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4 - Counterintuitive Mischwesen

Hybrid Creatures in Syro-Palestinian Iconography and Cognition

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 September 2020

Brett E. Maiden
Affiliation:
Emory University, Atlanta
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Summary

This chapter uses current theories in the cognitive science of religion (CSR) to examine the widespread 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. The chapter analyzes the iconography of hybrid figures from the perspective of two current cognitive frameworks: Dan Sperber’s epidemiological approach to cultural representations and Pascal Boyer’s theory of minimally counterintuitive (MCI) concepts. Artifacts and imagery include hybrid creatures on glyptic and minor art, monsters and demons, as well as a discussion of hybrid creatures such as the seraphim and cherubim in the biblical books of Isaiah and Ezekiel. It is argued that culturally specific depictions of hybrid animals exhibit a core set of properties, which helps to account for their stability across geographical and temporal distances. The MCI theory is also empirically tested with recourse to the ancient iconographic data.

Type
Chapter
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Cognitive Science and Ancient Israelite Religion
New Perspectives on Texts, Artifacts, and Culture
, pp. 133 - 176
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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  • Counterintuitive Mischwesen
  • Brett E. Maiden, Emory University, Atlanta
  • Book: Cognitive Science and Ancient Israelite Religion
  • Online publication: 17 September 2020
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108767972.004
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To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

  • Counterintuitive Mischwesen
  • Brett E. Maiden, Emory University, Atlanta
  • Book: Cognitive Science and Ancient Israelite Religion
  • Online publication: 17 September 2020
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108767972.004
Available formats
×

Send book to Google Drive

To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

  • Counterintuitive Mischwesen
  • Brett E. Maiden, Emory University, Atlanta
  • Book: Cognitive Science and Ancient Israelite Religion
  • Online publication: 17 September 2020
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108767972.004
Available formats
×