Published online by Cambridge University Press: 17 September 2020
This chapter reframes the traditional dichotomy between popular and official religion and argues that ritual practices in both official and domestic settings were informed by intuitive conceptualizations of supernatural agency. As an alternative to popular and official religion, the categories cognitively optimal and cognitively costly religion are proposed as a fruitful framework for understanding the diversity of religious expression in ancient Israel. It is argued that from the standpoint of human cognition, ritual offerings performed in both popular and official contexts share deep structural features in common − whether in households, villages, local shrines, or state-sponsored temples. The final section of the chapter evaluates the recent shift to the study of family or household religion in ancient Israel. An analysis of material artifacts and religious ritual practices in domestic and official contexts reveals interesting points of continuity across these domains. Overall, a cognitive perspective suggests that the difference between home and temple, ancestors and the national deity, may not have been as great as it is sometimes imagined.