Divinity and History

Book Details

Author  Thomas Harrison
Publisher  Clarendon Press
Publication Date   September 21, 2000
ISBN  0198152914
Pages  336

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Critics of Herodotus have generally shown an unease in the face of the religious passages of the Histories, a sense that he 'lets himself down' by delving into matters irrelevant to the proper purpose of history. They have tended consequently to latch on to isolated instances of scepticism in an attempt to vindicate Herodotus from imagined charges of obscurantism. Historians of Greek religion, on the other hand, by their concentration on ritual as the central feature of Greek religious experience, have often neglected the value of literary sources as evidence of religious belief; indeed the term belief has become something of a dirty word. In this book, the first full-length study of the subject in English, Dr Harrison not only places Herodotus' religious beliefs at the centre of his conception of history, but - by seeing instances of scepticism and of belief in relation to one another, and by the use of analogy from anthropological literature - also redresses the recent emphasis on the centrality of ritual.

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