Sacred games : a history of Christian worship /
Bernhard Lang.
New Haven, [Conn.] : Yale University Press, c1997.
xiii, 527 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.
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New Haven, [Conn.] : Yale University Press, c1997.
catalogue key
Includes bibliographical references (p. [483]-509) and index.
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Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 1997-08-25:
In this splendidly written history of Christian worship, Lang, a professor of religion at the University of Paderborn, Germany, traces the development of the elements of Christian worship from their pre-Christian origins to their modern use by Christian congregations. Underlying the practice of Christian worship, says Lang, are six ritual forms: praise, prayer, sermon, sacrifice, sacrament and spiritual ecstasy. Lang devotes a section to each of these "sacred games" of Christian worship in an effort to uncover the origins and the meaning of each ritual form. For example, in the section on prayer, Lang begins his exploration with a study of the function of petitionary prayer in the Greek tragedies of Aeschylus and in the Essene community. He then devotes a lengthy chapter to the ways that Christianity spiritualized the ancient Jewish text of the Lord's Prayer. In his final chapters on prayer, Lang emphasizes the ways in which Christianity set petitionary prayers in liturgical settings to establish the "sacred game of prayer." Lang's lively writing, historical insights and extensive reliance on primary sources combine for a fascinating portrait of the history of Christian worship. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Appeared in Library Journal on 1997-09-01:
Lang (religion, Univ. of Paderborn, Germany) provides an exciting and controversial interpretation of Christian worship encompassing six ritual forms: praise, prayer, sermon, sacrifice, sacrament, and spiritual ecstasy. These forms, rather than chronology alone, organize Lang's analysis of Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, and Pentecostal worship. While emphasizing basic human impulses, Lang stresses both changes of rite and meaning through the centuries. Lang views Jesus as a magician who taught people to offer bread and wine as private sacrificial worship not requiring priest or temple. He sees a tension between a belief in God as majestic and transcendent and God as immanent friend, between sacrifice as focused on material elements and receiving or focused on the worshiper's attitude and giving. Highly recommended as a challenging study of past and present Christian worship.‘Carolyn M. Craft, Longwood Coll., Farmville, Va. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Appeared in Choice on 1998-03-01:
Lang (Univ. of Paderborn), co-author, with Colleen McDannell, of the well-received Heaven: A History (CH, Apr'89), here sets for himself an even more ambitious and daunting task: tracing the origins and historical development of Christian worship in the West. Although the variety and complexity of contemporary Christian ritual patterns worldwide seem almost infinite, the author argues that the fundamental meaning of Christian worship is embodied and ultimately understandable in its six elementary components: praise, petitionary prayer, sermon, sacrifice, sacrament, and spiritual ecstasy. These are traced to their biblical roots and even beyond. Indeed, the author maintains that all six have their origins in ancient, pre-Christian ritual life. It is a fascinating tale filled with insightful portrayals of ancient, medieval, and modern personalities, as well as careful reconsiderations of key issues in modern scholarship. Although European and American worship is undeniably the focus here, the author's interpretive framework and conclusions have clear implications for other communities of Christians worldwide. This well-written and accessible book truly represents a pioneering effort in the field. Highly recommended. General; undergraduate; graduate; faculty. C. L. Hanson Muskingum College
This item was reviewed in:
Kirkus Reviews, July 1997
Publishers Weekly, August 1997
Library Journal, September 1997
Choice, March 1998
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Bowker Data Service Summary
With Sacred Games Bernhard Lang provides a balanced historical account of the psychology and anthropology of Christianity through the ages, spanning the centuries from pagan ritualism to contemporary theology.
Unpaid Annotation
Professor Bernhard Lang argues that the meaning of Christian ritual is embodied in six elementary forms, all of which have their roots in ancient, pre-Christian ritual. Well illustrated, written in a readable style, and geared to the general reader as well as to students and scholars, this pioneering work should become an indispensable addition to the broader study of Christianity. 50 illustrations.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Six Sacred Gamesp. 1
The First Game: Praise - Thanking God by Proclaiming His Mighty Acts in Song and Testimonyp. 7
On Praisep. 9
The Elementary Forms of Praise in the Book of Psalmsp. 17
The Practice of Praise in Christianityp. 28
Conclusion: Praise and Preferencep. 61
The Second Game: Prayer - Asking for God's Helpp. 65
On Petitionary Prayerp. 67
The Our Father: The Story of a Political Prayerp. 75
Christian Prayer: Origins, Forms, and Promisesp. 102
Conclusion: The Two Kinds of Prayer Used in Christian Worshipp. 132
The Third Games: Sermon - God's Word in Biblical Reading and Preachingp. 137
On Intellectual Ritualp. 139
From Luke to Luther: The Beginnings and Aims of Christian Preachingp. 149
Patterns of Protestant Preaching in the Modern Worldp. 172
Conclusion: The Authority of Preachingp. 197
The Fourth Game: Sacrifice - Giving to God and Receiving from Himp. 205
On Sacrificep. 207
Jesus and the Origins of the Eucharistp. 215
Sacrificial Receiving: The Career of an Ideap. 234
Sacrificial Giving in Carthage, Hippo, and Suburban Parisp. 254
Conclusion: Two Theologies of Sacrificep. 278
The Fifth Game: Sacrament - Meeting Christ at the Lord's Supperp. 283
On Magic: A Rehabilitationp. 285
Inventing the Magical Celebrationp. 293
Christ's Sacramental Presencep. 310
The Benefits of Partakingp. 331
Conclusion: The Christocentric Sacramentp. 357
The Sixth Game: Spiritual Ecstasy - Exercising the Gifts of Glossolalia, Prophecy, and Healingp. 361
On Ecstatic Worshipp. 363
Paul the Possessed and the Lord's Supper in Corinthp. 372
The Rebirth of Pentecostal Worship in Twentieth-Century Americap. 384
Conclusion: A Story with Two Endings - Ritual Intellectualized and Charisma Routinizedp. 414
Epilogue: Divine Meekness, Divine Majesty - The Familiar and the Awesome Deityp. 419
Abbreviationsp. 445
Notesp. 447
Illustration Creditsp. 481
Bibliographyp. 483
Indexp. 510
Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.

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