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Review of Biblical Literature Blog

The Origin Myths of Holy Places in the Old Testament: A Study of Aetiological Narratives
Niesiolowski-SpanÚ, Lukasz

London: Equinox, 2011 pp. xiii + 299. $95.00

Series Information
Copenhagen International Seminar

Description: The book examines biblical narratives describing the origins of holy places other than Jerusalem. The accounts are examined with three main questions in mind: 1. Are there any common features in biblical accounts about the foundations of places of worship; 2. Are there any particular elements in the aetiological stories that can show anything about the 'real' mythology and/or rituals of the sanctuary; 3. What were the circumstances of the creation of such narratives? The answer for the first question is positive, i.e., the stories of the origins of holy places contain the elements relevant to local cult and rituals, e.g.: the grave, altar, sacrifice practice, tree, etc. Answering the second question revealed possible reconstructions of a few cult practices (e.g.: in Beer-Sheba, Hebron and Shechem). The third question, about the possible dates of the narratives, provided some new insights. The assumption was made that the stories of the origins of holy places could have been created only when the sanctuary existed. If so, the archaeological data point to the 10th - 9th century BCE and the 3rd -2nd century BCE as possible points of origin. Such possibilities incline the author to advance the hypothesis of Hellenistic origins or redaction of most of the examined aetiological narratives.

Subjects: Bible, Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, Literature

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Review by Ralph K. Hawkins
Published 6/2/2014
Citation: Ralph K. Hawkins, review of Lukasz Niesiolowski-SpanÚ, The Origin Myths of Holy Places in the Old Testament: A Study of Aetiological Narratives, Review of Biblical Literature [] (2014).

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