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Tasting Heaven on Earth
Worship in Sixth-Century Constantinople
Walter D. Ray
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POD; Published: 8/20/2012
ISBN: 978-0-8028-6663-9
Price: $ 29.50
170 Pages
Trim Size, in inches: 7.5 x 9.25
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Series: The Church at Worship (CAW)

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

Read a blog post from Ray on EerdWord.
Robert F. Taft, S.J.
-- Pontifical Oriental Institute; author of the multivolume History of the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom
"I cannot imagine a more vivid way to introduce this great Christian worship tradition, ancient yet ever new. This is a wonderful book in an astonishingly fresh and exciting new series; I am flattered to find my fingerprints all over it. Bravo, Walter Ray!"
Paul Meyendorff
-- St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary
"A splendid introduction to Eastern Orthodox worship. Amply illustrated and documented, Tasting Heaven on Earth makes the ancient and mysterious Byzantine liturgy come alive for modern Western readers."
Ralph Martin, S.T.D.
-- Sacred Heart Major Seminary
"The more we know about how previous generations of Christians responded to the Holy Spirit in the context of their own cultures, the better equipped we will be for discerning the diverse work of the Holy Spirit in our time. Walter Ray's book makes an important contribution."
Vigen Guroian
-- University of Virginia
"We have histories of Byzantium and Byzantine worship, but nothing quite like this beautiful volume that invites the reader to explore the world of Byzantium through its worship. This is a rich and luxuriously illustrated anthology, a kind of museum in print that makes tangible to readers the lived faith of this ancient Christian culture through its music, poetry, hymnody, iconography, and architecture."
Calvin Stapert
-- Calvin College
"Walter Ray's fine volume shows us in some detail, via text and image, what Orthodox worship was like at an important time and place in its history. The book not only contains much that teaches us about Orthodox worship; it also does much to encourage us to learn from it."
Cistercian Studies Quarterly
"This is a beautifully designed, amply illustrated, and fascinating vision of liturgy in the sixth century in the Great Church of the East, Hagia Sophia."
Catholic Historical Review
"This book is an excellent introduction to Byzantine worship with its good selection of primary sources, bibliography, timeline of major events, maps, and images."
Christian Librarian
"An extremely detailed and insightful look at the Christian worshiping community in the 6th century city of Constantinople. . . . A thoroughly researched and well documented book which would be of interest to anyone interested in early church history, worship, or the development of liturgy."
"Ample and pedagogically sound. . . . A fine study."
Midwest Book Review
"Offers descriptions of worship, documentation of worship practices of the times, examples of sermons, discussion of worship settings and more. . . . An excellent scholarly survey!"