The Liturgical Transformation of Time: Memory and Eschatological Anticipation in Christian and Jewish Liturgy
Contributor(s)O'Donnell, Emma K. (O'Donnell, Emma K.) (Authoraut)
Baldovin, John F. (Baldovin, John F.) (Thesis advisorths)
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AbstractThis dissertation examines the interaction of communal religious memory and eschatological anticipation within Jewish and Christian liturgical performance, and charts the ways that Jewish and Christian liturgical practices inform the experience of time. It proposes that the liturgical conjunction of the historical sense of time, which encompasses notions of the past, present, and future, and the observance of the cyclical passing of hours creates a unique experience of time. This liturgical experience of time arises through ritual meditation on the religiously envisioned past and future, and is marked by a perceived interpenetration of time. Judaism and Christianity each hold distinct temporal visions that inform the way the past, present, and future are understood. In each tradition, the narrative of the past informs the understanding of the present, and indicates a shape for the future. Inversely, the contours of the envisioned eschatological future inform the perception of the present, and influence the way that the past is remembered. This study argues that the liturgical performance of the temporal orientations of each tradition engenders a transformed experience of time. It demonstrates how the ritual engagement of memory and anticipation contribute to a re-shaping of the experience of time, allowing the liturgical community to experience the past and future as operative in the present. Driven by the conviction that a religiously and ritually shaped vision of time is a significant point of convergence in Jewish and Christian religious experience, yet largely overlooked in scholarship to date, this study addresses both Jewish and Christian contexts. In the study of the Christian context, it focuses on the Liturgy of the Hours, the celebration of which engages communal memory and anticipation within the setting of liturgical services that regularly punctuate the hours of day and night. The study of the Jewish context addresses a wider range of liturgies, focusing on the daily services as well as on highly memorial and eschatological holidays such as Passover and Shabbat, with attention to how each contributes to a transformed experience of time. To address the elusive phenomenon of ritual experience, this study explores the perception of time from a phenomenological perspective, employing an interdisciplinary methodology that utilizes ritual and performance theories, aesthetics, and hermeneutics, in conversation with contemporary Jewish and Christian liturgical thought. Motivated by the notion that the experience of time is integral to faith, this project proposes that the concept of a liturgically transformed experience of time sheds light on essential aspects of Jewish and Christian religious experience. The experience of time cannot be extricated from subjectivity, and this quality is precisely what grants its study the capacity to address some of the most interior aspects of faith. This study proposes, furthermore, that the intimacy of the experience of time grants it the particular gift of communicating across the boundaries of religious traditions, subtly transgressing obstacles to interreligious understanding.