The great paradox of Old Testament aniconism
thus comes to light.
The topics include strange fire before the Lord: thinking about ritual innovation in the Hebrew Bible and early Judaism, from the Ark of the Covenant to Torah Scroll: ritualizing Israel's iconic texts, the empty throne and the empty sanctuary: from aniconism
to the invisibility of God in Second Temple theology, how the priestly sabbaths work: innovation in Pentateuchal priestly ritual, and walking over the dead: burial practices and the possibility of ritual innovation at Qumran.
Despite this obvious Manichean dualism, however, the faceless and denuded anonymity and mechanical nature of the left window provide a fascinating counterpoint to the human(e) face of the East--which notably undermines the aniconism
often associated with representational art from the Muslim world.
Under Islamic law, aniconism
is one of the most important traditions to follow.
was a late development in Israel; only in the postexilic period did it become the norm.
(13) The aniconism
of the Persians, which is a common topos among Greek and Latin classical and Late Antique authors, (14) probably correctly reflects the aniconic nature of the "official" Achaemenid worship (15)--although it is likely that when the Persian kings paid homage to the gods of the Babylonians, for instance, this involved veneration of cultic statues.
Another reason Maus is interesting is that it's so savvy about aniconism
[the religious opposition to the use of visual images to depict living creatures or religious figures].
is a function of biblical monotheism's uncompromising opposition to idolatry, to wit, what in Hebrew is called avodah zarah, "alien worship." Whereas in the Torah idolatry is primarily a problem that has ethical implications, the medieval philosopher Maimonides regarded it as indicative of a profound cognitive flaw.
Platt 2011, 77-123 examines the interaction between divinity, cult statue, anthropomorphism, and aniconism
; see further Gordon 1979, Gladigow 1985-1986, Gladigow 1990, and Piettre 2001 on the relationship between Greek gods and their representations.
In this under standing, Islam's position with respect to images fosters aniconism
, permits only non-optically naturalist images when and if images occur, and propels the ascendance of calligraphy and geometrically based abstraction, which succeed because they are supplementary to figuration, with its unbridled possibility.
(5) Susan Huntington, "Aniconism
and the Multivalence of Emblems: Another Look", Ars OrientalisXXII, 1992, pp.
(55) On aniconism
in Islamic art, see among others: Burckhardt, T.