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Economy of Religions in Anatolia and Northern Syria: From the early second to the middle of the firs


Two ancient texts – outside of Anatolia – are well known examples of the topic “money and religion”: The Hebrew Bible tells that the priest Jehoi’adah set up a chest close to the altar in the temple in Jerusalem in the early 8th century. All the financial means which were given to the temple were put into it and later craftsmen and workers for the temple could be paid from this money (2 Kings 12:10-17). During the last quarter of the 1st century, the Roman historian Livy mentions that the pontifex maximus was in charge of registering with what offerings, on what days, and at what temples the various sacrifices were to be offered, and from what sources the expenses connected with them were to be defrayed (Liv 1,20,5). Both texts bring us close to the central questions to be discussed at the conference of “Economy of Religions”. “Religions” are always costly – one has to give offerings (with material value) to the gods, one has to provide the salary forreligious specialists who offer their service for their clients, one has to arrange festivals and liturgies – and of course, one has toprovide the material means for building temples or shrines. But these costs also repay – as the gods give health or well-being as reward for the offerings. Even if one can never be absolutely certain about sucha reward, one at least might earn social reputation because of one’s (financial) involvement in religion. But temples are also economic centres – “employing” (often in close relation to the palace) people as workers, craftsmen or “intellectuals” in different positions whose“costs of living” are supplied by the temple. Individual religiousspecialists receive payment for their service to cover their own costsof living. Though this might sound “modern”, religion and economy wereintertwined with each other in ancient society also – religion contributing to economy and economy supplying the interest of religious authorities or institutions.

This leads to some general questions: Are ancient religions functioning like economic markets? Do the available sources for this conference supply information oo such questions? How do the cults, rituals and institutions in Anatolia and Syria contribute to the economic process in those areas? Answering such questions can help to analyse also differences between “official” or “private” religion, in the first case giving answers to questions about how many cults, temples or holidays a country can bear, in the second case, if different levels of one’s religious commitment may also depend on if one is “rich” or “poor”.

FECHA/DATE/DATA: 23-24-25/05/2018

LUGAR/LOCATION/LUOGO: Department of History of ReligionsInstitute of Oriental and Asian Studies, University of Bonn (Bonn, Germany)





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