ABSTRACT

Ritual has been an understudied theme in the study of Christian beginnings. The early stages of Christianity have been studied intensively from a wide variety of perspectives, but ritual, either as part of any particular method or as a theoretical perspective in its own right, has been a marginal topic in New Testament studies and in the broader field of early Christian studies. The neglect of ritual is striking given the important role the study of ritual has played in some other fields that have often been employed by early Christian scholars, such as Religious Studies/Comparative Religion and social/cultural anthropology. During recent years, however, a number of New Testament and early Christian scholars have begun to draw on the emerging interdisciplinary field of Ritual Studies to shed new light on the history and the world of the early Christian movement (DeMaris 2008; Taussig 2009; Lamoreaux 2013; Turley 2015; Uro 2016; Uro et al. forthcoming). This increased interest in the ritual world of early Christianity among early Christian scholars was preceded by pioneering works by a number of Hebrew Bible and Ancient Near Eastern scholars who engaged themselves in analysing biblical traditions from the perspective of ritual (Gorman 1995; Gruenwald 2003; Klingbeil 2007).