I have a lovely postcard which I bought when I was a keen little boy very interested, I can't now remember why, in Science. It came from the Natural History Museum, and showed the skull which was the final glorious proof that Men are descended from Apes; the long awaited proof of Darwinianism: Eoanthropus Dawsonii, AKA the Piltdown Man, AKA the Great Hoax. If I had time to waste being childish, I'd pin it up with a picture beside it of the mighty Dawkins.
Liturgy has its Piltdown Man; the 'Liturgy of Hippolytus'. Actually, I'm not being quite fair; Piltdown Man was a deliberate forgery; an attempt to provide the evidence for a dogma for which genuine evidence had been tantalisingly too coy to show itself. 'Hippolytus' is no forgery, but a genuine first millennium liturgical text.
But, everyone now agrees, it is not by Hippolytus, nor was it a very early liturgy of the Roman Church. And Professor Paul Bradshaw has shown good reason to think that it is not nearly as early as used to be assumed. Yet this text dominated the Committee-Liturgy reconstructions of the twentieth century. It provided the basis of the Eucharistic Prayer which is by far the most commonly, and disastrously, used in the Catholic Church: Prayer 2. It was the model of the drafts which started to be considered in the Church of England in the late 1960s.
Gregory Dix was among the many taken in by the then consensus that (what earlier writers had called) 'The Egyptian Church Order' was really an early form of the Roman Rite; although his instincts were too sound to swallow the idea that really early liturgy had an Epiclesis of the Holy Spirit after the Institution Narrative (he concluded that this must have been an interpolation into 'Hippolytus' dating from the fourth century, when notions of Epiclesis became popular in the East).
Despite its dodgy origins, 'Hippolytus' became real politics in the C of E in 1965, and initially appeared to be productive of highly useful results. The Liturgical Commission offered a draft Eucharistic Prayer which ran "Wherefore ... we offer unto thee this bread and this cup; and we pray thee to accept this our duty and service in the presence of thy divine majesty (note the echoes of the Canon: ... offerimus ... panem ... calicem ... hanc ... oblationem servitutis nostrae ... ... in conspectu divinae maietatis tuae ...). A year later they offered the explanation "this need mean no more than 'we put this bread and this cup at God's disposal', so that he may use them to feed those who receive in faith. It can, of course, be interpreted to mean something else; but it does not assert the fully developed doctrine of the Eucharistic Sacrifice. It confines itself to the simple language of the first two centuries ... Hippolytus ... Irenaeus ... Justin ... Clement ... The use of the phrase is in line with the Anglican appeal to antiquity". But a tiny 'note of dissent' followed from one Colin Buchanan: "I reluctantly dissent ... Inquiry has shown that the phrase ... is unacceptable to many Anglicans".
Buchanan was not just a single individual. He was front man for the (mostly) Calvinist extreme Evangelical wing of the Church of England. In the decades which followed, his eagle eye relentlessly spotted and vetoed (through the Evangelical block vote in Synods) any phrase expressive of the Eucharistic Sacrifice; not because he wanted to save evangelicals from having phrases they disliked forced upon them; there was no proposal or desire on anybody's part to make evangelicals use anything they didn't like - he just couldn't stand the thought that, in a long list of optional alternatives, there might be even just one on the menu which Anglo-Catholics could use with a moderately good conscience.
The poor bloke would go apoplectic if anybody pointed this out to him, but the main fruit of his long and active life was the unwillingness of many Anglican Catholics to use any of the Eucharistic prayers authorised by the Church of England. All those decades of Liturgical Revision since the 1920s, Green Books and Orange books and 1927 and 1928 and goodness knows what, Series One, Two, Three ... the Alternative Service Book and Common Worship ... mostly with options galore ... and "Catholics in the Church of England" still don't have one single usable Eucharistic Prayer!
Even 'Non-Conformist' churches use 'offer' language nowadays; I've heard it among Methodists and URC: after all, it is based on a diachronic and synchronic ecumenical consensus. But not in Buchanan's C of E. Paradoxically, the 'Reformation' body which retained the most 'Catholic' doctrines, traditions, and structures became, in the second half of the twentieth century, the most inflexibly anti-Catholic of the whole lot in its refusal to allow any approximation, however ambiguous, to Catholic doctrine in its Eucharistic rites. The dear old whore (I say this with great affection and in my very friendliest tones) is now Liberal in ethical matters and Church Order; and extreme Proddy in the texts of her worship.
There are rumours that in some secret Vatican angulo a Eucharistic Prayer is being confected which may be used by both Catholics and Protestants. I wonder if it will be usable by Evangelical Anglicans ... if it includes any suggestion of 'offering' the Eucharistic Elements, it won't be. Secondly, I wonder if it will be usable by Byzantines. When, in 1928, the Church of England proposed a revision which included an Epiclesis, Orthodox critics made very clear that that Epiclesis did not match up to Byzantine standards. Orthodox can be very rigid!
While we remained in the C of E, we 'papalists', of course, used the rites of 'another Church'. But for those of you who turned down Pope Benedict's offer and are still hunkering down in the bilge water of Old Mother Damnable, the only liturgies legally available to you are perched on the extreme 'left' wing of the Reformation spectrum!