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Archiv für Religionsgeschichte

Ed. by Bickel, Susanne / Frankfurter, David / Johnston, Sarah Iles / Pironti, Gabriella / Rüpke, Jörg / Scheid, John / Várhelyi, Zsuzsanna

Together with Beard, Mary / Bonnet, Corinne / Borgeaud, Philippe / Henrichs, Albert / Knysh, Alexander / Lissarrague, Francois / Malamoud, Charles / Maul, Stefan / Parker, Robert C. Y. / Shaked, Shaul / Stroumsa, Gedaliahu Guy / Tardieu, Michel / Volokhine, Youri

CiteScore 2018: 0.26

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.132
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 0.435

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Religious Lives of Image-Things, Avodah Zarah, and Rabbis in Late Antique Palestine

Rachel Neis
Published Online: 2016-12-06 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/arege-2015-0006


Drawing on rabbinic sources redacted in the early third and late fourth/ early fifth centuries, this paper tracks the intertwined lives of divine image-things and rabbis living in late Roman and Byzantine period Palestine. The paper argues that the religious image-things of others (or avodah zarah, in rabbinic terms) pressed in different ways on rabbinic notions of animation, materiality, agency, and representation, as well as on the boundaries between the thing, the human, and the divine. Additionally, the paper argues that while rabbis attempted to neutralize the claims of such image-things, in part by exposing their materiality, their excess nonetheless escaped such rabbinic efforts. Finally, the paper argues that in the fourth century, along with the “material turn” in the Roman world inspired by Christian engagement, we find not only a greater sense of the excess in the things of avodah zarah, but also a concomitant thingification of the rabbinic sage.

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Published Online: 2016-12-06

Published in Print: 2016-12-01

Citation Information: Archiv für Religionsgeschichte, Volume 17, Issue 1, Pages 91–122, ISSN (Online) 1868-8888, ISSN (Print) 1436-3038, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/arege-2015-0006.

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