The role of ancestor veneration in biblical land claims

The Roles of Ancestor Veneration in Biblical Land Claims

This project, directed by Professor Francesca Stavrakopoulou, examined some of the ways in which the writers of the Hebrew Bible appeal to the dead and their graves to endorse, promote, challenge or subvert territorial claims by the living. In many traditional societies—including those of ancient Israel and Judah—beliefs and practices bound up with mortuary rites, corpse treatment, ancestor worship and cults of the dead are often closely related to land tenure and territoriality. In this project, socio-anthropological, archaeological and historical-critical perspectives were used to re-view biblical portrayals of the past in order to identify, highlight and analyse the ways in which the Hebrew Bible uses concepts of the territoriality of the dead to support its ideological and theological agendas. Within this context, the biblical traditions about the tomb of Abraham, the lost grave of Moses, the temple at Bethel and the city of Jerusalem were explored.