Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1959.13/808861
- On idolatry
- The University of Newcastle. Faculty of Education & Arts, Education & Arts (School)
- How might we understand the biblical injunctions against idolatry? On the surface it all seems rather simple: we shouldn’t, the text says, worship animals, stars, found objects or things made with our hands in the sweat of our brows. Or as Isaiah puts it in one of the best polemics against idolatry still to be found. That critique gives the impression, on the surface at least, that idol-worshippers are simply deluded, for they worship an oddly shaped block of wood, a chiselled piece of stone or perhaps a polished metal icon that can never be more than the material out of which it is made. The worshipper may claim that it is a god, or that it bestows blessings and curses, but it is nothing of the sort. The passage from Isaiah plays up the sheer ordinariness of the idol with a good dose of satire. Indeed, it stresses the everyday materiality of the idol, one that punctures the exorbitant claims made for it. But this text also points to the need for an analysis of the material object in question and not the vapid claims made on its behalf. However, such an analysis also needs to go behind the text a little in order to uncover its deeper workings. To begin with, we need to shift perspective from the polemicist to the so-called worshipper of the idol. Then the idol itself becomes a mere symbol or pointer to the deity, a tangible, earthly marker of the god’s connection to this world.
- Bible and Interpretation Issue December 2009
- Indiana Wesleyan University
- Resource Type
- journal article