On Scripture and Liturgy

“The force which drives Jews and Christians to write scripture is the same force which drives them first to assemble for divine worship, and that it is the worshiping assembly which is both the genesis point and ongoing milieu of the assembly’s liturgical ritual no less than of its canonical scriptures. In this perspective the assembly specifies God’s Word in literary and intellectual ways just as liturgical worship specifies the same Word in communal actions and in the affections of the worshippers. From this it seems to follow that what is affirmed of scripture must be affirmed mutatis mutandis of liturgical worship. Thus, if scripture is more than just words about God – that is, if scripture is in some real sense the Word of God – then the liturgical worship of an assembly of faithful Jews or Christians is not merely words and gestures about God but in some real sense the Word and gestes of God. The phenomenon of the common tradition’s sustained need to canonize its liturgies no less than its scriptures stands as witness to this.”

–Aidan Kavanagh, “Scripture and Worship in Synagogue and Church,” (482).


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