A Handbook of Ancient Religions

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Ancient civilisations exercise an intense fascination for people the world over. This Handbook provides a vivid, scholarly, and eminently readable account of ancient cultures around the world, from China to India, the Middle East, Egypt, Europe, and the Americas. It examines the development of religious belief from the time of the Palaeolithic cavbe paintings to the Aztecs and Incas. Covering the whole society not just the elite, the Handbook outlines the history of the different socities so that their religion and culture can be understood in context. Each chapter includes discussion of the broad field of relevant studies alerting the reader to wider debates on each subject. An international team of scholars convey their own deep enthusiasm for their subject. and provide a unique study of both popular and 'official' religion in the ancient world.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
'Recommended for academic and public libraries …' Library Journal Review

'… an excellent resource …' Journal for the Study of the Old Testament

Library Journal
Hinnells (Oriental & African studies, Univ. of London; The Zoroastrian Diaspora) has compiled a set of dryly factual articles by academics and researchers introducing the general reader to facets of ancient religion. Most chapters focus on a particular region or culture (e.g., Egypt, China, Aztec, and Incan civilization), with the exception of a more wide-ranging article on religion in the Paleolithic period. Some major geographical areas (e.g., Oceania, sub-Saharan Africa, North America) are not represented owing to a paucity of evidence surviving from ancient times. Common topics include rituals, magical practices, pantheons, conceptions of the afterlife, and the mutual implication of religion and politics. The contributors make a particular effort to highlight archaeological evidence as a way of overcoming the slanted perspective caused by a too-narrow attention to texts. Perhaps the most interesting feature is an overview of how presuppositions and biases influenced previous generations' interpretations of the religion in question—although the current volume may err in the opposite way by being merely informative. Recommended for academic and public libraries with deep pockets.
—Charles Seymour
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521847124
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 9/1/2007
  • Pages: 622
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.70 (d)

Meet the Author

John R. Hinnells is Research Professor in the Comparative Study of Religions at Liverpool Hope University, Honorary Professorial Research Fellow at SOAS, University of London and Senior Member of Robinson College, Cambridge. He is author of Zoroastrians in Britain (1996) and The Zoroastrian Diaspora (2005). His edited works include The New Dictionary of Religions (1995/1997) and A New Handbook of Living Religions (1996/1998).

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Table of Contents

Introduction John Hinnells; 1. Ancient palaeolithic cave art and religion Jean Clottes and David Lewis-Williams; 2. Ancient Egypt Rosalie David; 3. Ugarit Nicholas Wyatt; 4. Mesopotamia Benjamin R. Foster; 5. Ancient Israel John Rogerson; 6. Ancient Greece Susan Guettel Cole; 7. Ancient Rome John A. North; 8. Ancient Europe Hilda Ellis Davidson; 9. The Indus Civilisation Gregory Possehl; 10. Ancient China Edward L. Shaughnessy, 11. Aztecs and Incas Philip Arnold.

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