DOORS TO THE SACRED: A Historical Introduction to the Sacraments in the Catholic Church by Joseph Martos

DOORS TO THE SACRED: A Historical Introduction to the Sacraments in the Catholic Church

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Too much theology, too little anthropology and cultural history in this otherwise competent survey. Martos examines transubstantiation, consubstantiation, transignification, and other Eucharistic subtleties, but neglects the psychological implications of eating one's God, the immense folklore that has grown up around it, its relation to the Eleusinian mysteries, Mithraic banquets, etc. He opens each chapter on the individual sacraments with a section on ""parallels and precedents,"" but his references to primitive ritual and Jewish liturgical practice are perfunctory and vague. He discusses changing Christian attitudes toward death without mentioning Philippe Ariès, brings up ""sacramental magic,"" but not Bronislaw Malinowski. We hear a great deal of Rahner, Schillebeeckx, and Bernard Cooke, but nothing of James, Durkheim, Weber, or Jung. Even Eliade barely rates a notice. The topic, to be sure, is immense; no one could cover it completely. And for the reader willing to work within Martos' limits, the book provides a thorough, reliable outline of the evolution of the sacraments. Martos starts all his explanations (e.g., of Arianism) from scratch, and builds up to a level of considerable sophistication. His general bias is liberal, but he doesn't press it. So readers interested in studying the Catholic sacramental system from the inside will find this a useful guide, but anyone looking for full-bodied, wide-ranging Religionsgeschichte will be badly disappointed.

Pub Date: April 3rd, 1981
Publisher: Doubleday