Anthropology and Christian Theology have traditionally interpreted religion in quite different ways and have often been thought of as hostile to one another. In fact, a fundamental concern for human experience lies at the heart of both disciplines. This innovative book takes a new look at key anthropological and theological themes, and explores the intricacies of their interplay throughout history and in the present. Sacrifice, embodiment, ritual, incarnation, symbolism, gift and power are all related in ways that shed new light on religious behaviour and belief. Detailed analysis of fundamental Christian rites shows how they help generate emotional meaning and inspire philosophical ideas, and demonstrates how the body serves as a vehicle for religious beliefs. Through an examination of these issues and much more, Davies reveals how religious rituals help people to become secure in their sense of identity. This accessible foray into new territory is essential reading for anthropologists, theologians, or anyone interested in religion who is seeking new interpretations of familiar themes.
Douglas Davies Professor in the Study of Religion,University of Durham
1 Introduction 1 2 Embodiment and Incarnation 19 3 Merit-making and Salvation 53 4 Sacrifice, Body and Spirit 81 5 Ritual and Experience 111 6 From Meaning to Salvation 145 7 Symbolism and Sacrament 173 8 Gift and Charismata 195 Bibliography 211 Index 229