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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

Past Events

Professor Nils Holger Peterson: Representation and Substance: Liturgical Practice, Normative Tradition and Medieval Eucharistic Discourse

27th January 2009, 17:30, Seminar Room 1, Department of History

This is the first seminar in the Humanity and the Divine Seminar Series.

The aim of this lecture is to discuss ideas and practices concerning the Eucharist in the Latin medieval church during the last centuries before the final codification of the doctrine of transubstantiation at the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215, in the light of recent scholarship.

Since c. 800, varying statements about the Eucharist had been presented as based on biblical traditions as well as on the thought of the Church Fathers. In any case, they were claimed to be judged by these criteria. However, new theological thoughts as well as special new liturgical practices tell a story of instability and change of traditions, seemingly leading to significant reconstructions within what may be called the ‘cultural memory’ of the Latin church (using Jan Assmann’s recent conceptualization). The outcome of these reconstructions appears to have been a new understanding of the notion of a sacrament as well as of the Eucharistic elements on the one hand and the use of new representational techniques in medieval church ceremonies on the other.

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