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Ritual Failure and Theological Innovation in Early Christianity
Author: Peter-Ben Smit
In Felix culpa: Ritual Failure and Theological Innovation in Early Christianity, Peter-Ben Smit argues that ritual developments were key to the development of early Christianity. Focusing on rituals that go wrong, he shows precisely how ritual infelicities are a catalyst for reflection upon ritual and their development in terms of their performance as well as the meaning attributed to them. Smit discusses texts from the Pauline epistles and the Gospel of Mark, and provides a chapter on Philo of Alexandria by way of contextualization in the Greco-Roman world. By stressing the importance of ritual, the present book invites a reconsideration of all too doctrinally focused approaches to early Christian communities and identities. It also highlights the embodied and performative character of what being in Christ amounted to two millennia ago.
Das vorliegende Buch bietet einen umfassenden Beitrag zum Bestreben neuro- und kognitionswissenschaftliche Erkenntnisse in die neutestamentliche Exegese zu integrieren. Für dieses Vorhaben eignen sich veränderte Bewusstseinszustände insbesondere, da sie auf allgemein menschlichen Strukturen des Gehirns beruhen und in sehr vielen Kulturen Teil der religiösen Praxis waren und sind. Anklänge daran finden sich auch in biblischen Visionserzählungen. Die Untersuchung bietet neben einer Einführung in die Philosophie des Geistes und notwendigen naturwissenschaftlichen Grundlagen sowie einer hermeneutischen Reflexion eine breit angelegte Darstellung der antiken Erfahrungen mit veränderten Bewusstseinszuständen anhand ihrer Induktionsrituale. Die gewonnenen Erkenntnisse werden dann auf die Verklärungserzählung angewendet.

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This book is a comprehensive contribution to the ongoing effort to integrate findings in cognitive science into New Testament studies. Altered states of consciousness are particularly suitable for this attempt as they are a common human property and a widespread religious practice. This study contains an introduction to the basics of philosophy of mind and cognitive studies as well as a hermeneutical reflection. The wide portrayal of ASCs in ancient religious contexts according to the type of induction rituals provides the historic context for the cognitive analysis of the Transfiguration narrative.
This volume provides a review of recent research in Philippi related to archaeology, demography, religion, the New Testament and early Christianity. Careful reading of texts, inscriptions, coins and other archaeological materials allow the reader to examine how religious practice in Philippi changed as the city moved from being a Hellenistic polis to a Roman colony to a center for Christian worship and pilgrimage. The essays raise questions about traditional understandings of material culture in Philippi, and come to conclusions that reflect more complicated and diverse views of the city and its inhabitants.
In: Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus

Abstract

As part of the deepening diversification of biblical studies, several lines of research are now undermining the print-cultural assumptions on which New Testament studies developed. The first section offers summaries of important inquiries into ancient communications media: the dominant oral communication and the uses of writing; revisionist text-criticism of manuscripts of texts later included in the Hebrew Bible; the oral-written cultivation of their cultural repertoire by Judean scribes; the parallel oral cultivation of Israelite popular tradition; revisionist criticism of Gospel texts; and the learning and oral performance of Gospel texts. These separate but related lines of research are undermining the standard print-cultural assumptions, concepts, and approaches of Jesus studies. The second section explores the implications of these researches that open toward an alternative view of what the sources are, a more comprehensive approach to the historical Jesus appropriate to ancient communications media, and a reconceptualization of Jesus studies.

In: Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus

Abstract

In his authentic letters, Paul describes a historical, human Jesus, but is strangely silent about the events of Jesus’ life. At the same time, Paul describes the figure of Christ using participatory language, and provides no reason to think that this collective embodiment of Christ does not also apply to Jesus’ historical body. I propose that Paul’s historical Jesus was therefore a corporate figure, embodied by the Jewish, pre-Christian community to which Jesus the Nazarene belonged. I present the literary background for this proposal, and explain how the evidence in Paul for a historical Jesus should be interpreted in a corporate or collective sense. I also provide a typological derivation of the name ‘Jesus’ in Paul.

In: Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus

Abstract

This essay dialogues with Joel Marcus’s volume on John the Baptist. After praising Marcus’s penchant for introducing helpful analogies, questions are raised regarding two of Marcus’s hypotheses. First, it is difficult to accept that the Baptist was ever associated with the Qumran sectarians; second, it is equally doubtful that the Baptist was a nuanced legal reformer. A third section probes additional matters regarding the Baptist and purity in ancient Judaism. The common denominator to many issues raised here is Marcus’s tendency to treat the possible as probable.

In: Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus

Abstract

In his recent study on John the Baptist Joel Marcus suggests that John founded a sect that was in competition with the early Jesus movement. Marcus also suggests that John himself was a former member of the 'Qumran community'. His baptism is considered as a kind of sacrament in which the Holy Spirit was imparted. How secure are these proposals? In this discussion, we conclude that in the oldest literary witnesses – Q, Mark and Matthew – the relationship between John and Jesus is seen in terms of mutual agreement (despite Jesus’s obvious superiority) and there are no recognizable traces of serious competition with John’s disciples, even less a ‘Baptist sect’. The evidence used by Marcus to suggest that John was once a member of the ‘Qumran community’ connects John with broader patterns of thought in Second Temple Judaism, not simply sectarians at one location. That John imparted the Holy Spirit in a sacramental rite can only be supported by radically altering biblical readings. However, Marcus has suggested that in light of all this that John thought of himself not only as Elijah but as a kind of Messiah, with the role of his successor, the Coming One, being to destroy the chaff. In doing this, Marcus redesigns John as a kind of alternative Christ of Faith. However, the underlying ‘competition model’ needs to be rejected and replaced with one that sees Jesus as claiming to be a successor to John, his highly esteemed teacher.

In: Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus
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In: Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus
In: Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus