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God is unbounded. God became flesh. While these two assertions are equally viable parts of Western Christian religious heritage, they stand in tension with one another. Fearful of reducing God's majesty with shallow anthropomorphisms, philosophy and religion affirm that God, as an eternal being, stands wholly apart from creation. Yet the legacy of the incarnation complicates this view of the incorporeal divine, affirming a very different image of God in physical embodiment. While for many today the idea of an embodied God seems simplisticaeven pedestrianaChristoph Markschies reveals that in antiquity, the educated and uneducated alike subscribed to this very idea. More surprisingly, the idea that God had a body was held by both polytheists and monotheists. Platonic misgivings about divine corporeality entered the church early on, but it was only with the advent of medieval scholasticism that the idea that God has a body became scandalous, an idea still lingering today. In God's Body Markschies traces the shape of the divine form in late antiquity. This exploration follows the development of ideas of God's corporeality in Jewish and Greco-Roman traditions. In antiquity, gods were often like humans, which proved to be important for philosophical reflection and for worship. Markschies considers how a cultic environment nurtured, and transformed, Jewish and Christian descriptions of the divine, as well as how philosophical debates over the connection of body and soul in humanity provided a conceptual framework for imagining God. Markschies probes the connections between this lively culture of religious practice and philosophical speculation and the christological formulations of the church to discover how the dichotomy of an incarnate God and a fleshless God came to be. By studying the religious and cultural past, Markschies reveals a Jewish and Christian heritage alien to modern sensibilities, as well as a God who is less alien to the human experience than much of Western thought has imagined. Since the almighty God who made all creation has also lived in that creation, the biblical idea of humankind as image of God should be taken seriously and not restricted to the conceptual world but rather applied to the whole person.
The world today can be both disconcerting and disconnecting but the Celtic tradition offers connections, community and common sense. Theologian John Scally uses it as a rich vein to be mined of insight, imagination and inspiration. When we have an aching heart Celtic wisdom can be a sanctuary of rest, renewal and reassurance. Long before the terms 'mindfulness' and 'well-being' were coined the Celtic tradition offered pathways to peace of mind and calmness. It offers shafts of light into the darkness that so many people grapple with on a daily basis and provides prisms of hope into the despair we feel watching the news. This book draws on the wisdom, stories, poetry, prayers, humour and letters that are at the heart of the Celtic tradition. It is not a nostalgic portal to a golden age of traditional Irish lyricism with mighty mists lolling lazily about the Celtic landscape but a search for wisdom that will resound with the sort of truthfulness that will steer deep recognitions in the reader. It includes contributions from a number of influential writers such as Brendan Kennelly, Peter McVerry and Mark Patrick Hederman. It also pays tribute to the late great, John O'Donohue. When life tends to overwhelm us and when we feel we are on our own, this is a book to remind us of where we come from and to bring comfort when it is badly needed.
Exploring the practice of living resurrection in ancient Egyptian, Phoenician, Greek, Persian, Indian, Japanese, Chinese, Celtic, and Native American traditions, Freddy Silva explains how resurrection was never meant for the dead, but for the living--a fact supported by the suppressed Gnostic Gospel of Philip: "Those who say they will die first and then rise are in error. If they do not first receive the resurrection while they live, when they die they will receive nothing." He reveals how these practices were not only common in the ancient world but also shared similar facets in each tradition: initiates were led through a series of challenging ordeals, retreated for a three-day period into a cave or restricted room, often called a "bridal chamber," and while out-of-body, became fully conscious of travels in the Otherworld. Upon returning to the body, they were led by priests or priestesses to witness the rising of Sirius or the Equinox sunrise. Silva describes some of the secret chambers around the world where the ritual was performed, including the so-called tomb of Thutmosis III in Egypt, which featured an empty sarcophagus and detailed instructions for the living on how to enter the Otherworld and return alive. He reveals why esoteric and Gnostic sects claimed that the literal resurrection of Jesus promoted by the Church was a fraud and how the Church branded all living resurrection practices as a heresy, relentlessly persecuting the Gnostics to suppress knowledge of this self-empowering experience. He shows how the Knights Templar revived these concepts and how they survive to this day within Freemasonry.
The Mexica (Aztecs) used a solar calendar made up of eighteen months, with each month dedicated to a specific god in their pantheon and celebrated with a different set of rituals. Panquetzaliztli, the fifteenth month, dedicated to the national god Huitzilopochtli (Hummingbird on the Left), was significant for its proximity to the winter solstice, and for the fact that it marked the beginning of the season of warfare. In The Fifteenth Month, John F. Schwaller offers a detailed look at how the celebrations of Panquetzaliztli changed over time and what these changes reveal about the history of the Aztecs. Drawing on a variety of sources, Schwaller deduces that prior to the rise of the Mexica in 1427, an earlier version of the month was dedicated to the god Tezcatlipoca (Smoking Mirror), a war and trickster god. The Mexica shifted the dedication to their god, developed a series of ceremonies - including long-distance running and human sacrifice - that would associate him with the sun, and changed the emphasis of the celebration from warfare alone to a combination of trade and warfare, since merchants played a significant role in Mexica statecraft. Further investigation shows how the resulting festival commemorated several important moments in Mexica history, how it came to include ceremonies associated with the winter solstice, and how it reflected a calendar reform implemented shortly before the arrival of the Spanish. Focused on one of the most important months in the Mexica year, Schwaller's work marks a new methodology in which traditional sources for Mexica culture, rather than being interrogated for their specific content, are read for their insights into the historical development of the people. Just as Christmas re-creates the historic act of the birth of Jesus for Christians, so, The Fifteenth Month suggests, Panquetzaliztli was a symbolic re-creation of events from Mexica myths and history.
Why did the Vikings sail to England? Were they indiscriminate raiders, motivated solely by bloodlust and plunder? One narrative, the stereotypical one, might have it so. But locked away in the buried history of the British Isles are other, far richer and more nuanced, stories; and these hidden tales paint a picture very different from the ferocious pillagers of popular repute. In this book, Eleanor Parker unlocks secrets that point to more complex motivations within the marauding army that in the late-9th century voyaged to the shores of eastern England in its sleek, dragon-prowed longships. Exploring legends from forgotten medieval texts, and across the varied Anglo-Saxon regions, she depicts Vikings who came not just to raid but also to settle personal feuds, intervene in English politics and find a place to call home. Native tales reveal the links to famous Vikings like Ragnar Lothbrok and his sons, Cnut, and Havelok the Dane. Each myth shows how the legacy of the newcomers can still be traced in landscape, place-names and local history. Meticulously researched and elegantly argued, Dragon Lords uncovers the remarkable degree to which England is Viking to its core.
Thomas O'Loughlin focuses on such issues as the immanence and transcendence of God, the notion of creation, the relation between the individual and community, the heroic ideal of Christian life, and notions of death and resurrection.
Ancient Greek culture is pervaded by a profound ambivalence regarding female beauty. It is an awe-inspiring, supremely desirable gift from the gods, essential to the perpetuation of a man's name through reproduction; yet it also grants women terrifying power over men, posing a threat inseparable from its allure. The myth of Helen is the central site in which the ancient Greeks expressed and reworked their culture's anxieties about erotic desire. Despite the passage of three millennia, contemporary culture remains almost obsessively preoccupied with all the power and danger of female beauty and sexuality that Helen still represents. Yet Helen, the embodiment of these concerns for our purported cultural ancestors, has been little studied from this perspective. Such issues are also central to contemporary feminist thought. Helen of Troy engages with the ancient origins of the persistent anxiety about female beauty, focusing on this key figure from ancient Greek culture in a way that both extends our understanding of that culture and provides a useful perspective for reconsidering aspects of our own. Moving from Homer and Hesiod to Sappho, Aeschylus, and Euripides, Ruby Blondell offers a fresh examination of the paradoxes and ambiguities that Helen embodies. In addition to literary sources, Blondell considers the archaeological record, which contains evidence of Helen's role as a cult figure, worshipped by maidens and newlyweds. The result is a compelling new interpretation of this alluring figure.
"Egyptian Mummies" is regarded by egyptologists as the classic account of mummification in ancient Egypt. Originally published in 1924, its re-issue in complete form will be welcomed by all those who have sought rare second hand copies in vain. This book provides the most comprehensive account available of the technical processes and materials employed by the ancient Egyptian embalmers together with a historical analysis of their modification throughout the dynastic period. The authors draw on fully illustrated archaeological and pathological evidence together with Egyptian and Greek textual references to provide a thorough survey of the mummification process and attendant funeral ceremonies, and to offer clues to an understanding of the custom's significance and the reasons for its adoption.
In the first book to consider the study of world religion and world literature in concert, Zhange Ni proposes a new reading strategy that she calls ""pagan criticism,"" which she applies not only to late twentieth- and early twenty-first-century literary texts that engage the global resurgence of religion but also to the very concepts of religion and the secular. Focusing on two North American writers (the Jewish American Cynthia Ozick and the Canadian Margaret Atwood) and two East Asian writers (the Japanese End? Sh?saku and the Chinese Gao Xingjian), Ni reads their fiction, drama, and prose to envision a ""pagan (re)turn"" in the study of world religion and world literature. In doing so, she highlights the historical complexities and contingencies in literary texts and challenges both Christian and secularist assumptions regarding aesthetics and hermeneutics. In assessing the collision of religion and literature, Ni argues that the clash has been not so much between monotheistic orthodoxies and the sanctification of literature as between the modern Western model of religion and the secular and its non-Western others. When East and West converge under the rubric of paganism, she argues, the study of religion and literature develops into that of world religion and world literature.
Revised and expanded, this volume deals with the religious traditions of ancient Egypt. New material allows a much more precise allocation of religious texts and ideas in terms of time, place and social context.
A controversial examination of the influence and presence of the Norse god Odin in contemporary history and culture Exploring the influence of the Norse god Odin in the modern world, Richard Rudgley reveals Odin's central role in the pagan revival and how this has fueled a wide range of cultural movements and phenomena. Rudgley argues that it is Odin and not Jesus Christ who has the single most important spiritual influence in modern Western civilization. He analyzes the Odin archetype--first revealed by Carl Jung's essay on Wotan--in the context of pagan religious history and explains the ancient idea of the Web--a cosmic field of energies that encompasses time, space, and the hidden potentials of humanity-the pagan equivalent to the Tao of Eastern tradition. The author examines the importance of the concept of wyrd, which corresponds to "fate" or "destiny". He examines how the concept of subterranean and mythic realms, such as the Hollow Earth, Thule, and Agartha, and mysterious energies like Vril were manifested in both occult and profane ways and investigates key occult figures like Madame Blavatsky, Guido von List, and Karl Wiligut. Rudgley provides pagan analyses of Tolkien and the Lord of the Rings and documents the impact the Odin archetype has had on nationalist and fascist groups in America and Europe. Examining pagan groups in Europe and America that use the Norse template, Rudgley reveals true paganism as holistic and intimately connected with the forces at work in the life of the planet. Showing how this "green" paganism can be beneficial for dealing with the adverse consequences of globalization and the ongoing ecological crisis, he explains how, when repressed, the Odin archetype is responsible for regressive tendencies--a reflection of the unprecedented chaos of Ragnarok--but if embraced, the Odin archetype makes it possible for like-minded traditions to work together in the service of life.
Homer's tale of the abduction of Helen to Troy and the ten-year war to bring her back to Greece has fascinated mankind for centuries since he related it in The Iliad and The Odyssey. More recently, it has given rise to countless scholarly articles and books, extensive archaeological excavations, epic movies, television documentaries, stage plays, art and sculpture, even souvenirs and collectibles. However, while the ancients themselves thought that the Trojan War took place and was a pivotal event in world history, scholars during the Middle Ages and into the modern era derided it as a piece of fiction. This book investigates two major questions: did the Trojan War take place and, if so, where? It ultimately demonstrates that a war or wars in the vicinity of Troy probably did take place in some way, shape, or form during the Late Bronze Age, thereby forming the nucleus of the story that was handed down orally for centuries until put into essentially final form by Homer. However, Cline suggests that although a Trojan War (or wars) probably did take place, it was not fought because of Helen's abduction; there were far more compelling economic and political motives for conflict more than 3,000 years ago. Aside from Homer, the book examines various classical literary sources: the Epic Cycle, a saga found at the Hittite capital of Hattusas, treatments of the story by the playwrights of classical Greece, and alternative versions or continuations of the saga such as Virgil's Aeneid, which add detail but frequently contradict the original story. Cline also surveys archaeological attempts to document the Trojan War through excavations at Hissarlik, Turkey, especially the work of Heinrich Schliemann and his successors Wilhelm Doerpfeld, Carl Blegen, and Manfred Korfmann. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
One of the great Christian scholars of antiquity and a high-ranking public official under Theoderic, King of the Ostrogoths, Cassiodorus compiled edicts, diplomatic letters, and legal documents while in office. This letter collection, the Variae, remains among the most important sources for the sixth century, the period during which late antiquity transitioned to the early middle ages. Translated and selected by scholar M. Shane Bjornlie, The Selected Letters pulls together the most interesting evidence for understanding the political culture, legal structure, intellectual and religious worldviews, and social evolution during the twilight of the late-Roman state. Bjornlie's invaluable introduction discusses Cassiodorus's work in civil, legal, and financial administration, revealing his interactions with emperors and kings, bishops and military commanders, private citizens, and even criminals. Section notes introduce each letter to contextualize its themes and connection with other letters, opening a window on to Cassiodorus's world.
You are in your bed. It is dark, you hear footsteps coming up the stairs and into your room. There is someone there - a presence. They lie on you or beside you, gripping you tightly, crushing you into the bed. You can't move. There may be a sound, a grunt or a strange smell. Time passes, you are paralysed with fear. Eventually the entity changes, expanding or contracting, moving away from you, sinking to the floor. With a great effort of will you manage to move the tip of your finger, then the hand until movement returns to your whole body and the experience ends. You have been visited by the old 'hag'. Dreams, the real theatre or perhaps battlefield of magick, influenced by cosmic tides that ebb and flow through us as they did the ancient Egyptians. Over the millennia we have lost contact with these tides, and stand alienated from Nature. To restore that first 'Eden' we must undertake an exercise in the archaeology of knowledge. We must reconstruct the ancient Egyptian Wheel of the Year, revealing archaic, pre-dynastic Mysteries, the Lunar Mysteries of Horus and Seth.
IMAGINE SANDALS ON YOUR FEET, A SWORD IN YOUR HAND, HOT SUN BEATING DOWN ON YOUR BRONZE HELMET. ENTER THE WORLD OF STEPHEN FRY'S SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER, HEROES In this companion to his bestselling Mythos, Stephen Fry gloriously retells the epic myths of the Greek heroes - which will be loved by young and old alike. 'An odyssey through Greek mythology. Brilliant . . . all hail Stephen Fry' Daily Mail ___________ Few mere mortals have ever embarked on such bold and heart-stirring adventures, overcome myriad monstrous perils, or outwitted scheming vengeful gods, quite as stylishly and triumphantly as Greek heroes. In this companion to his bestselling Mythos, Stephen Fry brilliantly retells these dramatic, funny, tragic and timeless tales. Join Jason aboard the Argo as he quests for the Golden Fleece. See Atalanta - who was raised by bears - outrun any man before being tricked with golden apples. Witness wily Oedipus solve the riddle of the Sphinx and discover how Bellerophon captures the winged horse Pegasus to help him slay the monster Chimera. Filled with white-knuckle chases and battles, impossible puzzles and riddles, acts of base cowardice and real bravery, not to mention murders and selfless sacrifices, Heroes is the story of what we mortals are truly capable of - at our worst and our very best. 'A romp through the lives of ancient Greek gods. Fry is at his story-telling best . . . the gods will be pleased' Times 'Assured and engaging. The pace is lively, the jokes are genuinely funny' Guardian 'An Olympian feat. The gods seem to be smiling on Fry - his myths are definitely a hit' Evening Standard 'Just as delightful and difficult to put down as the first. Heroes makes the stories relatable without skimping on the gory details, or sacrificing the truths of the myth. It's rich, it's funny and you'll feel like you've learned a lot' Herald ___________ If you like the sound of Heroes, you'll love Mythos - Fry's first foray into the enthralling world of Greek mythology. Praise for Mythos: 'Ebullient and funny' Times 'Entertaining and edifying' Daily Telegraph 'A rollicking good read' Independent 'The Greek gods of the past become relatable as pop culture, modern literature and music are woven throughout. Joyfully informal yet full of the literary legacy' Guardian
A compelling history of radical transformation in the fourth-century--when Christianity decimated the practices of traditional pagan religion in the Roman Empire. The Final Pagan Generation recounts the fascinating story of the lives and fortunes of the last Romans born before the Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity. Edward J. Watts traces their experiences of living through the fourth century's dramatic religious and political changes, when heated confrontations saw the Christian establishment legislate against pagan practices as mobs attacked pagan holy sites and temples. The emperors who issued these laws, the imperial officials charged with implementing them, and the Christian perpetrators of religious violence were almost exclusively young men whose attitudes and actions contrasted markedly with those of the earlier generation, who shared neither their juniors' interest in creating sharply defined religious identities nor their propensity for violent conflict. Watts examines why the "final pagan generation"-born to the old ways and the old world in which it seemed to everyone that religious practices would continue as they had for the past two thousand years-proved both unable to anticipate the changes that imperially sponsored Christianity produced and unwilling to resist them. A compelling and provocative read, suitable for the general reader as well as students and scholars of the ancient world.
For decades readers have chosen this book above all others to discover the thrilling, enchanting and fascinating world of Western mythology. From Odysseus's adventure-filled journey to the Norse god Odin's effort to postpone the final day of doom, Edith Hamilton's classic collection not only retells these stories with brilliant clarity but shows us how the ancients saw their own place in the world and how their themes echo in our consciousness today. An essential part of every home library, MYTHOLOGY is the definitive volume for anyone who wants to know the key dramas, the primary characters, the triumphs, failures, fears and hopes first narrated thousands of years ago - and still spellbinding to this day.
Crushed by the Romans in the first century A.D., the ancient Druids of Britain left almost no reliable evidence behind. Because of this, historian Ronald Hutton shows, succeeding British generations have been free to reimagine, reinterpret, and reinvent the Druids. Hutton's captivating book is the first to encompass two thousand years of Druid history and to explore the evolution of English, Scottish, and Welsh attitudes toward the forever ambiguous figures of the ancient Celtic world.
Druids have been remembered at different times as patriots, scientists, philosophers, or priests; sometimes portrayed as corrupt, bloodthirsty, or ignorant, they were also seen as fomenters of rebellion. Hutton charts how the Druids have been written in and out of history, archaeology, and the public consciousness for some 500 years, with particular focus on the romantic period, when Druids completely dominated notions of British prehistory. Sparkling with legends and images, filled with new perspectives on ancient and modern times, this book is a fascinating cultural study of Druids as catalysts in British history.
* Provides new evidence from recent space probe missions to support Velikovsky's theories on the formation of Venus * Presents recently translated ancient texts from China, Korea and Japan that uphold the comet-like descriptions of Venus cited by Velikovsky * Examines evidence of major geomagnetic events in 1500 BCE and 750 BCE that correspond with close passes of the comet Venus and its impact with Mars * Worlds in Collision was the one book found open on Albert Einstein's desk at the time of his death. Surrounded by controversy even before its publication in 1950, Immanuel Velikovsky's Worlds in Collision introduced the provocative theory that Venus began as a brilliant comet ejected by Jupiter around 1600 BCE, wreaking chaos on Mars and Earth as it roamed through our solar system prior to settling into its current orbit. Immediately dismissed without any investigation and subject to vicious attacks, Velikovsky's theory is now poised for reexamination in light of recent astronomical and archaeological findings. Exploring the key points of Velikovsky's theories, Laird Scranton presents evidence from recent space probe missions and offers scientific explanations for many disputed aspects of Velikovsky's theories, such as how Venus transformed from a comet into an orbiting planet. By updating this unresolved controversy with new scientific evidence, Scranton helps us to understand how it was that Worlds in Collision was the one book found open on Albert Einstein's desk at the time of his death.
A view into the sophisticated and highly advanced civilization that
preceded the world of the pharaohs
Celtic Wales is about the beginnings of Wales and how the period from the Iron Age to medieval times helped shape and define the modern nation of Wales. Early Wales has a spectacular archaeological, literary and mythical heritage. This book uses archaeology and early historical documents to discuss all aspects of early Welsh society, from war to farming and from drinking habits to Druids.
"Silly," "stupid," "irrational," "simple." "Wicked," "hateful," "obstinate," "anti-social." "Extravagant," "perverse." The Roman world rendered harsh judgments upon early Christianityaincluding branding Christianity "new." Novelty was no Roman religious virtue. Nevertheless,as Larry W. Hurtado shows in Destroyer of the gods , Christianity thrived despite its new and distinctive features and opposition to them. Unlike nearly all other religious groups, Christianity utterly rejected the traditional gods of the Roman world. Christianity also offered a new and different kind of religious identity, one not based on ethnicity. Christianity was distinctively a "bookish" religion, with the production, copying, distribution, and reading of texts as central to its faith, even preferring a distinctive book-form, the codex. Christianity insisted that its adherents behave differently: unlike the simple ritual observances characteristic of the pagan religious environment, embracing Christian faith meant a behavioral transformation, with particular and novel ethical demands for men. Unquestionably, to the Roman world, Christianity was both new and different, and, to a good many, it threatened social and religious conventions of the day. In the rejection of the gods and in the centrality of texts, early Christianity obviously reflected commitments inherited from its Jewish origins. But these particular features were no longer identified with Jewish ethnicity and early Christianity quickly became aggressively trans-ethnicaa novel kind of religious movement. Its ethical teaching, too, bore some resemblance to the philosophers of the day, yet in contrast with these great teachers and their small circles of dedicated students, early Christianity laid its hard demands upon all adherents from the moment of conversion, producing a novel social project. Christianity's novelty was no badge of honor. Called atheists and suspected ofpolitical subversion, Christiansearned Roman disdain and suspicion in equal amounts. Yet, as Destroyer of the gods demonstrates, inan irony of history the very features of early Christianity that rendered it distinctive and objectionable in Roman eyes have now become so commonplace in Western culture as to go unnoticed. Christianity helped destroy one world and create another.
An examination of the earliest creation traditions and symbols of
China and their similarities to those of other ancient cultures
Deep within each of us lives a primal memory of a time when the natural world was recognized as divine and our temples were built from sacred materials enlivened through magic. Temples were not places you visited once a week; they were centres of community, divine work, healing, and wisdom, places where Heaven and Earth meet. This union of Heaven and Earth--the sacred temple--is also a union of Thoth and Isis: the Egyptian god of wisdom and the creative cosmic force and the Egyptian goddess of civilizing knowledge. Their relationship established the celestial teachings on Earth, for Thoth taught Isis all the mysteries and magic she knows and Isis acted as Thoth's instrument to deliver the teachings in a form humanity could use. In this initiatic guide to temple building on the spiritual and physical planes, Normandi Ellis and Nicki Scully explain how to create a communal spiritual structure for connecting with the ancient Egyptian pantheon as well as how to consecrate yourself and become a vessel suitable for divine wisdom and a home for your personal gods. The authors detail the construction, shamanic visioning, and ritual consecration of a Moon Temple dedicated to Thoth. They explore teachings that help you develop relationships with the Egyptian neteru and realize your place within the family of the Egyptian pantheon. They guide you as you create your inner heart temple, the adytum, a safe place in which to receive guidance and access your higher spiritual bodies and oracular gifts. They provide shamanic journeys and initiations on ascension, shamanic death and renewal, soul retrieval and healing, multidimensional realities, and more. By creating a sacred temple within and without, we each can take part in the union of Isis and Thoth and restore the magic of the Egyptian mysteries to our time.
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