Monday, June 13, 2011

Blog Tour: The Poisoned Chalice (Review)

Editors Note: This is the first of two communion-related books I'll be reviewing on my blog. This first book, written by a former classmate at Asbury Seminary, takes a look at the history of communion in the Methodist church. 

From the Publisher: 
Jennifer Woodruff Tait's work, The Poisoned Chalice, examines the introduction of grape juice into the celebration of Holy Communion in the late 19th century Methodist Episcopal Church and reveals how a 1,800-year-old practice of using fermented communion wine became theologically incomprehensible in a mere 40 years.

What I Thought
I really liked how Woodruff Tait unpacks the history of the use of grape juice by the Methodist church during the sacrament of communion; and shows how cultural influences (and the views of alcohol) shaped the view of using alcohol during the ritual.

I also liked how she showed how a few people's view of temperance managed to shape an entire denomination's theology. Woodruff Tait definitely paints a complete picture of this issue - and doesn't just stop with surface info.

Yes, the book is academic in nature, but Woodruff Tait's writing style (and the "voice" she uses to tell her tale) is friendly and easy to read. Footnotes at the end also aid in the reading, because it gives you a glimpse into the research that went into the book.

On the scale of one to five, with five being the highest, I give this book at least a four. It's not "bed time" reading, or "summer lite" fare, but Poisoned Chalice is a good book to read - especially if you find Methodist history interesting.

About The Author:
Jennifer L. Woodruff Tait is Adjunct or Affiliate Professor of Church History at Huntington University, Asbury Theological Seminary, and United Theological Seminary.
You can find more about her at:

Online Resources
Link to the blog tour on your blog:
Link to buy the book at
Link to the University of Alabama Press:

Spread The Word
Do you tweet? If so, consider posting one (or more) of these tweets to Twitter or Facebook during the blog tour week.

What does #PoisonedChalice have to do with communion? Read more here:

Discover how United Methodists moved from wine to grape juice in communion. Read #PoisonedChalice

Jennifer Woodruff Tait has tackled the #PoisonedChalice in her new release. Follow the blog tour here:

If you write your own: please include the hashtag #PoisonedChalice!

Note: As a freelance journalist, I was provided a copy of this book by the University of Alabama Press. This review was not influenced by a free book (or the fact that I've known the author for YEARS) - just in case you (or the FTC) were worried about this detail. 

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