Essays in Early Eastern Initiation

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Joint Liturgical Studies 8

The liturgical practices of Egypt have not occupied a prominent place in the study of early Christian initiation, at least in part because of the paucity of materials from which to reconstruct just what those practices might have been. The only really extensive investigation was made by George Kretschmar in a lengthy German article in 1963, and unfortunately this has not received as much attention as it deserved. In particular such is the insularity of much liturgical scholarship that it has been totally ignored by the authors of subsequent standard English-language works on the history of Christian initiation, including Leonel Mitchell writing on baptismal anointing shortly after Kretschmar.  J. D. C. Fisher writing on confirmation in 1978, and E. C. Whitaker in the second edition of his little study of the baptismal liturgy in 1981. All of these have perpetuated the traditional assumption that the early Alexandrian rite was fundamentally Western in character. As our study will show, however, such a simplistic conclusion will not stand up to close scrutiny.

Paul F. Bradshaw (editor)