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Pagan Goddesses in the Early Germanic World: Eostre, Hreda and the Cult of Matrons (Studies in Early Medieval History) Paperback – August 25, 2011

ISBN-13: 978-0715637975 ISBN-10: 0715637975

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Product Details

  • Series: Studies in Early Medieval History
  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Bristol Classical Press (August 25, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0715637975
  • ISBN-13: 978-0715637975
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,292,593 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

It offers a fresh and productive method for examining fragmentary data for Anglo-Saxon (and, by implication, other pre-Christian) religion. It is a welcome contribution and should find a place in university libraries and on the shelves of early medievalists in general. -- Carole M. Cusack, University of Sydney The Historian

About the Author

Philip A. Shaw is Lecturer in English Language and Old English, University of Leicester.

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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By SuzieQccr on July 30, 2012
Format: Paperback
This is a heady book, I do not recommend it for casual readers. Typically, I disregard comments like this because I read academic papers in my free time for fun. So be forewarned that this book includes a LOT of linguistic exploration that is difficult to follow without a solid grounding in linguistics and/or Germanic languages.

It gets 5 stars despite being a tough nut to crack because this book is written by a scholar for an academic audience. What Shaw is doing with this research is ground breaking. There is SO much controversy regarding the figure of Ostara/Eostre, in both the academic and pagan circles, that it's about time some one put some real elbow grease into researching this.

It is true that linguistic evidence has been ignored. As well as folkloric/oral history as evidence. Shaw brings a good, solid, academic study to this figure. It is not surprising that there is little "hard evidence" considering that there was literally a war waged over hundreds of years to stamp out "the old religion."

I only hope Shaw extrapolates on this and takes his research further. And perhaps writes a volume that is more accessible to a general audience. There is a huge audience eager for this material.
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This book is interesting for those who enjoy cultural studies, linguistics and I.E. research. It addresses the scanty remaining evidence (that we know of thus far) regarding these Germanic goddesses. It is part of a series called, "Studies in Early Medieval History"; don't look for Iron Age or Bronze Age information here. There is not much regarding myth, cult, or ritual practices in this book, as the back cover states, in part,

" In this book Philip A. Shaw considers evidence for Germanic goddesses in England and on the Continent, arguing on the basis of linguistic and onomastic evidence that modern scholarship has tended to focus too heavily on the notion of divine functions or spheres of activity, such as fertility or warfare, rather than considering the extent to which goddesses are rooted in localities and social structures. Such local religious manifestations are, he suggests, more important to Germanic paganisms than is often supposed, and should caution us against assumptions of pan-Germanic traditional beliefs."

The clear explanation of linguistic terms in the second chapter, "Linguistic Models and Methods", is delightful and informative for those who are not conversant in linguistic theory and practice. This would be a good book for a college course. The author explores the Germanic branch of the I.E. language family through cognates, personal names, place-names, calendrical records, and visual art. He presents arguments for local contrasted with "pan-Germanic" concepts re: distribution of cult and type, and examines the debate over the the mentions of Germanic goddesses in writings from the Venerable Bede. The author stringently plays "devil's advocate" with his own argument, working through the criticisms that might be brought up. The 11 page bibliography reminds us that there is so much to read and so little time to do it! I enjoyed learning with this book.
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Based on the reviews I read, this book met my expectations. It's scholarly and densely argued. Unless you have a solid background in linguistics--which I don't--"Pagan Goddesses" requires total concentration. One reading doesn't do it justice in my case. Luckily I now own it and can choose to do that anytime.
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