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Product Details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (May 26, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199235163
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199235162
  • Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 4.5 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,178,178 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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About the Author


Owen Davies is Reader in History at the University of Hertfordshire and the author of Grimoires: A History of Magic Books.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Bojan Tunguz HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 16, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Today, when we think of paganism, we usually think of the ancient classical world, or of the "primitive" polytheistic religions around the world. The word "pagan" was introduced to distinguish Jews and Christians (and later Muslims) from the religious traditions that surrounded them. Christians in particular used the term to distance themselves from the official state religion of the Roman Empire, and the word has since then acquired a distinctly negative meaning. The ancient Greeks and Romans did not think of themselves as being "pagan", and neither did the members of most of the world's religions that have been denoted with such a label in the subsequent two millennia. So paganism in its own right is not a concrete and well-defined subject. Which is the main reason that any book that deals with this subject can at best deal with the history of paganism as a concept.

This very short introduction traces the history of paganism from its earliest conceptualization in the first few centuries of Christianity, to present day pagan revivals. The book traces the evolution of the notion of what is pagan as the Christianity encountered various indigenous European religions and cults. By the end of the fifteenth century paganism was officially eradicated even from the most remote corners of Europe, but many pagan practices and beliefs persisted nonetheless, some of which were absorbed into the mainstream Christian culture (one has only to think of the English names for the days of the week). The discovery of the Americas, as well as the subsequent colonial expansions into Asia and Africa, have forced Europeans to rethink their ideas about the new religions that they encountered, and reconsider their definition of what constitutes paganism.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By M. Glover on June 28, 2013
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I got about 2 chapters through this book. I was looking for an introduction, but found it very scholarly and detailed.
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