Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

This Is the Night: Suffering, Salvation, and the Liturgies of Holy Week

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

This Is the Night: Suffering, Salvation, and the Liturgies of Holy Week

Article excerpt

This Is the Night: Suffering, Salvation, and the Liturgies of Holy Week. By James Farwell. New York: T & T Clark, 2005. xiii + 184 pp. $27.95 (paper).

James Farwell has produced a challenging hook about the liturgies of Holy Week that can be read on three levels: constructive theology, liturgical theology, and pastoral practice. This is a hook to be read by parish clergy, seminary faculty (whether or not they teach liturgy as a formal discipline), and their students.

Farwell begins chapter 1 with the assertion that "Christianity as a living faith must sustain and heal human persons as we 'suffer' the long journey of a life lived through the ebb and flow of pain and joy, struggle and peace" (p. 1). His concern is to construct a Christian theology of suffering as the primary field of God's redeeming work, both suffering that is unwarranted and unjust, which we must resist, and suffering that comes as the result of being a human being living in time and space. In order to construct such a theology Farwell relies on theologia prima, the church's liturgical rites for the celebration of the Paschal Mystery.

In the second chapter Farwell turns to how suffering is understood in modern and postmodern philosophy and theology. His primary interest is to set the stage for a refutation of Jean-François Lyotard's assertion that the recitation of "grand narratives" such as the Paschal Mystery have a '"lethal function with regard to the remembrance of the past" (p. 25). The postmodern world must learn to distrust metanarratives which have the capacity to overshadow the concrete individual experiences of human suffering and render us incapable of responding effectively. In the spirit of Johannes Baptist Metz, Farwell insists that the narrated memory of Jesus Christ "is a social praxis that opens one to suffering, sorrow, and melancholy-and, again, joywhich are suppressed and sidelined by a society whose theoretical categories of human progress cannot render these elements of human life intelligible" (p. 28).

Chapter 3 provides a brief overview of the development of the rites for Holy Week and their reappropriation by contemporary Christians in the latter half of the twentieth century. This chapter provides the background for Farwell's work in the following two chapters as he undertakes an examination of the Paschal soteriology of the Triduum. He first makes use of Cordon Lathrop's methodology of juxtaposition to explore how the Tridunm's liturgical rites engage us in liminality. …

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