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Horse Statues in Seventh Century Jerusalem: Ancient Social Formations and the Evaluation of Religious Diversity

Volume 4 () / Issue 1, pp. 106-132 (27)

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This essay argues that if religion is seen as the experience of a given practice, then any evaluation of religious diversity or commonalities in the ancient Levant needs to include historically sustained perceptions of the social field in which a given religious practice occurred. As a test case, this article reviews discussion in biblical scholarship of diversity or similarities between the chariots for the sun in the Jerusalem temple (2 Kgs 23:11) and a group of seventh century terracotta horses found by Dame Kenyon in the City of David. While recognition of the importance of space is not missing from this debate, there are serious shortcomings in the way social space – including the dynamics of power and aesthetics in these spaces – come into consideration. In order to illustrate what kind of analysis may need to be developed in future scholarship, this article considers whether it is possible to recover some of the social dynamics relevant in the social field of each of the two horse constellations.

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