In this book the 2000 year history of Christian worship is viewed from a sociological perspective. Martin Stringer develops the idea of discourse as a way of understanding the place of Christian worship within its many and diverse social contexts.
Beginning with the Biblical material the author provides a broad survey of changes over 2000 years of the Christian church, together with a series of case studies that highlight particular elements of the worship, or specific theoretical applications.
Stringer does not simply examine the mainstream traditions of Christian worship in Europe and Byzantium, but also gives space to lesser-known traditions in Armenia, India, Ethiopia and elsewhere.
Offering a contribution to the ongoing debate that breaks away from a purely textual or theological study of Christian worship, this book provides a greater understanding of the place of worship in its social and cultural context.
About the Author
Martin D. Stringer is lecturer in Sociology and Anthropology of Religion and Head of the Department of Theology at the University of Birmingham.
'This is a well and lucidly written book. A great deal of material have been included and crafted into a convincingly written narrative. The scholarship is profound and the wealth of material here is always germane to his argument. I found it required considerable concentration at times, but this is right and only to be expected in a work of this depth. Dr Stringer has written a book of seminal importance which deserves to guide and inform the study of Christian worship for many years to come. Buy. Read, mark, learn and inwardly digest.' Dr Richard Buxton, Society for Liturgical Study 'The reader is spared impenetrable jargon, and, indeed, the book is lucidly written ... accessible to the general reader, as well as a key resource for the student of Christian religion and culture. ... the book succeeds in helping us to hear the sheer variety of voices in the story of Christian worship.' Church Times 'Within each chapter Stringer presents a closely argued presentation of the main theme and accompanies it with fascinating 'case studies', diverse in their geography and cultural richness. ... This is a refreshing book which ought to take its place in any bibliography of liturgical studies, and which should certainly be read alongside more 'traditional' histories.' Benjamin Gordon-Taylor, College of the Resurrection, Mirfield '[A] remarkable tour de force in terms of professional daring as well as interdisciplinary scholarship ...' Times Literary Supplement '... there is a great deal of interest in the book ...' Contemporary Review 'Stringer is excellent at placing worship in its social, cultural and political context ... This is a refreshing book which ought to take its place in any bibliography of liturgical studies, and which certainly should be read alongside more 'traditional' histories.' Theology '... a mine of out-of-the-way information, a salutary antidote to the parochialism of much British attitude to current Church-going trends and encouragement that, even if what the future brings is unlike anything we have ever seen before, we need not be fearful.' Praxis News of Worship 'In seeking to apply a sociological perspective to 2,000 years of Christian worship, Martin Stringer's ambitious study is ... greatly to be welcomed and he has produced an original, fascinating, and thought-provoking book ... Stringer's focus on 'discourse' helpfully enables consideration not just of idealised statements about worship ... but also 'real utterances and actual events' ... a firm commitment to one chapter for every 300 years lends the book an even-handedness too often lacking ... Stringer confesses that his primary purpose in writing the book 'is to try and encourage others to become excited by the ideas and studies that I am presenting'. In this, for me, he not only succeeds greatly, but also offers a new kind of critical, theoretical edge to the study of Christian worship in history that should engage students and more experienced researchers alike.' Journal of Contemporary Religion