- Paperback: 402 pages
- Publisher: Facts on File (September 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0816064903
- ISBN-13: 978-0816064908
- Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 7.4 x 1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 8 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,874,481 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Dictionary of Gods and Goddesses Paperback – September, 2005
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A common challenge for believers is to avoid becoming so fixated on their particular god or gods that they ignore or never learn about other gods.
Just skimming through this book will expand one's awareness about our long-time obsession with gods.
I highly recommend this book.
--Guy P. Harrison, author of
Race and Reality: What Everyone Should Know About Our Biological Diversity
50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a God
Malevolent spirit. West Africa. Recognized by tribes in the Gold Coast, etc. Traditionally driven away in an annual expulsion ritual by firing guns and shouting loudly, emptying houses of furniture and beating the interiors with sticks. The abonsant was finally driven into the sea. The ritual was preceded by four weeks of total silence in the area. Michael Jordans Gods and Goddesses.
The purpose of any deity is to focus large groups of people toward specific actions. We need to understand the ancient deities of our ancestors because of their power. Imagine if a whole community could be silent for a month. That means no mobile phones, no television, no radio, etc., just us alone with our thoughts. We could get so much important work done during this time. We could develop so many ideas during this time. Abonsam can also remind us that there are forces who want to destroy us and we should drive those forces out of our communities.
The Dictionary of Gods and Goddesses is a 402-page paperback dedicated to gods and goddesses, featuring over 2,500 entries and spanning ancient and contemporary cultures. The author provides a chart of the chronology of the principle religions and cultures covered in the book, which include:
* Australian Aboriginal
* African Yoruba
The author gives only brief treatments of minor gods and goddesses, but affords the major deities with a bit more coverage in the book, including original cultural source, the role of the deity, genealogy, symbols, attributes, art references, literary sources, and so on.
The Dictionary of Gods and Goddesses does not include demigods, demons, or mythological heroes. According to the author, a demigod is "a personality who was once mortal but has been elevated to the celestial ranks". However, significant ancestral personalities who have been clearly deified and treated entirely as gods and goddesses (e.g. the Sumerian god Dumuzi or the Norse god Balder) are included, even though they're technically demigods.
Yet, while the demigod Guatama Buddha has been included, Jesus Christ has not. This makes no sense, especially since most Christians consider Jesus to be 100% god in human form; after his ascension, he is worshipped as "one with the father" (Jehovah/YHWH) and supplicants pray to him as such even today. Why the author chooses to include some demigods, especially tribal ones, and not Jesus (one of the most influential modern deities) is a mystery.
The Dictionary of Gods and Goddesses is a comprehensive source for gods and goddesses; in fact, the author claims that it represents the most comprehensive worldwide listing of deities available in a single volume. However, he admits that it makes no claim to be exhaustive. This is quite true. For example, if you look up Abundantia, the entry reads:
"Minor fertility goddess. Roman. The personification of abundance. She continued in French mythology after the Roman occupation, as a lady who enters houses in the night, bringing prosperity."
The author doesn't even mention that the French called her "Lady Hobunde". This would be valuable information should an individual want more information on HOW Abundantia continued in French mythology. Or, if you look up Athena, you'll find that she offered the olive to humankind, but there is no mention of the context, which is Athena's contention with Poseidon. By humans accepting her gift over Poseidon's, Athena gained control of Athens. In addition, there is no mention of her being a virgin/maiden goddess, nor that Zeus entrusted her with a shield bearing the Medusa and his principle weapon, the thunderbolt. Therefore, if you want in-depth information on the mythos of particular deities, you'll have to acquire an encyclopedia or book dedicated to a specific culture, or one that focuses squarely on mythology.
The Dictionary of Gods and Goddesses is a fine introduction to deities spanning world cultures. It would be especially good for students or general readers wanting quick references to gods and goddesses. Nevertheless, if you want to delve deeply into various deities, especially the mythos, you'll have to look elsewhere.