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Religion of the Semites : The Fundamental Institutions - Dr. Robert A. Segal

Religion of the Semites

The Fundamental Institutions

Paperback Published: 31st July 2002
ISBN: 9780765809360
Number Of Pages: 558

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Scottish Semiticist and Arabist William Robertson Smith was a celebrated biblical critic, theorist of religion, and theorist of myth. His accomplishments were multiple. Smith's German mentors reconstructed the history of Israelite religion from the Bible itself; Smith ventured outside the Bible to Semitic religion and thereby pioneered the comparative study of religion. Where others viewed religion from the standpoint of the individual, Smith approached religion -- at least ancient religion -- from the standpoint of the group. He asserted that ancient religion was centrally a matter of practice, not creed, and singlehandedly created the ritualist theory of myth. Since Smith's time, the ritualist theory of myth has found adherents not only in biblical studies but in classics, anthropology, and literature as well.

Smith's accomplishments are seen most fully in Religion of the Semites, adapted from a number of public lectures he gave at Aberdeen, and first published in 1889. Smith delivered three courses of lectures over three years. It is this set that is re-printed here. Only recently were the notes for the second and third courses of lectures discovered and published.

Religion of the Semites combines extraordinary philological erudition with brilliant theorizing. Among the fundamental emphases of the book are the feel on sacrifice as the key ritual and non-ancient sacrifice as communion with God rather than as penance for sin. Most important is Smith's use of the comparative method: he uses cross-cultural examples from other "primitive peoples" to confirm his reconstruction from Semitic sources.

Smith combines pioneering sociology and anthropology with a staunchly Christian faith.For him, Christianity is an expression of divine revelation. For Smith, only continuing revelation can account for the leap from the collective, ritualistic, and materialistic nature of ancient Semitic religion to the individualistic, creedal, and spiritualized nature of Christianity. Lectures on the Religion of the Semites manages to meld social science with theology, and remains a classic work in the social scientific study of religion.

Transaction Introductionp. vii
Preface to the First Editionp. xliii
Note to the Second Editionp. xlix
Introduction: The Subject and the Method of Enquiryp. 1
The Nature of the Religious Community, and the Relation of the Gods to their Worshippersp. 28
The Relations of the Gods to Natural Things--Holy Places--The Jinnp. 84
Holy Places in their Relation to Manp. 140
Sanctuaries, Natural and Artificial--Holy Waters, Trees, Caves, and Stonesp. 165
Sacrifice--Preliminary Surveyp. 213
First-fruits, Tithes, and Sacrificial Mealsp. 244
The Original Significance of Animal Sacrificep. 269
The Sacramental Efficacy of Animal Sacrifice, and Cognate Acts of Ritual--The Blood Covenant--Blood and Hair Offeringsp. 312
The Development of Sacrificial Ritual--Fire-sacrifices and Piaculap. 353
Sacrificial Gifts and Piacular Sacrifices--The Special Ideas involved in the latterp. 388
Additional Notesp. 441
Index of Passages of Scripturep. 493
General Indexp. 497
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780765809360
ISBN-10: 0765809362
Audience: Professional
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 558
Published: 31st July 2002
Publisher: TRANSACTION PUBL
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 22.86 x 13.97  x 2.54
Weight (kg): 0.77
Edition Number: 2
Edition Type: New edition

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