960).

  • 41. See John Leonard and Nathan Mitchell, The Postures of the Assembly during the Eucharistic Prayer (Chicago: Liturgy Training Publications, 1994); R. Cabié, The Church at Prayer, vol. 2, The Eucharist, edited by A. Martimort (Dublin: Irish University Press, 1986), 131–142.

  • 42. John Bossy, Christianity in the West, 14001700 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1980); Eamon Duffy, The Stripping of the Altars: Traditional Religion in England, 14001580 (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1992).

  • 43. Bradshaw and Johnson, Eucharistic Liturgies, 224; Nathan Mitchell, Cult and Controversy: The Worship of the Eucharist outside Mass (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1982), 129–151.

  • 44. On this debate, see Mitchell, Cult, 151–163.

  • 45. See Gary Macy, “Theology of the Eucharist in the High Middle Ages,” in Gary Macy, Ian C. Levy, and Kristen van Ausdall, Companion, 365–399.

  • 46. Edward Kilmartin, Eucharist in the West: History and Theology (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1998).

  • 47. Marilyn McCord Adams, Some Later Medieval Theories of the Eucharist: Thomas Aquinas, Giles of Rome, Duns Scotus, and William Ockham (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010); Ian Christopher Levy, “Late Medieval Eucharistic Theology,” in Companion, edited by Gary Macy, Ian C. Levy, and Kristen van Ausdall, 499–540.

  • 48. See Timothy Thibodeau, The Rationale Divinorum Officiorum of William Durand of Mende: A New Translation of the Prologue and Book One (New York: Columbia University Press, 2007); Timothy Thibodeau and William Durand, Rationale Book Four: On the Mass and Each Action Pertaining to It (Corpus Christianorum in Translation) (Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 2013).

  • 49. Bradshaw and Johnson, Eucharistic Liturgies.

  • 50. See Martin Luther, “The Babylonian Captivity of the Church” (1520). Jaroslav Pelikan, and Helmut T. Lehmann, Luther’s Works, 55 vols. (Saint Louis, Philadelphia, 1955–1976), vol. 36.

  • 51. Jasper and Cuming, Prayers, 191–195. Texts in the original languages can be found in Irmgard Pahl, Coena Domini: Abendmahlsliturgie der Reformationskirchen (Fribourg, Switzerland: Universitätsverlag Fribourg, 1983).

  • 52. Jasper and Cuming, Prayers, 195.

  • 53. Jasper and Cuming, Prayers, 195–199.

  • 54. Jasper and Cuming, Prayers, 200–203.

  • 55. See the very helpful discussion in Bradshaw and Johnson, Eucharistic Liturgies, 257–264.

  • 56. Jasper and Cuming, Prayers, 183–186.

  • 57. Jasper and Cuming, Prayers, 187–188.

  • 58. Jasper and Cuming, Prayers, 204–205.

  • 59. Bradshaw and Johnson, Eucharistic Liturgies, 264–271; Calvin (1559), Institutes of the Christian Religion IV: 17, vol. II, edited by John McNeill (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1960), 1359–1428.

  • 60. Jasper and Cuming, Prayers, 213–218.

  • 61. Bradshaw and Johnson, Eucharistic Liturgies, 271–279.

  • 62. Jasper and Cuming, Prayers, 239.

  • 63. Jasper and Cuming, Prayers, 248.

  • 64. Bryan Spinks, Do This in Remembrance of Me: The Eucharist from the Early Church to the Present Day (London: SCM Press, 2013), 313–324.

  • 65. For details, see Spinks, Do This in Remembrance, 324–346.

  • 66. Heinrich Denzinger and Peter Hünermann, eds., Enchiridion Symbolorum definitionum et declarationum de rebus fidei et morum (Compendium of Creeds, Definitions, and Declarations on Matters of Faith and Morals), 43d ed. (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2012).

  • 67. Robert Daly, “Robert Bellarmine and Post-Tridentine Eucharistic Theology,” Theological Studies 61 (2000): 239–260.

  • 68. See Spinks, Do This in Remembrance, 388–389.

  • 69. See Bradshaw and Johnson, Eucharistic Liturgies, 324–331.

  • 70. For texts, see Joseph Burgess and Jeffrey Gros, eds., Building Unity: Ecumenical Dialogues with Roman Catholic Participation in the United States (New York: Paulist, 1998); Lucas Vischer and Harding Meyer, eds., Growth in Agreement: Reports and Agreements of Ecumenical Conversations on a World Level, 3 vols. (Geneva, Switzerland: World Council of Churches, 2001–2007).

  • 71. Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches, Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry, Faith and Order Paper 111 (Geneva, Switzerland: World Council of Churches, 1982).

  • 72. Max Thurian, ed., The Churches Respond to BEM, 6 vols. (Geneva, Switzerland: World Council of Churches, 1986–1987).

  • 73. A useful collection is Lawrence Johnson, Worship in the Early Church (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2009).

  • 74. G. Cuming and R. C. D. Jasper, eds., Prayers of the Eucharist: Early and Reformed, 3d ed. (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1987). For texts in the original languages, see A. Hänggi and I. Pahl, eds., Prex Eucharistica (Fribourg, Switzerland: Éditions Universitaires, 1968).

  • 75. The most accessible collection in English is Darwell Stone, A History of the Doctrine of the Eucharist, 2 vols. (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2006), originally published in 1909.

  • 76. Hans Lietzmann, Mass and Lord’s Supper: A Study in the History of the Liturgy (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 1979).

  • 77. Gregory Dix, The Shape of the Liturgy, edited by Simon Jones (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2005 [1945]).

  • 78. Paul Bradshaw, Eucharistic Origins (London: SPCK, 2004); Andrew McGowan, Ascetic Eucharists (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999); Spinks, Do This in Remembrance.

  • 79. Willi Marxsen, The Beginnings of Christology: Together with the Lord’s Supper as a Christological Problem (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1979); John Dominic Crossan, The Birth of Christianity (San Francisco: Harper, 1999); Bruce Chilton, A Feast of Meanings (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 1997); Valeriy Alikin, The Earliest History of the Christian Gathering (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2010).

  • 80. Xavier Léon-Dufour, Sharing the Eucharistic Bread (New York: Paulist, 1987).

  • 81. Louis Ligier, La confirmation: Sens et conjoncture œcuménique hier et aujourd’hui (Paris: Beauchesne, 1973); Talley, “Eucharistic Prayers.”

  • 82. Enrico Mazza, The Origins of the Eucharistic Prayer (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1995).

  • 83. Cesare Giraudo, La struttura letteraria della preghiera eucaristica (Rome: Gregorian University, 1981).

  • 84. Bradshaw and Johnson, Eucharistic Liturgies; Spinks, Do This in Remembrance.

  • 85. Allan Bouley, From Freedom to Formula: The Evolution of the Eucharistic Prayer from Oral Improvisation to Written Texts (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 1981).

  • 86. Josef Jungmann, The Mass of the Roman Rite: Its Origins and Development, translated by Francis Brunner. 2 vols. (Notre Dame, IN: Christian Classics, 2012).

  • 87. Juan Mateos, La célébration de la parole dans la liturgie byzantine (Rome: Pontifical Oriental Institute, 1971); Robert Taft, A History of the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, Orientalia Christiana Analecta 200, 238, 261, 281 (Rome: Pontifical Oriental Institute, 1978–2008).

  • 88. Max Thurian, The Eucharistic Memorial, 2 vols. (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2002).

  • 89. Odo Casel, The Mystery of Christian Worship (New York: Crossroad, 1999).

  • 90. David Power, The Eucharistic Mystery (New York: Crossroad, 1999); Edward Kilmartin, Eucharist in the West: History and Theology (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1998); Robert Daly, Sacrifice Unveiled (New York: T&T Clark, 2009).

  • 91. Anscar Vonier, A Key to the Doctrine of the Eucharist (Bethesda, MD: Zaccheus Press, 2003); Maurice de la Taille, The Mystery of Faith, vol. 1 (London: Sheed & Ward, 1941).

  • 92. Edward Schillebeeckx, The Eucharist (London: Burns & Oates, 2005); Karl Rahner, Theological Investigations IV: More Recent Writings (New York: Crossroad, 1973); Joseph Powers, Eucharistic Theology (London: Burns & Oates, 1968).

  • 93. George Hunsinger, The Eucharist and Ecumenism (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2008).

  • 94. Geoffrey Wainwright, Eucharist and Eschatology (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2002).

  • 95. World Council of Churches, Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry.