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In this article, I argue that Leviticus 16 and early Jewish Day of Atonement traditions have influenced the imagery of the sheep and the goats in Matt 25.31–46. The ritual shading that this judgement scene acquires in light of its use of Yom Kippur imagery fits well into Matthew's overarching interest in moral purity. The drama of moral impurity in the Gospel of Matthew concludes with the Son of Man's eschatological purgation of iniquity from the cosmos in a manner reminiscent of the yearly expulsion of moral impurity from Israel's temple by means of the scapegoat ritual. Building on the insights of scholars who have attempted to demonstrate Matthew's knowledge of Son of Man traditions attested in the Parables of Enoch, this article also contends that Azazel traditions contained in that same Enochic booklet have influenced the portrayal of the goats’ banishment in Matt 25.41, a conclusion that becomes more probable in light of Matthew's unique application of the Asael tradition attested in 1 En. 10.4 at the end of his Parable of the Wedding Feast (Matt 22.13).
In this profoundly dialogical exchange, Peter Sellars, theatre director, researcher, and teacher, and Maria Shevtsova open out a whole array of questions on the integral relation between politics and the theatre in its multiple manifestations. These questions not only concern the damages inflicted by the present Covid-19 pandemic but also those developed by the neoliberal economics and politics of the past forty years and more. In Sellars’s view, neoliberalism has been the hotbed of social injustices, inequities, market and other forms of current enslavement, migrations, refugee and related precarities, and the havoc of the world climate in which the plight of humanity and that of the planet are indelibly interconnected. His and Shevtsova’s discussion links such vital concerns with his theatre practice, which ranges from his engagement with local communities and indigenous peoples – he details some of his work with the collective, community organization of two Los Angeles Festivals of the early 1990s – to the various forms of his music theatre in which he collaborates, in institutional structures, with highly proficient musicians, singers and dancers. The focus chosen here from his music theatre is The Indian Queen (2013), which Sellars dramaturgically invents using pieces by Henry Purcell combined with prose fragments by Nicaraguan novelist Rosario Aguilar. Peter Sellars is an internationally renowned theatre director among whose more recent productions is Mozart’s Idomeneo, premiered at the Salzburg Festival in 2019. Maria Shevtsova, Professor of Drama and Theatre Arts at Goldsmiths, University of London, is editor of New Theatre Quarterly. This conversation took place on 16 August 2020, was transcribed from the recording by Kunsang Kelden, and was edited by Maria Shevtsova.
Reflecting on Derek Walcott’s early relationship with movement, dance and ritual, this article sheds light on the centrality of embodied memory in Walcott’s work for the stage and reflects on the relationship between memory and materiality in his epistemology of performance. Walcott’s ideas shaped his approach to dramaturgy in the late 1950s and position his work in relation to global debates around materialism (Brecht) and ritualism (Grotowski) in the theatre. A discussion of two plays, Dream on Monkey Mountain and Pantomime, examines the use of gestural language in specific performances of each. Such an approach demonstrates that the importance of embodied memory, as reflected in the staging of these plays, relates to certain Afro-Caribbean belief systems, which have exerted much influence on Walcott’s work. The article also emphasizes how Walcott’s theatre functions as a decolonial praxis that fosters the emergence of empowered subjectivities and Africanist modes of humanness that challenge the cultural order of colonialism. Jason Allen-Paisant is a lecturer in Caribbean Poetics and Decolonial Thought at the University of Leeds, and Director of the Institute for Colonial and Postcolonial Studies. He is currently at work on the monograph Staging Black Futures in the Twenty-First Century.
Very little has been written on Anglophone Caribbean theatre (the few publications include work by Judy Stone, Errol Hill, Richardson Wright, Rex Nettleford, and Wycliffe and Hazel Bennett). As for theatre from the French-speaking Caribbean, it also remains an understudied field. A few book-length studies (Bérard, Sahakian, Artheron) on theatre from the French Caribbean (Martinique, Guadeloupe. and French Guyana) have emerged in recent years; however, the extraordinary and rich theatre tradition of Haiti has been almost entirely neglected by scholars and critics of Caribbean theatre. Yet drama, in the form of dance theatre, music theatre, various forms of ritual theatre, political theatre, and national pantomimes, has not only been at the heart of the Caribbean literary and cultural sensibility. The genre in its various forms has played a major role in nationalist movements across the Caribbean, and in attempts at cultural decolonization viewed as indispensable to processes of political and social decolonization. This paper focuses on ritual theatre during the decades of the 1930s to the 1970s in the English- and French-speaking Caribbean, an era in playwriting and staging marked by returns to the Haitian Revolution; major investments in history; ancestral recuperation; politics and traditional culture; and cultural decolonization through the project of rewriting colonial narratives. I argue that ritual theatrical forms, enlisting Afro-derived Caribbean ontologies, reflected the importance of the sacred in affecting the material conditions of existence in the colonized post-slavery societies of the Caribbean.
This paper critically evaluates how archaeologists define ‘grave goods’ in relation to the full spectrum of depositional contexts available to people in the past, including hoards, rivers and other ‘special’ deposits. Developing the argument that variations in artefact deposition over time and space can only be understood if different ‘types’ of find location are considered together holistically, we contend that it is also vital to look at the points where traditionally defined contexts of deposition become blurred into one another. In this paper, we investigate one particular such category – body-less object deposits at funerary sites – in later prehistoric Britain. This category of evidence has never previously been analysed collectively, let alone over the extended time period considered here. On the basis of a substantial body of evidence collected as part of a nationwide survey, we demonstrate that body-less object deposits were a significant component of funerary sites during later prehistory. Consequently, we go on to question whether human remains were actually always a necessary element of funerary deposits for prehistoric people, suggesting that the absence of human bone could be a positive attribute rather than simply a negative outcome of taphonomic processes. We also argue that modern, fixed depositional categories sometimes serve to mask a full understanding of the complex realities of past practice and ask whether it might be productive in some instances to move beyond interpretively confining terms such as ‘grave’, ‘hoard’ and ‘cenotaph’. Our research demonstrates that is it not only interesting in itself to scrutinize archaeological evidence that does not easily fit into traditional narratives, but that the process of doing so also sheds new light on the validity of our present-day categories, enabling deeper insights into how people in the past ordered their material and conceptual worlds. Whilst our main focus is later prehistoric Britain, the issues we consider are potentially relevant across all periods and regions.
This chapter examines ‘the Stainton Missal’, a small folio in 8s, which survives in York Minster Library. It was printed in Paris in 1516 for use in York. The provenance covers a narrow geographical field, spanning the Reformation in emblematic form. In the exactly 500 years of its life, to this day, it has never moved outside of a small triangle in North Yorkshire, between York itself and the edges of the Dales and the Moors. However, the sensational aspect of the book is concealed by these details. At the opening of the Te igitur at the beginning of the Canon, the eye is confronted, we might say assaulted, by a vigorous slash, diagonally across the image of the Cross. Below, through the next dozens of leaves, is another, deeper gouge, in the opposite direction to the slashed crucifix, forming a reverse cross. The book is an astonishing example of iconoclasm. In this chapter, this macabre object is opened out to the fate more broadly of the fate of ritual books. How does the destruction of books relate to their consecration or preservation, and how does this relate to the history of memory before and after the Reformation?
Richard Hooker wrote in 1594 that public worship was performed ‘not only with words, but also with certain sensible actions, the memory whereof is far more easy and durable than the memory of speech can be’. This chapter explores some of the ‘sensible actions’ which the post-Reformation Church of England inherited from the liturgy and worship of the medieval church, such as kneeling at communion, the sign of the cross in baptism and bowing at the name of Jesus. The significance of these gestures was widely acknowledged by Protestant reformers, who feared that they allowed elements of Catholic doctrine and worship to retain a foothold in popular memory. Some reformers argued that they should be abolished altogether, while others sought to harness their mnemonic power by giving them new meanings. The chapter argues that by looking at how the reformed Church remade its bodily regime, we can gain crucial insights into how it remembered and renegotiated its past.
Linda Radzik claims that rebukes can and often should be seen as informal social punishments. In this chapter, Christopher Bennett disagrees. However, because he does not want the dispute to be a merely verbal one, his aim in this response is to draw out what is at issue when we disagree over whether something should be classed as punishment. Having set out the key parts of Radzik’s position and registered some concerns that he has about it, Bennett sets out a taxonomy of things that we can do with blame or social punishment, aiming to show why we might have reason to put different kinds of responses into different categories. Which of these categories we decide to call ‘punishment’ does not matter too much as long as we are clear on the underlying differences between these types of response and the different types of challenge they set us in any attempt to justify or practice them.
This chapter explores literary representations of believers’ baptism published during the English Revolution. It focuses, in particular, on two surviving testimonies recounting participation in the ordinance originating in Fifth Monarchist communities: Anna Trapnel’s prophetic commemorations of her baptism recorded in 1654 and 1657-8, and the spiritual experiences of twelve-year-old Caleb Vernon published in 1666 as a spiritual antidote to the plague. The recounting of believers’ baptism in Fifth Monarchist communities was shaped by various political, social and doctrinal concerns originating both inside and outside the movement. The ordinance became a nexus of various imaginative affirmations of dissenting identity, including the connection of a present, commemorative act with a triumphant vision of the victorious saints in the near future. Baptisands recognised the commemorative function of baptism as a visible demonstration of their own spiritual regeneration and Christ’s resurrection (as well as other biblical models). However, this chapter will also explore how these surviving testimonies verge on bringing the past into the present, sometimes invoking divine presence through the physical gestures they describe. In such accounts, partly designed to urge fellow dissenters to undergo the ordinance, some believers appear to have transposed the pre-Reformation focus on immanence and sensory experience required by ritual acts.
The dramatic religious revolutions of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries involved a battle over social memory. On one side, the Reformation repudiated key aspects of medieval commemorative culture; on the other, traditional religion claimed that Protestantism was a religion without memory. This volume shows how religious memory was sometimes attacked and extinguished, while at other times rehabilitated in a modified guise. It investigates how new modes of memorialisation were embodied in texts, material objects, images, physical buildings, rituals, and bodily gestures. Attentive to the roles played by denial, amnesia, and fabrication, it also considers the retrospective processes by which the English Reformation became identified as an historic event. Examining dissident as well as official versions of this story, this richly illustrated, interdisciplinary collection traces how memory of the religious revolution evolved in the two centuries following the Henrician schism, and how the Reformation embedded itself in the early modern cultural imagination.
This chapter discusses the collective basis for communal life in early modern England, showing that contemporaries were strongly averse to division (including religious conflict). Rather, Christian social values encouraged an organic sense of community built upon reciprocity and common interest. Paternalism simultaneously reinforced the social order while providing the poor with tangible benefits. Charitable giving was underwritten by Christian social codes. The clergy and gentry had powerful social expectations made of them, especially to provide for the poor. The collective consumption of alcohol underwrote many social rituals, forms of commensality and festivity, and much of the plebeian social world was centred upon the alehouse. Rituals such as Rogationtide, along with other forms of festivity and play, articulated powerful social norms.
Llamas were the preferred sacrificial animals of the Inka Empire, their ritual value second only to that of human beings. Recent archaeological excavations at the Inka settlement of Tambo Viejo in the Acari Valley on the Peruvian south coast have revealed a number of ritually sacrificed llamas in a unique context. This new evidence demonstrates that the establishment of Tambo Viejo as a provincial Inka centre involved the performance of ritual practices that included the dedicatory sacrifice of domesticated animals. These rituals materialised Inka imperial ideology and ultimately enabled the legitimisation of Inka presence in a conquered location.
“Debts to Nature” explores Greek myths about overreach and encroachment involving the operational deity the Greeks variously described as Potnia Therōn (“Mistress of the Animals”), the Great Goddess, or Mother of All, whose domain is Nature. It also concerns the implications of some sustainability principles embedded and at work in Greek cult, especially acts of reciprocity and exchange in sacrificial ritual, which are ultimately explained by way of Albert Schweitzer’s philosophy of “Reverence for Life” (Ehrfurcht vor dem Leben). The poet Hesiod is proffered as an adherent to this kind of worldview and as an early systems thinker, deeply concerned about sustainable living.
Long understood as purifying the church by rejecting worship routine and devotional ceremony, pious New England settlers in fact observed formal and informal rituals that defined lived religion within the Reformed tradition. Given that access to the vernacular word was central to puritan self-definition, literacy and reading became intensely ritualized. Thus, along with life-cycle rites (birth, marriage, death), annual and occasional ceremonies (fast days, thanksgiving days, election sermons, artillery sermons), and sabbath customs (the sacraments, the public confession, the audition of preaching), ritual was derived from the experience of books. The chapter demonstrates this experience by looking at moments of cross-cultural contact during Metacom’s War, where reading seeks to stabilize tradition. It studies reader annotations of devotional works as a means to understand the meditative, recursive, and extractive practices that grounded and routinized lay piety. And it examines the visual iconography of illustrations within devotional manuals, illustrations that idealize and demonize kinds of identity for the proper pilgrim reader. Ritual, routine, and iconography are not typically associated with puritan worship, but with an ear and eye to reading habits, we better understand experiential religion in early New England.
The cult of death and the celebration of martyrdom lay at the core of interwar fascist movements across the European continent. However, it was in the Romanian Legionary Movement (also known as the Iron Guard) that these were articulated into a full-fledged ideology of thanatic ultranationalism. In this article, I examine the spectacular fascist necropolitics staged as state-sponsored funeral performances during the short-lived National Legionary State (September 14, 1940–February 14, 1941). A detailed description of the massive campaign of exhumations and reburials of the so-called “legionary martyrs” carried out during this short time span, culminating with the grandiose ceremony organized for the reburial of Corneliu Zelea Codreanu on November 30, 1940, provides insight into the legionary thanatic worldview and ritual praxis. It also sheds light on the movement’s politics of commemoration, death, and afterlife and shows how these were embedded into a religious framework underpinned by theological concepts such as heroic martyrdom, vicarious atonement, and collective redemption.
This final chapter offers a sustained textual analysis of the Day of Atonement ritual in Leviticus 16 and theorizes the effects of ritualized behavior and cognitive and material costs associated with the ritual ceremony. Several important theoretical frameworks from the cognitive science of religion (CSR), which aim to study different aspects of religious ritual in particular, are introduced and applied to the biblical text. These include Lawson and McCauley’s ritual form hypothesis, Whitehouse’s modes of religiosity, Boyer and Lienard’s notion of ritualized behavior, and others. These cognitive theories offer a new set of questions and methods for approaching ritual in ancient Israel, departing from more traditional ritual theory. The chapter analyzes the purification or purgation of the temple and the scapegoat ritual using these theories.
This chapter likewise draws on ancient visual and material culture in order to examine the worship of divine cult statues in Mesopotamia, the anti-idol polemics in the Bible, and the power of images and ritual activities in the construction of religious beliefs. In particular, the ancient Mesopotamian “washing of the mouth” ritual is studied within a cognitive framework. The discussion highlights both the intuitive and non-intuitive (i.e., costly) aspects of the belief in divine cult statues, and proceeds to examine both the cognitive process and cultural mechanisms that contribute to the belief that an inanimate statue is or becomes the deity. In doing so, the chapter adds a nuanced layer to the nature of belief and also problematizes certain scholarly views about belief in cult statues in ancient Mesopotamia and Israel.
This essay follows in the footsteps of two women, Cecile Fatiman and Petra Carabalí, to explore the convergence between sacred space, embodied archives, and slave insurgent movements during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Cecile Fatiman was the mambo, or Vodun priestess, who famously presided over the Bois-Caiman ceremony that ignited the Haitian Revolution. Though relatively unknown to historians, Petra Carabalí helped to produce a momentous ritual that erupted during the 1844 slave movement in Cuba. Cecile and Petra’s stories demonstrate that enslaved women were critical participants in several important rituals that became catalysts for organized rebellion. This chapter examines the gendered politics of these ritual spaces and the role of sacred dance in producing a larger insurgent culture. It demonstrates the ways in which ritual activities enabled enslaved people to nourish organic political cultures, reclaim violated bodies, and engage a larger Atlantic ethos of freedom. Ultimately, it uses ritual space and sacred dance as alternative archives to reconceptualize how enslaved people imagined, enacted, and lived their freedom.
My recent article offered a model by which to better classify feasts by distinguishing between archaeological correlates of group size and sociopolitical competition. Applying this model to remains from a precontact mound site, I highlighted feasting's role in promoting group solidarity in the American South. Hayden's comment argues that my scheme does not accommodate certain types of events, and it questions my noncompetitive interpretation. I address both critiques here by citing further data from the Southeast, emphasizing the importance of interpreting feasts within their cultural and historical contexts, and highlighting Hayden's continued reliance on long-standing assumptions about feasting and monumental architecture.
In this chapter, we review recent research from a variety of disciplines to outline the role that collective rituals and religious beliefs play in fostering and maintaining cooperation. We consider ritual and religion as interactive but separate social technologies. First, with rituals we discuss their importance to social learning processes, examine their ability to bond groups through synchrony and shared emotion, and address their role as costly, persuasive signals of commitment. Second, we explore "religion" in the form of beliefs about supernatural agents and look at how such beliefs can contribute to – or hinder – cooperation. We evaluate long-standing claims that religion is a harmful social virus and contrasting recent theories that argue belief in "Big Gods" and "supernatural punishment" are crucial to enabling the cooperation necessary for large-scale societies.