Talk:Idolatry

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The Intro[edit]

Just stumbled upon this article; I don't have the time to cite my sources (which are academic in nature), but I must confess I cannot agree with the impression that the first sentence gives to the reader, albeit cites Miriam Webster! Idolatry is far more complex than simply worshiping a physical object; rather, the images are not exactly "inanimate object", because they are the vessels of the deities in which their "essence" is housed when they come to Earth for their worshipers. An analogy might be that an idol is akin to a physical body for a soul. In fact, in nearly every western/ Indo-European and Middle-easter religion there are rituals for quickening the image and instilling it with the god, itself. To the Egyptians this involved the mouth, while to the Greeks and the Buddhists, the eyes seem to have been important for establishing a god within it's image. Anyway, I thought that this might be something worth reflecting on, and discussing for this article. At the very least, the opening sentence shows a rather gross misunderstanding of idolatry as it was and is practiced throughout the world. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 70.39.20.68 (talk) 23:01, 11 March 2011 (UTC)

Idolatry of The Cross[edit]

I've removed the statement, «Ironically enough, the usage and repetitive appearance of the Cross in modern culture bears perfect example of a graven image.» Principally because it was in the 'etymology' section and was apparently slapped onto the article in order to create an argument. Nevertheless, one can place this back into the article after a legitimate discussion, thinking before placing it in the etymology section, etc. -- Ambrosiaster (talk) 16:37, 8 December 2008 (UTC)

Some corrections on Vedic perspectives[edit]

A text in the Shukla Yajur-veda (32.3) reads, “Of Him there is no likeness (pratima), whose glory is infinite”. The Upanishads, which form the philosophical ‘conclusions’ (vedAnta) of the Vedas, repeatedly stress the formlessness (nirākāra, no material form) and unimaginable nature of God, and advise the aspirant to realise the divine presence inwardly. Bhagavata Purana recommends meditation on and worship of pratima (murti) with the understanding that it is not an ordinary material object.Bh.P. 10.12.39, 11.27.12,15


A quote from the Hinduism section of artcile is given above for your reference. However I would like to correct some errors in the article.

1. A text in the Shukla Yajur-veda (32.3) reads, “Of Him there is no likeness (pratima), whose glory is infinite”.

The above verse is taken from Madhyandina Shaka of Shukla yajut Veda. It is used to explain that Vedas were against idolatry by Arya Samajis (a 19th centiru Hindu movement). Some use this verse to prove Vedas speak of formless God. However this view cannot be supported by at the least one another Vedic statement which I quote below.

pusannekarse yama surya prajapatya vyuha rasmin | samuha tejah yat te rupam kalyanatamam tat te pasyami (16) (Shukla Yajur Veda, Kanwa Shaka, 40-16)

O Pusan the Omniscient, Ekarsi the Supreme Knowable, Yama the controller of all, Surya the effulgent and a destination for even the deities, Prajapatya a special destination for Brahma; extend the knowledge that is of my true nature, and also knowledge extrinsic to me, so that I may perceive that most auspicious (kalyanatamam) form (rupam) of yours.

The above verse is taken from Kanwa recension of Shukla Yajur Veda Samhita. The same recension also contains the verse 32:3 cited above, although I do not remember the chapter and verse number from this recension.

Consequently the word "pratima" in verse 32:3 has to be interpreted correctly as "copy" or "imitator" and NOT "FORM" or "idol".

2. The Upanishads, which form the philosophical ‘conclusions’ (vedAnta) of the Vedas, repeatedly stress the formlessness (nirākāra, no material form) and unimaginable nature of God, and advise the aspirant to realise the divine presence inwardly.

This statement is also factually wrong say the least. I have given word for word translation for one of the references from Upanishads which show that God has infinite spiritual Forms.

eko vaśī sarvabʰūtāntarātmā ekaṃ rūpaṃ bahudʰā yaḥ karoti tam ātmastʰaṃ ye ʼnupaśyanti dʰīrāḥ teṣāṃ sukʰaṃ śāśvataṃ netareṣām ( Katha Upanishad 2.2.9)

sarvabʰūtāntarātmā eko = The immanent God of all living beings is only ONE or only independent being, because HE is the ruler of all.

vaśī = Everything is under HIS control

ekaṃ rūpaṃ bahudʰā yaḥ karoti = HIS ONE Form (rūpaṃ), HE (yaḥ) makes into infinitely many (bahudʰā), i.e. these are Forms of paramAtmA as Antaryamin, immanent Form of BhagavAn).

tam ātmastʰaṃ = That paramAtmA or God (who is in the heart)

ye ʼnupaśyanti dʰīrāḥ = Those wise men who see such paramAtmA

teṣāṃ = for them only

sukʰaṃ śāśvataṃ = there will be permanent happiness

netareṣām = not for others.


The following verse again uses the word "rūpaṃ" whic has the meaning "Form" and nothing else.

http://www.shaivam.org/ssushvetashvatara.htm

na sa.ndR^ishe tishhThati ruupamasya na chaxushhaa pashyati kashchanainam.h . hR^idaa hR^idisthaM manasaa ya ena\- meva.n viduramR^itaaste bhavanti .. Shvetasvatara Upanishad 4:20..


His form is not an object of vision; no one beholds Him with the eyes. They who, through pure intellect and the Knowledge of Unity based upon reflection, realize Him as abiding in the heart become immortal.


3. Bhagavata Purana recommends meditation on and worship of pratima (murti) with the understanding that it is not an ordinary material object.Bh.P. 10.12.39, 11.27.12,15

This statement is ambiguous. What does the word murti mean here ? Is it an external material object or is it the Form of God within devotee's mind or is it talking about True Form of God within one's heart which is completely spiritual ?

Verse 10:12:39 talks about Form of God within devotee's mind which is material and NOT about material objects like murtis/statues in temples. Refer http://vedabase.net/sb/10/12/39/en

verse 11:27:12 does talk about material statues or representations of God. Even the Forms the devotee imagines in his mind for meditation is considered material. Refer http://vedabase.net/sb/11/27/12/en

The True Form of God is completely spiritual in Puranas, upanishads and Samhitas. Vedas or Puranas do not talk about a Formless God.

I just wanted some corrections to be made known here. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Rockh12 (talkcontribs) 07:26, 25 December 2008 (UTC)

"Christian views of idolatry" section needs work[edit]

That entire section was clearly written by a Catholic, and drones on and on in defense of the Catholic (and Orthodox) position, with barely any explanation of the reasoning behind the Protestant position. As a result it effectively implies that the Protestant position has no real reasoning and is nutty. As such this is clear bias and undue weight toward one side of a dispute. Disclaimer, of sorts: I am not even a Christian of any kind at all, so I have no position to push on the issue. I am just disappointed in the article's treatment, as it (or, rather that section) appears designed to forcibly lead me to a conclusion rather than providing a balanced view of the issue. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 01:36, 15 May 2009 (UTC)

The opposite problem has now happened. There is no explanation of the Catholic/Orthodox position. In reality they only need one or two lines to sum up their position. They cite the graven cherubims in Solomon's temple (Exodus 25:18–20)which was required "by the writing of the hand of the Lord concerning it all," (1 Chronicles 28:18–19) and the bronze serpent God commanded Moses to make (Numbers 21:8–9) to say graven images are only bad when they are themselves worshiped, as in thought of as a deity. They think graven images are like photographs and can be used for remembrance of holy things and people. I don't want to go sower for a non-primary source so I can add this to the article just to have it removed by someone. Anyone else have the extra time? ConservGal (talk) 23:39, 13 April 2012 (UTC)

Idolatry in Jewish thought[edit]

If creations of God are not to be worshipped along with God, and other objects not worshipped either, then why do some Jewish services involve bowing to the Torah? Isn't that making an idol out of a book? 68.32.48.221 (talk) 04:29, 12 August 2009 (UTC)

Not according to Jewish belief. The ark where the Torah is stored i mimetic of the Holy of Holies of the Temple, where the High Priest would enter once a year to pronounce God's name. We do not remember how to pronounce God's name, and we do not have a Holy of Holies in a Temple. But this aspect of lsynagogue design provides us with an echo of that. When we bow at the ark, and before the Torah, they are standing in for God. The Torah, for Jews, is not just the scroll that is visible. It includes an oral supplement wich was revealed at Sinai (some of which has been written down in the Talmud), but the written Torah (what you see) has within it marks that represent, iconically, the oral tradition. Moreover, Jews believe that the Torah is eternal, that it existed before God created the universe and was God's plan - lueprint if you like - fo he universe. And of course, the Torah is the record of our covenant with God. It is, if you like, our marriage liscence. When Jews bow down before it, they are bowing down something that symbolizes every dimension of our relationship with God. It is God who is being worshiped through the Torah that he used as a blueprint for our existence and as a contract for our marriage to him. This may not make sense to outsiders, but i think this is what most observant Jews believe. From a Jewish point of view, Shristains are cannibals when they drink the blood of Christ. But I have taled to educated Catholics and they have explanations for why this is not so. I do not entirely understand their explanations, but their explanations sound sophisticated and I know they sinceely believe them. Slrubenstein | Talk 07:36, 12 August 2009 (UTC)

Hinduism section full of original research[edit]

The section entitled "Hindu views of idolatry — linguistic symbols as idols of divine" can be deleted and replaced with a link to the article on murti. The section is full of WP:OR, and the article would be improved by its removal. — goethean 20:20, 4 October 2010 (UTC)

Christianity[edit]

The Christianity section should be divided into subsections: the catholic/orthodox and the protestant. --Willthacheerleader18 (talk) 16:52, 27 November 2010 (UTC)

Idolatry in the Bible[edit]

This entire section has the feel of an idiosyncratic bible commentary rather than an encyclopedic entry. But if it's not completely redone (which would be best, ideally with references to modern philology and archaeology), it should at least be made clear that the quotations are from different translations. E.g., the quote from Jeremiah 2:28 appears to be from the King James Version (although capitalization is wrong); the quote from Hosea 12:10 is from the singular Young's Literal Translation. Using different translations without explaining why, opens whoever wrote this to the charge of cherry-picking, especially when he resorts (without explanation) to an autodidact's version produced in the 1860s.AnthroMimus (talk) 16:17, 1 December 2010 (UTC)

Complete and utter mess[edit]

If this page is not about idolatry qua Abrahamic sin, cult image has no business existing. It is less WP:COMMON to the point of absurdity and was only ever created as an openly oikophobic WP:POVFORK. This is not a scholarly/pleb divide either: Google Scholar has 165 000 hits for "idol" and 90 000 for "idolatry" versus 3000-odd for "cult image". The cult image page is so little cared for that it currently belongs solely to WPCHRISTIANITY, where "cult images" are either idols or icons, which has its own page.

Are we going back to the biased editor's original plan to limit this page's WP:SCOPE to only the negative connotations of "idol"? or are we going to merge cult image back over here? The current idea, where we have duplicate articles dealing with precisely the same WP:SCOPE doesn't really fly. — LlywelynII 14:11, 12 September 2015 (UTC)

My own take would be to correct the mistreatment at idol and accept that idolatry is simply the English term for the worship of deities and spirits by means of a physical form. That happens to be (mostly) taboo within Abrahamic religions (except for all the exceptions) but that taboo is not the entirety (or even majority) of the word's meaning. — LlywelynII 14:21, 12 September 2015 (UTC)

  • I'm not entirely clear what your problems are here, and I doubt that others less familiar with the field will be. If you set up an Rfc you need to spell the issues out much more clearly. It's also a pity you haven't tried to raise any issues here before (that I can see). Idol (usages like "teen idol" apart) and idolatry are both clearly always pejorative terms, "the negative connotations" are all there is. Cult image should be more of an art history article, describing the actual objects in their great variety of traditions. It is edging that way already. It is a museum term - you won't find anything labelled an "idol" in modern museums. Idolatry should be the main theological article. Ghits are unhelpful here - remarkably few of those 90K hits for "idolatry" actually seem to relate to actual idolatry - by the bottom of the first page we are at vague metaphors like: "The idolatry of velocity, or lies, damn lies, and ballistics., D LINDSEY - Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery, 1980". The top hits for "idol" are all papers by one JR Idol, and so on. Johnbod (talk) 15:05, 12 September 2015 (UTC)
    • The post above already clearly spelled out the issues. I'm sorry your reading comprehension isn't up to snuff, particularly since you seem to be on the side of cleaning up the current mess.

      The disambiguation page idol does treat idolatry as a pejorative term based on Abrahamic prohibitions. The actual article idolatry does not: it simply treats of statuary and other physical objects through which a god is worshipped. (The OED notes both senses: "idol" is primarily simply any image used in worship; the negative associations are noted but limited to scriptural language, which encyclopedias don't fall under.) As such, right now this article's WP:SCOPE completely overlaps cult image, which is supposed to be (but is not) the article for neutral treatment of idolatry. As noted above, it's all very well that you think "nothing" will be found labeled as an idol but the scholarship results above show that to be patently untrue by orders of magnitude. That some are off topic by no means suggests that cult image is anywhere near the COMMON name for the subject even in scholarly journals: limiting the search to "idol + worship" still has 67 000 hits to "cult image"'s 3k. (Incidentally, though, "ghits" are pretty worthless in discussions like this and shouldn't be conflated with Scholar results. Vanilla Google doesn't even attempt to provide accurate numbers for searches beyond a few hundred; Google Book results are only accurate for <1000 results and then only once you've clicked to the last page; Scholar, however, as far as I know, is completely accurate as to the precise number of papers with the given search term.) At the same time, I can understand a need to respect other traditions by deferring to a NPOVy term... except editors don't seem to use it. Instead, they come here and turn this article into a neutral treatment of idolatry in general rather than as an Abrahamic prohibition. That's also fine, but then we should fold the POVFORK at cult image back into this article.

      Fwiw, simply speaking in anecdotes, museums don't use "cult images": if they don't call something an idol, they tend to describe it by completely neutral terms such as "statue of an Assyrian god", "figure of the seated Sakyamuni Buddha", etc. Better yet, please provide facts. For example, searching www.metmuseum.org provides ~71 hits for "cult image" and ~101 for "idol". Searching www.louvre.fr/en/ gets ~29 hits for "cult image" and ~81 for "idol". (Both sites obviously have massive results for "statue", &c.) Even in a specialized environment, your gut feeling seems to be wrong and it is not the proscribed treatment; in general usage, which is what Wikipedia advocates using, there is no comparison whatever: the term for the actual objects is "idol". — LlywelynII 13:26, 13 September 2015 (UTC)
2 eye idols
(ec) Well we'll see if others can work out what you are on about. The Met search actually demonstrates my point well - most of the hits are about a specific object "Eye idol. Date: ca. 3700–3500 B.C.. Medium: Gypsum alabaster. Accession Number: 51.59.11", using the word in a specific specialized term (which incidentally don't seem to be idols at all, but votives probably representing the donor not the god). Many others relate to paintings etc called The Golden Idol, or pick up 19th-century usage. Only a handful use the term as you say.Johnbod (talk) 14:14, 13 September 2015 (UTC)
    • Thanks for adding to cult image's project listings, though that actual article doesn't discuss any of its sections in terms of visual arts (all of them deal with the cult nature of the images: i.e., with a repeat of the content here at idolatry) and "cult object" isn't really a separate field of that discipline. If you prefer to keep that page, probably better to add more religious projects. — LlywelynII 14:05, 13 September 2015 (UTC)
I said "edging towards", but "The intensified pathos that informs the poem Stabat Mater takes corporeal form in the realism and sympathy-inducing sense of pain in the typical Western European corpus (the representation of Jesus' crucified body) from the mid-13th century onwards. "The theme of Christ's suffering on the cross was so important in Gothic art that the mid-thirteenth-century statute of the corporations of Paris provided for a guild dedicated to the carving of such images, including ones in ivory"" sounds like art history to me. Johnbod (talk) 14:17, 13 September 2015 (UTC)
  • "Idolatry" is a sin in Abrahamic religions (mostly, except insert Catholic crucifix and saint statuary, insert Orthodox ikons, etc.), and a [mostly*] obsolete concept in the study of religions; even the early (Victorian) anthropological approach to the question was polluted with this prescriptivist view, and with a Western, industrial society superiority complex, etc., and viewed other religious with cult images as "idolatrous" and "primitive". This basically has nothing at all to do with a modern, descriptive, and respectful anthropological approach. These two articles are separate for a reason. [* "Idolatry" could still be relevant in the study of Satanism and any other direct, negating offshoot of Christianity that intentionally inverted that religion's norms.] Adultery (which lingers as a legal as well as religious concept) is separate from extramarital sex for essentially the same reason. You can go down the list of Abrahamic sins and find this to be the case consistently here. Gluttony and overeating / obesity are separate articles, and so on. Even idolatry itself is a legal matter in some jurisdictions, so commingling of the religious and legal material is probably okay, at least for the short term (I'd rather see them split).

    This page, Idolatry, should not be limited to negative connotations (it has a positive one in the aforementioned Satanism, remember), but should be limited to an Abrahamic connection, and that necessarily means it will largely be a negative view (or WP reporting neutrally on a negative view, rather). The cult image page should probably be moved to ritual object, a less loaded and less limiting term (it's difficult in an encyclopedia for a general audience to get around the fact that "cult" means "weird little pseudo-religious group full of nutcases" to the typical reader, no matter how many times they're presented with an anthropological definition. Even real anthro. texts have been moving away from this word for the last generation or two. And "image" is too specific; objects of worship and other ritual use are often not images but other things. I agree that the Christian influence on the article presently at cult image is skewing it, but it's a stub, and there's plenty of time to develop it properly.

    PS: Insulting other editors' reading comprehension is the sort of thing that leads to ArbCom cases which leads to entire topic areas being under discretionary sanctions, which leads to a lot of people getting topic banned and blocked and so forth. Usually for saying things like "I'm sorry your reading comprehension isn't up to snuff". Just a word to the wise. ArbCom has no compunction at all against putting religion-related topics under DS.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  13:11, 14 September 2015 (UTC)

It's also a really effective way of putting further editors off from commenting on your prematurely-launched RFC, if in fact what you are after is not very clear! Johnbod (talk) 14:33, 14 September 2015 (UTC)
I agree. And when I read the insult, I made a note to give less weight to arguments made by the person because it gave me the impression he was driven more by emotion and competition than logic and improvement of Wikipedia. Bryan Henderson (giraffedata) (talk) 16:45, 22 September 2015 (UTC)
  • To me the main weakness of the article, as far as Christianity is concerned, is that it doesn't cover St Paul's bold extension of the term to cover attachment (as Buddhists would put it) to things completely other than images. Where the concept comes up in contemporary Christian discussion (outside the Evangelical churches) this sense is usually the one meant. Especially now that we have Religious images in Christian theology rather than Idolatry and Christianity as the main Xtian sub-article, that sense belongs here. Johnbod (talk) 15:26, 14 September 2015 (UTC)
  • I came here because of an invitation to people interested in language and linguistics. But I shouldn't have been invited, because there's no issue of language and linguistics here and I don't actually have expertise or interest in the actual issue. At most, there is a question about the definition of one arcane word, which is a matter of the subject of that particular word, not language in general. Building on this point: the definition of "idolatry" should not be the heart of the question. Assuming "idolatry" refers to all worship of idols, sinful or not, that doesn't mean it can't be the title of an article specifically about the sin. Article titles are necessarily approximate.
But as long as I'm here, I'll give a couple of opinions on the question (though I find the question to be really vague, so maybe these aren't really germane).
It looks to me like a good idea to have an article about the Abrahamic sin of idolatry and one about cult images in general (what my dictionary gives as the primary definition of "idolatry"). The split effort problem of two articles about the same thing does not appear to exist here.
I have never heard "idol" as pejorative, except in concepts where "religion" might be as well. As for "idolatry", my mind does normally go to the thing prohibited by religions, but I never put a lot of thought into it, and it would not shock me to see it used just for the unjudged worshiping of idols. Bryan Henderson (giraffedata) (talk) 16:45, 22 September 2015 (UTC)
"I have never heard "idol" as pejorative" - wow, that was unexpected, but I suppose California is like that! It is precisely in religious contexts that the word is almost always pejorative (except in Indian sources on Hinduism, which often don't seem to feel that). I suppose that by now, as opposed to 150 years ago, most people not interested in religion are mainly or only aware of the secondary metaphorical senses of the word, like pop idol. Still you are right that it is not really a linguistic issue, and the RFC was launched prematurely, with no prior discussion here. Your support for keeping a seperate cult image/idol article is welcome. Anyway, thanks for taking the trouble to comment. Johnbod (talk) 16:55, 22 September 2015 (UTC)

How scholars treat this subject[edit]

I'm pretty certain that "cult image" is the term most often used by scholars studying ancient religions today. It's universal in Egyptology. Two fairly recent books on ancient Near Eastern cult images use that phrase in their titles (Born in Heaven, Made on Earth: The Making of the Cult Image in the Ancient Near East, 1999, and Cult Image and Divine Representation in the Ancient Near East, 2005) and a third, Gods in Dwellings: Temples and Divine Presence in the Ancient Near East, 2013, uses the phrase "cult image" many times and, according to a search of the Google Books preview, doesn't use "idol" even once. A very extensive general book on ancient Mediterranean religions, Religions of the Ancient World: A Guide, 2003, covers cult images in the chapter on visual representations, where the entries on each culture just say "image" to refer to cult images.

The index for Religions of the Ancient World also has an entry for idolatry, which only appears in a couple of places when discussing Abrahamic attitudes. Born in Heaven, Made on Earth uses the word "idol" mainly when it discusses the negative treatment of cult images in the Jewish prophetic books. So having one article on cult images that describes them neutrally and an article on idolatry that discusses the attitude toward cult images in Abrahamic religions would fit with scholarly practice. A. Parrot (talk) 20:30, 19 October 2015 (UTC)

Poles in mythology[edit]

Now we have a new article Poles in mythology, Please see and include suitable improvements , if any, in article Poles in mythology.

Rgds Mahitgar (talk) 09:20, 7 October 2015 (UTC)