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Durham e-Theses
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The Relationship Between the Worship of Other Gods and the Worship of Idols within the Old Testament

JUDGE, THOMAS,ANTHONY (2016) The Relationship Between the Worship of Other Gods and the Worship of Idols within the Old Testament. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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Author-imposed embargo until 22 March 2021.

Abstract

This thesis explores the relationship between the worship of other gods and the worship of idols within the Old Testament. The ambiguity of the relationship is evident in the differing enumerations of the Ten Commandments in Jewish and Christian tradition. While Protestant Reformed and Eastern Orthodox traditions distinguish the prohibition of other gods from the prohibition of idols as the first and the second commandments, Jewish, Catholic and Lutheran traditions view them as one. Similarly, while some interpreters find reason to distinguish between the issues, others view them as more or less synonymous. This thesis questions why the relationship between the worship of other gods and the worship of idols within the Old Testament is difficult to define.
With the intention of developing the ideas presented in John Barton’s brief article “‘The Work of Human Hands’ (Ps. 115:4): Idolatry in the Old Testament,” it begins with an exegetical examination of the ambiguities involved in the relationship between the prohibitions and then moves onto an examination of the Old Testament depiction of the war against idols before and after the fall of the Northern Kingdom. Themes that receive particular attention are the historic interpretations of the relationship between the prohibitions, the worship of YHWH via divine images, the fall of Israel, the prophetic idol polemics, the existence of other gods and monotheism.
The thesis presents four factors that make the relationship difficult to define. The first three are introduced through an examination of the relationship between the prohibition of other gods and the prohibition of idols in Part One of the thesis and the fourth through the comparison of the biblical depiction of the war against idols before and after the fall of the Northern Kingdom in Part Two. I argue that the differing depictions of the eras provide alternative literary contexts for understanding the relationship between the issues.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Idolatry, idols, other gods, Ten Commandments, idol polemics, monotheism, golden calf, Micah, War against idols, narrative
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Theology and Religion, Department of
Thesis Date:2016
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:18 Jan 2016 10:22

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