Brief Book Review: Lively Oracles of God

Lively Oracles of God: Perspectives on the Bible and Liturgy
Edited by Gordon Jeanes and Bridget Nichols

Who’s it for? This collection of fourteen essays, a response to an invitation from the Alcuin Club and especially attending to the liturgical situation in the Church of England, will interest users of any version of the three-year lectionary.

What’s the main point? Although all essays deal in some way with the confluence of Bible and the liturgy, the approaches taken by the authors vary considerably. Paul Bradshaw’s categories of the various uses of Scripture in the liturgy are repeatedly cited.

Examples. Each essay has an assigned topic: for example, the lectionary choices for a liturgical season (McGowan, Kennedy), for Sundays (Bonneau), for wedding rites (Reid), for funeral rites (Larson-Miller), or specific liturgical issues, such as the technical matters of proclamation (Hammond), reception by worshipers (Baldovin), current liturgical tensions (O’Loughlin), canticles and hymns (Nichols), the marginalized (van Ommen), children (Loades), ecological resources (Irvine), and gender concerns (Burns). Most essays include some ancillary commentary, with several attending in detail to the author’s own interests. Some are focused especially with matters in the Church of England, for example attention to the Nicene Creed (Jeanes). Some essays focus on the Scriptures at eucharist, while other include the daily office. Some include information from a variety of churches, for example Roman Catholic practice, while several are widely ecumenical in scope. Most essays discuss the churches’ use of Bible objectively, some note deficiencies in lectionary choices, and several render considerable criticism of current practice.

What intrigued me the most? I was struck by differences between the Anglican situation in the U.K. as described in most essays and the American practices that I know best.

Quibbles. The collection displays little interest in the evolving changes in social reality or in the diversity of cultures utilizing the three-year lectionaries and the Book of Common Prayer. Yet the collection offers something of interest for every reader.

Jeanes, Gordon, and Bridget Nichols, eds., Lively Oracles of God: Perspectives on the Bible and Liturgy. Foreword by Paul F. Bradshaw. Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 2022. 268 pages. $34.95. ISBN: 9780814667224.

REVIEWER: Gail Ramshaw
Gail Ramshaw is a scholar of liturgical language and
retired professor of religion at La Salle University,
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

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