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”Så länge man kan skända finns det helighet”: Helighetsskapande praktik kring nattvardens bröd och vin.
Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (starting 2013), Department of Political, Historical, Religious and Cultural Studies (from 2013).
2018 (Swedish)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesisAlternative title
”As long as one can desecrate, there is sanctity” : Sanctitymaking practice around the bread and wine of the Holy Supper. (English)
Abstract [en]

Historically, Christianity has been seen as a religion based on texts. However, many modern scholars claim that the practice of Christianity is at least as important as the holy texts. To see if this is the case, this study sought to examine whether church practice contributes to the making of the sacred, defined here from Mary Douglas's theory that the holy is something which is pure, whole and complete, unlike the impure, which is an anomaly, often separate, broken or divided.

This was examined by studying the actual practices relating to the bread and the wine in one of Christianity's most central rites, the Eucharist. The empirical material is based on observations and semi-structured interviews on the handling of the bread and wine before and after communion in five different church communities. However, the focus is on the Evangelical Lutheran Swedish Church, where two different congregations were studied.

The study takes as its point of departure Robert Orsis’ theory according to which holiness is created in a dynamic exchange between the practice of individuals and those of hierarchies. According to the present study this appears to be true, although the empirical material is too small to draw firm conclusions. In the churches investigated a variety of actors contribute to the creation of sacredness. Some practices seem to be the same throughout the different communities and parishes studied, for example preserving purity by covering the bread and wine, or by throwing away pieces of the already consecrated bread. Some individuals also created their own personal rituals, like not chewing the bread during the Eucharist, or covering their mouths after having received the bread to prevent the body of Christ from being spat out. It also appears that the wine is always handled with greater respect than the bread. According to Mary Douglas, this may have to do with the possibility of both sacrilising and defiling which rests in bodily fluids.

This essay shows that persons in different roles act independently and in different ways to create and maintain the holiness of the bread and wine. In churches with distinct confessional texts, as in the Catholic Church, practices are more often based on dogmas, while individuals in the congregations lacking rules for handling the bread an wine, as in the parishes of the Swedish Church, act more as they themselves think is right. Also here their actions seem to follow Mary Douglas's theory of preserving the wholeness and purity of the holy.

According to the study, the creation of sacredness seems to be just as possible for lay people as for specialists. This means that the Church in this way actually distributes the power to establish the sacred, which may contribute to preserving a community-promoting democratic process. This conclusion is reinforced by the fact that some of the congregations studied had created practices for ensuring sacrality which put fellowship before the power of the Words of Institution.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018. , p. 43
Keywords [sv]
Nattvard, eukaristi, praktik, helighet, rent, orent, ritual, kyrka, gemenskap
National Category
Philosophy, Ethics and Religion
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-67477OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-67477DiVA, id: diva2:1214602
Subject / course
Religious Studies and Theology
Supervisors
Examiners
Available from: 2018-06-07 Created: 2018-06-07 Last updated: 2018-06-07Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
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