Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Ulrich Volp - Ritual Theory and the Sources of Early Christian Funerary Practice

The workshop paper reflects on the possible contribution of classical ritual theories to the interpretation of material remains of early Christian funerary practice - the context from which a considerable part of the surviving iconographical evidence originates. Looking beyond some of the limitations of traditional hermeneutic models, and instead taking the contextual syntax of the evidence seriously, the paper considers possible functions discussed by ritual theory (legal functions, functions of boundary-maintainance, individual-psychological functions etc.). Such an approach opens up the potential to shed new light on issues such as the conflict between pagan traditions and Christian beliefs, and to improve our understanding of the adaptation of pagan symbols and images. The workshop shall discuss examples for which an awareness of references to different transcendent systems of meaning and possible ritual functions such as social, individual psychologic, limitic, dramatising functions etc., prove to be profitable when analysing iconographical issues from the said contexts. 

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