The premise of this book is as simple as its title implies: gather together helpful essays that explain the Eucharistic texts of early Church Fathers and early Christian documents -- namely Clement of Rome, Ignatius of Antioch, Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Origen, Cyprian of Carthage, Irenaeus of Lyons, Clement of Alexandria, the Didache
, and the Didascalia
. Include an extensive bibliography and plenty of interesting footnotes for future reading. Approaches vary according to contributor, but the end result is a coherent and important collection of primary sources explicated -- even if they may be (to quote the opening chapter) ''a bit on the arid side. Could such dryness be avoided? In any case, here the book stands, with its faults; it meets a need, for books of this kind on this subject are few. It is now up to the reader to profit by it.'' And how can we not profit from words like these (Origen commenting on the phrase, ''Take and eat'') -- ''The words we speak at this moment are the flesh of the Word of God to the extent that the food we give is not 'vegetables' for weak stomachs or 'milk' for little children. If our words are perfect and courageous, we give you the fleshes of the Word of God to eat.'' Or this, from Ignatius of Antioch: ''In the Eucharist, he has given us the seed of what he is, he has set in motion in us the process that brought him to his risen life...in suffering with Christ, not only do we rise with Him, but we become in some way the Risen One.''
An Eighth Day View:
We can rediscover ourselves in the faith and hope of the early Christians.