Rituals obviously utilize the human senses. Theological and mystical interpretations frequently comment on sensation as a source of metaphors for religious experience. However, the discourse used in religious rituals themselves usually avoids using the normal vocabulary appropriate to particular sensations, while focusing on ritual performance instead. This raises the question of whether it is generally the case that ritualizing sensation diverts attention from sensation to ritual behavior, and whether ritual interpretations usually divert attention from the sensation to its metaphorical meaning. This essay addresses these questions with the analytical tools of metaphor theory and ritual theory. To test and apply these theories, it focuses on one kind of ritual practices, those that involve written texts, especially books of scripture, and how they use the senses of sight, hearing, and touch.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Religious studies