The Comparative Liturgy of Anton Baumstark

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Joint Liturgical Studies 31

The volume will describe the history of an idea: comparative liturgy. As comparative liturgy bears the stamp of its creator, this history is in part biographical. It arose directly out of Baumstark’s temperament, gifts, and interests, especially his critique of the cultural studies of his day. It was shaped by Baumstark’s position as a Roman Catholic ecclesiastical historian working in the shadow of the modernist controversy. However, with its use of the comparative method, comparative liturgy also has a history in its own right. While it is widely assumed that comparative grammar served as the inspiration for comparative liturgy, both comparative grammar and comparative liturgy belong to a larger family of comparative Sciences. They are marked by the use of the comparative method which coupled the organic model with the method of comparison. More exactly, they applied systematic comparison to cultural phenomena which they held to be organic. Comparative liturgy, then, stands where two histories meet: the personal history of Anton Baumstark and the intellectual history of the comparative method.

Fritz West