What a useful book! So many histories of the Eucharist deal primarily with its theological development, it is a pleasure to have a book in a format large enough to accommodate architectural drawings, substantial apposite quotations in the margins, photos of liturgical vessels from Roman times to the present, substantial sections on the written forms of liturgical texts from scrolls to books, the development of music from single voice poetic recitation of psalms and prayers. A former edition has been expanded by the addition of brief summaries of Eucharistic theologies. Some readers might want more substantial sections of theologies, but since so many theological texts are available, what Foley provides is welcome, useful, and sufficient.
Written for the intelligent non-specialist, each chapter ends with a one to two page fictional vignette based on the content of the chapter. This sort of dedication to varieties of pedagogical methods is not heavy-handed; readers may enjoy or skip these little stories.
It would not be easy to read the book straight through. It will be useful for semester-long adult education classes in parishes, for undergraduate courses in colleges, and in seminaries if the students are encouraged to use the bibliography to deepen areas of their particular interest.
Foley’s sources are the best scholarship available today and that makes it useful as a starting place for setting the liturgical context for more concentrated studies. For example, I will use this book as a jumping off place for portions of research in which I am currently engaged that take me outside the areas of my previous scholarship.