Published online by Cambridge University Press: 17 September 2020
This opening chapter introduces a key set of distinctions in cognitive science and the cognitive sciences of religion between intuitive and reflective types of cognition, implicit and explicit concepts, and cognitively optimal and costly religious traditions. The chapter argues for the importance, relevance, and applicability of cognitive theories and findings for the study of ancient Israelite religion. It is argued that an informed cognitive perspective can illuminate ancient texts, art, and religion, while also acknowledging that such historical materials can be used as valuable fact-checks to critically test and refine current cognitive theories. The chapter envisions a multi-disciplinary endeavor in which historians, biblical scholars, and cognitive researchers contribute to a richer understanding of religion in ancient Israel.