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date: 26 February 2021

Abstract and Keywords

During the first two centuries of their history, Christians experimented extensively with what they called their meals, what they did during them, and where, when, how often, and with whom they conducted them. As a result of this process, these meals became significantly ritualized. Despite the scarcity of evidence regarding these meals, the chapter shows that adopting recent cognitive theories of ritualized behaviour, ritual efficacy, and ritual competence allows us to identify certain developmental trajectories in this process. The chapter presents a theoretically grounded overview of the most relevant sources. Since the focus is specifically on the ritualization of these meals from a cognitive perspective, their social function is not considered.

Keywords: breaking of the bread, Eucharist, eucharistic elements, eucharistic origins, eucharistic prayers, feeding of the multitude, Last Supper tradition, ritualization

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