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From Household to House of Yahweh: Women's Religious Culture in Ancient Israel

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Chapter Summary

The study of women and religion in the biblical world has taken several dramatic turns over the last century or more. In order to study women's religious culture in ancient Israel and to avoid adopting the perspective of the texts themselves or of the male-dominated Judeo-Christian interpretive tradition, an anthropological approach is adopted. The formation of ritual behaviors in relation to reproduction is a function of the critical place of birth processes in the life cycle and of the life-death risks involved at each stage. The virtual silence of the biblical record about the religious culture of Israelite women with respect to reproduction renders that culture similarly ahistoric and calls for similar investigative strategies. Those strategies involve the use of three kinds of data-archaeological, ethnohistorical, and ethnographic. The archaeological remains that can be most directly associated with the rituals of female reproduction are iconographic.

Keywords: biblical world; Israelite women; religious culture



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