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The shade of the divine: approaching the sacred in an Ethiopian orthodox Christian community

Boylston, Tom (2012) The shade of the divine: approaching the sacred in an Ethiopian orthodox Christian community. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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The dissertation is a study of the religious lives of Orthodox Christians in a semirural, coffee‐producing community on the shores of Lake Tana in northwest Ethiopia. Its thesis is that mediation in Ethiopian Orthodoxy – how things, substances, and people act as go‐betweens and enable connections between people and other people, the lived environment, saints, angels, and God – is characterised by an animating tension between commensality or shared substance, on the one hand, and hierarchical principles on the other. This tension pertains to long‐standing debates in the study of Christianity about the divide between the created world and the Kingdom of Heaven. Its archetype is the Eucharist, which entails full transubstantiation but is circumscribed by a series of purity regulations so rigorous as to make the Communion inaccessible to most people for most of their lives. These purity regulations, I argue, speak to an incommensurability between relations of human substance‐sharing, especially commensality and sexuality, and hierarchical relations between humans and divinity.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2011 Tom Boylston
Library of Congress subject classification: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BR Christianity
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
Sets: Departments > Anthropology
Supervisor: Engelke, Matthew and Lambek, Michael

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