Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

The Origins of Feasts, Fasts, and Seasons in Early Christianity

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

The Origins of Feasts, Fasts, and Seasons in Early Christianity

Article excerpt

The Origins of Feasts, Fasts, and Seasons in Early Christianity. By Paul F. Bradshaw and Maxwell E. Johnson. Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical Press, 2011. xvi + 222 pp. $29.95 (paper).

This brief volume serves as a summary of the recent and sometimes controversial scholarly assertions of Paul Bradshaw and Maxwell Johnson. The two members of this esteemed Anglican-Lutheran partnership have published nearly forty previous books and literally hundreds of essays and articles. They stand as eminent scholars in the field of liturgical studies worldwide. The authors intend this volume as a successor to Thomas Talley's masterful 1986 work on the liturgical year, The Origins of the Liturgical Year (Pueblo, 1986; second edition, Liturgical Press, 1991).

Origins deals with early church evidence regarding various aspects of the liturgical year, a term the authors date to "relatively modern times," that is, the late sixteenth century. The book addresses Sabbath and Sunday, Easter and Pentecost, Lent and Holy Week, Christmas and Epiphany, and martyrs and other saints - each in a tidy section of two to five chapters.

Most of what is contained in this book will come as no surprise to those who have kept abreast of recent liturgical and historical scholarship. Those who are not familiar with this body of work may be surprised to read some of the claims advanced here, including: "The transition from Sabbath keeping to Sunday worship may have been slower than most scholars have previously supposed" (p. xiii); "Quartodecimanism is not some local aberration from a supposed normative practice dating from Apostolic times, but is instead the oldest form of the Easter celebration" (p. 40); and "Paschal baptism does not seem ever to have become the normative feature of ancient Christianity that contemporary enthusiasts for liturgical reform would like it to have been" (p. …

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