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Own Festivities with Alien Guests: Inclusion of Outsiders in Cultic Communities

Workshop

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In Greek and Roman Antiquity every political community, including the Hellenistic polis, is considered a residential, legal, and ritual community as well. Therefore non-citizens were only in exceptional cases allowed to participate in religious festivities, and this privilege was granted mostly to ‘foreigners’ being permanent residents in the specific community with scope and nature of their participation varying broadly. On the other hand citizens not participating in the communal rituals were considered a threat to the polis, as the risked the continued benevolence of the gods.
In those circumstances Jews and Christians were struggling to take part in the sacrificial rites for the communally worshiped gods, e.g. a deified ruler. In return Jewish and Christian cultic communities opened their own social meetings and festivities to potential new members. This hospitality was critical for the successful development of the respective religious communities, especially for the early Christian cults.
Our workshop is going to compare the attitudes of Pagan, Jewish, and Christian communities towards the inclusion of ‚guests’ in their religious festivities and will specifically tackle the question of the possible motivators for this opening of communal rituals for ‚alien’ participants, e.g. the idea of universality of the worshipped god(s). How the persons invited to such privileges reacted will also be a topic of discussion.

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