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Evidence, Inference and Enquiry$
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Philip Dawid, William Twining, and Mimi Vasilaki

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780197264843

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197264843.001.0001

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Believing the Evidence

Believing the Evidence

(p.395) 15 Believing the Evidence
Evidence, Inference and Enquiry


British Academy

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

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