From March 2015
One of the key features of the book religions is iconoclasm—literally, idol smashing. The ancient Hebrews developed a dislike for statues and images sometime in the first millennium BCE, and after occasionally reverting to worshiping them decided to prohibit them outright because their God “was a jealous god, above whom, there can be no others” (Exodus 20,4).
This was more wishful thinking than fact, since in military encounters with the many-godded nations that surrounded them Israel habitually lost to these other gods.
The Christians tried for a while to ignore their rich pagan legacy of temples and statues, but finally succumbed to the temptation to make icons, name churches after saints, and produce thousands of images to encourage their veneration.
Later, Christians in the East decided to clamp down on the practice, finding it more than a little like the idol-worship condemned in the Decalogue. And later still, during…
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