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The Deities Are Many: A Polytheistic Theology (S U N Y Series in Religious Studies) Paperback – March 17, 2005

ISBN-13: 978-0791463888 ISBN-10: 0791463885

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Product Details

  • Series: S U N Y Series in Religious Studies
  • Paperback: 170 pages
  • Publisher: State University of New York Press (March 17, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0791463885
  • ISBN-13: 978-0791463888
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 6.7 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,090,786 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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The author writes as a scholar in a clear style.
L. Hiatt
Regardless of your own spiritual path, you are likely to find reading this book to be an enriching experience.
BearheartRaven
And Jordan Paper makes some good points about polytheism and the ways in which it is superior to monotheism.
Jill Malter

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

56 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Jill Malter on August 28, 2005
Format: Paperback
I think there ought to be more books on polytheism, so I tend to be generous in rating them. And Jordan Paper makes some good points about polytheism and the ways in which it is superior to monotheism.

The author begins by explaining what he means by "theology." Theology to him can mean "to theorize from within a particular tradition." But that does not suffice to define the term to me.

We find out that the Goddesses and Gods are fairly diverse. My favorites are the perfections of attributes (such as strength, honesty, wisdom, cooperation, adventure, and so on). But others are simply representatives of non-humans (such as trees, earth, sky, or the entire planet). And some are specific to given locales, so that your Goddess may have no jurisdiction over the valley on the other side of the mountain where your neighbors live.

The author discusses many of the North American and Chinese Deities and explains their natures as well as how they are hailed. There are sections on ancestral spirits, and divine ghosts.

Paper explains that polytheism is natural to humans. And that the Gods and Goddesses tend to be hailed or adored, not feared. While the term "worshipper" may be appropriate for many monotheists, the more common term for polytheists is "devotee." Paper explains that the polytheistic deities "tend to be more companionable than a single, absolute, monarchial deity."

The author explains that for polytheists, there is no concept of "heresy." There simply is no single religious dogma to be denied. That's not true for monotheists, who often confuse their dogmas with empirical truths. And that can lead to a very destructive fanaticism among monotheists.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Prokopton on February 26, 2011
Format: Paperback
For some time I've been on the lookout for a book that could succinctly get close to the heart of 'polytheism-in-general', something I could point an interested party towards which would undo a little of the ludicrous bias and preconception, and get to the reality as it is lived by human beings on this planet. Well, this will do the job nicely. Jordan Paper's attitude is, quite correctly, that polytheism, being the natural outgrowth of the human system, never needed a 'theology' as such -- but could do with one because it has to converse with monotheism all the time, and monotheism constantly uses 'theology' to beat it down into a position of inferiority at best.

What Paper has chosen to write is, he says inevitably, also an apologia therefore. He seems quite well-qualified to write it, as an academic who also has had strong personal experience with both Native American and Traditional Chinese religions; more importantly, as someone who is prepared actually to *write* about those experiences publicly, as, for example, John Michael Greer in his over-intellectual A World Full of Gods was not. Polytheism does not rest on an intellectual but on an experiential foundation, and 'faith' has more or less nothing to do with it, compared with the systemic tie to presences and experiences that are lived. So any theology has to weave experience in, and Paper does so, giving examples of the different ways in which spirits and gods have interacted with his own life. As a religious studies professor, he puts aside the need to 'skirt advocacy' for the space of this text.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By L. Hiatt on October 12, 2008
Format: Paperback
The author writes as a scholar in a clear style. Writing from personal experience and research. As a polytheist, it is a joy to read a theological explanation and defense of my belief systems. But I would recommend to any one of any belief system, it is not proselytizing, instead a scholarly exploration of ideals.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Rita Rippetoe on February 6, 2010
Format: Paperback
In Western culture even the atheists are monotheists--no one asks "so you believe in gods?" This book is a serious introduction to the idea that polytheism is the natural state of humankind. An excellent book by an expert in Chinese, American Indian and other religious systems. Chinese Way in Religion (Religious Life of Man)The Mystic Experience: A Descriptive and Comparative Analysis
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