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date: 23 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Ritual conveys rich information, a significant portion of which remains effective even when not consciously perceived. Likewise, many of the effects of ritual exceed their articulation as doctrine or explicit concepts. Noteworthy among these effects are the changes in consciousness characterized as religious ecstasy. The literary evidence for Christian origins—from the Christ assembly in Corinth in the 50s to the Montanist movement at the end of the second century—preserves many instances of ecstatic practice characterized by heightened and synchronized emotions, unusual speech practices, dissociative states of consciousness, and claims of divine contact. This chapter begins with the evolutionary basis of ritual and ecstasy, followed by an overview of salient examples of ecstasy within the rituals of the emerging movement, and suggestions why such experience may have been valued by this new movement.

Keywords: altered state of consciousness, cave art, emotion, exorcism, glossolalia, prophecy, ritual synchrony, shamanism, signalling theory, spirit possession

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