n HTS : Theological Studies - Celebrating the feasts of the Old Testament in Christian contexts

Volume 62, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 0259-9422
  • E-ISSN: 2072-8050



Many early Christian churches incorporated a number of non-biblical, even "pagan" symbols and rituals into their liturgy (e. g. the origin of Christmas). They were contextualized into the church by a brand new Christian content to them. From its first inception Christianity attempted to slander and suppress the pagan myths and rituals in the name of its own message. This, however, does not alter the fact that the church also sought some connections in the sphere of myth. Since the Reformation many Protestant churches have tended to "cleanse" the church from all forms of symbols and rituals that could be reminiscent of its earlier connection with the Roman Catholic Church. The article argues that this left an emptiness, a longing for symbols and rituals which usually form an essential part of a normal religious experience. The Old Testament has both a "deficit" and a "surplus" which might have an abiding significance for Christians. It has become clear from archaeological discoveries that Jewish societies formed an integral part of early Christian societies.

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