The Eucharistic Sacrifice
140 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in
- Published: September 2021
- ISBN: 9780268201418
- Published: September 2021
- ISBN: 9780268201401
- Published: September 2021
- ISBN: 9780268201425
- Catholic Media Association Book Award: Ecumenism or Interfaith Relations, First Place
This first English translation represents Sergius Bulgakov’s final, fully developed word on the Eucharist.
The debate around the controversial doctrine of the Eucharist as sacrifice has dogged relations between Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant churches since the Reformation. In The Eucharistic Sacrifice, the famous Russian theologian Sergius Bulgakov cuts through long-standing polemics surrounding the notion of the Eucharist as sacrifice and offers a stunningly original intervention rooted in his distinctive theological vision. This work, written in 1940, belongs to Bulgakov’s late period and is his last, and most discerning, word on eucharistic theology. His primary thesis is that the Eucharist is an extension of the sacrificial, self-giving love of God in the Trinity, or what he famously refers to as kenosis. Throughout the book, Bulgakov points to the fact that, although the eucharistic sacrifice at the Last Supper took place in time before the actual crucifixion of Christ, both events are part of a single act that occurs outside of time.
This is Bulgakov’s concluding volume of three works on the Eucharist. The other two, The Eucharistic Dogma and The Holy Grail, were translated and published together in 1997. This third volume was only first published in the original Russian version in 2005 and has remained unavailable in English until now. The introduction provides a brief history of Bulgakov’s theological career and a description of the structure of The Eucharistic Sacrifice. This clear and accessible translation will appeal to scholars and students of theology, ecumenism, and Russian religious thought.
1. The Eucharist as Sacrifice
2. The Special Character of Old Testament Sacrifices
3. What is “Remembrance” (anámnēsis)?
4. Heavenly and Earthly Sacrifice
5. The Eucharist and its Institution
6. Eucharistic Transmutation
7. The Divine-human Sacrifice I
8. The Divine-human Sacrifice II
9. The Atoning Sacrifice (The Eucharistic Memorial)
10. The Eucharist and the Mother of God
“There simply is nothing like The Eucharistic Sacrifice available in English.” —John Behr, author of John the Theologian and His Paschal Gospel
"Mark Roosien’s work here is a model in theological translation.... His introduction places the text not only in the context of the author’s life, but also in the context of Bulgakov’s unfolding eucharistic theology, of which this text is the final expression. With this translation, we have another key piece available to the English-speaking world of the work of one the most creative theological authors of the previous century, and one whose vision is only now entering into the main currents of ecumenical and systematic reflection." —Modern Theology
The fullness and power of Christ’s sacrifice, the essence of which is the Incarnation, is revealed in the coming of Christ in glory. The Incarnation, for its part, is the final act of the creation of the world, as the revelation of the Divine Sophia in the creaturely Sophia. The eucharistic sacrifice is not only a symbol, but also the ontology of the being of the world as the being of God. This is not a ransom or even simply redemption: it is the love of God for His Image, just as It is in the Holy Trinity, so is it also for Its likeness in creation, whose perfect union is the Godman. In it is the power of the creation of the world and the human being, the incarnation and in-humanization of the Logos, the salvation and glorification of creation, the true life both in the coming age and all ages to come. All juridical explanations of the Eucharist, as an atoning sacrifice or merely as communion, fall short because of the same deficiency: the power and significance of this sacrifice is limited and confined merely to one aspect. As a result, it is considered to be a miracle with regard to its occurring in time; but the effluence that it has eventually must come to an end. Or, its aims are limited, calibrated to the salvation of only a portion of creation out of brazen disregard for the apokatastasis of all things, when “God will be all in all” (cf. 1 Cor 15:28). The eucharistic sacrifice begins with the creation of the world by the Father through the Hypostatic Word in the Holy Spirit: “All things came into being through him” (John 1:3). It is at the creation of the world, as the world-man, that Godmotherhood and Incarnation begin. The “Bride,” which, despite contracting the corruption of the fall, is nevertheless the first Eve, and points forward to the new, true Eve, the “woman clothed with the sun” (Rev 12:1), the Bride of Christ (Rev 21:9). In the same way, Godfatherhood, as the genealogy of Christ the Savior, is the primary and essential content of the entire Old Testament both in a particular and a wider sense, that is, including all humanity.
With the appearance of Christ in the world, all the rays of the Incarnation’s energy are gathered together in Him and His Mother, and all the power of sacrificiality is focused in the Sacrifice on Golgotha with the shedding of His blood. But this, in its turn, prefigures the glorious Resurrection, the Ascension, and the awe-inspiring Second coming and abiding presence with us unto ages of ages. The whole life of God with human beings, Theophany in the world, is sacrificial, and the center and symbol of that sacrificiality is the Divine Eucharist, the eucharistic sacrifice. God, coming out from Himself, sacrifices the repose of eternity through Divine sabbath rest for the sake of the world, in order to call it from non-being to the creaturely Sabbath rest of the age to come. The Divine Sacrifice is a sacrifice offered not by the Second Hypostasis alone, but also by the Father and the Holy Spirit, the Holy Trinity.
Existing in the Divine fullness of eternity, He, the Creator, Savior, and Deifier, acts out of kenosis in the creation of the world and on behalf of the salvation of creatures from their limitations and sin. This kenosis manifests itself differently for each Hypostasis, but is one for the entire Holy Trinity. One cannot say that the Son, incarnate, descending from heaven, alone offers Himself as sacrifice, but the entire Holy Trinity. Both the Upper Room as well as our churchly altar–wherever the eucharistic sacrifice of the Son is accomplished–extend unto the ends of the whole world and even beyond it, unto the supra- heavenly world of the Holy Trinity. In them, the Creator meets and unites with deified creation, and completes the Mystery of “the Word became flesh.”