What is the Eucharist? This direct question would seem to yield an equally direct answer. However, as soon as we begin to answer it, we encounter an array of responses layered with various complexities. The answer is shaped by who answers, e.g. a Roman Catholic, an Anglican, or a Baptist. Perhaps, even the name Eucharist would be contested. Answers to this question would reflect not only confessional differences but the spectrum of theological and liturgical perspectives across Christianity.
One might emphasize the communal nature of the Eucharist, the presence of Christ for adoration, the fellowship around a table, or a sacrifice performed on an altar. In addition to the multiplicity of images employed and liturgical styles preferred, answering the Eucharistic question will involve explicitly or implicitly the comprehensive scope of theological concepts. Reflecting on the nature of the Eucharist will take Christological, soteriological, and ecclesiological directions, while implicating Trinitarian theology, theology of creation, eschatology, and theological construals of culture and language.
Lastly, we can consider the distorted Eucharistic relations among the churches. Why is the sacrament of unity functioning as a sign of disunity? In this book, Ralph McMichael analyses these complexities/perplexities raised by asking what is the Eucharist? This analysis will serve to point the way forward beyond the plurality of answers and emphases without reducing their significance. He develops a Eucharistic way to consider questions put to the Eucharist. Thus he locates theological reflection on the Eucharist within it.
Introduction: What is the Eucharist?
Chapter 1 Tradition: History and Theology
Chapter 2 Presence
Chapter 3 Sacrifice
Chapter 4 Ecumenism
Chapter 5 Church
Chapter 6 Culture
Chapter 7 Language
Chapter 8 World
Epilogue: The Eucharist of Theology
Ralph N. McMichael, Jr. is Canon Theologian and Dean of the Episcopal School for Ministry in the (Episcopal) Diocese of Missouri. He received his Ph.D. in systematic theology from The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. His publications include Walter Kasper's Response to Modern Atheism (2006). He is also co-editor of a two-volume work on Anglican Systematic Theology (SCM, 2007).
Eucharist by Ralph McMichael was published by Continuum in June 2010 and is our 43127th best seller. The ISBN for Eucharist is 9780567032294.