IDOLATRY , theworship (Gr . ?arpeia) of idols (Gr. elawXov), i.e. images or other
See also:objects, believed to represent or be the abode of a superhuman
See also:personality . The
See also:term is often used generically to include such varied forms as litholatry, dendrolatry, pyrolatry, zoolatry and even necrolatry . In an age when the study of religion was practically confined to Judaism and
See also:Christianity, idolatry was regarded as a degeneration from an uncorrupt primeval faith, but the
See also:comparative and
See also:historical investigation of religion has shown it to be rather a stage of an upward
See also:movement, and that by no means the earliest . It is not found, for instance, among
See also:Bushmen, Fuegians, Eskimos, while it reached a high development among the
See also:great civilizations of the
See also:world in both hemispheres.' Its earliest stages are to be sought in naturism and animism . To give concreteness to the vague ideas thus worshipped the idol, at first rough and crude, comes to the help of the savage, and in course of
See also:time through inability to distinguish subjective and
See also:objective, comes to be identified with the idea it originally symbolized . The degraded
See also:form of animism known as fetichism is usually the
See also:direct antecedent of idolatry . A fetich is adored, not for itself, but for the spirit who dwells in it and
See also:works through it . Fetiches of
See also:stone or
See also:wood were at a very early age shaped and polished or coloured and ornamented . A new step was taken when the top of the
See also:log or stone was shaped like a human
See also:head; the
See also:rest of the
See also:body soon followed . The
See also:process can be followed with some distinctness in
See also:Greece . Sometimes, as in Babylonia and India, the
See also:representation combined human and animal forms. but the human figure is the predominant
See also:model; man makes
See also:God after his own image .
Idols may be private and
See also:personal like the
See also:teraphim of the
See also:Hebrews or the little figures found in early
See also:Egyptian tombs, or—a
See also:late development, public and tribal or
See also:national . Some, like the ancestral images among the Maoris, are the intermittent abodes of the
See also:spirits of the dead . As the earlier stages in the development of the religious consciousness persist and are often manifest in idolatry, so in the higher stages, when men have attained loftier spiritual ideas, idolatry itself survives and is abundantly visible as a reactionary 1 According to Varro the Romans had no animal or human image of a god for 170 years after the founding of the city;
See also:Herodotus (i . 131) says the Persians had no temples or idols before
See also:Artaxerxes I . ; Lucian (De sacrif . H) bears similar testimony for Greece and as to idols (Dea Syr . 3) for
See also:Egypt .
See also:Eusebius (Praep . Evang. i . 9) sums up the theory of antiquity in his statement "the
See also:oldest peoples had no idols." Images of the gods indeed presuppose a definiteness of conception and
See also:powers of discrimination that could only be the result of
See also:history and reflection . The iconic age everywhere succeeded to an era in which the objects of worship were aniconic, e.g. wooden posts, stone steles, cones.tendency . The history of the Jewish
See also:people whom the prophets sought, for long in vain, to wean from worshipping images is an
See also:illustration: so too the vulgarities of
See also:modern popular
See also:Hinduism contrasted with the lofty teaching of the
See also:Indian sacred books .
In the New Testament the word ei&wXoXarpela (idololatria, afterwards shortened occasionally to ei&oXarpeia, idolatria) occurs in all four times, viz. in I
See also:Cor. x . 14; Gal. v . 20; I
See also:Peter iv . 3; Col. iii . 5 . In the last of these passages it is used to describe the sin of covetousness or "
See also:mammon-worship." In the other places it indicates with the utmost generality all the
See also:rites and practices of those
See also:special forms of paganism with which Christianity first came into collision . It can only be understood by reference to the LXX., where elawXov (like the word " idol " in A.V.) occasionally translates indifferently no fewer than sixteen words by which in the Old Testament the objects of what the later Jews called "
See also:strange worship " (a nrjin t) are denoted (see
See also:Encyclopaedia Biblica) . In the widest acceptation of the word, idolatry in any form is absolutely forbidden in the second commandment, which runs " Thou shalt not make unto thee a graven image; [and] to no visible shape in
See also:heaven above, or in the
See also:earth beneath, or in the
See also:water under the earth, shalt thou
See also:bow down or render service " (see DECALOGUE) . For some account of the questions connected with the breaches of this
See also:law which are recorded in the history of the Israelites see the article JEws ; those differences as to the
See also:interpretation of the prohibition which have so seriously divided Christendom are discussed under the head of
See also:ICONOCLASTS . In the ancient
See also:church, idolatry was naturally reckoned among those magna crimina or great crimes against the first and second commandments which involved the highest ecclesiastical censures . Not only were those who had gone openly to
See also:heathen temples and partaken in the sacrifices (sacrificati) or burnt
See also:incense (thurificati) held guilty of this
See also:crime; the same
See also:charge, in various degrees, was incurred by those whose renunciation of idolatry had been private merely, or who otherwise had used unworthy means to evade persecution, by those also who had feigned themselves mad to avoid sacrificing, by all promoters and encouragers of idolatrous rites, and by idol makers, incense sellers and architects or builders of structures connected with idol worship . Idolatry was made a crime against the state by the
See also:laws of
See also:Constantius (
See also:Cod .
Theod. xvi. ro . 4, 6), forbidding all sacrifices on
See also:pain of
See also:death, and still more by the statutes of
See also:Theodosius (Cod . Theod. xvi . 10 . 12) enacted in 392, in which sacrifice and divination were declared treasonable and punish-able with death; the use of
See also:lights, incense, garlands and libations was to involve the
See also:forfeiture of
See also:house and
See also:land where they were used; and all who entered heathen temples were to be fined . See
See also:Bingham, Antigq. bk. xvi. c . 4 . See also IMAGE-WORSHIP; and on the whole question, RELIGION .
IDIOSYNCRASY (Gr. Ibwavyspavia, peculiar habit of b...
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