1st Edition

Ritual, Emotion, and Materiality in the Early Christian World

    260 Pages 20 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This volume advances our understanding of early Christianity as a lived religion by approaching it through its rites, the emotions and affects surrounding those rites, and the material setting for the practice of them.

    The connections between emotions and ritual, between rites and their materiality, and between emotions and their physical manifestation in ancient Mediterranean culture have been inadequately explored as yet, especially with regard to early Christianity and its water and dining rites. Readers will find all three areas—ritual, emotion, and materiality—engaged in this exemplary interdisciplinary study, which provides fresh insights into early Christianity and its world.

    Ritual, Emotion, and Materiality in the Early Christian World will be of special interest to interdisciplinary-minded researchers, seminarians, and students who are attentive to theory and method, and those with an interest in the New Testament and earliest Christianity. It will also appeal to those working on ancient Jewish and Greco-Roman religion, emotion, and ritual from a comparative standpoint.

    List of figures

    List of tables

    List of contributors


    List of abbreviations


    Soham Al-Suadi

    1 Theorizing ritual, emotion, and material

    Sharday C. Mosurinjohn

    2 Emotional display in the necropoli at Roman Thessalonike

    Richard S. Ascough

    3 Water Rites in the world of the New Testament: Archaeological Highlights

    Klaus-Michael Bull

    4 Water rites in Greek and Roman associations

    Richard S. Ascough

    5 Water rites, emotions, and epiphanic encounters in the literary and material record of the Roman east

    Richard E. DeMaris

    6 Ritual experience and emotions: The right place for water rites in Luke-Acts

    Soham Al-Suadi

    7 Early Christian ritual from the perspective of affect and emotion studies

    Richard E. DeMaris

    8 Precious, powerful, and pernicious: The polyvalence of water and water symbolism in early Christianity

    Peter-Ben Smit

    9 Scared disciples: Emotions of fear in Mark 4:35–41 and 6:45–52

    May-Britt Melzer

    10 "Let the children be fed first" (Mark 7:27): Rituals, emotions, and identity in the Synoptic tradition

    Soham Al-Suadi

    11 Water rites as structuring elements in ancient meals: An examination of foot washing in John 12 and 13

    Henrike Dilling and Frank Krüger

    12 Physical affect and ritual as starting points of Pauline paranaesis

    Peter-Ben Smit


    Richard S. Ascough


    Modern authors

    Subject index

    Ancient sources


    Soham Al-Suadi is Professor of New Testament Studies and Dean on the Faculty of Theology at the University of Rostock (Germany). She is a member of the steering committee of the Society of Biblical Literature’s Seminar on Meals in the Greco-Roman World.

    Richard S. Ascough is Professor of Religious Studies at Queen’s University (Canada) and has published widely on the social dynamics of early Christ groups as well as Greek and Roman associations. His most recent book is 1 and 2 Thessalonians: Encountering the Christ Group at Thessalonike.

    Richard E. DeMaris is a Senior Research Professor at Valparaiso University (U.S.A.). His recent publications include Early Christian Ritual Life, co-edited with J. T. Lamoreaux and S. C. Muir (Routledge, 2017) and The Oxford Handbook of Early Christian Ritual, co-edited with R. Uro, J. J. Day, and R. Roitto.

    "The book’s topic well deserves serious attention, and this volume brings the appropriate mix of theoretical insight and specific case studies to the task ... The editorial team represented here are leading scholars in the field of ritual studies." - Jonathan Schwiebert, Lenoir-Rhyne University, USA 

    "Ritual, Emotion, and Materiality in the Early Christian World is a successful starting point for further research. For theologians and historians interested in affect- and emotion-studies, the essays offer valuable input for further research that moves beyond a narrow focus on water rites in the New Testament." - Bryn Mawr Classical Review