School of Theology and Seminary Graduate Papers/Theses

Date of Award


Document Type

Graduate Paper

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Theology


School of Theology and Seminary

First Advisor

R. Kevin Seasoltz, OSB

Subject Categories



This paper examines four Eastern liturgical commentaries for their allegorical and typological understandings of the divine liturgy and its symbolic structures: the Baptismal or Catechetical Commentaries of Theodore of Mopsuestia (d. 428); Ecclesiastical Hierarchy of Pseudo-Dionysius (c. 5th century); The Church’s Mystagogy of Maximus the Confessor (580- 662); Ecclesiastical History and Mystical Contemplation of Germanus (c. 730). These typologies relate the elements and rites of the Eucharist to other historical events or higher realities, from historical reenactments of the life of Christ and the prefiguring of the heavenly kingdom, to the mind and soul’s symbolic journey toward the divine, to an ultimate synthesis of a cosmic liturgy, representing heaven on earth. Such readings to a certain degree reflect the Antiochene tendency toward literal understanding and historical typology as well as typically Alexandrian methods of allegory and anagogy, but they are often dismissed by modern readers as simplistic and uncritical conceptions of liturgy. More careful examination of some of these commentaries and their methods of “reading” liturgy reveals a certain richness and creativity for understanding Eucharistic re-presentation, particularly when multivalent associations are held in balance and not reduced to a single dramatic or historical account.

Included in

Religion Commons



Request More Information

Would you like to study with us, on-campus or online, or come to Saint John’s for sabbatical?
If so, please inquire here.