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date: 16 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter offers a survey of the development of Christian marriage rituals in the first four centuries. It pays special attention to the emerging role of bishops in the ‘consecration’ of Christian marriage through rituals of blessing and veiling. Using categories derived from the ritual theory of Catherine Bell and Pierre Bourdieu, the chapter argues that by displaying ‘ritual mastery’ in this area, the Christian bishops in late antiquity were able to define new symbolic boundaries and thereby enhanced their own authority as ritual agents.

Keywords: bishop, clerical marriage, consecration, marriage, marriage contract, nuptial blessing, nuptial veiling, Pierre Bourdieu, remarriage, ritual mastery

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