History of the Eucharist

Does anyone know a really good book on the history of early Christian worship on the Eucharist? From a greek orthodox perspective as well as Catholic?


Jesus and the Jewish roots of the Eucharist by Brant Pitre
I haven’t read it it but the reviews seem to be good.
Its on my list

What do you mean by “worship”?

yeah I have been hearing a lot that the early church worship centered around the Lord’s Table…but then I just heard a protestant presbyterian say that it was not. He said that the eucharist was sinful.


In that sense yes, Christian worship centers around The Eucharist. The oldest Christian Liturgy we have, The Liturgy of St. James, goes back to, at early estimates, AD60 and at latest to the fourth century. It is focused on the Eucharist.

yeah… that type of worship…any works on that? Or is it just that one should read through the fathers?

Perhaps “The Mass of the Early Christians” by Mike Aquilina is a good place to start. It’s certainly a good introductory reading.

I would encourage you to read through The Fathers rather than a contemporary work on them. Many Fathers are easy enough to read, and you’re going straight to the source, rather than getting an interpretation from a contemporary, church-aligned author.

The Apology of St. Justin Protomartyr is a good start on The Liturgy. What you’re interested in is in Chapter 65 where he is describing a standard worship service. Note the bread and wine.

St. Ambrose of Milan (Mid-300’s) “On the Holy Mysteries” (Orthodox often call the Sacraments the “Holy Mysteries” so if you see that term that’s what they’re talking about) Chapter VIII (each chapter is only a few paragraphs) deals with the Eucharist, after describing Baptism and Chrismation. St. Ambrose is telling catechumens how they will enter The Church.

The Didache is a good source. Chapter 9 is about The Eucharist, and it was written sometime in the later first century and some say as early as AD40.

In his Epistle to the Philadelphians St. Ignatius of Antioch writes about the importance of all having a common Eucharist. Look in Chapter IV. He wrote sometime before AD118.

That’s probably enough for now. If you have more questions feel free to ask.

Hi Erick,

“The Biblical Basis for the Eucharist” by John Salza is very good and has a section at the end of selected quotes directly from ECF writings.

Also, “The Father’s Know Best” by Jimmy Akin is not a contemporary defense of Catholic Teachings but rather a compilation of ECF writings defending Catholic Teachings and has a section on the Eucharist if memory serves.

Good luck and God Bless.

Early Christian Worship: A Basic Introduction to Ideas and Practice, Second Edition by Paul F. Bradshaw.

This isn’t specifically about the Eucharist but it’s about the early Church as they struggled to understand who Christ is: The Spirit of Early Christian Though: Seeking the Face of God by Robert Louis Wilken

Reading the gospels would be a good start…

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