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Date of Award

4-7-2004

Document Type

Graduate Paper

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Liturgical Studies

Department

School of Theology • Seminary

First Advisor

Christian McConnell

Abstract

This paper examines the cultural significance of olive oil in the ancient Mediterranean world, in order to illuminate its meaning as a liturgical symbol in the Early Christian communities. Olive oil's uses in medicine, law, cult and worship, hygiene and athletics, as well as fuel, all carry over to the theology of anointing that develops as part of Christian liturgy. This paper, however, argues that in Christian tradition olive oil became a sacramental symbol not only because there existed a significant precedence of using olive oil in pre-Christian Mediterranean cultures, but mainly because, from the specific uses of oil, such a theology could be built that is consistent with the theology of Christian initiation as well as the anointing of the sick.

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