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Religion History

Sacred Ritual, Profane Space

The Roman House as Early Christian Meeting Place

by (author) Jenn Cianca

Publisher
McGill-Queen's University Press
Initial publish date
May 2018
Category
History
  • eBook

    ISBN
    9780773554252
    Publish Date
    May 2018
    List Price
    $110.00
  • Hardback

    ISBN
    9780773553323
    Publish Date
    May 2018
    List Price
    $110.00
  • Paperback / softback

    ISBN
    9780773553330
    Publish Date
    May 2018
    List Price
    $34.95

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Description

The first three centuries of Christianity are increasingly seen in modern scholarship as sites of complexity. Sacred Ritual, Profane Space examines the Christian meeting places of the time and overturns long-held notions about the earliest Christians as utopian rather than place-bound people.

By mapping what is known from early Christian texts onto the archaeological data for Roman domestic spaces, Jenn Cianca provides a new lens for examining the relationship between early Christianity and sites of worship. She proposes that not only were Roman homes sacred sites in their own right but they were also considered sacred by the Christian communities that used them. In many cases, meeting space would have included the presence of the Roman domestic cult shrines. Despite the fact that the domestic cult was polytheistic, Cianca asserts that its practices likely continued in places used for worship by Christians. She also argues that continued practice of the domestic cult in Roman domestic spaces did not preclude Christians from using houses as churches or from understanding their rituals or their meeting places as sacred.

Raising a host of questions about identity, ritual affiliation, and domestic practice, Sacred Ritual, Profane Space demonstrates how sacred space was constructed through ritual enactment in early Christian communities.

About the author

Jenn Cianca is associate professor of classical studies and liberal arts at Bishop’s University.

Jenn Cianca's profile page