HISTORY OF RELIGION: The Ancient Gods by E.O. James


Email this review


This is the first volume of a proposed 15-volume series on the History of Religion, and while its distribution will be largely through educational channels, it should be available-through large public libraries- as a reference book for scholars in the field of religion. Archaeological excavations, the deciphering of obscure texts, etc. have in this century thrown light on knowledge and understanding of religions in the ancient Near East, from Pre-history to the end of the Bronze Age- the period with which this volume is concerned. The origins of civilization seem now to have their source in fertile cases like Jericho rather than the Euphrates and the Indus. New finds carry scholars back to the Neolithic Age (8-6,000 BC). Oriental civilizations converged on the Mediterranean by sea and land; the Hittite Empire flourished; the nomadic shepherds invaded Palestine but subsequent vicissitudes scattered them until Cyprus restored the Israelites to Palestine. The fusion of the Aegean and the Ancient Near East provides an integrated whole. And it is the emergency of religion in this area that is explored:- the differing aspects of different cults, the cults of the dead, the mother goddesses, the sacred kingships, the seasonal festivals, the varying rites, the attitudes towards sources of life and the universe, towards deities- the One and the Many, the role of prophecy, the varying disciplines, and as the book closes, the emergence of the Christian concept of Deity. This is a basic book, and a useful one, bringing into focus much new material.

Pub Date: April 18th, 1960
Publisher: Putnam