Gods in the Desert: Religions of the Ancient Near East

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Overview

Gods in the Desert explores the fascinating religious cultures of the ancient Near East. From the mysterious pyramids, tombs, and temples of Egypt to the powerful heroes, gods, and legends of Mesopotamia, Glenn S. Holland guides readers through the early religions that are the root of many of today's major faiths.

Holland describes and compares the religions of ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Syria-Palestine, including Israel and Judah, from the Neolithic era through the conquest of Alexander the Great. He provides a historical survey of each region, then discusses its gods, rulers, afterlife, and worship rituals. Through rich historical context, the book brings to life setting for ancient stories such as The Epic of Gilgamesh. This accessible overview makes clear how the religions of the ancient Near East converged and diverged, and are intimately connected to many of the religions we recognize today, sometimes in surprising ways.

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Editorial Reviews

March 2010 CHOICE
With so much contemporary attention focused on the Middle East, the time is opportune for a clear, well-written, up-to-date introduction to its earlier counterpart, the ancient Near East. Holland magnificently succeeds in providing such a work. . . . Holland's writing is free of jargon; all terms, including religion, are carefully defined, and the volume offers many aids, including maps, a time line, and glossary. . . . Highly recommended.
Curtis F. Morgan Jr.
I selected Gods in the Desert as one of the texts for my course in Middle Eastern Civilizations. There is no other book like it out there, and it is successful in distilling so much material into such a brief and accessible book. The writing is clear, avoids jargon, and really informs. It fills a real void in undergraduate texts.
Dexter E. Callender Jr.
A valuable introduction for students and general readers alike. Glenn Holland’s accessible prose and carefully structured approach take the reader on an engaging journey through time across Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Syria-Palestine. His exploration of key themes, thoughtful treatment of celebrated primary sources, and judicious handling of history combine effectively to map out the religious and cultural landscape of these fascinating regions.
Robert Mullins
An excellent book. I like the scope. I like its readability. I like that he approaches topics related to biblical history without pressing 'red buttons' for my students, who tend to be theologically conservative. I'll definitely adopt this text.
Historian
Survey books tend to oversimplify, but this book provides a nuanced presentation of ancient religious practice. If used for undergraduate teaching, this book would be useful as a resource, providing general descriptions of ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian religions.
March 2010 Choice
With so much contemporary attention focused on the Middle East, the time is opportune for a clear, well-written, up-to-date introduction to its earlier counterpart, the ancient Near East. Holland magnificently succeeds in providing such a work. . . . Holland's writing is free of jargon; all terms, including religion, are carefully defined, and the volume offers many aids, including maps, a time line, and glossary. . . . Highly recommended.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780742562271
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/16/2010
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 340
  • Sales rank: 1,070,855
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Glenn S. Holland is professor of religious studies at Allegheny College. He is also the creator of the Teaching Company's popular lecture series "Religion in the Ancient Mediterranean World."

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations vii

List of Maps ix

Time Line xv

Preface xix

Introduction: Religion and Its Characteristic Expression xxiii

Section 1 Egypt

Chapter 1 Egypt: Historical Survey 3

Chapter 2 Egypt: The Gods and the World They Made 15

Chapter 3 Egypt: The King and Royal Power 37

Chapter 4 Egypt: The World of the Dead 57

Chapter 5 Egypt: The Human World 77

Section 2 Mesopotamia

Chapter 6 Mesopotamia: Historical Survey 99

Chapter 7 Mesopotamia: The Gods and the World They Made 111

Chapter 8 Mesopotamia: The World of Kings and Heroes 131

Chapter 9 Mesopotamia: The World of the Dead 149

Chapter 10 Mesopotamia: The Human World 167

Section 3 Syria-Palestine

Chapter 11 Syria-Palestine: Historical Survey 191

Chapter 12 Syria-Palestine: The Gods and the World They Made 199

Chapter 13 Syria-Palestine: Kings and Prophets 219

Chapter 14 Syria-Palestine: Suffering and Death 239

Chapter 15 Syria-Palestine: The Human World 257

Conclusion: Change and Continuity in the Hellenistic Age 277

Bibliography for Further Reading 285

Glossary 289

Index 297

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