Monday, June 03, 2013

They ain't gods, folks

One of the most important contexts for ritual activity other than the regular domestic cult was burial and post-mortem care for the dead. The significance of cultic activities for the deceased in Israelite religion has been a controversial subject of recent discussion (Spronk 1986: 247–50; Lewis 1989: 171–81; van der Toorn 1996b: 206–35; Niehr 2003; Schmitt 2007 et al.). We prefer the term care for the dead instead of terms such as cults of the dead and ancestor cults, because the latter terms imply veneration of ancestors similar to that of gods, and this is not attested in our sources. Care for the dead underlines the ongoing social relations between the living and the deceased members of a family, clan, or other community. Honoring and remembering ancestors were an important aspect of building and maintaining family identity in ancient Israel.—Family and Household Religion in Ancient Israel and the Levant, page 493 (italics theirs)

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