Cover: A Million and One Gods: The Persistence of Polytheism, from Harvard University PressCover: A Million and One Gods in HARDCOVER

A Million and One Gods

The Persistence of Polytheism

Add to Cart

Product Details

HARDCOVER

$34.50 • £27.95 • €31.00

ISBN 9780674728837

Publication Date: 06/16/2014

Text

208 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

World

Many people worship not just one but many gods. Yet a relentless prejudice against polytheism denies legitimacy to some of the world’s oldest and richest religious traditions. In her examination of polytheistic cultures both ancient and contemporary—those of Greece and Rome, the Bible and the Quran, as well as modern India—Page duBois refutes the idea that the worship of multiple gods naturally evolves over time into the “higher” belief in a single deity. In A Million and One Gods, she shows that polytheism has endured intact for millennia even in the West, despite the many hidden ways that monotheistic thought continues to shape Western outlooks.

In English usage, the word “polytheism” comes from the seventeenth-century writings of Samuel Purchas. It was pejorative from the beginning—a word to distinguish the belief system of backward peoples from the more theologically advanced religion of Protestant Christians. Today, when monotheistic fundamentalisms too often drive people to commit violent acts, polytheism remains a scandalous presence in societies still oriented according to Jewish, Christian, and Muslim beliefs. Even in the multicultural milieus of twenty-first-century America and Great Britain, polytheism finds itself marginalized. Yet it persists, perhaps because polytheism corresponds to unconscious needs and deeply held values of tolerance, diversity, and equality that are central to civilized societies.

Recent News

Black lives matter. Black voices matter. A statement from HUP »

From Our Blog

Jacket: Atomic Doctors: Conscience and Complicity at the Dawn of the Nuclear Age, by James L. Nolan, Jr., from Harvard University Press

Remembering Hiroshima

On this day 75 years ago, the United States dropped the world’s first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan. James L. Nolan Jr.’s grandfather was a doctor who participated in the Manhattan Project, and he writes about him in Atomic Doctors: Conscience and Complicity at the Dawn of the Nuclear Age, an unflinching examination of the moral and professional dilemmas faced by physicians who took part in the project. Below, please find the introduction to Nolan’s book. On the morning of June 17, 1945, Captain James F. Nolan, MD, boarded a plane