Dix, Gregory. The Shape of the Liturgy. 2nd ed. London:Continuum International Publishing Group, 2005 (republished from 1945 original edition).
Chapter 3, “The Classical Shape of the Liturgy I: The Synaxis.” pp. 36-47
Dix classifies the parts of classic liturgy, identifying certain elements. “The primitive core of the liturgy falls into two parts - the Synaxis (a Greek word which means properly simply a ‘meeting’) and the Eucharist proper (or ‘thanksgiving’). These were separate things, which had a different origin” (Dix 2005, 36). The Synaxis was adopted directly from Jewish synagogue worship. Though the Eucharist had Jewish roots it was more distinct in development within a Christian context. Dix observes that the synaxis and eucharist did not always occur together (cf. Justin’s Apology 65 and 67, as well as Hippolytus ii-iii vs. xxi and xxii) (Ibid., 36). However, “the synaxis normally preceded the eucharist in the regular Sunday worship of all churches in the second century. From the fourth century onwards, the two were gradually fused” (Ibid., 37).
To study the synaxis, Dix takes us to the Jewish synagogue. The service “consisted of public readings from the scripture, the singing of psalms, a sermon and a number of set prayers” (Ibid., 37). Christian tradition universally places the prayers after the sermon, while some within Judaism find the prayers earlier and some later. In the Christian tradition the following pattern is always found (Ibid., 38):
- Dismissal of those who were not part of the church
- Dismissal(collection may occur as needed)