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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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‘When You Come Together’

‘When You Come Together’

Ritual and Cooperation

(p.128) 5 ‘When You Come Together’
Ritual and Christian Beginnings

Risto Uro

Oxford University Press

This chapter delves into the question of how ritual facilitates social life and cooperation. Changing the focus from the action perspective to one of cooperation enables the investigation of the third test case: the ritual life of the Pauline assemblies. The chapter discusses the Commitment (Costly) Signalling Theory, developed by evolutionary anthropologists to analyse and predict how religious practices motivate cooperation. The theory involves problems—for example, it is not clear whether it is being presented as a theory of ritual or of religious behaviour in general—but Commitment Signalling is nevertheless helpful in enriching the social-scientific interpretation of the Pauline rituals. The mechanisms of social dynamics suggested by signalling theorists shed light on issues tackled by New Testament scholars, for example by providing a corrective to overly idealistic descriptions of the social life of the Pauline groups.

Keywords:   cooperation, Commitment Signalling, costly signalling, Pauline Christianity, Pauline rituals, high-arousal rituals

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