“A panoramic survey of Christian church architecture as viewed through the lens of liturgy”

Since it was published in 2008, Allan Doig’s book Liturgy and Architecture has proved consistently popular. The book explores the interrelationship of liturgy and architecture from the Early Church to the close of the Middle Ages

Buildings and their archaeology are standing indices of human activity, and the whole matrix of meaning they present is highly revealing of the larger meaning of ritual performance within, and movement through, their space.

The excavation of the mid-third-century church at Dura Europos in the Syrian desert, the grandeur of Constantine’s Imperial basilicas, the influence of the great pilgrimage sites, and the marvels of soaring Gothic cathedrals, all come alive in a new way when the space is animated by the liturgy for which they were built.


‘So frequently church buildings are treated as beautiful objects without appreciating why they vary from place to place and century to century, or how they were meant to function in the worship of God. Allan Doig is a sure guide to the drama of Christian liturgy and the ways in which it has shaped the spaces in which it is performed.’    Diarmaid MacCulloch, University of Oxford, UK

‘The most important influences on the form of a building include functions, architectural traditions and innovations, availability of materials, and money. In the case of churches one of the chief functions is housing the liturgy, a subject which, to say the least, is difficult to pin down. Allan Doig’s book performs the sterling service of synthesising – and analysing – great swathes of the disparate research on the subject, producing a clear overview of how the Christian liturgy interacts with architecture from the first century to the sixteenth. It will be greatly welcomed by architectural historians.’    Eric Fernie, Courtauld Institute of Art, UK

‘This is a panoramic survey of Christian church architecture as viewed through the lens of liturgy. It commands both of these complex fields with ease and with welcome attention to political history as well. I know nothing of comparable range and readability.’    Richard Pfaff, University of North Carolina, USA

‘… traces a rich variety of paths from the first known structures in Syria and Rome in the third century through to the glories of King’s College Chapel; there’s a lot to cram in, and he does it with aplomb.’   History Today

‘This work is a successful and much-needed source on the subject… this volume fills an important void in the literature and will be the critical source on the subject for some time. … Essential.’   Choice

‘It is a hard task to capture this vision in scholarly prose, but it is a work which Doig has done his best to achieve; and there are many places in this important work where he achieves just this.’    David Stancliffe, Bishop of Salisbury, in Art and Christianity

‘There have often been books on church architecture but very few which have revealed, as this book does, the inter-relationship of architecture and the functions of Christian worship.’    The Brown Book

‘This is an impressive, insightful, informative study, keenly aware of the relevant archaeological data, sensitive both to liturgical and to architectural theory and development and versed in the source documents.’    Theological Book Review

‘This is a work that rewards reading. It will be particularly useful for those who are interested in either the architecture of the period, or the liturgy, but who wish to have an insight into the other discipline. It will also be helpful for those who are considering the liturgy and space of their own church as it demonstrates both that worship can be powerful and lively and that change happens.’    Theology

About the author: The Revd Dr Allan Doig is Fellow, Chaplain and Tutor for Graduates at Lady Margaret Hall, and a member of the Faculty of Theology in the University of Oxford.

More about Liturgy and Architecture

More about the Liturgy, Worship and Society series


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