Revelation as Liturgy: Sanctus and the Book of Revelation

    3. Sanctus and Revelation. Therefore, Sanctus and the book of Revelation are very important in defining the character of christian worship. In any case, the book of Revelation possibly constitutes the most important christian text for a proper understanding of Liturgy, and no doubt a decisive point of reference for the problem of the addition of the Sanctus in the eucharistic anaphora.

Either we take the Apocalypse to be the generic cause for the addition of the Sanctus or we consent to the oldest theory, according to which its author reproduces in his work the liturgical act of the early Church, – even without insisting that the addition itself originates in the first century AD.; or, finally, if we endorse the more reliable theory that the Apocalypse is a determining factor for later liturgical self-conscience of the Church; the bottom line in all these cases is that the Apocalypse is the key to uncover the real meaning of Christian liturgy; in fact its connection to history and its relation to the communal or private aspect of the Church.

    a. One of the prevailing features of the Apocalypse, both in form and in essence, is undoubtedly the liturgical.  Not only the first (1:3) and the last (22:6) chapters evidently imply a liturgical setting; it is also the fact that the experience of the seer/prophet takes place “on the Lord’s day” (1:1); it is the baptismal formula (1:5-6); it is also the concluding prayer “Come Lord Jesus” (22:20) and the blessing of the final verse (22:21); it is the numerous hymns, especially from ch. 4 onwards (4:8f-11; 5:9-10, etc.); the direct and indirect references to the eucharistic anaphoras (2:7; 2:24; 2:17, 3:20, 7:16ff; 11:11; 19:9; 21:6; 22:1-10ff; the climax being the scene of the heavenly worship in ch. 4;(see also 5:9; 7:2-14; 12:11; 14:10ff; 16:6-19; 17:2); the doxologies (1:6; 5:13; 7:12 etc.), to mention just the most prominent cases.

According to T.F.Torrance the Apocalypse is at once the most liturgical and the most eschatological book of the New Testament.  Using language and imagery borrowed from the Old Testament and enlightened by the presence of the Holy Spirit, the seer/prophet circumscribes ontologically the history of the Church and deontologically her leitourgia in space and time (worship); while the Gospels describe the way “the Word took flesh,”the Apocalypse constitutes an extension of christology in time and history.  As in the Old Testament, the liturgy revolves around the event of the Exodus, and the eschatological salvation was anticipated as a new “Exodus” with the help of the new redeemer and through a new testament, so the Apocalypse, in exactly the same way, describes this same dynamic liturgy, this time revolving around the slaughtered Lamb.

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