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Eucharist and Church Fellowship in the First Four Centuries

4.4 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0570042709
ISBN-10: 0570042704
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Werner Elert was a contemporary theologian and an expert on literature, history, science, and the arts.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 234 pages
  • Publisher: Concordia Publishing (April 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0570042704
  • ISBN-13: 978-0570042709
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,137,801 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The reprint of this book is a very welcome addition to the current debate concerning the nature of the Church and the meaning of the Eucharist. Even though it is decades old, it is a masterful presentation of what the early Church (in this case up to the fourth century) understood by communion. One could not find a more detailed analysis of the issue. There are 15 chapters, each about 10 to 20 pages, which deal with such topics as Koinonia, The Sacrament as Fellowship, The Lord's Supper not the Christians' Supper, Unity and Fellowship, Closed Communion, Church Discipline and the Eucharist, Church Fellowship and the Local Congregation, Communion and Heretics, Transfers and Certification, Inter-parish Fellowship, Fellowship by Letter, Altar Fellowship Between Churches, Keeping Altar Fellowship in Tact, Attempts at Union. There are also three chapters on the usage of Communio in the Church and the origin of the formula "sanctorum communio" and koinonia and the "holy things".

I cannot tell you how useful this book is for ecclesiologists, historians, or the lay student who desires to more fully understand what it means to be in communion within the context of the Church.

Other books of interest may be Communion and Intercommunionby Kallistos Ware, The Eucharist Makes the Churchand
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Format: Paperback
In our time, when most Christians view the Eucharist as a means of achieving unity in the church, Elert's history and analysis in this book demonstrates that for the early church, the opposite was true: the Eucharist was a fruit of unity, and those who were not united in teaching and worship did not commune together.

While this book is dense and insightful, it's not inaccessible to the lay reader. There are frequent Greek references, but it's not essential to know Greek (I have only a passing knowledge of the language) to benefit.

Finally, the most dense analyses ('Communio in Early Church Usage,' 'The Origin of the Formula Sanctorum Communio,' and 'Koinonia and the Holy Things') are covered in three respective excursuses in the back of the book.

I think that Elert's Lutheranism sometimes gives a slant that is perhaps unwarranted. (I'm especially thinking of his analysis of the "3 walls" guarding the early church fellowship -- bishops, the canon of scripture, and the regula fidei, the creed of the church -- , and how a succession of bishops is given the most critical treatment of the 3).

But what tiny misgivings I might have are dwarfed by the great things about this book. It's one of those treasure mines that are worth digging in anew every few years. Like any great book, this one challenges the way we think of ourselves as Christians, and the way that thinking plays out in the lives of the church.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The question of the practice of the Lord's Supper is not new. The church is not reinvented anew each age. It must evaluate practices that are handed down with great care. It must not quickly dismiss practices of the past as ancient piety but consider that the ancient church had the same Spirit. It must treat ancient practices with care and insure it does not cast such practices away without careful consideration. Elbert Werner has given us a thorough and thoughtful investigation that should be used in any meaningful discussion on the practice of the Lord's supper.
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Format: Paperback
Great book, price and timely delivery!
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