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Liturgical Press

Words without Alloy

A Biography of the Lectionary for Mass

Paul Turner

Words without Alloy SEE INSIDE
Words without Alloy

ISBN: 9780814667637, 6763

Details: 296 pgs, 6 x 9 x 5/8
Publication Date: 10/27/2022
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2023 Catholic Media Association Honorable Mention, Liturgy

Why do we have the readings we have on the days we have them? Roman Catholics enjoy the rotation of readings from the Lectionary for Mass because they offer a rich presentation of the Bible, anchor the Liturgy of the Word, and provide a source of private meditation. But how did the pairing of all these readings come about? In Words without Alloy, Paul Turner traces the history of the lectionary as if it were a person coming to full maturity. By following the development of the lectionary, readers may come to a deeper appreciation of the One whose words it speaks.

Paul Turner is pastor of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Kansas City, Missouri and director of the Office of Divine Worship for the Diocese of Kansas City––St. Joseph. He holds a doctorate in sacred theology from Sant’ Anselmo in Rome. He is a former president of the North American Academy of Liturgy and a member of Societas Liturgica and the Catholic Academy of Liturgy. He is the author of numerous books published by Liturgical Press and a contributor to Give Us This Day.

ISBN: 9780814667637, 6763

Details: 296 pgs, 6 x 9 x 5/8
Publication Date: 10/27/2022


"Although we all make use of the Lectionary weekly if not daily, we had little understanding of how it came to be, until this fascinating new 'biography of the Lectionary' by Paul Turner. Herein we can explore how biblical and liturgical scholars collaborated to construct the church’s Lectionary for Mass following the mandates of the Second Vatican Council, how they brought from the Church’s storeroom both the ancient traditions of biblical readings for the church’s Sundays and feasts as well as new biblical insights to demonstrate how the living word of God unfolds the mystery of Christ throughout the liturgical year. Since the rich fare of Scripture provided by the post-conciliar Lectionary has brought immeasurable gifts to God’s people with its lavish presentation at the table of God’s word, this book is a captivating study for presiders, homilists, deacons, lectors, cantors, and all the faithful who feast on the banquet provided by the Liturgy of the Word."
Stephen J. Binz, biblical scholar, writer, and speaker at, author of Holy Land Pilgrimage

"In meticulous detail, Fr. Paul Turner has told one of the great success stories of the Second Vatican Council: the revision of the lectionary. The book will serve preachers and liturgical planners well in their need for a lucid understanding of the complex thinking behind the structure of the lectionary we use in our liturgical celebrations today. An important historical and theological contribution to liturgical studies."
Michael E. Connors CSC, director of the John S. Marten Program in Homiletics and Liturgics, University of Notre Dame

“Why do we have the readings we have on the days we have them? Paul Turner’s wonderful 'biography' of the revised lectionary explores this question in fascinating detail. It offers insights into the people of Study Group 11 charged with revising the lectionary, summaries of their reports, and most intriguing, the surprising reasons for some of their choices. Many of us have a vague understanding of the background of the revised lectionary, but few of us know how and why it took this particular shape. Preachers may emerge from this deep dive into the lectionary with new inspiration and new insights for preaching effectively over a season."
Susan Fleming McGurgan, DMin, Adjunct Instructor, Mount St. Mary’s School of Theology, founder of

"Fr. Paul Turner shows himself in Words Without Alloy to be not just a master liturgist, and one who helps us understand the purposes and functions of the revised lectionary for our worship, but a compelling historian, who unravels the intricate threads of the working group who compiled the lectionary readings. The book reads at times like a mystery, as Fr. Turner shows us how choices for biblical readings were made and how these readings influenced the Mass, affecting homilies, liturgical music, and other forms of art. Essential reading for all liturgical ministers to gain a deeper knowledge of how the Bible shapes our liturgies and for anyone interested in a more complete understanding of how the Bible grounds our worship."
John Martens, professor of theology at St. Mark's College at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada

"Turner’s work on the history of the lectionary, especially on its development in the deliberations of Vatican II, is a significant contribution for those interested in how the current lectionary came to be such a critical liturgical text."
Catholic Media Association

"This book marks an important contribution to theological and historical study of the liturgy. It introduces the reader to a friend that accompanies and speaks powerfully of the saving works of God."
The Furrow