According to Mettinger's definition, de facto aniconism refers to simply having no image, whereas programmatic aniconism refers to prohibiting images itself. In particular, Mettinger categorized two types of de facto aniconism, one of which is "empty-space aniconism." This is the concept of leaving the space empty where God should be, and rather expressing the presence of God by an empty space.
This essay attempts to verify whether Mettinger's empty-space aniconism really existed. This study is required because the concept of empty-space aniconism is sometimes accepted uncritically in the field of iconographic studies.
In terms of research methodology, this essay intensively analyzes the Holy of Holies in Solomon's Temple, the empty space in Taanach Cult Stand, temple models, and throne models, which are usually regarded as evidence of empty-space aniconism.
The result of this study shows that there are sufficient logical grounds to suggest that the image of Yahweh God existed within the Holy of Holies in the Solomonic Temple.
The interpretation that the empty space in the second tier of the Taanach Cult Stand represents the invisible God is wrong. Considering that other cult stands also had windows or empty spaces, the empty space of Taanach Cult Stand may have had a magical function or may be related to a structural and aesthetic function.
Regarding the temple models, the empty space of the temple models was more likely to represent the entrance, rather than representing the god by an empty space.
The same goes for throne models. Most of the throne models are designed to allow a statue to be fixed on top. It is also possible that the throne model was a symbol of a god or an offering to a deity.
The concept of empty-space aniconism proposed by Mettinger has tended to be uncritically accepted in the academia until now. However, as a result of in-depth analysis in this study, it turns out that there is no evidence that clearly proves the existence of empty-space aniconism. Therefore, I argue that the concept of the so-called "empty-space aniconism" proposed by Mettinger is no longer applicable.