Eucharistic Sacrifice as a Contested Category

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Description

Joint Liturgical Studies  85

This study seeks to chart a course through the vexed question of eucharistic sacrifice by drawing attention not to historical disputes nor to doctrinal formulations but to a more basic issue: the unstable nature of sacrifice as a concept. Drawing upon the field of cognitive linguistics to analyze assumptions about sacrifice in four recent bodies of work by contemporary theologians-both liturgical scholars and others-the author argues that sacrifice is an example of a ‘contested category’: one in which different prototypical understandings compete with one another, with no single definition able to claim preeminence. Using cognitive linguistics to illuminate the complex structure of sacrifice can highlight both points of convergence and ongoing areas of disagreement,
contributing to greater mutual understanding and potential ecumenical reconciliation.

Stephen R. Shaver, a priest of the Episcopal Church, completed a PhD in liturgical studies in 2017 at the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, California, and serves as an adjunct faculty member at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific. He has written articles on topics including eucharistic origins, eucharistic presence, and the intersection of cognitive linguistics with liturgical theology. In summer 2018 he will begin a new ministry as rector of the Church of the Incarnation, Santa Rosa, California.