Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Book review coming soon

I am looking forward to reviewing a new book that just arrived in the mail the other day called Tasting Heaven on Earth: Worship in Sixth-Century Constantinople (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing, 2012). It has a lovely cover of the dome of Hagia Sophia (Holy Wisdom) which was the main cathedral in the Byzantine Empire. Unfortunately Hagia Sophia is now a mosque and a museum and no longer functions as a center for Christian worship.

The author is Walter D. Ray an associate professor at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale and a scholar in early Christian liturgy. This book looks beautiful inside and out and includes many color prints as well as black and white drawings of the various aspects of early Byzantine liturgy.

Here is what the publisher has to say about the book:

The Church at Worship is a series of documentary case studies of specific worshiping communities from around the world and throughout Christian history. In this second volume, Tasting Heaven on Earth, Walter Ray provides vivid descriptions of Constantinople, its history, its people, and its worship practices, setting the stage for a rich selection of primary documents that present readers with a vibrant snapshot of Byzantine Christianity in the sixth century. This illustrated, reader-friendly volume also features discussion questions for each chapter and suggestions for devotional use.

Primary materials collected in this book
  • Photos of mosaics, liturgical vessels, icons, and manuscripts
  • Drawings, diagrams, descriptions, and photographs of Hagia Sophia
  • Firsthand accounts of worship by Maximus the Confessor, Eutychius, and Procopius
  • Liturgical prayers and a reconstruction of the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil
  • Sung and spoken sermons attributed to Romanus and Leontius
  • Imperial decrees on worship practices