"Of Wood and Stone": The Significance of Israelite Cultic Items in the Bible and Its Early Interpreters

"Of Wood and Stone": The Significance of Israelite Cultic Items in the Bible and Its Early Interpreters

Abstract:

The Hebrew Bible contains varying opinions concerning which cultic items or objects used in worship were appropriate for use within YHWHism and which were not. By analyzing every passage which mentions "high places" (bamot), sacred trees or poles (asherim), standing stones, altars, and cultic statuary, this study reveals that a remarkable diversity of cultic practices fell within the bounds of acceptability in ancient Israel. Also included are three chapters exploring the particular understandings of these items in the LXX, Vulgate, Targumim, and other early Jewish sources. Opposing the long-held generalization that use of these items was unanimously viewed by biblical authors as syncretistic, this study shows that, with the exception of cultic statuary, all of these items were, at one time or another, legitimate components of Israelite worship. Thus they provide witness to a diversity of theologies and ritual practices within YHWHism previously unappreciated.

Notes:

Harvard Semitic Monographs - HSM 61

Publisher's Version

Last updated on 09/02/2014