The history of the three-year lectionaries tells a tale of an evolving hermeneutic. Originating in the Roman Lectionary, this hermeneutic was developed in subsequent denominational and ecumenical versions. An amalgam of the historical hermeneutics of the two western traditions, it uses both the memory of the Church to interpret the Bible and the Bible to structure the memory of the Church.
After an examination of the hermeneutic, West lays out the memory patterns of the two most widely used versions of this lectionary: the Roman Lectionary and the Revised Common Lectionary. A knowledge of these memory patterns can help preachers create sermons in keeping with the lectionary's interpretative intent, because a Church's memory plays a large part in the interpretation of Scripture, and a lectionary text is interpreted before it is preached.
Scripture and Memory moves from the general to the particular. It develops a hermeneutic of the liturgical reading of Scripture which it then applies to the Lectionary for Mass and the Revised Common Lectionary. The hermeneutical reflections in the first three chapters make lections their starting point. Since lectionaries are the liturgical form of Scripture lectionaries, they provide insight into the liturgical hermeneutic at work in the selection of Scripture for reading in worship. Focusing on the Lectionary for Mass and the Revised Common Lectionary, chapters four through seven describe this hermeneutic at work in each segment of the liturgical year. The last chapter gives an overview of these lectionaries; the postscript addresses the challenges of preaching them. A thorough index, organized as a comparative table, references the readings in the Lectionary for Mass and the Revised Common Lectionary. With this format, readers can note those instances when the discussion of readings in one lectionary pertains to readings in the other.
Chapters are: "Introduction," "From Bible to Liturgy: The Hermeneutical Trajectory of Lections," "Language and Lections," "The Christmas Cycle," "The Easter Cycle," "Ordinary Time (1)," "Ordinary Time (2)," and "The Two Lectionaries."
This book will interest Roman Catholic and Protestant scholars, clergy, and students interested in liturgy or preaching in English-speaking countries that use the Lectionary for Mass (Ordo Lectionum Missae) or the Revised Common Lectionary.
Fritz S. West, PhD, is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. A liturgical scholar, he is also the author of The Comparative Liturgy of Anton Baumstark.