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DepositRemarks on Similarity in Ritual Classification: Affliction, Divination, and Object Animation

n her article, Silva considers the significance of similarity and polythetic classification in ritual practice and ritual theory. Inspired by Wittgenstein’s concept of family resemblances and his descriptive method, and building on the work of R. Grimes, R. Needham, and, J. Z. Smith, Silva bring out the similarities among three different types of ritual in northwest Zambia, namely affliction rituals, divination rituals, and object animation rituals. She argues that affliction, divination and object animation are best perceived as thematic threads, rather than ritual types, and that those thematic threads recur in different ritual events in various combinations. In addition, further contributing to the polythetic turn in ritual classification, and ritual and religious studies more broadly, Silva argues that the tracing of similarities across different ritual categories achieves the same objective that J. Z. Smith and other scholars proclaim to attain with the disclosure of differences within one category: the undoing of essentialism. Similarity is our best corrective to the excessive distilling and purifying that is likely to occur when we take our concepts too literally and too seriously.

DepositRitualization as pragmatic deployment of revolutionary consciousness in the drama of Femi Osofisan

Early works of dramatic criticism seeking to draw parallels between ritual and drama in Africa concentrated on examining the dramatic characteristics of ritual to see how drama evolved from ritual. However, a closer application of the theories of Girard, Schechner, Smith, Hubert Mauss and Turner reveal new perspectives on the interaction between the related phenomena of drama and ritual. Precisely, in the works of Femi Osofisan, the drama of the revolution seeking social change meets with the mimetic in ritual which is seeking to re-establish cosmic order. The researcher in this paper sets out to investigate Femi Osofisan’s blend of ritual and myth with revolutionary aesthetics and themes in two plays, Once Upon Four Robbers and Esu and the vagabond Minstrels. In the work, it is revealed that the playwright shows the materialistic push for wealth as a rough, immoral fight that forbids altruism and leads to desperation in seeking wealth. It comes to the fore that wealth when pursued this way remains elusive. He then seeks for a change in the socio-economic arrangement that makes people to unleash their efforts in a mindless, self-centered pursuit of material gain to the detriment of all. The way Femi Osofisan addresses this contemporary theme with a blend of Marxian aesthetics with myth and ritual is the focus of this paper.

Deposit“At ‘Amen Meals’ It’s Me and God” Religion and Gender: A New Jewish Women’s Ritual

New ritual practices performed by Jewish women can serve as test cases for an examination of the phenomenon of the creation of religious rituals by women. These food-related rituals, which have been termed ‘‘amen meals’’ were developed in Israel beginning in the year 2000 and subsequently spread to Jewish women in Europe and the United States. This study employs a qualitative-ethnographic methodology grounded in participant-observation and in-depth interviews to describe these nonobligatory, extra-halakhic rituals. What makes these rituals stand out is the women’s sense that through these rituals they experience a direct con- nection to God and, thus, can change reality, i.e., bring about jobs, marriages, children, health, and salvation for friends and loved ones. The ‘‘amen’’ rituals also create an open, inclusive woman’s space imbued with strong spiritual–emotional energies that counter the women’s religious marginality. Finally, the purposes and functions of these rituals, including identity building and displays of cultural capital, are considered within a theoretical framework that views ‘‘doing gender’’ and ‘‘doing religion’’ as an integrated experience.

DepositRitual Sequence and Narrative Constraints in Leviticus 9:1-10:3

Lev 9:1–10:3 contains two of the most memorable events in the priestly narrative: a public theophany at the tabernacle, and the deaths of Nadav and Avihu. It also contains a long sequence of sacrifices, the importance of which has often been overlooked. This article argues that the ritual acts described in Lev 9 follow established and identifiable patterns, and that only by understanding the ritual logic in this episode is it possible to understand the rhetorical aims of the narrative.

DepositPurity, Community and Ritual in Early Christian Literature (TOC, Intro and Conclusions)

Purity, Community, and Ritual in Early Christian Literature investigates the meaning of purity, purification, defilement, and disgust for Christian writers, readers, and listeners from the first to third centuries. Anthropological and sociological works over the past decades have demonstrated how purity and defilement rituals, practices, and discourses harness the power of a raw emotion in order to shape and manipulate cultural structures. I build on such theories to explain how early Christian writers drew on ancient Jewish and Greco-Roman traditions on purity and defilement, using them to create new types of community, form Christian identity, and articulate the relationship between body, sin, and ritual. I discuss early Christian purity issues under several headings: dietary law, death defilement, purity of the heart, defilement of outsiders, and purity of the community. Analysis of the motivations shaping the development of each area of discourse reveals two major considerations: polemical and substantive. Thus, Christian writing on dietary law and death defilement is essentially polemical, constructing Christian identity by marking the purity practices and beliefs of others as false. Concerning the subjects of baptism, eucharist, and penance, however, the discourse turns inwards and becomes more substantive, seeking to create and maintain theories of ritual and human nature coherent with the theological principles of the new religion.