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Visual culture and religion in ancient Israel and Judah


Uehlinger, Christoph (2022). Visual culture and religion in ancient Israel and Judah. In: Keimer, Kyle; Pierce, George A. The Ancient Israelite World. Abingdon, Oxon; New York: Routledge, 434-463.

Abstract

This chapter reviews archaeologically secure material evidence for visual imagery from ancient Israel and Judah, with occasional side views of neighboring regions. Its focus is on artifacts produced and consumed during the first half of the first millennium BCE (or Iron Age II and III). Relevant data include representations of deities ranging from statuary through cult standards to ‘aniconic’ standing stones; terracotta shrine models, cult stands, and figurines; sophisticated wall paintings, however poorly preserved, and sketches; luxury objects such as metal bowls or ivory carvings; and, miniature objects such as seals or amulets. While important parts of ancient visual culture (wooden artifacts, textiles, or body paintings) are lost forever, enough data are available to prove that Israel and Judah had their share in the visual culture of the southern Levant. Israelite and Judahite craftsmen (and -women) contributed significantly to materialize and visualize, via their skillful products, the religious worldview and imagination of their contemporaries. In doing so, they relied on age-old motifs of Bronze Age “Canaanite” traditions as much as on the exchange of skills, patterns, and motifs with fellow craftsmen from neighboring regions. Regional repertoires, their overlaps, and differences, as well as diachronic developments, help to better understand the dynamics of cultural contact and the relative impact of political and economic circumstances. Future scholarship on Israelite and Judahite religion should make full use of both the material wealth and the cognitive vibrancy of these data.

Abstract

This chapter reviews archaeologically secure material evidence for visual imagery from ancient Israel and Judah, with occasional side views of neighboring regions. Its focus is on artifacts produced and consumed during the first half of the first millennium BCE (or Iron Age II and III). Relevant data include representations of deities ranging from statuary through cult standards to ‘aniconic’ standing stones; terracotta shrine models, cult stands, and figurines; sophisticated wall paintings, however poorly preserved, and sketches; luxury objects such as metal bowls or ivory carvings; and, miniature objects such as seals or amulets. While important parts of ancient visual culture (wooden artifacts, textiles, or body paintings) are lost forever, enough data are available to prove that Israel and Judah had their share in the visual culture of the southern Levant. Israelite and Judahite craftsmen (and -women) contributed significantly to materialize and visualize, via their skillful products, the religious worldview and imagination of their contemporaries. In doing so, they relied on age-old motifs of Bronze Age “Canaanite” traditions as much as on the exchange of skills, patterns, and motifs with fellow craftsmen from neighboring regions. Regional repertoires, their overlaps, and differences, as well as diachronic developments, help to better understand the dynamics of cultural contact and the relative impact of political and economic circumstances. Future scholarship on Israelite and Judahite religion should make full use of both the material wealth and the cognitive vibrancy of these data.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Book Section, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:01 Faculty of Theology and the Study of Religion > Institute of Religious Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:200 Religion
210 Philosophy & theory of religion
290 Other religions
930 History of ancient world (to ca. 499)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Visual Culture, Material Culture, Religion, ancient Israel, Judah, religious imagery
Language:English
Date:27 October 2022
Deposited On:21 Nov 2022 08:41
Last Modified:21 Jun 2024 03:42
Publisher:Routledge
ISBN:9780367406844
OA Status:Closed
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.4324/9780367815691-33
Related URLs:https://www.taylorfrancis.com/chapters/edit/10.4324/9780367815691-33/visual-culture-religion-ancient-israel-judah-christoph-uehlinger (Publisher)
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