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date: 20 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter divides the way historians describe the process of conversion to Christianity and conversion to Islam into four categories: acculturation, adhesion or hybridity, syncretism, and transformation. Acculturation is when religious change accompanies the incorporation of a people and its territory into a conquering empire or socioeconomic system. Adhesion or hybridity is when the person or group adopts new beliefs and practices alongside the old. Syncretism occurs when the convert(s) reconcile or fuse old and new beliefs and practices to create a new religious synthesis. Transformation is when converts attempt to completely replace the old with the new. Conversion is also accompanied by the conversion of sacred spaces. Analyzing conversion from ancient to modern times, this chapter presents these four categories of conversion, offers historical examples of each, applies the term “conversion” to the transformation of space, and concludes with a final example to illustrate these interrelated aspects of religious change.

Keywords: acculturation, adhesion, hybridity, syncretism, transformation, sacred space, Christianity, Judaism, Islam

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