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Author Topic: A History of Pagan Europe  (Read 5834 times)

RandallS

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A History of Pagan Europe
« on: August 05, 2013, 06:47:34 pm »


Title: A History of Pagan Europe
Author(s): Prudence Jones and Nigel Pennick
Publisher: Routledge
Publication Date: 1997
ISBN: 0415158044
ISBN-13: 978-0415158046
Current Price and More Info from Amazon

[size=+1]Description:[/size]
The first comprehensive study of its kind, this fully illustrated book establishes Paganism as a persistent force in European history with a profound influence on modern thinking.

From the serpent goddesses of ancient Crete to modern nature-worship and the restoration of the indigenous religions of eastern Europe, this wide-ranging book offers a rewarding new perspective of European history.

In this definitive study, Prudence Jones and Nigel Pennick draw together the fragmented sources of Europe's native religions and establish the coherence and continuity of the Pagan world vision. Exploring Paganism as it developed from the ancient world through the Celtic and Germanic periods, the authors finally appraise modern Paganism and its apparent causes as well as addressing feminist spirituality, the heritage movement, nature-worship and `deep' ecology

This innovative and comprehensive history of European Paganism will provide a stimulating, reliable guide to this popular dimension of religious culture for the academic and the general reader alike.

[size=+1]Special Notes:[/size]


[size=-1]Legal Notes: Some description text and item pictures in this post may come from Amazon.com and are used by permission. The Cauldron is an Amazon Affiliate and purchases made through the Amazon links in this message help support The Cauldron.[/size]

[size=+1]Discussion and reviews of this book are welcome in this thread. If you've read the book, please tell us what you think of it and why.[/size]
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Cabal

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Re: A History of Pagan Europe
« Reply #1 on: August 05, 2013, 08:03:28 pm »
Quote from: RandallS;118000


Title: A History of Pagan Europe
Author(s): Prudence Jones and Nigel Pennick
Publisher: Routledge
Publication Date: 1997
ISBN: 0415158044
ISBN-13: 978-0415158046
Current Price and More Info from Amazon

[size=+1]Description:[/size]
The first comprehensive study of its kind, this fully illustrated book establishes Paganism as a persistent force in European history with a profound influence on modern thinking.

From the serpent goddesses of ancient Crete to modern nature-worship and the restoration of the indigenous religions of eastern Europe, this wide-ranging book offers a rewarding new perspective of European history.

In this definitive study, Prudence Jones and Nigel Pennick draw together the fragmented sources of Europe's native religions and establish the coherence and continuity of the Pagan world vision. Exploring Paganism as it developed from the ancient world through the Celtic and Germanic periods, the authors finally appraise modern Paganism and its apparent causes as well as addressing feminist spirituality, the heritage movement, nature-worship and `deep' ecology

This innovative and comprehensive history of European Paganism will provide a stimulating, reliable guide to this popular dimension of religious culture for the academic and the general reader alike.

[size=+1]Special Notes:[/size]


[size=-1]Legal Notes: Some description text and item pictures in this post may come from Amazon.com and are used by permission. The Cauldron is an Amazon Affiliate and purchases made through the Amazon links in this message help support The Cauldron.[/size]

[size=+1]Discussion and reviews of this book are welcome in this thread. If you've read the book, please tell us what you think of it and why.[/size]

 
Great book for anyone interested in the ancient pagan religions of Europe!
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Naomi J

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Re: A History of Pagan Europe
« Reply #2 on: August 06, 2013, 06:37:22 am »
Quote from: Cryfder;118013
Great book for anyone interested in the ancient pagan religions of Europe!

 
It's very interesting, but I had some issues with it. The tendency to conflate all pagan religions worried me a bit. This was clear from their use of 'Pagan' with a capital P for all these very different religions - and even more clear in their discussion of the British Isles and pre-Christian religions, which they set against Christianity in a very specific way that isn't particularly accurate. They also suggested that there was a clear link between ancient pre-Christian religions and neopaganism, as though modern Paganism is simply a revival of ancient religions. As we all know, it's not nearly that simple.

But despite that ideology, the book has some good history, and is a fascinating read if you want a survey of European pre-Christian religions. It's not too hard to read, not being an academic book.
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A History of Pagan Europe
« Reply #3 on: August 06, 2013, 07:04:40 am »
Quote from: Naomi J;118045
It's very interesting, but I had some issues with it. The tendency to conflate all pagan religions worried me a bit. This was clear from their use of 'Pagan' with a capital P for all these very different religions - and even more clear in their discussion of the British Isles and pre-Christian religions, which they set against Christianity in a very specific way that isn't particularly accurate. They also suggested that there was a clear link between ancient pre-Christian religions and neopaganism, as though modern Paganism is simply a revival of ancient religions. As we all know, it's not nearly that simple.

But despite that ideology, the book has some good history, and is a fascinating read if you want a survey of European pre-Christian religions. It's not too hard to read, not being an academic book.

I just started reading this book yesterday and I'm finding some similar issues with it, Naomi. I appreciate the "evidence" from ancient cultures (it's all fascinating) but I can't accept too much of their conclusions.
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Re: A History of Pagan Europe
« Reply #4 on: August 07, 2013, 06:10:40 am »
Quote from: Naomi J;118045
It's very interesting, but I had some issues with it. The tendency to conflate all pagan religions worried me a bit. This was clear from their use of 'Pagan' with a capital P for all these very different religions - and even more clear in their discussion of the British Isles and pre-Christian religions, which they set against Christianity in a very specific way that isn't particularly accurate. They also suggested that there was a clear link between ancient pre-Christian religions and neopaganism, as though modern Paganism is simply a revival of ancient religions. As we all know, it's not nearly that simple.

But despite that ideology, the book has some good history, and is a fascinating read if you want a survey of European pre-Christian religions. It's not too hard to read, not being an academic book.

 
Yes, this. (Though Routledge is an academic press, I don't know if it was published AS an academic text, if that makes sense--publishing companies often have divisions/imprints/etc.)  The whole Pagan-with-a-capital-P, smushy-smushy thing is irritating as HELL, but now all that unusual for the period in which it was published (1997). If you treat it as a broad survey and an inspiration for further reading, rather than any kind of definitive statement about the ancient pagan religions of Europe, you'll be fine. It's actually kind of similar in spirit to Michael York's Pagan Theology, which IIRC is of similar vintage, in which he attempts to make a case for all Pagan religions (including, as he says, Hinduism, Shinto, indigenous religions) having an underlying similar theology, which, NO--that is such a problematic, colonialist argument, and completely ignores the VASTLY DIFFERENT historical/cultural situations of modern Pagan revivalists vs. ongoing non-Western religions. But actually, I find Jones and Pennick far less problematic: even though their overall argument is wildly flawed, they've got a nice survey of information, and it's useful in a way York could never be.

RandallS

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Re: A History of Pagan Europe
« Reply #5 on: August 07, 2013, 08:08:07 am »
Quote from: Naomi J;118045
But despite that ideology, the book has some good history, and is a fascinating read if you want a survey of European pre-Christian religions.

I agree, it's a pretty good survey of European pre-Christian religions and the historical context is generally good from what I remember of the book. But some of the conclusions the authors draw seem to be out of left field and generally unsupported by evidence. So long as you take those conclusions with a large dose of salt, this book is a worthwhile read.
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Aiwelin

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Re: A History of Pagan Europe
« Reply #6 on: August 07, 2013, 02:39:36 pm »
Quote from: RandallS;118245
I agree, it's a pretty good survey of European pre-Christian religions and the historical context is generally good from what I remember of the book. But some of the conclusions the authors draw seem to be out of left field and generally unsupported by evidence. So long as you take those conclusions with a large dose of salt, this book is a worthwhile read.

 
Thanks for the thread Randall!  I finished reading this book recently and really enjoyed it - I agree that the conclusions were a bit wild, but imo the authors didn't spend a lot of time making conclusions, most of it was just awesome history.  I may have missed some inferences along the way, so I may go back over it again more carefully.

I was disappointed by the major focus on Greek and Roman cultures.  I got through those first few chapters, loving the breadth and depth of discussion; but I felt like when the authors moved on to Celtic, Norse, and especially Slavic cultures, everything was condensed and a bit watered-down.  For instance, the authors mentioned that Lithuania was one of the last hold-outs of Paganism in Europe, remaining unconquered for many years, but there were almost no details about deities or folk customs as was present in the Greek and Roman chapters.

I also felt there was quite a bit of anti-Christian bias in there; perhaps to compensate for the anti-Pagan bias of the source material, but I feel like it went too far in the other direction.
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stephyjh

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Re: A History of Pagan Europe
« Reply #7 on: August 07, 2013, 02:55:36 pm »
Quote from: Sage;118046
I just started reading this book yesterday and I'm finding some similar issues with it, Naomi. I appreciate the "evidence" from ancient cultures (it's all fascinating) but I can't accept too much of their conclusions.

 
Seconding this. I mean, it's a good "for dummies" overview, and it's a good place to start, but it's not the kind of in-depth work that I would find terribly useful.
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That what is no sense must be nonsense.

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Re: A History of Pagan Europe
« Reply #8 on: June 16, 2015, 11:31:32 am »
Quote from: catja6;118239
Yes, this. (Though Routledge is an academic press, I don't know if it was published AS an academic text, if that makes sense--publishing companies often have divisions/imprints/etc.)  The whole Pagan-with-a-capital-P, smushy-smushy thing is irritating as HELL, but now all that unusual for the period in which it was published (1997). If you treat it as a broad survey and an inspiration for further reading, rather than any kind of definitive statement about the ancient pagan religions of Europe, you'll be fine.

 
I agree that it would make more sense as an esoteric book rather than an academic book in terms of how it is framed. I doubt an academic author would write a survey book including so many cultures though.  There aren't very books about pan-European pre-Christian religions generally, so I believe this is why ADF includes it on its recommended reading list for Indo-European studies- it's far more accessible than the IE studies books on the list in spite of its flaws.

I read this back in college, need to re-read & write a review for the Dedicant program, when I do I'll post it here.

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Re: A History of Pagan Europe
« Reply #9 on: February 10, 2016, 09:40:42 am »
Quote from: catja6;118239
If you treat it as a broad survey and an inspiration for further reading, rather than any kind of definitive statement about the ancient pagan religions of Europe, you'll be fine.


I purchased this book - used - as one of the background texts for ADF's "Dedicant" program.  I found it a quite interesting read and accessible as an academic text.  As an introduction to this material it encouraged me to explore the topic(s) further that not all scholarly books necessarily do?  That's all I can say at this point.  I enjoyed reading it and it gave me much to think about... I look forward to re-reading it again and comparing the authors views to other similar texts.  It was well worth what I paid for it used, which is important for those of us on budget!
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Re: A History of Pagan Europe
« Reply #10 on: February 10, 2016, 01:38:52 pm »
Quote from: njsquarebear;186421
I purchased this book - used - as one of the background texts for ADF's "Dedicant" program.  I found it a quite interesting read and accessible as an academic text.  As an introduction to this material it encouraged me to explore the topic(s) further that not all scholarly books necessarily do?  That's all I can say at this point.  I enjoyed reading it and it gave me much to think about... I look forward to re-reading it again and comparing the authors views to other similar texts.  It was well worth what I paid for it used, which is important for those of us on budget!

 

Same here - used it for the DP and borrowed it from a friend.  It was very accessible and a quick read.  I was disappointed at the lack of depths in most of the chapters.  However, the information on Rome and Roman paganism was extensive in contrast.  I did really like the information on the Balts, but the rest of the book left me with a "take it or leave it" attitude.

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