According to the Dinka people of the Southern Sudan, man and his creator were originally close together. They became separated, like the earth and sky, when the first man and woman acted with human independence. Dinka religious practice follows from that separation. Divinity and Experience, now reissued for the first time in paperback, has, since its first publication in 1961, acquired the status of a minor classic of social anthropology. In the first section, the various divinities of the Dinka are described with their complex range of meaning and imagery, and related to the Dinka's own experience of the conditions of life and death. They may be interpreted, it is suggested, as images arising out of that experience. The second part discusses the role of the priests, the 'masters of the fishing spear', who interested Fraser in his study of divine worship. Sacrifices are described and their meaning analysed, and finally their rites at the death of priests, some of whom may enter the grave alive, are examined.
Dr Lienhardt also provides translations of hymns, prayers, and myths, which serve as a good introduction to the thought and beliefs of the Dinka for those interested in religion and its interpretation.
'This important study ... commands admiration for its quality of sympathetic understanding, discerning judgement, and cautious wording.'
Journal of Theological Studies
'Dr Lienhardt has ... considerably advanced the understanding of thought in pre-scientific cultures.'
'The monograph reflects a profound understanding of the ways in which individual and collective experience merge in the drama of spiritual rebirth ... At long last the Clarendon Press has made this masterpiece more accessible and affordable to undergraduates and graduates in programs of anthropological study.'
Division in the World; Divine Unity and Multiplicity - Free-Divinities; Divine Unity and Multiplicity - Clan-Divinities; Divinity and Experience; The Myths of the Spear-Masters; The Control of Experience - Invocation and Prayer; The Control of Experience - Symbolic Action; Burial Alive