Individuals and Materials in the Greco-Roman Cults of Isis Valentino Gasparini and Richard Veymiers present a collection of reflections on the individuals and groups which animated one of Antiquity’s most dynamic, significant and popular religious phenomena: the reception of the cults of Isis and other Egyptian gods throughout the Hellenistic and Roman worlds. These communities, whose members seem to share the same religious identity, for a long time have been studied in a monolithic way through the prism of the Cumontian category of the “Oriental religions”. The 26 contributions of this book, divided into three sections devoted to the “agents”, their “images” and their “practices”, shed new light on this religious movement that appears much more heterogeneous and colorful than previously recognized.
The Tradition of Hermes Trismegistus, Christian H. Bull argues that the treatises attributed to Hermes Trismegistus reflect the spiritual exercises and ritual practices of loosely organized brotherhoods in Egypt. These small groups were directed by Egyptian priests educated in the traditional lore of the temples, but also conversant with Greek philosophy. Such priests, who were increasingly dispossessed with the gradual demise of the Egyptian temples, could find eager adherents among a Greek-speaking audience seeking for the wisdom of the Egyptian Hermes, who was widely considered to be an important source for the philosophies of Pythagoras and Plato. The volume contains a comprehensive analysis of the myths of Hermes Trismegistus, a reevaluation of the Way of Hermes, and a contextualization of this ritual tradition.
Sacred Thresholds. The Door to the Sanctuary in Late Antiquity offers a far-reaching account of boundaries within pagan and Christian sanctuaries: gateways in a precinct, outer doors of a temple or church, inner doors of a
cella. The study of these liminal spaces within Late Antiquity – itself a key period of transition during the spread of Christianity, when cultural paradigms were redefined – demands an approach that is both interdisciplinary and diachronic. Emilie van Opstall brings together both upcoming and noted scholars of Greek and Latin literature and epigraphy, archaeology, art history, philosophy, and religion to discuss the experience of those who crossed from the worldly to the divine, both physically and symbolically. What did this passage from the profane to the sacred mean to them, on a sensory, emotive and intellectual level? Who was excluded, and who was admitted? The articles each offer a unique perspective on pagan and Christian sanctuary doors in the Late Antique Mediterranean.
This volume explores the nature of religious change in the Greek-speaking cities of the Roman Empire. Emphasis is put on those developments that apparently were not the direct result of Roman actions: the intensification of idiosyncratically Greek features in the religious life of the cities (Heller, Muñiz, Camia); the active role of a new kind of Hellenism in the design of imperial religious policies (Gordillo, Galimberti, Rosillo-López); or the locally different responses to central religious initiatives, and the influence of those local responses in other imperial contexts (Cortés, Melfi, Lozano, Rizakis). All the chapters try to suggest that religion in the Greek cities of the empire was both conservative and innovative, and that the ‘Roman factor’ helps to explain this apparent paradox.
Taking seriously critiques of historiography produced in recent decades, Vaia Touna advocates for an alternative approach to the way the past is studied. From Euripides’ tragedy
Hippolytus, to the notion of voluntary associations in the Greco-Roman world, to the authenticity of traditional villages in Greece,
Fabrications of the Greek Past argues that meanings (and thus identities) do not transcend time and space, and neither do they hide deep in the core of material artifacts, awaiting to be discovered by the careful interpreter. Instead, this book demonstrates that meanings are always relative to their present-day context; they are historical products created by social actors through their ever-contemporary acts of identification.
“By disturbing the notion of an easily knowable Greek past, Touna makes an invaluable contribution to critical scholarship regarding ancient cultures and to contemporary theory about ideological uses of history.”
- Naomi Goldenberg, University of Ottawa
“From an insider to Greek tradition, expert in its modern appropriations and translations,
Fabrications is an important stimulus to metatheory and self-reflexivity in the study of religion, ancient and contemporary.”
- Gerhard van den Heever, University of South Africa
“Vaia Touna expertly dissects modern discourses on the past, arguing that our contemporary interests don't just
color our accounts of the past, they
constitute them. A fantastic book.”
- Brent Nongbri, author of
Before Religion: A History of a Modern Concept
Exercices d’histoire des religions is a collection of the most important articles published by Philippe Borgeaud during his career as the professor of history of religions at the University of Geneva (Switzerland). These nineteen studies showcase the many reflections of the Swiss scholar of religion on the categories and tools used to describe and compare such evanescent concepts as “religions”, “myths” and “rituals”, and his methodology for a critical and comparative study of ancient and modern religions. Through them, readers will gain a clear understanding of the importance such an approach can wield in the contemporary discussions and dissents about religions.
Exercices d’histoire des religions rassemble les articles les plus importants publiés par Philippe Borgeaud durant sa carrière en tant que professeur d’histoire des religions à l’Université de Genève. Ces dix-neuf enquêtes illustrent les réflexions du savant suisse sur les outils et catégories utilisés par l’historien des religions pour décrire et comparer des concepts aussi évanescents que les « religions », les « mythes » ou les « rituels », et sur le rôle joué par les émotions dans leur élaboration.
À travers eux, le lecteur est amené à découvrir la méthode développée par Philippe Borgeaud pour étudier de manière critique et comparative les religions antiques et modernes, une approche sans doute fondamentale pour mieux saisir les discussions et controverses contemporaines sur ce sujet.