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date: 23 January 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter focuses on the general problem pertaining to the relationship between ritual and text. What does it mean, when texts include references to ritual or resonate with language that originates in a ritual setting? There are at least three different problems pertinent to this relationship: (1) the relationship between the actual ritual and the text that purports to describe or evoke the ritual to the intended addressees of the text; (2) the question of rhetorical persuasiveness achieved by the evocation of ritual in the minds of the intended recipients; (3) the question of written texts which individually may become objects of ritual as is well known from Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The chapter discusses all three issues and lays stress on ritual as a bridge that may enhance the plausibility of conveying the text to the recipients. In order to understand this, the chapter makes a detour to Peircian semiotics and argues in the vein of Roy Rappaport that ritual by virtue of its conjunction of indexical and symbolic components is crucial for achieving this effect. Ultimately, an overall Durkheimian view of ritual is espoused in which ritual (and cult) are seen as a prerequisite for creating and preserving culture and obtaining maintaining cultural cohesion.

Keywords: indexicality, metaphorization, Peirce, Rappaport, ritual bridge, ritual efficacy, ritual theory, symbolic communication, text

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