Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Donald Keefe

Second Advisor

Joseph A. Murphy

Third Advisor

Joseph T. Lienhard

Fourth Advisor

Kenneth Hagen


The work of Gerhard Ebeling on the Eucharist brings to light the underlying problematic of history. Here, history is understood to be the result of a liturgical interpretation of time and therefore a fundamental theological category. In Ebeling's work, at least two diverging views of the meaning of history appear. Attention to these interpretations of the Eucharistic symbols and their divergent views of history may help to clarify and resolve current ecumenical dialogue. Chapter one discusses Ebeling's insistence that both the meaning of the Eucharist and the meaning of history are linguistic: they reflect the Protestant emphasis on the liturgy of the word. Chapter two demonstrates that a number of other Protestant theologians, Ernst Fuchs, Oscar Cullmann and Jurgen Moltmann, substantially support Ebeling's view of history, thereby indicating that this view may be a somewhat generalizable character among Protestant Christians. Chapter three examines Roman Catholic doctrine, as formulated at the II Vatican Council, and the theologies of Hans Urs von Balthasar, Yves Congar and Henri de Lubac, showing that in order to sustain Catholic convictions concerning history a different view of the Eucharist is required. The emphasis is on the representation of the sacrifice of Christ ex opere operato in the sacrifice of the Mass. The understanding of history corresponding to this Eucharistic realism, which supposes the sacramental immanence of Christ's sacrifice in the Church's historical worship as the casual prius of that worship, demands that the sacrificial and sacramental presence of Christ be an event irreducible to a deed of the linguistic community which is the Church. Chapter four posits that the interest in the theology of history evidenced by the work of Ebeling and others offers the opportunity to transpose much of the contemporary ecumenical discussion to an exploration of the confessional significance of history, a subject currently rather hastily dealt with in Roman Catholic theology, but one grounded in Roman Catholic doctrine and deserving of concerted ecumenical investigation capable of transcending 'an old polemic'.



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