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Relating through Prayer

Identity Formation in Early Christianity

by Maria Louise Munkholt Christensen (Author)
Thesis 340 Pages

Table Of Content

  • Cover
  • Title Page
  • Copyright Page
  • Foreword and Acknowledgments
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • Citability of the eBook
  • Contents
  • Introduction
  • Part I: Setting the Stage
  • 1 Theory, method and previous scholarship
  • 1.1 “Prayer” – avoiding a rigid definition
  • 1.2 Identifying identity in general27 – it’s all “the same”
  • 1.3 Self and identity37
  • 1.3.1 Selves and symbols
  • 1.3.2 Identity within symbolic interactionism
  • 1.3.3 Identity formation – a double-sided process
  • 1.3.4 Michel Foucault on selves
  • 1.3.5 Prayer as social act
  • 1.3.6 Identity studies as frame
  • 1.4 A theological theory on prayer and life
  • 1.5 Methodology: Turning to historical criticism and moving beyond
  • 1.6 Previous scholarship
  • 1.6.1 Literature on Christian prayer in antiquity
  • 1.6.1.1 Works from the twentieth century
  • 1.6.1.2 Recent studies on prayer in the early church
  • 1.6.2 Literature on self and identity in antiquity
  • 1.6.2.1 Foucault, Brakke, Shulman, Stroumsa, Rüpke, etc.
  • 1.6.2.2 J.B. Rives: A historian’s view on Roman identity
  • 1.6.3 Literature on Christian prayer, self and identity in antiquity
  • 2 Contexts and authors
  • 2.1 A tale of three cities: Alexandria, Carthage and Caesarea Maritima
  • 2.1.1 General considerations
  • 2.1.2 Alexandria ad Aegyptum
  • 2.1.3 Carthage
  • 2.1.4 Caesarea Maritima, caput Judaea
  • 2.1.5 Prayer and identity in the metropoles of the Roman Empire
  • 2.2 Non-Christian philosophies on prayer
  • 2.2.1 Prayer and providence (πρόνοια)
  • 2.2.2 Petitionary prayers
  • 2.2.3 Prayer, sacrifice (θυσία) and further practice ( Ἔργα … πράγματα)
  • 2.2.4 Prayer, virtue (ἀρετή) and salvation (σωτηρία)
  • 2.2.5 Non-Christian prayer and identity
  • 2.3 Christian prayer in the first three centuries A.D. – a summary
  • 2.3.1 The interdependence of Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism
  • 2.3.2 The earliest Christian prayer practice
  • 2.3.3 Popular religion and Christian prayer
  • 2.3.4 Christian identity through prayer
  • 2.4 Four Christian authors and their prayers
  • 2.4.1 Clement of Alexandria
  • 2.4.1.1 Prayers of Clement
  • 2.4.2 Origen
  • 2.4.2.1 Prayers of Origen
  • 2.4.3 Tertullian
  • 2.4.3.1 Prayers of Tertullian
  • 2.4.4 Cyprian
  • 2.4.4.1 A prayer of Cyprian
  • 2.4.5 Conclusion
  • 2.5 Four Christian treatises on prayer
  • 2.5.1 The dating, structure and general content of the texts
  • 2.5.1.1 Στρωματεῖς, Book 7
  • 2.5.1.2 Περὶ Εὐχῆς
  • 2.5.1.3 De Oratione
  • 2.5.1.4 De Dominica Oratione
  • 2.5.2 The usage and target groups of the four texts
  • 2.5.3 Conclusion
  • Part II: Textual Analysis
  • 3 The relationship established with God in prayer
  • 3.1 Characterizing the addressee of prayer: God
  • 3.1.1 The address of prayer: God as Father
  • 3.1.1.1 Clement and Origen on the invocation of God
  • 3.1.1.2 Tertullian and Cyprian on the invocation of God
  • 3.1.1.3 God as Father and Friend
  • 3.1.1.4 Expectations to the heavenly Father
  • 3.1.1.5 Conclusions regarding the address “Father”
  • 3.1.2 What’s in a name? – the Revelation of God’s name
  • 3.1.3 The role of Christ and the Holy Spirit in prayer
  • 3.1.4 The Holy Spirit
  • 3.1.5 Summary on the role of Son and Spirit
  • 3.1.6 On God’s will and providence
  • 3.1.6.1 The will of God
  • 3.1.6.2 The providence of God
  • 3.1.7 Preliminary conclusions
  • 3.2 Approaching God the Father
  • 3.2.1 Pray in secret644
  • 3.2.1.1 What is secret prayer?
  • 3.2.1.2 The rationale behind secret prayer
  • 3.2.2 Pray in spirit and in truth
  • 3.2.2.1 Tertullian and Cyprian on praying “in spirit”
  • 3.2.2.2 Clement and Origen on praying “in spirit”
  • 3.2.2.3 Prayer as spiritual sacrifice
  • 3.2.3 Pray without ceasing
  • 3.2.4 “Ask for great things” and “Seek First his Kingdom”
  • 3.2.5 Concretum pro abstracto: On gestures, times and forms of prayer
  • 3.2.5.1 On gestures when praying
  • 3.2.5.2 On direction
  • 3.2.5.3 On times for prayer
  • 3.2.5.4 On the content and wording of prayer
  • 3.2.5.5 Silent prayer and contemplation
  • 3.2.6 Conclusion: How to approach the divine
  • 3.3 God, prayer and Christian identity
  • 4 Prayer and the multiaxial relationships of Christians
  • 4.1 Introduction – the agents of prayer
  • 4.2 Prayer and ethics: Relations to other Christians
  • 4.2.1 A theoretical note on ritual, values and behaviour
  • 4.2.2 Prayer, virtue and behaviour in the euchological treatises
  • 4.2.2.1 The Latin authors
  • 4.2.2.2 The Alexandrian authors
  • 4.2.2.3 Preliminary conclusion: Prayer and virtue
  • 4.2.3 Prayer and brotherly relations: On kinship language in the euchological treatises
  • 4.2.3.1 “Behavioural output” of kinship language and prayer
  • 4.2.4 Detectable consequences of prayer discourse?
  • 4.2.5 Preliminary conclusions on prayer and behaviour
  • 4.3 Praying with and for others
  • 4.3.1 Admonitions to pray together in the congregation
  • 4.3.2 Formalized elements: Liturgical prayer, sacraments and clergy
  • 4.3.2.1 Hierarchizing prayers
  • 4.3.3 Intercession
  • 4.3.3.1 Intercession for the conversion of non-Christians
  • 4.3.3.2 Intercession for fellow-Christians
  • 4.3.4 Considerations on the overt social aspects of prayer
  • 4.4 Marking boundaries by way of prayer
  • 4.4.1 Anti-Judaism and Christian prayer
  • 4.4.2 Pagan ideas and customs
  • 4.4.2.1 The Latin authors
  • 4.4.2.2 The Greek authors
  • 4.4.3 Prayer and heretical “others”
  • 4.4.4 Considerations on prayer, identity and “othering”
  • 4.5 Relations to supernatural beings
  • 4.5.1 Angels1081
  • 4.5.1.1 Contestation and cultivation discourses in the euchological treatises
  • 4.5.1.2 Planets and stars
  • 4.5.2 Evil powers
  • 4.6 Conclusions on prayer and social relations with various others
  • 5 From sinner to saint: Self-relations and prayer
  • 5.1 Introduction – the self as analytical category
  • 5.1.1 Tracing a line of self-orientated studies
  • 5.2 Transformation as effect of prayer
  • 5.2.1 Christian anthropology and progression
  • 5.2.2 An image of (an image of) God and likeness with God
  • 5.2.3 Effects of prayer according to the Latin authors
  • 5.2.4 Effects of prayer according to the Alexandrian authors
  • 5.2.5 Prayer and salvation
  • 5.2.6 Prayer as part of Christian Paideia and catechetical education
  • 5.3 Considerations and conclusion: Prayerful selves and identity
  • Part III: Final Conclusion, Considerations and Perspectives
  • 6 Conclusion
  • 6.1 Christian prayer in Roman society and beyond
  • 6.2 A few perspectives
  • Bibliography
  • Sources
  • Secondary Literature
  • General Index

Introduction

Prayer was ubiquitous in antiquity, and it is hard to find an early Christian text with no reference to prayer at all. Christian ideas of prayer developed under heavy influence from Judaism and Greco-Roman religion and philosophy. This study examines how prayer was understood in early Christian theology, and what function prayer had in the life of the early Christian congregations. The aim is to shed light on the effect of prayer on Christian identity formation in ante-Nicene Christianity and point to prayer as a multifaceted phenomenon that aligned and linked individual and collective Christian identity. Concrete prayer practice is allusive, but the link made between prayer and Christian life is available to us in early Christian texts.

In some studies on early Christianity, prayer is mentioned as a feature that had an important and formative effect on Christians and their communities. This is often taken as something more or less self-evident, for instance when Karen King, in a discussion of Gnostic ethics, notes en passant that prayer was one of the means by which people of antiquity tried to reach freedom from passions and demonic influences, as well as to achieve spiritual development.2 The present study sets out to investigate this link between prayer and being Christian. It investigates the historical effects of the Christian theology and instructions of prayer. The primary sources from which conclusions will be deferred are instructive, normative and theological in character. It is the four earliest treatises on prayer in Christian history, written by Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Tertullian and Cyprian, respectively, in the beginning of the third century. Three of these commentaries centre on the Lord’s Prayer which frequently and unsurprisingly is held up as the quintessential Christian prayer.

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This study on prayer in the early church is a historical study of Christian theology and piety. It arose from a range of questions of both a theological and historical nature and from an interest in learning how Christian piety and practice contributed to attracting people to Christianity. My hypothesis is that the Christian instructions regarding prayer and the theology of prayer was a fundamental part of Christian piety and practice and a decisive factor in the spread of Christianity. I aim at unfolding the theologies of prayer carefully, because I agree with John Behr that a study on Christianity in antiquity that does not take an interest in theology is “a map drawn without regard for the real topography.”3 Moreover, I make use of modern sociological theory and thereby follow a trend that has manifested itself in studies on early Christianity – a shift away from purely theological perspectives on the ancient material towards sociological, textual and historical approaches.4 Since the subject of this study is prayer, I find it justifiable to combine theological, historical and sociological approaches, because prayer, even personal prayer, was a social activity in the early church. The relational character of prayer is expressed by the numerous prepositions used in relation with prayer in the sources under consideration: It matters whom the Christians prayed “to,” “through,” “in,” “for,” “with” and “in the name of.”5 The sociological considerations are used to clarifying the reciprocal relationship that appears to have existed in the early Christian communities – between theology and practice and between the congregation and the individual. Still, of course, as already the late antique Neoplatonic philosopher Iamblicus expressed in regard to prayer: “In fact, it is a worthy ←14 | 15→subject of study in itself”6, and the three fundamental chapters of the current volume, Chapters 3 to 5, are an analysis of the sources on prayer.

A remark of caution needs to be made from the outset since the study takes up the theme of identity. The current focus on identity in historical research is to some extent spurred by a contemporary interest in and search for identity as such in the post-modern period. The modern focus on events and phenomena forming identity in the past merge with a contemporary need for a clearly outlined identity in the present. The historian must be careful not to carve out the historical remnants so that they fit into his or her own identity building. However, humans of course need the past to navigate in the present, and as Michel Foucault wrote: “It is good to have nostalgia towards some periods on the condition that it’s a way to have a thoughtful and positive relation to your own present.”7 Consequently, in this study I have been open to the possibilities that a new perspective on history provides, and I have tried to avoid the pitfall of using history for the purpose of modern identity politics. I am not a sociologist, and I do not claim that my use of the theories on identity and self is original. However, the application of these modern ideas on historical material on prayer is part of a novel discourse.8

The dissertation is divided into three main parts. Part I draws the theoretical and historical frame around the study and consists of two chapters: Chapter 1 presents explorations of identity theories and provides literary surveys of scholarship on relevant themes: prayer, self and identity in antiquity. Chapter 2 sets the historical stage, as it contains a context analysis and a presentation of the authors under investigation, as well as of prayers in their works, and of the treatises to be investigated. Part II is the textual analysis of the four treatises under investigation. This part is divided into three chapters, each of which deals with an aspect of the socializing character of Christian prayer. Chapter 3 focuses on how prayer established a relationship between the individual and God. Chapter 4 deals with other social relations that were reinforced by prayer in direct and indirect ways. ←15 | 16→Finally, Chapter 5 examines how the individual Christian was expected to connect with his/her own “self” in prayer.9 The final Part III of this study consists of final considerations, conclusions and perspectives. Here the textual analyses are summed up, and a conclusion is drawn about the influence of prayer on the establishment and rise of Christianity within the Roman Empire. We shall see that, among Christians in different parts of the Roman Empire, prayer was envisioned as a life-transforming activity, and as such it was relevant for, what we nowadays term, Christian identity.

←16 | 17→

2 K. L. King, What is Gnosticism? Cambridge 2005, 208. See also M.C. Kiley (ed.), Prayer from Alexander to Constantine. A Critical Anthology, London 1997, 251: “‘Prayer is a primary means of socializing oneself into and participating in such an order of existence’. Hence, in the development of early Christianity, prayer language was an especially powerful tool for the maintenance of a developing Christian self-identity.”

3 J. Behr, Asceticism and Anthropology in Irenaeus and Clement, Oxford 2000, 14. However, back in 1986 A. Cameron noted: “It seems to be more acceptable at the moment for an ancient historian to appeal to social or economic factors than to the realm of ideas” (A. Cameron, Redrawing the Map. Early Christian Territory after Foucault, in: JRS 76 (1986), 266).

4 E. Iricinschi/H.M. Zellentin (eds.), Heresy and Identity in Late Antiquity, TSAJ, Tübingen 2008, 7.

5 I am aware that not all of these are prepositional phrases in the original languages; “in the Spirit” is for instance expressed with an instrumental dative, πνεύματι, in Or. or. e.g 2,5 (Koetschau); and with an instrumental ablative “spiritu” in Tert. Or., e.g. 28 (Schleyer).

6 Iamblic. Myst. V. 26. (Clarke/Dillon/Hershbell).

7 M. Foucault, Technologies of the Self, in: L.H. Martin et al. (eds.), Technologies of the Self. A Seminar with Michel Foucault, Amherst 1988, 12.

8 For a literary survey, see below paragraph 1.6.

9 The structure of the work thus reflects the main kinds of connections established in prayer, cf. K.L. Ladd/B. Spilka, Inward, Outward, and Upward: Cognitive Aspects of Prayer in: JSSR 41, 3 (2002), 475-484.

1 Theory, method and previous scholarship

This chapter presents the identity theories and theories on the formation of self which constitute the frame of the present study. Many of the theoretical assumptions that will be used are drawn from a certain vein of sociological/philosophical studies called “Symbolic Interactionism” or from the French philosopher Michel Foucault. This delimitation is made in order not to be carried away by the huge amount of writings on self and identity, and also because “symbolic interactionism” is especially relevant when the theme is prayer, since prayer is a symbol used in the social world. In order to clarify what is meant by “prayer,” “self,” “identity” and “identity formation” in the present study, the immediately following paragraphs are dedicated to definitions and theories.

1.1 “Prayer” – avoiding a rigid definition

It makes sense to open a study on prayer with a definition of prayer. This is, however, difficult because it is impossible to deduce just one definition of prayer from the source material under investigation. Prayer is a “Sammelgattung,”10 and also among Christian thinkers in the early church, prayer was comprehended in a very broad fashion. Origen’s treatise, Perì Euchês, testifies to such a multifaceted perception of prayer since in this text alone, one finds several ideas of what prayer is: Origen envisions prayer in a concrete and verbal sense in accord with Paul as consisting of “supplication, intercession, pleas and thanksgivings” (1 Tim 2:1);11 furthermore, Origen understands prayer as something purely internal that has to do with paying complete attention to God;12 and moreover, Origen also defines prayer broadly as life itself when lived in a certain way.13 In ←19 | 20→Origen’s treatise, we also find prayer understood as contemplation and conversation, as he writes that, ideally, the one who is praying “contemplate (ἐννοεῖν) God alone, and hold modest and solemn converse (ὁμιλεῖν) with the one who hears them.”14 The idea of prayer as conversation with God is an essential aspect of the Christian idea of prayer. We find prayer directly referred to as “conversation” or “converse” (ὁμιλία) in some Christian writings, and the idea is indirectly present in even more.15 Clement of Alexandria, who precedes Origen, writes in Stromateis 7,39: “Prayer, then, to speak somewhat boldly, is converse with God (ὁμιλία πρὸς τὸν θεὸν ἡ εὐχή·).” As we shall see, according to the early Christian theologians, “prayer” also occasionally referred to a mental ascension (ἀνάβασις) to God or “prayer” could be almost synonymous with contemplation (θεωρία) of God. These ideas are mostly developed in the Greek theological tradition, but also in the Western tradition, we find a broad understanding of what prayer is and does.16 Often, it is not obvious whether the authors who wrote about prayer promoted individual or collective prayer. At one point, Cyprian refers to Christian prayer (oratio) as “common” (publica) and “collective” (communis) and express that the content of Christian prayer should be focused on the needs of others.17 There is a tendency that collective and liturgical prayers are seen as most beneficial18 among the ←20 | 21→early Christian authors investigated in the following, but that does not take away the responsibility of each individual Christian to pray at appointed times and “always.”19 “Prayer” is thus both an individual and collective address to God related to manifold reflections regarding the appropriate content of praise, thanksgiving, confession and petition. A sharp distinction between individual and collective or liturgical prayer is not made in the treatises; we shall return to this blurring of the lines between individual and collective prayer when dealing with the French sociologist M. Mauss’ understanding of private prayer as a social act. Exactly in the blurring of the lines between what is reckoned as individual and collective lies a potential for identity formation of a comprehensive kind.

Modern studies are aware of the difficulty in narrowing down the subject of prayer without losing its essence. In Encyclopedia of Religion, Sam Gill describes “prayer” as text, act and subject,20 and he defines the act of praying poetically by stating that “prayer is one means by which [the] gap of createdness is overcome, if but momentarily.”21 Another broad definition is given by Friedrich Heiler:

“Das Gebet ist … eine lebendige Beziehung des Menschen zu Gott, ein Fühlungnehmen, eine Zuflucht, eine unmittelbare Berührung, ein innerer Kontakt, ein persönliches Verhältnis, ein wechselseitiger Austausch, eine Zwiesprache, ein Umgang, ein Verkehr, eine Gemeinschaft, eine Vereinigung zwischen einem Ich und Du.”22

In the contemporary publication Early Christian Prayer and Identity formation a working definition of prayer is as follows:

“Prayer is a verbal and nonverbal communication with God, proceeding from a relationship of trust. This act of communication usually has a purpose, either in seeking divine assistance, guidance, or some kind of intervention. Since this act ←21 | 22→of communication is integrated in a relationship, prayer includes gratitude, adoration and praises as well.”23

In Theologische Realenzyklopädie, Carl Heinz Ratschow writes that prayer is a personal and dialogical approach: “die vornehmlich “personhafte”, dialogische Zuwendung eines Menschen zu Gott.”24 This latter definition fits the ancient idea of prayer as “conversation” with God.

Since the definition of prayer needs to be broad to encompass the complexities of the early Christian sources, this study sets out with an understanding of prayer as “conversation” or “communing” with God. This definition deliberately gives rise to several associations, such as “communicating with,” “being in touch with” and “feeling close to.”25 This communication can be more or less formalized, and it can be undertaken by an individual alone, as well as collectively by a group; in an unformal setting as well as part of formal liturgical actions. Although, prayer thus can refer to quite different phenomena and acts, the basic idea of communing with God holds the different aspects of prayer together within an early Christian mind-set.

Also within “symbolic interactionism,” the sociological stream of thought to which I shall shortly make recourse, prayer is understood in a rather broad fashion. In The Handbook of Symbolic Interactionism, prayer is described as “a transcendent symbol”26, because prayer points beyond itself to a transcendent “reality.” One could argue that prayer is a symbol on more levels than one since both the physical gestures connected to prayer and the wording of prayer are symbolic and point beyond their apparent meaning. Symbolic interactionism stresses the importance of symbols in human interaction, and prayer can be seen as one such symbol that affects human life on more levels: Prayer is a way of communicating with both ←22 | 23→God, with other human beings and with oneself. Thus, prayer can be understood as part of human interaction with God, but also as communication among human beings or even as communication internally in the individual human being who engages in the act of praying. It is these different aspects of prayer that are dealt with in the following.

1.2  Identifying  identity in general27 – it’s all “the same”

The word identity is derived from the Latin pronoun idem, meaning “the same.” The word, identity, began to be used in learned Latin in the renaissance period, and it found its way into English language only in the late sixteenth century. In the beginning, the word was used in logic, as is illustrated by G.W. Leibniz’ logical principle from the seventeenth century: principium identitatis indiscernibilium,28 i.e. the principle of the identity of the indiscernible. Leibniz’ principle entails that if the same qualities are attached to given entities, then these entities are, in fact, the same (if x = y, then y = x). This idea of “sameness” is also a constituting element in the much later psychological and sociological identity theories, because identity inherently has to do with the fact that people and groups, although constantly developing, are perceived and perceive themselves as being (more or less) “the same” over a span of time. In fact, human beings are dependent on a degree of continuity and stableness, both regarding themselves and the world around them. The sociologist Anthony Giddens conceptualizes this basic need for stability when he talks about “ontological security” that comes with stable relations and a stable self-identity.29 The very “courage to be,” that is known from the theology of Paul Tillich, arises, according to Giddens, from this “ontological security.”30 “Identity” is thus no mere detail – in theology or life.

←23 | 24→

For a long time, the concept of identity did not take on psychological or sociological connotations. In antiquity and medieval times, the idea that every human being has an individual character was more likely explained by reference to an individual’s “soul,” “spirit” or “character.” The fact is that “our current notion of ‘identity’ is historically fairly recent. Identity is a modern concept and not something that people have eternally needed or sought as such. If they were trying to establish, defend, or protect their identities, they thought about what they were doing in different terms.”31 Not until modernity, did the empiricist philosophers start to question the idea of an integrated self or a soul detached from the body. That happened in the 17th century, when for instance John Locke wrote his Essay concerning Human Understanding. According to Locke, the identity of a human being consists in its rational consciousness – the rationality is the only stable feature in the individual.32 Thus the soul started losing conceptual terrain from the early modern period, and this eventually left room for another way to talk about how humans, whether acting alone or collectively, come into being and constitute themselves.

In the 1940s, the American developmental psychologist, Erik H. Erikson, introduced the term identity into the social sciences. Erikson employed the term identity to describe the outcome of the personal development that takes place during childhood and adolescence. From Erikson’s perspective, identity is something like a personal “kernel” developed during the first decades of life. However, according to the identity studies of the social sciences that were developed in the following decades, not even a “kernel” of identity is considered stable in human life.33 The main characteristic of ←24 | 25→the modern scientific usage of “identity” is that it is something changeable, processual and socially constructed. Identity is something that constantly evolves and is affected by the social circumstances that a person encounters.34 Human beings constantly adjust their identity, and identity formation is a never-ending process.

Identity is not only affected by the individual, but also by the social context of the individual and the groups to which he/she belongs. For this reason, identity theories distinguish between personal identity, role identity, social identity, collective identity and group-identity.35 Social identity and collective identity have to do with the overall categories to which an individual belongs, e.g. religious affiliation, whereas the personal identity is more distinct and refers to how the individual thinks of and defines him-/herself. However, the social and personal aspects of identity are interdependent. Many theories have been proposed about identity formation, and the following presentation will predominantly deal with identity as understood within the way of thought of “symbolic interactionism.”36

←25 | 26→

1.3  Self  and identity37

1.3.1 Selves and symbols

Symbolic interactionism evolved in the United States in the first decades of the 20th century. Its founding father was George Herbert Mead (1863–1931) who primarily taught philosophy, but made big contributions to the social sciences as well. He is considered as a founding father of social psychology and as a forerunner of “social constructivism.” Mead held positions first at University of Michigan and later at University of Chicago where he worked together with other scholars that shaped symbolic interactionism, e.g. the sociologist Herbert Blumer who coined the term symbolic interactionism. As noted in the previous section, the concept “identity” first came into use in the social sciences well into the 20th century. In accordance with this, Mead did not use the term “identity” himself, but his younger followers easily introduced the concept of “identity” into the framework of “symbolic interactionism.”

Mead advanced the theory that society is constantly evolving through interaction. Mead’s theory is that human beings are born without selves, but selves develop as people interact. The self is developed through an inner dialogue between the “I” and the “me,” where the “me” reflects the internalized “voice” of the social groups in which the individual is involved. Mead called this internalized “voice” of “the social group” “the generalized other,” and he held that it utters within us the values, attitudes, and beliefs of society. According to Mead, human beings are able to see themselves through the eyes of “the generalized other.” This entails that we as human beings can become objects to ourselves, revaluate our understandings and act accordingly.38 Mead phrases it:

←26 | 27→

“The self is something which has a development: it is not initially there at birth but arises in the process of social experience and activity, that is, develops in the given individual as a result of his relations to that process as a whole and to other individuals within that process.”39

Summary

This book analyses early Christian texts on prayer. These texts provide a rich perspective on the formation of Christian identity in the early church. The primary sources investigated are the four earliest known treatises on prayer in Christian history, written by Clement, Origen, Tertullian and Cyprian in the beginning of the third century. Prayer and identity have both individual and collective expressions, and theological treatises reveal an interplay between these phenomena. The book examines the relational character of Christian prayer: how prayer establishes a relationship between the individual and God; how other social relations are reinforced by prayer in direct and indirect ways; and how individual Christians are connected to their own self in prayer.

Details

Pages
340
ISBN (PDF)
9783653063455
ISBN (ePUB)
9783631710555
ISBN (MOBI)
9783631710562
ISBN (Book)
9783631670934
Language
English
Publication date
2019 (June)
Tags
Christian prayer Identity formation Self-formation Relations Early Christianity Early Church
Published
Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2019., 340 pp.

Biographical notes

Maria Louise Munkholt Christensen (Author)

Maria Louise Munkholt Christensen studied Protestant Theology at Aarhus University, Denmark, and earned her PhD degree at the same university in 2015. She is presently engaged in postdoctoral research at the Collaborative Research Centre «Education and Religion» at the University of Göttingen, Germany. In her current project she investigates late antique Christian texts that feature women as teachers.

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Title: Relating through Prayer