Carl Bear This study considers the ways in which the complex debates about appropriate Christian funeral practices in late fourth-century Antioch indicated some of the ways in which Christians' ritual practices embodied their theological beliefs and enacted their religious identities. Sources used to study Christian funerals include the homilies of John Chrysostom, the orations of Libanius, the church order known as Apostolic Constitutions , the historiographic and hagiographic work of Theodoret, and archaeological remains. The analysis of the sources utilizes methods of liturgical history that focus on the perspectives and experiences of ordinary worshipers, and attends to the biases and limitations inherent in the historical record. It also places Christian funeral practices in the context of larger questions surrounding religious identity and ritual in Antioch, especially within the Christian cult of the saints and eucharistic liturgies.
Ordinary Christians and church leaders in fourth-century Antioch had different ideas about how to Christianize their funerals. Criticism from church authorities that Christians' funeral practices were inconsistent with Christian faith in the resurrection were one-sided. Instead, it seems that ordinary Christians had their own ideas about appropriate ways to care for their dead ritually. Especially in the case of mourning and other contested practices, Christians were giving expression to their human emotions of bereavement, loss, and concern for the dead in culturally prescribed ways. Church leaders, such as John Chrysostom., however, desired Christian funeral practices that exhibited fewer cultural influences and that distinctly demonstrated Christian belief in the resurrection in all aspects of the ritual.
|School:||Graduate Theological Union|
|School Location:||United States -- California|
|Source:||DAI-A 79/01(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Religious history, Theology, Ancient history|
|Keywords:||Antioch, Death, Early Christianity, Funerals, John Chrysostom, Liturgical History|
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