Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Histoire Du Catéchuménat Dans L'église Ancienne

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Histoire Du Catéchuménat Dans L'église Ancienne

Article excerpt

Histoire du catéchuménat dans l'église ancienne. By Paul L. Gavrilyuk. Translated from the Russian by Françoise Lhoest, Nina Mojaïsky and Anne-Marie Gueit. [Initiations aux Pères de l'Église.] (Paris: Les Éditions du Cerf. 2007. Pp. 406. euro39,00 paperback. ISBN 978-2-20408-328-7.)

It is a good many years since an extensive and detailed study of the catechumenate in the early Church appeared, and for that reason this volume is greatly to be welcomed. Inspired by the renaissance of Christianity in postSoviet Russia and the consequent rise in requests for adult baptism, the author (who is associate professor of historical theology at the University of St. Thomas, Minnesota) published it first in Russian in 2001 and now in this greatly revised French translation. It concentrates in particular both on the pagan context and on the content of the catechetical instruction received by the early converts to the faith and in general provides a very satisfactory account of both. Of special interest is the suggestion that two basic types of catechetical syllabus can be detected in the materials that have been preserved: one that focused primarily on the biblical history of salvation and another that centered on a detailed commentary on the creed (see pp. 234-39). It seems likely that these represent two successive stages in the formation of new Christians in the faith.

While the author shows awareness of a number of recent significant studies of early catechetical and baptismal practice, there are some obvious gaps in his familiarity with the literature, especiaEy with regard to the initiatory rites themselves, which give it a slightly old-fashioned appearance in places. …

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