The Church in Ancient Society: From Galilee to Gregory the Great

By Henry Chadwick | Go to book overview

30 The Church at Prayer

Most of the history of the Church concerns its institutions with its canon law, social and political operations, the degree of subjection to forces such as regional or national patriotism, the struggles to be independent of the secular forces to which the Church is often bound. Yet the point of the Church in its own self-understanding lies in faith in God who became and is present to believers in Christ and through the experience of the Holy Spirit. This is not very visible in the meetings of synods or the decisions of primates, but is pre-eminently the case when Christians in a particular place assemble together to worship, to give thanks for their creation and redemption, to pray for forgiveness, renewal, courage, and humility, but especially to hear the word of God and to celebrate the covenant signs in water, bread, and wine as means of divine grace and as ordered rites which provide both form and vitality to the disorder of human life. Characteristic of Christian worship is a dialogue between God and the people of God. The forms which this takes are called liturgy, which is not so much a precise and prescribed pattern of sentences as a pattern of symbolic words and actions through which the presence of the Lord is realized.

At the same time liturgy is expressive of the Christian story, that is, a narrative commonly formulated in a creed or confession of faith. Therefore liturgy is often intimately associated with belief or doctrine, though not with its more technical formulation. Normally the vocabulary of liturgy is severely limited; certain words and turns of phrase become characteristic vehicles of prayer and aspiration and, because of the spiritual desire which motivates them, tend towards verbal beauty, lost when the meaning is translated into more everyday and less poetic terms. Liturgy is an act of a community. But often human beings do not find it the easiest thing to be trying to pray if too much is going on around them, and they long for silence and solitude. A consequence of this in the past has been the feeling among the clergy that so sacred a text as the central eucharistic prayer of consecration and offering, in Latin the 'canon of the mass', in Greek 'anaphora', should be mumbled, not said aloud, because it has mystery at its heart. Nevertheless it is obvious to any student of ancient eucharistic

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The Church in Ancient Society: From Galilee to Gregory the Great
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • The Church in Ancient Society iii
  • Prefatory Note vi
  • Contents vii
  • Abbreviations ix
  • Introduction 1
  • 1: The First Followers of Jesus 5
  • 2: The Jewish Matrix 13
  • 3: Jews and Christians Survive Rome's Crushing of Revolts 21
  • 4: The Hebrew Scriptures in the Church 27
  • 5: Interpreting Scripture 32
  • 6: Apostles and Evangelists 43
  • 7: Women Among Jesus' Followers 53
  • 8: 'Barnabas', Jewish Christianity, Trouble at Corinth 56
  • 9: Ignatius of Antioch 65
  • 10: Didache 84
  • 11: Marcion 89
  • 12: Justin 93
  • 13: Irenaeus of Lyon 100
  • 14: The New Testament Text 108
  • 15: Celsus: A Platonist Attack 110
  • 16: Montanism: Perpetua 114
  • 17: Tertullian, Minucius Felix 118
  • 18: Clement of Alexandria 124
  • 19: Julius Africanus 130
  • 20: Hippolytus and Liturgy 132
  • 21: Origen 135
  • 22: Cyprian of Carthage 145
  • 23: Dionysius of Alexandria 161
  • 24: Paul of Samosata 166
  • 25: Mani 170
  • 26: Plotinus, Porphyry 173
  • 27: Diocletian and the Great Persecution; Rise of Constantine 176
  • 28: Constantine 190
  • 29: The Seeds of Reaction 201
  • 30: The Church at Prayer 212
  • 31: Athanasius, Marcellus, and the Gathering Storm 226
  • 32: A Fiasco at Serdica 240
  • 33: Religious Division 254
  • 34: Athanasius' Return 260
  • 35: Constantius' Double Council of Unity 279
  • 36: Julian and the Church 295
  • 37: Damasus, Siricius, Papal Authority, Synesius of Cyrene 314
  • 38: Basil of Caesarea (Cappadocia) 331
  • 39: Ambrose 348
  • 40: Ambrosiaster 379
  • 41: Donatism 382
  • 42: Monks: The Ascetic Life 394
  • 43: Messalians 411
  • 44: Schism at Antioch 415
  • 45: Jerome and Rufinus 433
  • 46: Pelagius, Caelestius, and the Roman See in Gaul and North Africa 446
  • 47: Julian of Eclanum 464
  • 48: Augustine 473
  • 49: John Chrysostom 479
  • 50: Innocent I and John Chrysostom's Honour 499
  • 51: The Christological Debate, I 515
  • 52: The Christological Debate, Ii 538
  • 53: The Christological Debate, Iii 557
  • 54: The Aftermath of the Council of Chalcedon 592
  • 55: Justinian, Origen, and the 'Three Chapters' 612
  • 56: The Ancient Oriental Churches 628
  • 57: The Church and the Barbarian Invasions in the West 633
  • 58: Pope Gregory the Great (590-604) 658
  • 59: Worship After Constantine 675
  • 60: Pilgrims 684
  • 61: Penance 688
  • Further Reading 694
  • Dates of Roman Emperors 714
  • Index 721
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