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Mythos and Cosmos: Mind and Meaning in the Oral Age by [Lundwall, John]

Mythos and Cosmos: Mind and Meaning in the Oral Age Kindle Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Rather than attempt to explain everything from the beginning of time, the author’s aim is
thoughtfully defined: “This book is an attempt to create a historical context through which one
may consider ancient constructs embedded in myth, ritual, and culture.” And while the author
focuses on the Near East and Mediterranean, which are relatively rich with written records, he
gives much weight to the vast amount of human history that preceded, or co-existed with, the art
of writing. “My purpose is to show that what looks so strange to us about the ?past really derives
from specific circumstances in which ancient peoples lived and which we have forgotten: the
nature of orality and its epistemological consequences . . . and the nature of oral cosmology and
how such people viewed the world and their place in it.”
In “Mythos and Cosmos: Mind and Meaning in the Oral Age,” author John Knight Lundwall,
(Ph.D., Comparative Myth and Religious Studies, Editor in Chief, Cosmos and Logos: Journal of
Myth, Religion, and Folklore.) successfully presents a broad spectrum of facts, analysis, and
creative concepts on a subject of great interest and relevance. The book covers the history of
myth and ancient scientific record, the intertwined richness of both written and oral human
accounts since antiquity, the history of human observations and ideas about cosmology and
celestial bodies, the impact of cosmology on ritual and cult practices, and a most detailed
discussion of three central myth cycles: the Epic of Gilgamesh, the Labors of Heracles, and
selected Old Testament stories.
In summary, “Mythos and Cosmos: Mind and Meaning in the Oral Age” by John Knight
Lundwall, Ph.D. is truly a magnificent work of research and presentation that will be devoured
by those interested in myth, religion, philosophy and human history. The structure of the book is
logical and helpful, the facts and historical findings are presented in an accessible, interesting
manner, and conflicting approaches are described with fairness and considerate thoroughness.
While this book meets high academic standards of meticulousness and objectivity, it is highly
readable, easily understood, and offers novel ideas and fresh concepts that are thought provoking,
remarkably stimulating, and intellectually memorable. Highly recommended! —Columbia

There are some philosophical and 'new age' books intended for the general-interest reader that are
suitable for skimming and easy reflection; and then there are writings such as MYTHOS And
COSMOS: Mind and Meaning in the Oral Age which are directed to those interested in more of a
historical, analytical approach. Designed to challenge popular thinking rather than placate the
unexamined mind, MYTHOS And COSMOS makes an unusual case for the early intellectual
prowess of ancient man.
MYTHOS And COSMOS represents the work of a scholar with a life-long commitment to
examining ancient myth more closely. He completed his doctorate in comparative myth studies;
then applied it to his continuing education. Jungian psychology, he maintains, lends a more
accurate thought; that "...our conception of history is often the product of the ego" - and with this
in mind, he selects and tackles points in history that have remained incongruous over the centuries.
From what constitutes a 'literate person' and his observations, recordings and psyche to the
evolution of cosmological thinking, how narratives often cross the boundary from historical fact
into mythos, and how knowledge is fragmented and distorted over time, MYTHOS And COSMOS
surveys a range of evidence - written, oral, and artifacts alike - to reveal the assumptions
underlying broken, fragmented evidence.
In the process of piecing together possibilities, Dr. Lundwall does more than recreate history: he
considers the processes, influences, and politics involved in assigning direction and meaning to
ancient data.
Are ancient thinkers primitives? Does modern technology provide the illusion of intelligence
through comparative analytical processes? And are the foundations by which we compare and
assign judgments uncertain, in and of themselves? These questions and more are contained in a
scholarly yet accessible examination of historical, archaeological, and psychological evidence
ancient and modern, recommended for readers seeking history, science, psychology and
philosophy all wrapped up in a quest for what truly constitutes the realities of ancient cultures,
considering how modern investigators organize and analyze historical record as well as the
evolution of the processes and patterns leading to understanding. —D. Donovan, Midwestern
Book Review

Lundwall contends that far from being ignorant and backward savages, the preliterate cultures
that created mankind’s most ancient mythological tales had a high degree of intellectual
Lundwall finds fault with the general line of thinking regarding humanity’s oldest known stories,
mythologies, and the religious lore of the Egyptians, Babylonians, Mesopotamians, etc. Western
European scholarly arrogance—“often the product of the ego”—is at fault, he says, for the
Darwin-inspired mindset that our ancestors were either howling barbarians, ruled by childlike
superstition and uncouth brutality, or noble hippie-type simpletons living in Edenic harmony and
peace with each other and nature. Nor does he agree with so-called “Conspirators,” who believe
that ancient feats (e.g., the Egyptian pyramids) could only have resulted from contact with and
technical assistance from space aliens. In fact, though the ancients relied on oral more so than
written traditions, leaving enormous gaps in the annals of history, Lundwall argues that our
forebears were much like ourselves, with sublimely subtle levels of metaphysical thinking and
nuanced spoken/written languages—ones that have suffered in later translations. They also
created tremendous architectural wonders, intricate concepts encoded in ritual dance, and
sophisticated astronomical observations.
Admirably wary of self-described authorities who tend to oversimplify, Lundwall argues in prose
that sometimes crosses the boundary from academic to pop (he once cites a Jay Leno comedy
routine). In terms of actually dissecting a myth, it’s mainly the Epic of Gilgamesh (and some of
the works of Heracles) that gets a full narrative recounting. In his latter pages, he covers the
overlapping of the Old Testament and Genesis with pre-existing lore and historical truth. Several
of his salient points stand out, particularly his refreshingly broad perspective of what is, in
modern times, the fragmented pursuit of knowledge.
Recommended reading for classicists (and budding Indiana Joneses) graduating beyond Edith
Hamilton. —Kirkus Review

About the Author

John K. Lundwall received his undergraduate degree in English Literature from BYU in Provo, Utah, and his Masters and Doctorate degrees in Mythological Studies from Pacifica Graudaute School in Santa Barbara, California. He serves as the chief editor for the online journal Cosmos and Logos: Journal of Myth, Religion, and Folklore. He has presented papers at conferences and international symposiums on his work. His major area of academic study is ancient religious cosmology. Lundwall is also an amateur astronomer and spends many nights gazing through his telescope and teaching people about the stars and constellations. He is married with three children and resides in Utah.

Product details

  • File Size: 5916 KB
  • Print Length: 409 pages
  • Publisher: C&L Press (November 3, 2015)
  • Publication Date: November 3, 2015
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B017L4S5BI
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,223,406 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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