Believing the Evidence


in Evidence, Inference and Enquiry

Published by British Academy

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780197264843
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191754050 | DOI:

Series: Proceedings of the British Academy

Believing the Evidence

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The study of ancient religion, partly in response to anthropology, moved in recent decades away from thinking in terms of ‘belief’ to studying ‘ritual’: this has a fundamental effect on how we treat the evidence (or decide what evidence is, and what it is evidence of). This chapter argues that the transition is incomplete and explores some of the deeper implications of thinking in terms of ‘belief’. It argues that these continue to hamper our perspective on ancient religion. The ‘otherness’ of ancient religion does not reside in the ‘rationality’ of their thinking, rather, it is axiomatic (their crediting ritual with power to effect changes in the wider world).

Keywords: ancient religion; belief; ritual; evidence

Chapter.  18338 words. 

Subjects: Social Research and Statistics

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