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Encyclopedia of Gods: Over 2,500 Deities of the World Hardcover – July 1, 1993
"Neverworld Wake" by Marisha Pessl
Read the absorbing new psychological suspense thriller from acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Marisha Pessl. Learn more
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From Library Journal
Every culture has its gods involved with such concerns as weather, fertility, and safety. Although this reference represents the most comprehensive listing available of the deities of principal religions, it is not exhaustive. The gods of Haiti, for example, are described as being in excess of 10,000, and there are at least as many Japanese and Chinese gods. Many primitive societies are reluctant to speak the names of deities to outsiders for fear of divine punishment. As a result, this book has geographical gaps and other lapses that can be accounted for by cultural differences. Entries are arranged in alphabetical order, without being broken down into ethnic or cultural groups, and each entry is listed under the name by which the deity is most commonly known. Entries give a deity's culture, role, and principal characteristics. A subject index lists deities by religion and function, and a civilization index organizes them by region. A worthwhile addition to academic libraries.
- Ravonne A. Green, Emmanuel Coll. Lib., Franklin Springs, Ga.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Coverage in this book is worldwide but not comprehensive. The compiler's aim is to include deities that someone with a serious interest in mythology would be most likely to want to identify. Since "gods are iconic figures whose `pedigree' belongs exclusively in the heavens," demons, demigods, and heroes are omitted. A preface discusses the evolution of the concepts of gods and goddesses and traces major civilizations (later portrayed on a time line) in relation to their myths.
The dictionary-length entries generally note the culture source (e.g., West Africa, Jain), role (e.g., earth creator, river goddess), genealogy (parents, siblings), and attributes (conch, arrow). Occasionally, entries note art or literature references, period of worship, synonyms, and/or cult center(s). No pronunciations are given, apart from some generalities in the preface.
Cross-references are intentionally limited, so there is no reference from Artemis to Diana. The first index lists gods by civilization and, for those cultures with many gods, by role. The subject index lists deities by role; some lists are broken down by culture (e.g., "guardian or tutelary--Arabic--Allat").
There are several dictionaries of gods, most recently the far more inclusive and expensive Guide to the Gods: A Dictionary of the Functions and Aspects of Deities [RBB Mr 15 92]. Libraries needing a dictionary on this topic will find Encyclopedia of Gods more scholarly in coverage and style than most. It can be recommended for academic and public libraries, although the presence of a bibliography would have strengthened its credibility and usefulness.
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2,500 gods is a good start. It covers most of the major players in the Western Mythos. A full listing of the various and sundry gods in the Levant alone would fill five volumes. Add Mesopotamia and India and you could fill ten more! To include the gods of the European tribes and the Norse would ass a few more and the Africans and Pacific Islanders would almost fill ten volumes of their own.
But these gods are the essential collection and should be familiar to any scholar. A MUST HAVE!
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