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    no justice for the wicked..., 2008-01-27 18:16:47 | Main | and they still don't know the difference..., 2008-01-28 23:05:26

    sexing up the intelligence:

    Via Jim, via Kerry Howley, I've learned that there was no such thing as "sacred prostitution". Stephanie Budin:

    This very brief survey of the Near Eastern materials shows how little solid evidence exists for the practice of sacred prostitution. The conclusion that is present in the Near Eastern texts can only be awkwardly derived by extremely circular reasoning. Having been told by the classical authors that sacred prostitution exist in the Near East, Biblical scholars and Assyriologists skewed their vocabulary so as to create sacred prostitutions ... Once one piece of evidence was so "discovered," it was used to strengthen other pieces of so-called evidence.

    ...

    It is Robert Oden, in his book The Bible without Theology, who may have hit on the beginnings of the answer to these questions. He suggests that sacred prostitution was, in fact, not an historical reality, but an accusation, the sort that one society makes against another so as to show off the "barbarity" and inferiority of that other group. Thus it falls into the same category as accuasations of bestiality and baby-eating.

    Robert Oden, The Bible without Theology, Chapter 5, "Religious Identity and the Sacred Prostitution Accusation":

    Readers of most translations of the Hebrew Bible or of almost any summary treatment of the religion of Israel will be familiar with the accusation that various neighbors of Israel practiced a form of sacred prostitution. The accusation ... is usually formulated like this: Part of the religion of the Canaanites/Phoenicians, the Babylonians, and perhaps others involved a series of rites in which sacred personnel performed varius sexual acts, largely to ensure the fertility of the land and its inhabitants.

    ...

    Clearly, denunciations of sacred prostitution play a key role in various theological statements within the Hebrew Bible. Within Deuteronomic literature, for example, this theme is part of this literature's "intensified...nationalistic views," views that led to the requirement that "the Canaanite be slain, exterminated, and annihilated."

    Budin again, p.91:

    I would go beyond Oden's hypothesis and argue that misrepresentation and confusion also had their parts to play in the rise of the sacred prostitution myth. The majority of our supposed documentation comes from Strabo ... mirrors Herodotus ... (mis-)understanding of Pindar. ... interpretations of Strabo have been over-sexualized, thus presenting so-called evidence of sacred prostitution where there in fact was none. The early Church Fathers, only too happy to have reasons to condemn their page predecessors, seized the opportunity to use this so-called evidence to condemn the heathens who sold their daughter's bodies in front of idols before being "civilized" and "saved" through Christian conversion. So did the element of accusation emerge.

    ...

    sacred prostitution was not an historical reality, but a myth that came to take on a life of its own.

    We all know the punchline already: sacred prostitution was the sinking of the U.S.S. Maine of antiquity.


:: posted by buermann @ 2008-01-28 01:26:09 CST | link





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