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Zeitschrift für Antikes Christentum / Journal of Ancient Christianity

Ed. by Brennecke, Hanns Christof / Drecoll, Volker Henning / Heil, Uta / Markschies, Christoph

Together with Elm, Susanna / Gemeinhardt, Peter / Meier, Mischa / Perrone, Lorenzo / Pollmann, Karla / Riedweg, Christoph / Schöllgen, Georg / Williams, Rowan / Wischmeyer, Wolfgang

3 Issues per year

CiteScore 2017: 0.14

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2017: 0.108
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2017: 0.447

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Volume 18, Issue 3


Morning salutationes and the Decline of Sympotic Eucharists in the Third Century

Clemens Leonhard
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  • Seminar für Liturgiewissenschaft, Katholisch-Theologische Fakultät, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, Robert-Koch-Straße 40; 48149 Münster
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Published Online: 2015-05-12 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/zac-2014-0021


In late antiquity and the middle ages, many expositors compare the liturgy of the Eucharist (or the mass/the Divine Liturgy) with the accounts of Jesus’ Last supper claiming continuity and identity for a tradition in whose early phases diversity and change were abound. This essay departs from five issues regarding aspects of change between the early Christian sympotic celebrations of the Eucharist and the state of affairs in the middle ages: first, the quantity and quality of food to be consumed; second, the combined (as against separate) blessing or consecration of bread and wine; third, the timing of the celebration in the afternoon and evening versus the early morning; fourth, its compulsory combination with a liturgy of the word that is, moreover, performed preceding the Eucharist and not following the meal as it would be customary in ancient Greece and Rome; fifth, the later reservation of the presidency to clerics of the church. At least these five aspects of change in Eucharistic celebrations can be explained with recourse to the Roman custom of patrons receiving their clients almost every morning in the framework of the morning salutatio. Thus, it is indicated how the churches of Carthage moved from Eucharistic celebrations in the style of dinner parties and communal meals towards distributions of gifts to clients at a meeting with their bishop as patron of the church. This thesis explains why the loss of prandial Eucharists began long before Constantine. It explains when and why Christian churches in the Roman Empire abandoned a celebration that lent itself to the spontaneous interpretation as a mimetic celebration of the Last Supper thus creating the need to emphasize-eventually as part of the ritual itself in the form of the recitation of institution narratives-that the Eucharist is still the same, although it lost most of its mimetic allusions to its alleged pattern in the first century. The gradual adoption of the social institution of the morning salutatio also explains the parallel existence of different forms of Eucharistic celebrations: Its adoption and adaptation is an answer to the growth of the churches in certain places which could remain unimportant for others.

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Published Online: 2015-05-12

Published in Print: 2014-12-19

Citation Information: Zeitschrift für Antikes Christentum / Journal of Ancient Christianity, Volume 18, Issue 3, Pages 420–442, ISSN (Online) 1612-961X, ISSN (Print) 0949-9571, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/zac-2014-0021.

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