Harvey E. Goldberg
Life-cycle rituals only gradually became an explicit axis of concern in Abrahamic religions while some of the cultural materials for this focus are ancient. There are both conceptual and empirical reasons for this lag. The notion of ritual as a defined domain of concern emerged only in recent centuries, while the traditional study, and self-understanding, of these religions has emphasized authoritative texts rather than the depiction of practice. Parallel to this, scholars often have searched for historical connections linking the religions, while paying less attention to synchronic approaches which view each religion, and their socio-historical expressions, in their distinct contexts, a step that also lays the groundwork for analytic comparisons among them. Modern and late modern sensibilities have strengthened awareness of the individual self and quotidian practice in all the religions, while ethnographic research has shown how this trend intermeshes with cultural and socio-political developments.