Maxwell Johnson

Maxwell  Johnson

Professor of Liturgical Studies
Liturgical Studies


B.A., Augustana College, Sioux Falls, SD, 1974

M.Div., Wartburg Theological Seminary, Dubuque, IA, 1978

M.A., School of Theology, St. John's University, Collegeville, MN, 1982

M.A., University of Notre Dame, 1989; Ph.D., University of Notre Dame, 1992

Research and Teaching Interests

Johnson's research interests are in the origins and development of early Christian Liturgy and in the history and theology of the rites of Christian initiation. His book, The Rites of Christian Initiation: Their Evolution and Interpretation, revised and expanded edition (Collegeville: Pueblo, 2007), is widely used in schools of theology and seminaries.

He is the author and/or editor of several books, including The Prayers of Sarapion of Thmuis in the Orientalia Christiana Analecta monograph series published by the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome; as co-author with Paul F. Bradshaw and L. Edward Phillips, The Apostolic Tradition: A Commentary, Hermeneia Commentary Series (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress Press, 2002); The Virgin of Guadalupe: Theological Reflections of an Anglo-Lutheran Liturgist (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2002); as editor, Documents of the Baptismal Liturgy, Revised and Expanded Edition (London: SPCK, 2004); Worship: Rites, Feasts, and Reflections (Portland: The Pastoral Press, 2004); Benedictine Daily Prayer: A Short Breviary (Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 2005); as editor and contributor, Issues In Eucharistic Praying in East and West.  Collegeville:  Pueblo, 2011); as co-author with Paul F. Bradshaw, The Origins of Feasts, Fasts, and Seasons (London: SPCK, 2011); as co-author with Paul F. Bradshaw, The Eucharistic Liturgies: Their Evolution and Interpretation (Collegeville: Pueblo, 2012) and over 75 articles in scholarly and pastoral-theological publications.

See below for a video of Prof. Johnson discussing Benedictine Spirituality.

Recent Publications


Author, The Church in Act: Lutheran Liturgical Theology in Ecumenical Conversation. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2015.

Co-editor with Tim O’Malley and Demetrio Yocum, At the Heart of the Liturgy: Conversations with Nathan Mitchell’s ‘Amen Corners’ 1991-2012. Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, Pueblo, 2014.

Co-author. The Eucharistic Liturgies: Their Evolution and Interpretation, Pueblo, 2012. 

Editor. Benedictictine Daily Prayer: A Short Breviary. Collegeville MN: 2005.

Worship: Rites, Feasts and Reflections. Portland: Pastoral Press 2004.

Co-editor and Contributor, Studia Liturgica Diversa: Essays in Honor of Paul F. Bradshaw, Portland 2004.

Book, Editor and Article: Between Memory and Hope: Readings on the Liturgical Year, Collegeville MN 2000, xxv + 454 pp.

With P.F. Bradshaw and L.E. Phillips, The Apostolic Tradition: A Commentary (Hermeneia Commentary Series), Minneapolis 2002, 288 pp.

The Virgin of Guadalupe: Theological Reflections of an Anglo-Lutheran Liturgist (Celebrating Faith: Explorations in Latino Spirituality and Theology Series), Landham MD 2002, 192 pp.

The Rites of Christian Initiation: Their Evolution and Interpretation (Collegeville MN: 1999).


Articles and Book Chapters:

“Christian Initiation (Essay, Historiography, Summary, Bibliography, and Sources)” The Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Religion (New York/London: Oxford

University Press, 2015). On line article available at:

“The Blessed Virgin Mary and Ecumenical Convergence in Doctrine, Doxology, and Devotion, Worship  88, 4 (November 2014): 482-506.

"Sacrosanctum Concilium: A Liturgical 'Magna Carta' Then and Now," Vice-presidential Address, Proceedings of the North American Academy of Liturgy (October, 2014): 9-27.

“Baptism and Chrismation in Third- and Fourth-Century Egypt,” Worship 88, 4 (2014): 311-32.

"Liturgy and Ecumenism: Gifts, Challenges, and Hopes for a Renewed Vision", Worship 80, 1 (January 2006): 2-29.

"The Apostolic Tradition," in Geoffrey Wainwright and Karen Westerfield-Tucker (eds.), The Oxford History of Christian Worship. Oxford/New York: Oxford University Press, 2006. Pp. 32-75.

"Sub Tuum Praesidium: The THEOTOKOS in Christian Life and Worship before Ephesus", conference on "The Place of Christ in Liturgical Prayer: Christology, Trinity, and Liturgical Theology", Yale Institute of Sacred Music, Yale Divinity School, New Haven CT, February 24-27 2005.

"The Feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe and The Season of Advent", in Worship 78 (2004), 482-500.

"Tertullian's Diem baptismo sollemniorem Revisited: A Tentative Hypothesis on Baptism at Pentecost," in Studia Liturgica Diversa: Essays in Honor of Paul F. Bradshaw, ed. M.E. Johnson and L.E. Phillips, Portland 2004, 31-44.

Images of Baptism (Forum Essays 6), Chicago 2001.

Review: A. Milavec, The Didache: Text, Translation and Commentary, in Worship 79/2 (March 2005), 185-87.


Lectures and Presentations:

Lecture: "The Problem of Credal Formulae in Traditio Apostolica 21:12-18", Problems in the Early History of the Liturgy Seminar, North American Academy of Liturgy, Louisville KY, January 5-9 2005.

Lecture: "Ecumenical Reflections on Baptism", to Sisters and Board of Directors, St. Benedict's Center, Benedictine Women of Madison, Madison WI, October 9 2004.

Lectures: "Rites of Christian Initiation," to lay pastoral leaders, Liturgical Institute Course, Roman Catholic Diocese of Gary IN, 15, 22, 29 January and 5 February 2004.

Lecture: "Recent Research on the Origins and Use of the Sanctus in the Eucharistic Prayer," Problems in the Early History of the Liturgy Seminar, North American Academy of Liturgy, New York 3-6 January, 2004.

"Advent Reflections on the Blessed Virgin Mary," Adult Forum, Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, South Bend IN, 7 and 14 December 2003.



In January 2013, Johnson was elected vice-president of the North American Academy of Liturgy.  He will assume the presidency in 2014.

In 2012, Johnson was honored by the publication of A Living Tradition: On the Intersection of Liturgical History and Pastoral Practice: Essays in Honor of Maxwell E. Johnson, Ed. David Pitt, Stefanos Alexopoulos, and Christian McConnell (Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, Pueblo, 2012).



432 Malloy Hall