Felix Culpa: Ritual Failure and theological innovation in Early Christianity

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In Felix culpa: Ritual Failure and Theological Innovation in Early Christianity, Peter-Ben Smit argues that ritual developments were key to the development of early Christianity. Focusing on rituals that go wrong, he shows precisely how ritual infelicities are a catalyst for reflection upon ritual and their development in terms of their performance as well as the meaning attributed to them. Smit discusses texts from the Pauline epistles and the Gospel of Mark, and provides a chapter on Philo of Alexandria by way of contextualization in the Greco-Roman world. By stressing the importance of ritual, the present book invites a reconsideration of all too doctrinally focused approaches to early Christian communities and identities. It also highlights the embodied and performative character of what being in Christ amounted to two millennia ago.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLeiden
Number of pages300
ISBN (Electronic)9789004460966
ISBN (Print)9789004460959
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Publication series

NameNovum Testamentum Supplements


  • Ritual
  • Ritual failure
  • Early Christianity
  • Paul
  • Philo of Alexandria
  • Jesus
  • Gospel of Mark
  • Liturgy
  • Theology


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