The Euchologion Unveiled:
An Explanation of Byzantine Liturgical Practice II
By Archbishop Job Getcha
Who’s it for? Those involved in liturgical and pastoral ministry, primarily in the Orthodox Church, as well as liturgical historians and theologians interested in the development of the sacramental life of the Christian East.
What is this? This volume is the fourth book in the Orthodox Liturgy Series published by St. Vladimir’s Press and the second by Archbishop Job Getcha. This contribution explains the history and present rite of the sacraments of the Orthodox Church.
Why is this book useful? By examining selected manuscripts over the centuries, the author shows how these rites have evolved to their present form. The book is most helpful when it draws theological meaning from the text and their contextual rubrics.
Kudos. The volume not only presents the standard “seven” sacraments, but expands our understanding of the “mysteries” of the Church by using older lists (of what was considered a “sacrament”) and includes the rites for taking Monastic vows, a Funeral (and its variations), sanctification of Myron [Chrism], Dedication of a Church and the Blessing of water (Great Blessing on Theophany as well as the small blessing.) The explanations are highly detailed and the author also outlines the differences in Slavic verses Greek practice of these rites. Of particular note are the parallels between the rites of Initiation of a Christian and the Dedication of a Church. In addition, liturgiologists might be especially interested in seeing the juxtaposition of the ancient Cathedral rite (i.e. the Asmaticos office) with the influence of the Palestinian monastic office in the funeral service prescribed for clergy.
Quibbles. As the title of the book suggests, the book references the service order and prayers found in the Euchologion [Prayer Book] of the Orthodox Church. The author assumes a familiarity with these prayers and only includes the opening phrase when referencing them. For the reader unfamiliar with said prayers, cross-referencing with the Prayer Book is necessary. As customary in the Orthodox world (but not in other Christian traditions), the author references all psalms with LXX numbering. As noted above, the book is most helpful to pastors and students of liturgy when he draws a theological meaning from the text. However, the author also includes commentary from medieval mystagogical explanations of the rites that I found less helpful. Still, the work is well researched and a complement to his earlier contribution to the series.
Getcha, Archbishop Job. The Euchologion Unveiled: An Explanation of Byzantine Liturgical Practice II. Yonkers, New York: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2021. 259 pages. $32.00. ISBN: 9780881416350.
REVIEWER: Teva Regule
President of the Orthodox Theological Society in America
Adjunct Professor of Theology, Boston College