Baptism in the Plural Ethnographic Notes from a Coptic Ecumene

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Aaron Michka

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Abstract




This article provides an ethnographic account of baptism as it is practiced and understood by Christians living in a multi-denominational Upper Egyptian town. Given the challenges of defining baptism in ecumenical terms, this study approaches the topic in terms of three organizing frameworks: baptism as discourse, as rite, and as reproduction. These overlapping metaphors have the advantage of revealing what has often been overlooked in both Coptic studies and the anthropology of Christianity; namely, the ability of a shared Christian practice like baptism to structure interaction across denominations. This finding has particular relevance for the study of contemporary Copts, which has long been focused on Orthodox Copts to the neglect of Coptic Catholics, Evangelicals, and Pentecostals in Egypt.




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