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date: 23 January 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter discusses key theoretical approaches to pilgrimage and festivals and surveys the most prominent types in the ancient Mediterranean ritual world. The first section discusses the cross-disciplinary, definitional problems and argues in favour of broad concepts as a sine qua non for cross-cultural discussion and comparison. It outlines key approaches from the 1970s until today, reflects on comparable cultural practices, and suggests directions for theoretical development from the aesthetics of religion, spatiality theory, cognitive theory, and theories of fantastic narratives. The second section surveys key forms of pilgrimage and festivals from the ancient Near East and the Graeco-Roman world, and turns to Hebrew Bible and Jewish forms of pilgrimage and festivals. Finally, the chapter discusses early Christian types of pilgrimage from travel to places associated with the life of Christ, to travel to living saints and ascetics, and to relics, icons and images. For each area, the chapter touches upon categorization and the types of sources available.

Keywords: ancient Judaism, early Christianity, festivals, Graeco-Roman world, pilgrimage, religious travel, space

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