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St. Cyril of Jerusalem's Lectures on…

St. Cyril of Jerusalem's Lectures on the Christian Sacraments: The…

by Saint Cyril of Jerusalem, Frank Leslie Cross

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Series: Popular Patristics (2)

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  saintmarysaccden | Feb 20, 2013 |
These catechetical lectures attributed to Cyril of Jerusalem of the mid-fourth century E.V. are of profound interest for the great amount of detail they provide on the early Christian liturgies for baptism and the eucharist. The "procatechesis" was addressed to catechumens entering the course prior to baptism, and the five "mystical lectures" followed baptism directly. This book provides a full edition of the original Greek texts, along with an accessible English translation.

The introduction by editor F.L. Cross places Cyril in the context of the early divergence of the Eastern church from Nicene theology and Roman liturgy, the key points of interest being the homoousios / homoiousios for the former and the role of the epiklesis for the latter. Also, Cross points out the persistence of the disciplina arcani at a time when Christianity had already become fully licit. His assumptions about the primitive church of the second century and before are not ones I share, but they are the common fare on that score.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover an ancient view of Gnostic heresy presented in passing. Simon Magus appears in the procatechesis as an example of the just rewards of those who approach baptism without sincerity. My eyebrows were raised by Cyril's reference to eucharistic communicants as "children of the bridechamber" (68). Although this phrase stems from Matthew 9:15, I am accustomed to encountering its use in a sacramental context only among Gnostic teachings.

The whole book is short and highly digestible, unless it is your plan to tangle with the original Greek. I found it useful, and I recommend it to those with an interest in the origins of Christian liturgy.
2 vote paradoxosalpha | Oct 30, 2011 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Saint Cyril of Jerusalemprimary authorall editionscalculated
Cross, Frank Lesliemain authorall editionsconfirmed
Church, R.W.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cross, Frank L.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cross, Frank LeslieIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0913836397, Paperback)

With parallel Greek text.

These six Lectures on the Christian Sacraments were delivered in Jerusalem in the middle of the fourth century. They belong to a period of rapid transition for the Church. Less than forty years before, Christianity had been an illegal religion, the object of intense persecution. Now it was the favored religion of the state. Potential converts thronged the shining new basilicas, built through the beneficence of Constantine and his successors. Catechetical instruction was needed. It was provided by gifted preachers and teachers like St Cyril of Jerusalem.

The first of the lectures, the "procatechesis," is a hearty welcome to the candidates for baptism and introduces them to the periods of doctrinal instruction which lies ahead. The remaining five, the "mystagogical catecheses," are an exposition the rites of Christian initiation - baptism, chrismation, and the Eucharist - for the newly baptized. A rich source of information on the history and worship of the forth century, the lectures remain a source of instruction and inspiration. The present edition, with its scholarly introduction and Greek text as well as its eminently readable English translation, makes this remarkable text available to the specialist and non-specialist alike.

On the Christian Sacraments is part of the POPULAR PATRISTIC SERIES.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:14 -0400)

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