Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Tasting Heaven on Earth: Worship in Sixth-Century Constantinople

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Tasting Heaven on Earth: Worship in Sixth-Century Constantinople

Article excerpt

Tasting Heaven on Earth: Worship in Sixth-Century Constantinople. By Walter D. Ray. [The Church at Worship: Case Studies from Christian History.] (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing. 2012. Pp. xii, 158. $28.00 paperback. ISBN 978-0-8028-6663-9.)

Tasting Heaven on Earth offers a carefully orchestrated presentation of the Byzantine Eucharist liturgy in Justinian's Great Church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople. The text consists of two main parts: a description and analysis of the liturgy, architecture, and décor of Hagia Sophia followed by a rich compendium of primary sources. The latter starts with the early-seventh-centuiy exegesis of the divine liturgy by Maximus the Confessor, followed by the ekphraseis of Hagia Sophia by Procopius and Paul the Silentiary. Following these is a section reconstructing the fourth-century elaborate liturgy of St. Basil enriched with St. John Chrysostom's version of the anaphora. Next come the sung sermons or kontakia of Romanus Melodus and the Pentecost sermon of presbyter Leontius. The book appeals to the broad audience interested in the Eastern Orthodox rite. Its open and accessible approach will appeal both to novices and to educated readers who would like to expand their knowledge of the Byzantine liturgy. …

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