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St Germanus of Constantinople on the Divine Liturgy Paperback – April 1, 1985

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Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English, Greek

About the Author

Paul Meyendorff is a leading Orthodox specialist in the history, theology, and practice of the Orthodox liturgy and is The Father Alexander Schmemann Professor of Liturgical Theology at St Vladimir s Orthodox Theological Seminary.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 107 pages
  • Publisher: St Vladimirs Seminary Pr (April 1, 1985)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0881410381
  • ISBN-13: 978-0881410389
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.2 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #470,397 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A. S. Damick on April 5, 2007
Format: Paperback
A fascinating work on a crucial subject. Germanus combines several streams of liturgical commentary together to produce a wonderful volume which reveals the depth of meaning and possibility within the Divine Liturgy. Because the work is from the 8th century, it also lends an inside look into the liturgical practice of the time.

Another review here complains of the sizable scholarly apparatus which accompanies the text, but it is helpful for understanding the work. This is a standard feature in most scholarly works, and a great many publications of texts from the ancient world have this same feature. If one is not "into" such academic stuff, of course it can be skipped. But the point here is to make an excellent patristic text available for both scholars and non-scholars alike. Selling it as a "$3 pamphlet," as the other reviewer suggests, would simply not be feasible. This volume's main audience is the student of liturgical history, which is consonant with its being published by a seminary press.

The aforementioned review also compares this work to that of St. Nicholas Cabasilas. They honestly don't compare, being separated by about 600 years. They're not fundamentally covering identical subjects but are rather commentaries on their own times' liturgical practice. Certainly, they have their similarities, but one cannot be substituted for the other.
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1 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Culver TOP 1000 REVIEWER on July 17, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This little volume in St. Vladimir Seminary Press' Popular Patristic Series presents an English translation by Paul Meyendorff of St. Germanus of Constantinople's explanation of the Divine Liturgy. Patriarch of Constantinople between 715-730, St. Germanus inherited a great tradition of allegorical explanation of Christian ritual from earlier figures such as Pseudo-Dionysus and Theodore of Mopsuestia, and in his ample introduction Meyendorff explains how Germanus' account both continues a tradition and shows its own peculiarities. Meyendorff also sketches the state of the liturgy in the time of St. Germanus.

St. Germanus' account of the liturgy was extremely popular for centuries, extant in many manuscripts and in translation into other languages, but I doubt it will interest most Orthodox Christian readers, even those with an academic bent (I'd count myself among such). The sheer amount of allegory ascribed to the Divine Liturgy and to the components of the church building proves more exhausting than inspirational. I'll just try to make my point by quoting from one page: "The apse corresponds to the cave in Bethlehem where Christ was born, as well as the cave in which he was buried ... The holy table corresponds to the spot in the tomb where Christ was placed ... The holy table is also the throne of God. ... The ciborium represents here the place where Christ was crucified ... It similarly corresponds to the ark of the covenant."

This kind of "everything symbolizes something and everything" approach may have been wildly popular in the first millennium, but it has limited appeal now, and even great Orthodox writers like Fr. Alexander Schmeemann have found it vexing. All that said, this is an inexpensive volume and even includes the Greek text, so for a certain demographic of readers this may prove a worthy purchase.
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