By J.H. Crehan
Theological Studies, Vol.42 (1979)
Introduction: For a long time theologians have been swayed by the consensus of liturgists that, in the words of Edmund Bishop, “certitude as to the moment of consecration was only to be acquired by the common Christian people in the West in the twelfth century, or at earliest in the eleventh.” Jungmann took this for granted, though adding in a cautious footnote some of the contrary evidence. Given this consensus, theologians naturally began their consideration of the emergence of a theology of tran-substantiation in the heart of the Middle Ages. The accession of new evidence, however, has made the liturgists’ conclusion look very unsure, and the time has come to carry back into patristic times the beginning of the theology of transubstantiation. One inkling of this, though its author does not seem aware of the significance of what he says, is found in the recent symposium on The Study of Liturgy. There Dr. Halliburton writes: “Cyril of Jerusalem speaks of a metabole, John Chrysostom prefers metarruthmizo, Gregory of Nyssa metastoikeo or again (with Chrysostom) metaskeuazo; Cyril of Alexandria suggests methistemi, and in the west, Ambrose proposes convertere, mutare, fieri or transfigurare.” Between these words from the Fathers and the scholastic theologians of the twelfth century there are seven hundred years of liturgical development. It is here that new evidence is now available.