Liturgy and Biblical Interpretation

  • The Sanctus and the Qedushah

  • by Sebastian Selvén

  • 244 pages, 6.00 x 9.00

  • Hardcover | 9780268200015 | January 2021

  • eBook (EPUB) | 9780268200022 | January 2021

  • eBook (Web PDF) | 9780268200039 | January 2021

  • Reading the Scriptures


In this study, Selven tries to answer questions such as: What happens to the Bible when it is used in worship? What does music, choreography, the stringing together of texts, and the architectural setting itself, do to our sense of what the Bible means – and how does that influence our reading of it outside of worship? This work is an investigation into how the Hebrew Bible is used in Jewish and Christian liturgical traditions, and the impact this then has on biblical studies. This work addresses the neglect of liturgy and ritual in reception studies and makes the case that liturgy is one of the major influential forms of biblical reception. The case text is Isa. 6:3 and its journey through the history of worship.

By looking at the Qedushah liturgies in Ashkenazi Judaism and the Sanctus in three church traditions—(pre-1969) Roman Catholicism, Anglicanism (the Church of England) and Lutheranism (Martin Luther, and the Church of Sweden)—influential lines of reception are followed through history. As the focus is on lived liturgy not just worship manuals and prayer books are investigated but also architecture, music, and choreography. With an eye to modern- day uses, he traces the historical developments of liturgical traditions. To do this, he has used methodological frameworks from performance and theatre studies, as well as Clifford Geertz’s concept of “thick description”, from the realm of anthropology. He then analyses the impact this can have on biblical researchers, who often come from religious backgrounds, and argue that liturgy still plays a significant role in how we received the Bible, and how we understand how it is to be read, and sometimes even edited.