Dix, Gregory. The Shape of the Liturgy. 2nd ed. London:Continuum International Publishing Group, 2005 (republished from 1945 original edition).
Chapter 10, “The Theology of Consecration” pp. 268-302.
Dix begins by observing the Church being offered to God through the work of Jesus giving himself into death. The taking and eating makes celebration an action of the whole congregation, in both “offering and communion, and not one action only, to ‘eat’” (Dix 2005, 268). The prayer comes between the offering and the communion. The eucharist consecration, as seen by Dix, “states the total meaning of what is there done; and that meaning can only be authoritatively stated by one who is entitled to speak not only for the congregation there present or even for the whole local church, but for the universal church in all ages and all places” (Dix 2005, 269). In the pre-Nicene period this was the bishop of the area, though it has since been applied to all the presbyters. The prayer of consecration is therefore the act of the whole body of Christ identifying with Christ’s own offering (Dix 2005, 271). This is decidedly an anamnesis of Christ’s death. By the fourth century, though, rather than the prayers of thanksgiving being central, Dix sees the second part of the prayer and the Words of Institution taking precedence (Dix 2005, 276). In this time also Christ began to be viewed more passively as the victim rather than actively offering himself (Dix 2005, 278). Though rites varied somewhat, Dix traces them as typically adding an invocation of the Holy Spirit as well. This, Dix sees, is also related to the increasingly passive view of Christ (Dix 2005, 281). Dix then identifies the rite in both East and West as an anamnesis of Christ’s death and resurrection (Dix 2005, 289). From this point it was a fairly natural step to view the invocation as central (Dix 205, 290-294). Is this the time of consecration? Dix makes a brief study of different catechisms. His conclusion is that the various rites developed from a common primitive church practice which emphasized the Christ as the active agent.