Pilgrimage in Graeco-Roman and Early Christian Antiquity: Seeing the Gods

Pilgrimage in Graeco-Roman and Early Christian Antiquity: Seeing the Gods

Pilgrimage in Graeco-Roman and Early Christian Antiquity: Seeing the Gods

Pilgrimage in Graeco-Roman and Early Christian Antiquity: Seeing the Gods

Synopsis

This book presents a range of case-studies of pilgrimage in Graeco-Roman antiquity, drawing on a wide variety of evidence. It rejects the usual reluctance to accept the category of pilgrimage in pagan polytheism and affirms the significance of sacred mobility not only as an important factorin understanding ancient religion and its topographies but also as vitally ancestral to later Christian practice.

Excerpt

I. THE CONCEPT OF PILGRIMAGE
AND ITS PROBLEMS

The label pilgrimage does actual harm.

Fritz Graf

Let us begin with the critical conceptual problem. This book has been put together on the following working assumption: a particular cluster of phenomena within religious practice, which have been labelled 'pilgrimage', can be identified to have existed both in Graeco-Roman antiquity and in ancient Christianity. This is the minimalist version of the assumption, based on the empirical range of subjects discussed by the various contributors. In fact the claim to examine pilgrimage at all implies a still bigger (or looser) working definition of the theme as a phenomenon susceptible to some generalization within the range of Christianity as a whole (both chronologically as well as across its regional and theological denominations) and—still more grandly— across other religions, in particular the so-called 'world religions' of Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, and Islam, as well as the polytheistic religions of antiquity. A big and loose definition of pilgrimage like this is common in a number of academic disciplines which have turned their attention to the various phenomena associated with it—one thinks immediately of anthropology and historical geography.

Graf (2002a), 195.

For anthropology see for instance Morinis (1992a); Coleman and Elsner (1995).
For geography, see Singh and Singh (1987); Bhardwaj and Rinschede (1988); Bhardwaj . . .

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