By Lee Palmer Wandel

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Extra info for A Companion to the Eucharist in the Reformation

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As Isabelle Brian shows in her contribution, early modern Catholics drew upon objects and images, as well as enactments in their explication of the mystery of the Eucharist. As Jaime Lara reveals, the same words had different resonances in another hemisphere. Achim Timmermann, Birgit Ulrike Münch, and Andreas Gorman show some of the ways images participated actively in eucharistic thinking. And Alexander Fisher conveys something of the Eucharist’s sound and the ways that sound at once was integral to the liturgy and brought eucharistic resonances to spaces that were public and not consecrated to the liturgy.

The important point for our purposes is that Wyclif’s rejection of transubstantiation emerged from his philosophical position on substance, accidents, and the possibilities of their relationships, a discussion that first emerged in the Berengarian debates and gradually became more and more complex and obscure. Sixteenth-century reformers reacted, in part, to just such theological complexity as exemplified in the theology of the Eucharist. For sixteenth-century critics, the whole enterprise was so complicated and required such specialized knowledge that the worshiping community’s simple experience of the risen Christ was somehow forgotten in a labyrinth of philosophical niceties that only served, in the eyes of some, to uphold the power of the priest.

The Dominican Richard Fishacre, who taught at Oxford ca. 1240–1248, refined and developed Alexander’s theology. Richard rejected the substitution theory as defended by Roland of Cremona, since quantity as a mathematical entity could more naturally take on the role of a subject for the other accidents. The Franciscan master, William of Militona, who taught in Paris from 1245 to 1253, and Albert the Great, the famous Dominican, teaching on the Eucharist in Paris ca. 40 Thomas Aquinas, the Dominican theologian whose work would become the standard of orthodoxy for Roman Catholicism after the Reformation, therefore inherited an already constructed metaphysics of the Eucharist.

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