|A Summer 2003 NEH Institute.
Directed by David Cressy
and Lori Anne Ferrell.
Wenceslaus Hollar (1607-1677).
Chori Ecclesiae Cathodralis S. Pauli, 1658.
• The Eucharist
The word "Eucharist" comes from the Greek word for "thanksgiving." It is commonly used to describe the central act of worship at which bread and wine are consecrated and disseminated among the faithful in remembrance of Christ's Last Supper with his disciples. During the sixteenth century, the understanding of the Eucharist and its meaning were heavily debated. While this was one of the differences that fueled the separation of Protestantism from Catholicism, by the second generation of Reformers it was clear that there remained distinct differences among Protestants themselves. Roman Catholics remained wedded to the doctrine of transubstantiation as a way of explaining what took place (the belief that the bread and wine physically change into the flesh and blood of Christ that was first officially recommended by the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215 and adopted formally in 1551-1552 by the Council of Trent). Protestants, however, differed in their interpretations. A Lutheran position advocated consubstantiation, or, that a real or corporeal presence coexists with the bread and wine; the more radical Zwinglian position, that has oftentimes been called "memorialist," viewed the Eucharistic act as purely symbolic.
The official prayer book was revised in Elizabeth's reign, and the 1559 edition restored a combination of the words from the first two books which remains in use today. Now the two phrases spoken at the administration were joined in a way which introduced an even greater level of ambiguity, which furthered Elizabeth's attempts at creating a broader definition of the church but would later fuel the fires of those who insisted on a more precise definition and a narrower vision of the English national ecclesiastical institution.
Some of the hotter sorts of Protestants even undertook moving the altar (or communion table)
Brian T. Hartley
Suggestions for further reading:
Booty, John E., editor. The Book of Common Prayer 1559: The Elizabethan Prayer Book. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia for the Folger Shakespare Library, 1976.
Brooks, Peter Newman. Thomas Cranmer's Doctrine of the Eucharist: An Essay in Historical Development. Second edition. London: Macmillan, 1965.
Collinson, Patrick. The Religion of Protestants: The Church in English Society, 1559-1625. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1982.
Duffy, Eamon. The Stripping of the Altars: Traditional Religion in England, c. 1400-c. 1580. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992.
Dugmore, C. W. The Mass and the English Reformers. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1958.
Fincham, Kenneth, ed. The Early Stuart Church, 1603-1642. Hampshire: Macmillan, 1993.
MacCulloch, Diarmaid. Thomas Cranmer: A Life. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1996.
|© 2004 Folger Institute|