Abstract and Keywords
Many early Christians engaged in ascetic practices outside the liturgies usually studied as the major forms of Christian ritual. While not all asceticism took ritual form, insufficient attention has as yet been given to the ritual dimension of ascetic practices which served as elements in larger rituals and ways of life, and how the ritual aspect of these activities entered into their meaning and function. The ritual dimension of asceticism is explored through fasting. Acts and The Shepherd are examined for ascetic rituals in the second century; the focus then turns to the fifth-century career of St Simeon Stylites. Ritualization sacralized the choice of ministers, readied individuals for revelation, prepared ministers and catechumens for baptism, and consolidated identity in ‘stations’ and Lenten discipline. The distinctively ritualized fasting of the ascetic constructed his authority in collaboration with others, so that the wider society could benefit from his intercession and revelations.
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