Cognitively Optimal and Costly Aspects of Ancient Israelite Religion Restricted; Files Only

Maiden, Brett (Spring 2018)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/1g05fb60f?locale=en
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Abstract

This dissertation employs theoretical tools, findings, and theories from the cognitive and brain sciences in order to explore diverse expressions of religious thought and behavior in ancient Iron Age Israel. Specifically, current issues in the study of Israelite religion and the Hebrew Bible are examined in a series of case studies, all of which center on a key set of distinctions between intuitive and reflective types of cognitive processing, implicit and explicit concepts, and cognitively optimal and costly religious traditions. 

The first case study reframes the traditional dichotomy between popular and official religion and argues that ritual practices in both official and domestic settings were informed by intuitive conceptualizations of supernatural agency. The second examines Deuteronomic theology as an example of a highly literate, reflective, and costly religious tradition with complex doctrines, such as iconoclasm, cult centralization, and the name theology of divine presence, which radically depart from prevailing cultural expectations. The third examines religious beliefs as articulated through material objects and iconography. Specifically, it sheds light on the popularity of hybrid monsters in ancient Syro-Palestinian and Near Eastern art and the role of material culture in enhancing memory and expanding the ordinary boundaries of the religious imagination. Similarly, the fourth draws heavily on visual culture and addresses the worship of divine cult statues in Mesopotamia, the anti-idol polemics in the Bible, and the power of images and ritual activities in the construction of religious beliefs. The final case study offers a sustained textual analysis of the Day of Atonement ritual in Leviticus 16 and theorizes the effects of ritualized behavior upon ancient participants and audiences. 

The contribution of this dissertation is twofold. It demonstrates how an informed cognitive perspective can illuminate ancient texts, art, and religion in ancient Israel. The case studies also afford a unique opportunity to utilize historical materials, such as texts and artifacts, to critically test and refine recent proposals advanced by cognitive researchers. Therefore, in addition to yielding new insights into how pan-cultural cognitive proclivities shaped local expressions of Israelite culture and religion, this research fosters a dialogue between biblical scholars and cognitive researchers. 

Table of Contents

TABLE OF CONTENTS

CHAPTER 1: INTUITIVE AND REFLECTIVE COGNITION, OPTIMAL AND COSTLY RELIGION

1.1. COGNITIVE AVENUES IN THE STUDY OF ISRAELITE RELIGION

1.2. DUAL-PROCESSING MODELS OF HUMAN COGNITION

1.3. COGNITIVELY OPTIMAL AND COSTLY RELIGION

1.4. THE PROBLEM OF THEOLOGICAL INCORRECTNESS

1.5. COGNITIVELY OPTIMAL AND COSTLY ASPECTS OF ANCIENT ISRAELITE RELIGION: A ROAD MAP

CHAPTER 2: RETHINKING THE POPULAR/OFFICIAL RELIGION DICHOTOMY

2.1. INTRODUCTION

2.2. A TALE OF TWO RELIGIONS: POPULAR VS. OFFICIAL

2.2.1. RELIGION OF THE TEEMING MASSES

2.2.2. THE POPULAR/OFFICIAL RELIGION PARADIGM

2.2.3. NON-OVERLAPPING MAGISTERIA?

2.3. A NEW FRAMEWORK: OPTIMAL AND COSTLY RELIGIONS

2.3.1. GODS, GHOSTS, AND INTUITIONS

2.3.2. THE NATURALNES OF SUPERNATURAL AGENCY

2.3.3. THEORETICAL IMPLICATIONS FOR ISRAELITE RELIGION

2.4. GODS AND ANCESTORS: CONTINUITY ACROSS OFFICIAL AND DOMESTIC SETTINGS

CHAPTER 3: DEUTERONOMIC THEOLOGY AS COGNITIVELY COSTLY RELIGION

3.1. INTRODUCTION

3.2. CRITERIA FOR COGNITVELY COSTLY RELIGION

3.3. HISTORY, HISTORICITY, AND THE DEUTERONOMIC REFORMS

3.4. THE COST OF THE DEUTERONOMIC NAME THEOLOGY

3.4.1. THE TEXTS

3.4.2. INTERPRETING THE NAME THEOLOGY

3.4.3. NAME THEOLOGY AND COGNITION

3.4.4. TEXTUAL TENSIONS AS THEOLOGICAL INCORRECTNESS

3.5. THE COST OF CULT CENTRALIZATION

3.5.1. THE TEXTS

3.5.2. CENTRALIZATION AND COGNITION

3.6. THE COST OF ANICONIC WORSHIP

3.6.1. THE TEXTS

3.6.2. ANICONISM AND COGNITION

3.7. DEUTERONOMIC THEOLOGY AND THE DOCTRINAL MODE OF RELIGIOSITY

CHAPTER 4: COUNTERINTUITIVE MISCHWESEN: HYBRID CREATURES IN SYRO-PALESTINIAN ICONOGRAPHY AND COGNITION

4.1. INTRODUCTION

4.2. INFECTIOUS IDEAS AND A RECIPE FOR RELIGIOUS CONCEPTS

4.2.1. CULTURAL EPIDEMIOLOGY

4.2.2. MINIMAL COUNTERINTUITIVENESS

4.2.3. TESTING THE THEORY: POSSIBILITIES AND LIMITATIONS

4.3. HYBRID CREATURES IN ICONOGRAPHY

4.3.1. ON DETECTING COUNTERINTUITIVENESS

4.3.2. WINGED ANTHROPOMORPHIC FIGURES

4.3.3. WINGED ANIMAL-HEADED FIGURES

4.3.4. WINGED HUMAN-HEADED SPHINXES

4.3.5. HYBRID DEMONS: PAZUZU AND LAMAŠTU

4.4. GENERAL DISCUSSION

4.5. APPENDIX: QUANTITATIVE ANALYSIS

4.5.1. AVIGAD AND SASS, CORPUS OF WEST SEMITIC STAMP SEALS

4.5.2. KEEL, CORPUS DER STEMPELSIEGEL-AMULETTE AUS PALÄSTINA/ISRAEL

CHAPTER 5: ON ARTIFACTS AND AGENCY: THE MESOPOTAMIAN MĪS PÎ RITUAL, BIBLICAL IDOL POLEMICS, AND BELIEF IN CULT STATUES

5.1. INTRODUCTION

5.2. CULT STATUES AND INTUITIVE ONTOLOGY

5.3. ENLIVENING DIVINE AGENTS: THE MĪS PÎ RITUAL

5.4. IMPLICIT VS. EXPLICIT CONCEPTS AND THE NATURE OF “BELIEF”

5.5. BIBLICAL ANTI-IDOL POLEMICS AND THE “MARDUK PROBLEM”

5.6. CONCLUDING REMARKS

CHAPTER 6: RITUAL AND COGNITION IN THE DAY OF ATONEMENT RITUAL IN LEVITICUS 16

6.1. INTRODUCTION

6.2. COGNITIVE APPROACHES TO RITUAL

6.2.1. MCCAULEY AND LAWSON: RITUAL FORM

6.2.2. WHITEHOUSE: DIVERGENT MODES OF RELIGIOSITY

6.2.3. BOYER AND LIÉNARD: HAZARD PRECAUTION SYSTEMS

6.2.4. COGNITIVE RESOURCE DEPLETION

6.2.5. DOES IT WORK? EVALUATING RITUAL EFFICACY

6.2.6. APPLYING COGNITIVE INSIGHTS

6.3. WALKING THROUGH LEVITICUS 16

6.3.1. RECENT INTERPRETATION OF BIBLICAL RITUAL AND LEVITICUS 16

6.4. ILLUMINATING A RITUAL TEXT, COGNITIVELY

6.4.1. THE RITUALIZATION OF ATONEMENT

6.4.2. RITUAL FORM, RITUAL MODE, AND “CREDS”

6.4.3. OPTIMAL AND COSTLY ASPECTS OF SANCTUARY PURIFICATION AND THE ELIMINATION OF SIN

6.5. CONCLUDING REMARKS

CHAPTER 7: CONCLUSION

BIBLIOGRAPHY

 

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