The Place of Christ in Liturgical Prayer
By Jungmann, Joseph
This is the definitive, scholarly study of the liturgies of both East and West, with a special focus on the role of Jesus Christ as mediator, as intercessor. With exhaustive detail and careful analysis, the author reviews the entire Christian tradition of the first several centuries. He investigates the official, public prayers of the priest or bishop, reflecting on the theology and historical context. Father Jungmann's research shows how of its nature the liturgy is directed to God through Christ; this is our ancient and universal tradition. First published in 1926 and revised in 1962, this work has never been surpassed or superceded.
Although there have been many scholarly responses to this book, the central thesis remains strong and undisputed today. The liturgy, especially the Eucharist, is directed to God through Christ, who is "ever interceding for us." In the common prayer of the Church, he is always mediating on our behalf with God, making the liturgy the supreme act of the people of God. This is something well expressed in the Roman liturgy to the present day; its prayers are regularly offered per Christum Dominum nostrum, "through Christ our Lord."
With extensive footnotes (on the corresponding page) and other documentation, The Place of Christ in Liturgical Prayer represents the highest level of scholarly research. Greek and Latin citations, untranslated, abound.
Conclusively, Jungmann demonstrates that the Eucharistic Prayers (the Anaphoras) and the other public prayers of the priest or bishop largely are directed to God through Christ, from earliest times, including the time of the New Testament.
It was only beginning in the fourth century, especially in reaction to the Arian heresy, that public prayer in some places came to be directed to Christ. At the time, this was a legitimate and appropriate way to defend the true faith.
Now, centuries later, he says, it is possible to emphasize the original pattern of Christian prayer, in part because of its value for our faith.
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