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date: 24 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter appeals to the observation by Basil of Caesarea (fourth century) that ‘not everyone knows why’ the Church performs various rituals, to argue that habitual practice often preceded the application of scriptural interpretation. Sociologist P. Bourdieu’s concept of ‘habitus’ provides theoretical explanation for how pre-reflective participation in ritual and other communal acts prepared converts to be schooled in rudimentary Christian belief. The use of Scripture as public reading in worship eventually led liturgical commentators to describe rituals as a mimesis of Scripture, even though liturgical practice was rarely the repetition of a biblical precedent as such. The evolving role of the institution narrative at the Eucharist is an example of how a practice gave rise to scriptural explanations, which in turn shaped performance in a dynamic process.

Keywords: Basil of Caesarea, Cyprian of Carthage, Pierre Bourdieu, ritual, liturgy, habitus, mimesis, worship, Eucharist

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