Images of Others : Iconic Politics in Ancient Israel

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    • Abstract:
      In this volume, Nathaniel Levtow articulately interacts with Mesopotamian and Israelite iconoclastic traditions, locating Israelite polemics against cult images among a spectrum of ancient West Asian literary genres and ritual practices that target the embodied deities of political opponents. Levtow argues that Israelite parodies of Mesopotamian iconic cult were not unique expressions of aniconic monotheism but assertions of Israelite political potency during and shortly after the Babylonian Exile. By interpreting Israelite icon parodies in this context, Levtow rejects the idea of “idolatry” as a static, native Israelite descriptive category and highlights the ability of Israelite writers to compose authoritative classifications of cult that profoundly influenced ancient and modern understandings of iconic worship practices. He concludes that biblical representations of iconic cult reveal dynamic acts of Israelite social formation and exemplify the enduring power of the cult image in ancient West Asian societies.
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