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Family and Household Religion in Ancient Israel and the Levant

Rainer Albertz and Rüdiger Schmitt

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Family and Household Religion in Ancient Israel and the Levant

Rainer Albertz and Rüdiger Schmitt

During the past several decades, family and household religion has become a topic of Old Testament scholarship in its own right, fed by what were initially three distinct approaches: the religious-historical approach, the gender-oriented approach, and the archaeological approach. The first pursues answers to questions of the commonality and difference between varieties of family religion and describes the household and family religions of Mesopotamia, Syria/Ugarit, Israel, Philistia, Egypt, Greece, and Rome. Gender-oriented approaches also contribute uniquely important insights to family and household religion. Pioneers of this sort of investigation show that, although women in ancient Israelite societies were very restricted in their participation in the official cult, there were familial rituals performed in domestic environments in which women played prominent roles, especially as related to fertility, childbirth, and food preparation. Archaeologists have worked to illuminate many aspects of this family religion as enacted by and related to the nuclear family unit and have found evidence that domestic cults were more important in Israel than has previously been understood. One might even conceive of every family as having actively partaken in ritual activities within its domestic environment.

 

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  • Table of Contents
During the past several decades, family and household religion has become a topic of Old Testament scholarship in its own right, fed by what were initially three distinct approaches: the religious-historical approach, the gender-oriented approach, and the archaeological approach. The first pursues answers to questions of the commonality and difference between varieties of family religion and describes the household and family religions of Mesopotamia, Syria/Ugarit, Israel, Philistia, Egypt, Greece, and Rome. Gender-oriented approaches also contribute uniquely important insights to family and household religion. Pioneers of this sort of investigation show that, although women in ancient Israelite societies were very restricted in their participation in the official cult, there were familial rituals performed in domestic environments in which women played prominent roles, especially as related to fertility, childbirth, and food preparation. Archaeologists have worked to illuminate many aspects of this family religion as enacted by and related to the nuclear family unit and have found evidence that domestic cults were more important in Israel than has previously been understood. One might even conceive of every family as having actively partaken in ritual activities within its domestic environment.

Family and Household Religion in Ancient Israel and the Levant analyzes the appropriateness of the combined term family and household religion and identifies the types of family that existed in ancient Israel on the basis of both literary and archaeological evidence. Comparative evidence from Iron Age Philistia, Transjordan, Syria, and Phoenicia is presented. This monumental book presents a typology of cult places that extends from domestic cults to local sanctuaries and state temples. It details family religious beliefs as expressed in the almost 3,000 individual Hebrew personal names that have so far been recorded in epigraphic and biblical material. The Hebrew onomasticon is further compared with 1,400 Ammonite, Moabite, Aramean, and Phoenician names. These data encompass the vast majority of known Hebrew personal names and a substantial sample of the names from surrounding cultures. In this impressive compilation of evidence, the authors describe the variety of rites performed by families at home, at a neighborhood shrine, or at work. Burial rituals and the ritual care for the dead are examined. A comprehensive bibliography, extensive appendixes, and several helpful indexes round out the masterful textual material to form a one-volume compendium that no scholar of ancient Israelite religion and archaeology can afford not to own.

List of Figures

Preface

Abbreviations

General

Reference Works

1. Introduction

Rainer Albertz

1.1. History of research

1.2. Interdisciplinary approach and temporal limitations of the subject

1.3. The structure of the present book

2. Methodological Reflections Rainer Albertz

2.1. Problems of modern and biblical terminology

2.2. The problem of living space in domestic buildings

2.3. Overcoming the discrepancy between the archaeological evidence and the biblical ideal

2.4. Relations between different types of family households and relations to additional kin

2.5. Conclusions for reconstructing the Israelite family and household religion

2.6. Religious-historical concepts regarding family religion

2.7. Family and household religion within the religion of Israel

3. Elements of Domestic Cult in Ancient Israel Rüdiger Schmitt

3.1. Methodology

3.2. Diagnostic objects and cult patterns

3.3. Domestic cultic assemblages in Iron Age Judah and Israel

3.4. Patterns of domestic cult activities in Iron Age Israel and Judah

3.5. Comparative data from sites outside Israel and Judah

4. Typology of Iron Age Cult Places Rüdiger Schmitt

4.1. Domestic cult: The house as space for ritual activities (Type IA)

4.2. Domestic shrines (Type IB)

4.3. Patterns of cult places outside the domestic realm

4.4. Conclusions

5. Personal Names and Family Religion Rainer Albertz

5.1. Introductory questions

5.2. Religious beliefs expressed in Hebrew personal names

5.3. Family beliefs related to the conduct of everyday life

5.4. The deities venerated in family religion

5.5. Iconographic evidence from iconic stamp seals regarding personal piety and family religion (R. Schmitt)

6. Rites of Family and Household Religion Rüdiger Schmitt

6.1. Introduction

6.2. Rites and rituals associated with the cycle of human life

6.3. Rites, rituals, and observances set by the calendar

6.4. Occasional rituals

6.5. Taboos and other observances

6.6. Family rites and rituals and their significance for the symbolic system of the family

7. Care for the Dead in the Context of the Household and Family Rüdiger Schmitt

7.1. Introduction

7.2. Status of the dead

7.3. Mourning the dead

7.4. Burying the dead

7.5. Feeding the dead and other forms of post-mortem care for the dead

7.6. Commemorating the dead

7.7. Interrogating the dead

7.8. Summary and conclusions: The functions of mortuary rites in the context of family and household religion

8. Summary

Rainer Albertz and Rüdiger Schmitt

8.1. Research history

8.2. Methodology

8.3. Archaeological evidence for domestic religious practices

8.4. Typology of cult places outside the domestic realm

8.5. The symbolic world of family religion based on personal names

8.6. Rites and rituals of family religion

8.7. Care for the dead in the context of household and family religion

Additional Tables (Tables 3.6–3.9, 5.1–5.16)

Rainer Albertz and Rüdiger Schmitt

Appendix A. Comparative Table of Israelite and Judean Assemblages in Alphabetical Order

Rüdiger Schmitt

Appendix B. Personal Names: A Comprehensive List

Rainer Albertz

B1. Names of Thanksgiving

1.1. Divine attention

1.2. Divine salvation

1.3. Divine assistance

1.4. Divine protection

B2. Names of Confession

2.1. Divine attention

2.2. Divine rescue

2.3. Divine assistance

2.4. Divine protection

2.5. Trust in god

2.6. Relationship of personal trust in god

B3. Names of Praise

3.1. Praise for the greatness of god

3.2. Praise for the goodness of god

3.3. Praise that god is alive

3.4. Call to praise and worship god

B4. Equating Names

4.1. Terms of kinship

4.2. Equating a personal/tutelary god with another god

4.3. Equating Baal with another god

4.4. Equating Yhwh or other major deities with another god

4.5. Old epithets

B5. Names of Birth

5.1. The distress of infertility

5.2. Prayers and vows

5.3. Birth oracles

5.4. Conception and pregnancy

5.5. Creation and birth

5.6. Acceptance of the child; care, naming, and circumcision of the child

5.7. Misfortune in the vicinity of birth

5.8. Infant mortality and substitute names

B6. Secular Names

6.1. Names related to the situation of birth

6.2. Personality traits

6.3. Comparing the child with animals and plants

Illustration Sources: Acknowledgments

Bibliography

Indexes

Index of Authors

Index of Ancient Personal Names

Index of Textual Sources

Index of Sites and Place-Names

Index of Subjects

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