Religions of the Ancient World: A Guide

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Harvard University Press, Nov 30, 2004 - History - 697 pages
Religious beliefs and practices, which permeated all aspects of life in antiquity, traveled well-worn routes throughout the Mediterranean: itinerant charismatic practitioners journeying from place to place peddled their skills as healers, purifiers, cursers, and initiators; and vessels decorated with illustrations of myths traveled with them. New gods encountered in foreign lands by merchants and conquerors were sometimes taken home to be adapted and adopted. A full understanding of this complex spiritual world unfolds in Religions of the Ancient World, the first basic reference work that collects and organizes available information to offer an expansive, comparative perspective. At once sweeping in scope and groundbreaking in format, the Guide eschews the usual encyclopedic approach, instead presenting, side by side, materials from ten cultures and traditions. Thus specific beliefs, cults, gods, and ritual practices that arose and developed in Mediterranean religions--of Egypt, Anatolia and the Near East, Mesopotamia, Iran, Greece, and the Roman world, from the third millennium to the fourth century C.E.--are interpreted in comparison with one another, and with reference to aspects that crisscross cultural boundaries, such as Cosmology, Myth, Law and Ethics, and Magic. Written by leading scholars of ancient religion, the essays in this guide sketch the various religious histories, raise central theoretical issues, and examine individual topics such as Sacred Times and Spaces; Prayers, Hymns, Incantations, and Curses; Sin, Pollution, and Purity; Death, the Afterlife, and Other Last Things; Divination and Prophecy; Deities and Demons; and Sacred Texts and Canonicity. Clearly and stylishly written, grandly illustrated, this comprehensive work welcomes readers as never before into the diversity and interconnections of religion in the ancient world.
 

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Religions of the ancient world: a guide

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Johnston (Greek/Latin, Ohio State) has solicited the contributions of over 100 scholars to produce this informative but curiously organized reference work dealing specifically (despite the title) with ... Read full review

Contents

VIII
3
IX
17
X
32
XI
45
XII
59
XIII
71
XIV
84
XV
98
XXXIII
288
XXXIV
311
XXXV
325
XXXVI
349
XXXVII
370
XXXVIII
392
XXXIX
423
XL
438

XVI
112
XVII
127
XVIII
139
XIX
153
XX
155
XXI
165
XXII
173
XXIII
181
XXIV
189
XXV
197
XXVI
206
XXVII
210
XXVIII
220
XXIX
225
XXX
233
XXXI
241
XXXII
243
XLI
452
XLII
470
XLIII
496
XLIV
514
XLV
531
XLVI
547
XLVII
564
XLVIII
578
XLIX
598
L
622
LI
640
LII
657
LIII
669
LIV
671
LV
673
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About the author (2004)

Sarah Iles Johnston is the College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor of Religion and Professor of Classics and Comparative Studies at The Ohio State University.

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