Book Review: Ancient Christian Devotional
I am quite the total book review machine at the moment, so thanks to IVP for a review copy of Ancient Christian Devotional: A Year of Weekly Readings (IVP: Downers Grove, Ill., 2007), general ed. Thomas C. Oden, ed. Cindy Crosby
My own rediscovery of liturgy, and my more recent appetite for the church fathers, finds perfect combination in this new IVP book. In a nutshell, '[t]his guide to prayer and reflection combines excerpts from the writings of the church fathers as found in the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture with a simple structure for daily or weekly reading and prayer' (backcover).
Each week has:
- Focused readings and reflections upon a certain theme
- an opening prayer taken from early church sources (indexed in the back)
- scripture readings from the OT, Epistles and Gospels, in keeping with the church lectionary cycles (i.e. it is connected to cycle A of the Revised Common Lectionary)
- a psalm of response
- multiple reflections from the church fathers. This week's reflections (week 16), for example, are taken from Lactantius (that sounds like a disease, to me), Tertullian, Chrysostom, Ambrose, Theodore of Mopsuestia and Cyril of Alexandria.
- and a closing prayer, taken again from ancient sources
At the end of the book is a helpful biographical section, introducing the characters named throughout – a real necessity for church history numpties like me. So, on page 283 I learn that the Ambrosian is a Latin liturgical rite, not a type of rice pudding. Don't look at me like that! You know you thought the same!
For me, while it won't replace the Anglican Common Worship: Daily Prayer, I have found this devotional useful, and I turn to it now and then for more variety in my liturgical diet. All the more so as I am often starving for tradition! Plus, because its liturgical programme is not too demanding it is nonthreatening and adaptable.
(Note to self: On the 12th March, 2008, I wrote a review for a liturgical book focusing on the fathers. If only a seven-year younger version of me could see what I have become. 'Liturgy' and 'tradition' used to be words best spat, like cuss words: 'Get your liturgical tradition out of the way, you son of a liturgy'. How the tides change)
Labels: Book Review