The Second Factor: Centering Focus

Richard Kieckhefer

in Theology in Stone

Published in print April 2004 | ISBN: 9780195154665
Published online July 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780199835676 | DOI:
 The Second Factor: Centering Focus

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In the classic sacramental tradition, the main focus is the altar, conceived as the place of eucharistic sacrifice. The history of the altar is discussed, with reference to the pagan temples and the early Christian house of worship at Dura Europos, in Syria, where the altar seems to have been a moveable table. The proliferation of altars in medieval churches is illustrated by Saint-Jacques in Perpignan, in France. The centrality of the pulpit in the classic evangelical tradition is traced to its origins—although the Castle Chapel at Torgau (an early example of Protestant church design) retains the altar and the pulpit as alternative foci. In the modern communal tradition of church design, which takes the congregation as the chief focus, liturgical furnishings tend to be relatively simple and are often moveable. Baptisteries, as secondary liturgical foci, are related in various ways to the overall design of a church.

Keywords: centering focus; eucharistic sacrifice; Dura Europos; altar; Saint-Jacques in Perpignan (France) pulpit; Castle Chapel at Torgau (Germany); baptistery

Chapter.  17358 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Christian Theology

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