Theological Emphasis of non-Chalcedonian Orthodox Liturgy?

edited December 1969 in Coptic Orthodox Church
Hello all,

An interesting discussion started by an acquaintance of mine of an RC background who is currently exploring Eastern Orthodoxy has prompted me to wonder about Oriental Orthodoxy: What is the theological emphasis of the liturgy, in the Alexandrian Orthodox tradition? Is it, as has been explained to me, the Resurrection (as Byzantines say of their own EO liturgy), or the Crucifixion (as in the RC mass), or something else? My friend is coming from what he refers to as an Anselmian background, which as far as I gather posits a sort of "sacrifice as payment/divine justice" (I never studied Anselm myself, so I'm definitely vague on that). From my own reading of the Liturgy of St. Basil, I'm certainly not seeing that...but I also wouldn't want to assume that the Alexandrian school of thought would necessarily match the Antiochian when they seem to be very distinct in their overall approach to and understanding of the scriptures. He is wondering about the possible sacrificial meaning of the EO liturgy (since he doesn't see it if it is not within the paradigm he already knows), and I'd like to present him with an Alexandrian perspective of Orthodoxy, should there be any particularly distinctive ideas to note in the context of his struggle. I'm not so much trying to dissuade him from going Byzantine, but at the same time I would like him to know from the get-go that there is more than one way of looking at things (especially since as recently as two or three months ago he was telling me "I just don't understand why you want to be Orthodox...there's a Coptic Church in my town, and I don't think I could ever go to it!" How swiftly our Lord may work to open our hearts!)

Is there a good place to find writings on such aspects of the faith? Most of what I've read on the liturgy itself is more step-by-step explanatory booklets, and less about the "theological philosophy" of the liturgy, for lack of a better way to put it. I don't doubt that there is probably a lot on this in somewhere in the voluminous writings of HH, but I can't recall anything specific at the moment.

Thank you all in advance for any guidance you can provide.


  • I'm not sure if this is what you're looking for. The first book that comes to mind is Fr Tadros Malaty Christ in the Eucahrist. This talks specifically about liturgical theology.

    Another book is Stephen Davis Coptic Christology in Practice. There is no preview of this book and there aren't many libraries that have the book. I haven't read it yet.

    Another book, Issues in Eucharist Praying in East and West, is fairly detailed and speaks a good amount of Coptic liturgical theology.

    I hope this helps.
  • Thank you so much, George. I will read through those previews to see if there are passages from them that I can show my friend. They look like they will be really helpful.

    Unfortunately, it looks like the nearest library that has "Coptic Christology in Practice" is 589 miles away from me, but maybe I can request it through interlibrary loan once I begin attending school in Albuquerque. I'm sure I can tie it into linguistics somehow...  ;)
  • pm me your email, i think i have it
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