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Cognitive Science and Ancient Israelite Religion
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Book description

In this book, Brett Maiden employs the tools, research, and theories from the cognitive science of religion to explore religious thought and behavior in ancient Israel.  His study focuses on a key set of distinctions between intuitive and reflective types of cognitive processing, implicit and explicit concepts, and cognitively optimal and costly religious traditions. Through a series of case studies, Maiden examines a range of topics including popular and official religion, Deuteronomic theology, hybrid monsters in ancient iconography, divine cult statues in ancient Mesopotamia and the biblical idol polemics, and the Day of Atonement ritual in Leviticus 16. The range of media, including ancient texts, art, and archaeological data from ancient Israel, as well theoretical perspectives demonstrates how a dialogue between biblical scholars and cognitive researchers can be fostered.


‘It's not common for a book to fundamentally reorient your thinking about a subject you've taught for years. By bringing in fresh material from outside the usual canons of ancient-world scholarship, Brett Maiden has written that kind of book. He has provided new lenses and tools that should open up new conversations.'

Christopher B. Hays - D. Wilson Moore Professor of Ancient Near Eastern Studies, Fuller Theological Seminary

‘Maiden’s monograph is an important step in the present early phase of the development of the cognitive study of the Bible.’

Joachim Schaper Source: Vetus Testamentum 71

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  • 1 - Intuitive and Reflective Cognition, Optimal and Costly Religion
    pp 1-28
  • 2 - Rethinking the Popular–Official Religion Dichotomy
    pp 29-63


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