Owen F. Cummings, the author of Eucharistic Doctors, is a Roman Catholic deacon who teaches at Mt. Angel Seminary in Oregon. The book’s publisher, Paulist Press, is a Catholic publisher. This should not scare off any non-Catholics from reading this book. Cummings puts together theologians of various Christian traditions by discussing their biographies and summarizing their work in the area of the Eucharist or Lord’s Supper.
Cummings divides his book into five parts according to time periods. The first part, the patristic age, is represented by St. Ignatius of Antioch, St. Justin, St. Hippolytus, St. Ephrem, St. Cyril of Jerusalem, St. John Chrysostom, St. Ambrose, St. Augustine, and finally St. Maximus the Confessor. The Middle Ages are represented by an anonymous Celt, John Scottus Eriugena, Hugh of St. Victor, Cardinal Robert Pullen, St. Thomas Aquinas, John Duns Scotus, and John Wyclif.
The third period, the Reformation age, is represented by Martin Luther, Huldrych Zwingli, John Calvin, St. John Fisher, and Archbishop Thomas Cranmer. The fourth period Cummings calls “After the Reformation,” and it is represented by George Herbert, St. Robert Bellarmine, Jeremy Taylor, and John Wesley. The fifth part - called the Modern Age - is represented by Friedrich Schleiermacher, Johann Adam Mohler, John Henry Newman, Edward B. Pusey, David N. Power, and Geoffrey Wainwright.
Cummings aims to present not only the Roman Catholic view on the topic of the Eucharist, but to include the views of others. He says that what unites them is their “recognition that the Eucharist is central to the Christian faith.” This might be true to some extent for some denominations, especially the Orthodox and some Anglicans, but for other traditions it is not so true; the issue of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist is the point of division.
Cummings presents the biography and theology of each theologian included as well as providing quotes from their works. He ends each chapter with endnotes which can take the place of a bibliography. Since this book is on an ecumenical level, it is a good tool to learn what various Christian denominations believe or teach about the Eucharist. As an historical discussion on the Eucharist, it can serve as an introduction to the study of this topic by usie of its endnotes for further reading.
Cummings is the author of Saintly Deacons (2005), Deacons and the Church (2004), Mystical Women, Mystical Body (2000), Eucharistic Soundings (1999), and Coming to Christ (1998) and co-authored Theology of the Diaconate (2005).
Eucharistic Doctors is recommended to those interested in Eucharistic theology from an historical point of view.