Ancient Christian Worship: Early Church Practices in Social, Historical, and Theological Perspective
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Ancient Christian Worship: Early Church Practices in Social, Historical, and Theological Perspective

Baker Academic / 2016 / Paperback

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Stock No: WW097874


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An Important Study on the Worship of the Early Church - Now available in paperback

This introduction to the origins of Christian worship illuminates the importance of ancient liturgical patterns for contemporary Christian practice. Andrew McGowan takes a fresh approach to understanding how Christians came to worship in the distinctive forms still familiar today. Deftly and expertly processing the bewildering complexity of the ancient sources into lucid, fluent exposition, he sets aside common misperceptions to explore the roots of Christian ritual practices--including the Eucharist, baptism, communal prayer, preaching, Scripture reading, and music--in their earliest recoverable settings.

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 320
Vendor: Baker Academic
Publication Date: 2016
Dimensions: 9.00 X 6.00 (inches)
ISBN: 0801097878
ISBN-13: 9780801097874

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Author Bio

Andrew B. McGowan (PhD, University of Notre Dame), an Anglican priest, is president and dean of the Berkeley Divinity School and J. L. Caldwell McFaddin and Rosine B. McFaddin Professor of Anglican Studies and Pastoral Theology at Yale Divinity School in New Haven, Connecticut.

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  1. Daniel N. Gullotta
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    Fine scholarship. The perfection introduction to ancient Christian worship.
    January 15, 2015
    Daniel N. Gullotta
    Quality: 4
    Value: 4
    Meets Expectations: 4
    *I would like to express my thanks to Baker Academic for supplying me with a review copy of this book.*

    Dr. Andrew B. McGowans (Berkeley Divinity School at Yale) Ancient Christian Worship is a solid text for individuals interested in learning more about the birth and evolution of Christian worship, liturgy, ritual, and practice. Each chapter and its various subsections are incredibly detailed but extremely focused and are broken up thus:

    Introduction: The Origins of Christian Worship

    Meal: Banquet and Eucharist

    Word: Reading and Preaching

    Music: Song and Dance

    Initiation: Baptism, Anointing, and Foot Washing

    Prayer: Hours, Ways, and Texts

    Time: Feasts and Fasts

    Epilogue: The Making of Christian Worship

    McGowans work begins by exploring the complexities and problems in attempting to reconstruct an image or idea of Christian worship from the early centuries, due to the lack of sources and detailed references in the sources we do have. Of primary interest to McGowan is the Apostle Pauls 1 Letter to the Corinthians, the Didache, and writings from the Apostolic Fathers and other Patristic sources. Given the manner in which most of these texts talk about worship and ritual, it is actually a lot easier to reconstruct what the proto-orthodox didnt do, something McGowan has no trouble pointing out to readers.

    However these critical references and condemnations are noteworthy as it does help establish the diversity of opinions and attitudes associated with the issues of worship, prayer, teaching, and preaching, etc. Something that I did find slightly disappointing was that McGowan focused mainly on trying to reconstruct the practices of the proto-orthodox church and did not go in any great amount of detail about the ideas and practices of worship as found within heretical groups like the Gnostics, the Marcionites, and the Valentinians. Regardless, given its accessible writing style and focused sections, Ancient Christian Worship is an ideal introduction to the subject matter.

    From the very beginning and throughout the book, McGowan warns readers of hasty connections between the sacramental and practical debates of the ancient church to that of the modern church. One of the strengths for students and laypeople of Ancient Christian Worship is highlighting the significance of development Christian worship within the matrix of the ancient world. For example, the role of bread and wine in everyday Mediterranean life and the common diet, the background of philosophical thought about the stomach and the soul, and the concept of prayer to the ancient Jewish and Pagan mind. Another noteworthy testament to McGowans work is its emphasis on diversity as dedicated by cultural and geographical differences in their attitudes and practices, such as Rome as compared to North Africa on what time and where the body of Christ should be consumed.

    What will be undoubtedly particularly interesting reading for the modern reader is what features and practices have been removed or lost from modern day practice and which ones have stood the test of time. Written with indescribable detail and accessible writing style, Ancient Christian Worship provides an amazing amount of information for readers. From prayer to the reading Christian scripture, from dancing to the Lords supper; the scope is simply amazing but each is given amble attention. Readers will be left with a well grounded and wide range of perspectives about the rich complexities of early Christian worship, practice, ritual, and liturgy.

    McGowans work is a fine example of scholarship that will assist scholars, students, and laypeople in the study of early Christian worship and practice for years to come.
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