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Liturgy and Architecture: From Early Church to the Middle Ages (Liturgy, Worship & Society Series) [Illustrated] [Hardcover]

Allan Doig
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

25 Jun 2008 Liturgy, Worship & Society Series
Social, economic, technical, theological and artistic factors are crucial to a proper understanding of ecclesiastical architecture of all periods, and together their study illuminates the study of liturgy. Buildings and their archaeology are standing indices of human activity, and the whole matrix of meaning they present is highly revealing of the larger meaning of ritual performance within, and movement through, their space. Allan Doig explores the interrelationship of liturgy and architecture from the early Church to the present, including the most recent debates in the ordering and re-ordering of churches in the next volume that will cover the period from the Reformation to the present day.In the present volume, the excavation of the mid-third-century church at Dura Europos in the Syrian desert, the grandeur of Constantine's Imperial basilicas, the influence of the great pilgrimage sites, and the marvels of soaring Gothic cathedrals, all come alive in a new way when the space is animated by the liturgy for which they were built. Reviewing the most recent research in the area, and moving the debate forward, this book will be enormously useful to the liturgist, clergy, theologians, art and architectural historians, and those interested in the conservation of ecclesiastical structures built for the liturgy.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 254 pages
  • Publisher: Ashgate; illustrated edition edition (25 Jun 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0754652726
  • ISBN-13: 978-0754652724
  • Product Dimensions: 24.1 x 17.5 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 6,124,551 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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'This work is a successful and much-needed source on the subject... this volume fills an important void in the literature and will be the critical source on the subject for some time. ... Essential.' ----- Choice

'This is an impressive, insightful, informative study, keenly aware of the relevant archaeological data, sensitive both to liturgical and to architectural theory and development and versed in the source documents.' ----- Theological Book Review --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

The Revd Dr Allan Doig is Chaplain, Tutor for Graduates, Fellow of Lady Margaret Hall and a member of the Faculty of Theology at the University of Oxford, UK.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitive 6 Nov 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The author of the previous review may not have noticed that this is only the first part of a two-volume work, the second volume of which will cover the later history.
Doig provides an exemplary account of the architectural form of the settings for Christian worship, and in particular effectively demolishes many myths about how worship was conducted and how we should in consequence order worship today.
For anyone interested in the history of liturgy or of church architecture this book is, quite simply, required reading.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Architecture & some liturgy 10 Oct 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a thorough account of Christian architecture, particularly the early churches, with occasional liturgical details. The account becomes very skimpy when we reach the high middle ages and liturgical details should be more prolific. OK up to Charlemagne, disappointing thereafter.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Broad topic, uneven treatment, poorly illustrated 22 Nov 2008
By A. V. Kirk - Published on
Doig notes in the Preface that he is undertaking the "daunting task" of synthesizing a "vast amount of fascinating material." Unfortunately, he seems to have been overwhelmed. The title of the book clearly states what it sets to be about, and the fact that there are only 196 pages of text should clue one in to the fact that the proposed subject has not come close to receiving a thorough treatment. The discussion of 3rd and 4th century church buildings and literature is sparse enough; by the time one gets to the Gothic period at the end of the book, he or she is presented with a discussion of only four churches (and their liturgical practices), three of them English. The discussion at this point is rather meticulously historical, when one wishes that Doig had instead given us some broad outline of what was going on in the entire rest of the world. Indeed the lack of a large scope is systematic; after the first five centuries or so, the focus of this book quite rapidly narrows down to Northern Europe, and eventually England itself. Such parochialism lends to an unsatisfying finish. Everywhere the contrast between detail and omission is surprising. For example, we learn the extraneous detail that Hervé was Treasurer of Saint-Martin between 1003-1014, and yet we hear nothing about liturgy or architecture in Russia.

Two other flaws condemn this book to relative mediocrity. First, Doig's title claims to synthesize liturgy and architecture, but these topics are not at all independent of theology and politics. Of course, Doig does take account of the theological and political developments, but not always very deeply. Arianism, for example, is decreed (with little explanation) to have barely affected architectural development. Likewise, little time is spent explaining the proposed influence of the Syriac church Qal'at Si'man on architecture in Gaul and the political and theological implications of such a connection. In contrast to these examples, some effort is spent explicating the development of the theology underpinning of the feast of Corpus Christi. Likewise, the personages of Constantine and Charlemagne receive extensive treatment. All in all, Doig seems only comfortable discussing most direct links of theology and politics with liturgy and architecture--and this gives a sense of liturgy and architecture as rather more disconnected than they really are.

Lastly, this book is maddeningly under illustrated, and those illustrations that are included are often of marginal quality. This might be a production issue; the book itself is printed on nice enough paper but little effort seems to have been spent on layout or design. Indeed, it seems that the page proofs were spit right out of Microsoft Word.

I have perhaps fallen into the trap of being too critical. The book is not bad; it is a highly readable, often quite compelling, analysis of the connection between liturgy and architecture for the first fourteen centuries or so of Christendom. Moreover, Doig synthesizes a great deal of more focused scholarly inquiry on the subject, which is certainly to be appreciated by the non-specialist. This is an informative book; its topography is just too uneven. Reading it is like hiking a mountain trail, always hoping for a sweeping vista around the next bend, but never seeing more than the trees and rocks close at hand.
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