Ritual and Religious Knowledge
Chapter Six highlights the role of ritual in generating and conveying religious knowledge. This perspective is unfolded in the context of three kinds of knowledge related to ritual: embodied, common (shared), and extended knowledge. The chapter explores how these three approaches to ritual knowledge shed light on early Christian baptismal practices. In particular, it draws on the branch of cognitive science dubbed ‘embodied’ or ‘extended’ (‘situated’) cognition. Researchers promoting embodied cognition argue that cognition is fundamentally grounded in bodily actions and in the body interacting with the environment. The chapter develops a hypothesis as to how early Christian baptismal practices accommodated implicit knowledge about power relations. It also shows how extensive symbolic technologies and systems of knowledge grew up around early Christian baptism, including the catechumenate (baptismal teaching), credal formulae and creeds, and stories and pictorial representations, as well as physical structures and architecture.
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