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Conversion and Initiation in Antiquity

Shifting Identities – Creating Change


Edited By Birgitte Secher Bøgh

For decades, Arthur D. Nock’s famous definition of conversion and his distinction between conversion and adhesion have greatly influenced our understanding of individual religious transformation in the ancient world. The articles in this volume – originally presented as papers at the conference Conversion and Initiation in Antiquity (Ebeltoft, Denmark, December 2012) – aim to nuance this understanding. They do so by exploring different facets of these two phenomena in a wide range of religions in their own context and from new theoretical and empirical perspectives. The result is a compilation of many new insights into ancient initiation and conversion as well as their definitions and characteristics.
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Theme 4. Education: instructing and guiding the convert.


Anders-Christian Jacobsen

Identity Formation through Catechetical Teaching in Early Christianity

Abstract: With an outset in identity theories and drawing on the catechetical instructions found in the writings of Cyril of Jerusalem and Augustine, the author argues that 4th century Christian catechetical teaching was aimed at and contributed to identity formation and transformation among persons who recently converted to Christianity, even in the strongest sense of the term “identity”.

Baptismal catechesis and early Christian identity formation

In Christianity, catechesis played an important role in conversion processes mainly as a way to educate and socialise new converts into the social and moral rules and the belief system of the new group. But to which degree did this educational effort aim at an individual’s or group’s transformation of identity – and did it in fact?

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