Johnson, Lawrence J. Worship in the Early Church: An Anthology of Historical Sources (Volume 1: First through Third Centuries). Collegeville: Pueblo/Liturgical Press, 2009. 282 Pages. Cloth. $74.95. www.litpress.org (LHP)
Bradshaw, Paul F. Early Christian Worship: A Basic Introduction to Ideas and Practice (Second Edition). Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 2010. 104 Pages. Paper. $16.95. www.litpress.org (LHP)
Bradshaw, Paul F and Maxwell E. Johnson. The Origins of Feasts, Fasts and Seasons in Early Christianity. Collegeville: Pueblo/Liturgical Press, 2011. 222 Pages. Paper. $29.95. www.litpress.org (LHP)
Worship in the Early Church is a four-volume collection of excerpts from early Christian writings illustrating the Church's liturgical practice in both East and West, from its Jewish beginnings through the end of the sixth century. Source material includes doctrinal and historical treatises, scriptural commentaries, sermons, letters, synodal legislation, early church orders, monastic rules, baptismal and funeral epigrams. Each author or major selection is preceded by a short introduction containing such information as dates, country of origin, and various other background details. A bibliography of pertinent periodical and liturgical literature is given as well as a bibliography referencing standard encyclopedias of religion and manuals of patrology.
The amount of material included in these volumes is simply stunning. Much is unavailable elsewhere. Add the convenience of a digital version, and you can study on the go with your laptop, tablet, or even Kindle. The CD-Rom is worth "the price of admission." A searchable pdf is an incredible research tool.
Jewish prayers from table and synagogue; Subapostolic Era: the Didache, Clement of Rome, Ignatius of Antioch, Pastor Hermas; Second Century: Justin Martyr, Irenaeus of Lyons, Melito of Sardis; Third Century: Tertullian, Cyprian of Carthage, Hippolytus of Rome, the Didascalia of the Apostles, Origen, the Apostolic Church Order; and others.
Johnson's masterwork features an unbelievable number of references, including citations of scholarly articles on each writing, multiple sources of the original text, extensive footnotes, and his own alternate translations.
I appreciate much about Bradshaw's scholarship and readable writing, but I have doubts about his orthodoxy based on the questions he raises. They sound like doubts rather than faith. "Did Jesus Institute the Eucharist at the Last Supper?" was a bit much to take (Chapter 1), but it prepared me for when he later questioned whether Paul was the one who associated the two events (19).
Bradshaw's co-author is an ELCA Lutheran. The two make a good pair as they strengthen one another. There is appropriate skepticism of Roman evidence of Baptism at Easter (83). Discussion of the history of Christian celebrations on January 6 and December 25 are expanded (146ff). The authors give extensive new data on the development of Saints' Days (e.g., 190, 191).