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The Origins of the Eucharistic Prayer.

By Enrico Mazza. Translated from the Italian by Ronald E. Lane. Collegeville: Liturgical, 1995. Pp. x + 362. $34.95.

The search for the origins and development of eucharistic praying constitutes one of the most complex and important aspects of liturgical studies, since the content and manner of such praying among early Christians have significant ramifications for contemporary eucharistic theology. Mazza has already contributed to the study of eucharistic praying and patristic theology of the liturgy in his Eucharistic Prayers of the Roman Rite (1984) and Mystagogy (1988). This current work, the culmination of a number of years of study, deserves to be placed alongside classic contributions to the subject by W. H. Frere, G. Dix, and L. Bouyer.

Following the line of L. Ligier, who asked how the institution narrative became appropriated into the tradition of the Christian anaphora or eucharistic praying, M. provides a thorough structural and content analysis of traditions through the fourth century. He begins with the paleoanaphoras of the Didache 9-10 and the Apostolic Constitutions 7:25-26. These he calls paleoanaphoras because they do not yet represent the unified whole that will eventually form the classic anaphoras of East and West.

After careful analysis M. concludes that Didache 9-10 does indeed constitute a Eucharist despite its lack of an explicit institution narrative. The treatment hinges on Didache's oblique reference to Deuteronomy 8:10 ("When you have eaten your fill, you must bless the Lord your God"), which serves as a warrant for the repetition of the ritual. In contrast with a number of scholars, however, M. pays as much attention to the prayers of Didache 9, which precede the meal, as to Didache 10, which has been called the Christian Birkat-ha-mazon. Both sets of prayers are tripartite, consisting of two thanksgivings and a petition or embolism. M. stresses the former set of prayers (the equivalent of the Jewish Kiddush) because he will argue that the sequence cup-bread was original to the celebration of the Eucharist, and that the prayers of Apostolic Const. 7 reveal a shifting of balance from the prayers at the end of the meal to those that precede it, thus making way for a more consecratory theology.

After considering 1 Corinthians 10:16 ff. in order to validate his theory about the cup-bread sequence and to argue a very early dating for Didache 9-10, M. deals with the anaphora of the Apostolic Tradition. Here he finds a similar tripartite scheme, but now the first thanksgiving has been replaced by a series of christological motifs drawn from the paschal homilies of the second century. The last motif in the series is the institution narrative which then introduces an explicit anamnesis as a bridge to a second thanksgiving (for being able to offer the sacrifice). The petition becomes an epiclesis of the Holy Spirit. Thus M. finds the anaphora of the Apostolic Tradition to be paschalized Christian Birkat-ha-mazon along the lines of Didache 10.

The next section of the book deals with the origins of the anaphoras of the Alexandrian and Roman traditions. Like G. Cuming, E. Kilmartin and others, M. concludes that the brief prayer represented by Papyrus Strasbourg Gk. 254 (and lacking an institution narrative) is a eucharistic prayer. Not surprisingly, he finds here a tripartite structure in which the first strophe is a Christian adaptation of the first Jewish morning blessing (Yotser) with its theme of light. The second strophe introduces the notion of thanksgiving as the pure sacrifice of Malachi 1:11, which serves here as an "institution narrative." The final strophe consists of petitions for the Church. M.'s hypothesis with regard to Jewish morning prayer enables him to account for the eventual introduction of the Sanctus, since the Yotser concludes with that formula. He concludes, however, that the Sanctus is not original to this tradition, but is most likely an import from Syria.

M. goes on to link the remainder of the Alexandrian anaphora of Mark with the West Syrian anaphora of James, arguing that the latter tradition is responsible for the Sanctus-epiclesis-embolism block. He concludes his treatment of the Alexandrian tradition with consideration of the anaphora of Serapion, in which once again he finds a tripartite structure.

In an analysis too complex to summarize here, M. discovers an identity of structure between the Strasbourg papyrus and his hypothetical reconstruction of the Roman Canon--shorn of its Sanctus, institution narrative, anamnesis, and oblation.

Finally, M. deals with the baptismal catecheses of Theodore of Mopsuestia, demonstrating that the liturgy on which Theodore comments and the Ordo at its basis represent two different stages of liturgical evolution in a tradition that is moving from relatively free expression to fixity of language. In the Ordo M. discerns the same structure implied by Cyril of Jerusalem's fifth mystagogical catechesis, namely one that lacks institution narrative and anamnesis.

I have been able to summarize only very briefly the main lines of M.'s argument. Each of his treatments is much more complex and deserves close attention by scholars, especially given the massive erudition of the work. There are a number of questions and difficulties that remain unanswered. First, M. must posit intermediate stages of development (for which evidence is lacking) at several crucial turns in his argument, especially with regard to the Roman Canon. Second, he seems to force all of the anaphoras he treats into a tripartite scheme and appears entirely to dismiss the research on the origins of thanksgiving sacrifice (zebach todah) made popular by C. Giraudo. Third, M. seems to presuppose a strictly linear development of texts in a period when pluralism may likely have predominated, thus enabling him to date Didache 9-10 before A.D. 50.

Nevertheless, in showing the gradual evolution of the institution narrative, as well as suggesting plausible hypothesis as to the introduction of Sanctus, anamnesis, and epiclesis, M. has offered scholars a study that must be dealt with seriously for some time to come.
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Author:Baldovin, John F.
Publication:Theological Studies
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Sep 1, 1996
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