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Ritual and Christian Beginnings$
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Risto Uro

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780199661176

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199661176.001.0001

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‘I Baptize You With Water’

‘I Baptize You With Water’

Ritual and the Rise of Religious Movements

(p.71) 3 ‘I Baptize You With Water’
Ritual and Christian Beginnings

Risto Uro

Oxford University Press

The chapter focuses on John the Baptist, a charismatic figure and ritual entrepreneur, whose movement is seen by most early Christian scholars as one that had a significant impact on Jesus and his movement. It is usually recognized that John’s immersion rite was a ritual innovation of some kind, but scholars of early Judaism and early Christianity have seldom seen this fact as an important piece of evidence. Nor has the issue of ritual innovation been a central theme in ritual theory. Cognitive theories of ritual, nevertheless, prove to be helpful in analysing the role of ritual innovation in the emergence of the Baptist movement and its offshoot, the Jesus movement. Cognitive theory also allows comparisons between religious movements revolving around a ritual invention. Finally, the chapter looks at how John’s immersion rite facilitated the transmission of his teaching, and how the rite could signal commitment and mobilize adherents.

Keywords:   John the Baptist, ritual invention, Baptism, Mother Amma, Ritual Competence Theory, Ritual Form Theory, special agent ritual, Charismatic Signalling

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