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Hoc Est Sacrificium Laudis: The Influence of Hebrews on the Origin, Structure, and Theology of the Roman Canon Missae


One area of study that received a newfound level of attention during the twentieth century’s Liturgical Movement was the relationship between the Bible and liturgy. The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum concilium, highlights the importance and centrality of this relationship, declaring that “[s]acred scripture is of the greatest importance in the celebration of the liturgy” (SC 24). The broad movements of ressourcement and la nouvelle théologie, particularly figures such as Jean Daniélou and Henri de Lubac, emphasized the deep unity between Scripture and the very text of liturgical rites and argued that the liturgy is an expression of spiritual exegesis (whether it is called “typology” or “allegory”). What did not figure in these studies was a specific demonstration of these broad claims through the study of particular liturgical texts. This dissertation seeks to fill that lacuna through a study of one liturgical text—the Roman Canon Missae—and its relationship to one specific book of the Bible: the Epistle to the Hebrews. A significant motivation for this research is a concern to demonstrate how this new scriptural avenue of inquiry can provide an additional source of rich material to liturgical scholars for any liturgical text, not just the Roman Canon. My approach situates this exploration of the ways Hebrews was used as a source within the broader orbit of the emergence and development of the text of the Roman Canon in order to demonstrate that attention to the place of Scripture, or even a single biblical book, can radically enrich the search for the origin and early evolution of liturgical rites. This new methodology includes a detailed proposal for a way to categorize the ways in which a liturgical text can utilize Scripture as a source. Most of the unique features of the Roman Canon—including its unique institution narrative, emphasis on sacrifice, repeated requests for the Father’s merciful acceptance of the sacrificial offering, the use of the phrase sacrificium laudis as a way to name and describe the eucharistic sacrifice, the centrality of Melchizedek’s sacrifice in conjunction with those of Abel and Abraham, and the content of the anaphora’s doxology—are all found in the Epistle to the Hebrews

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This paper was published in epublications@Marquette.

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