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Christian mythology, Philippe Walter
In this enlightening book, PhilippeWalter reveals what lies behind the worshipedfigures of our calendar: ancient pagandeities that medieval Christianity had toassimilate in order to impose itself onsociety.
The progressiveconstruction of this Christianisedmythology is retraced here, restoringthe coherence of beliefs, customs and rites thatare often misunderstood, but still present inour culture.
Imago| 14 x 22 | 232 pages
Rightssold: Romanian, Croatian, Portuguese(Portugal), Japanese, WorldEnglish
Innine chapters, PhilippeWalter goes through key Christian holidays,including Christmas and Easter,disclosing how they were shaped by pagan myths,while identifying which pagan deitieswere incorporated in saints'representations.
He breaks down howthese were conscious choices of the churchfathers in other to make a smoother transitionto Christianity: under the advise ofPope Gregory the Great, Saint Augustine ofCanterbury was to turn pagan sacred sites intochurches.
Thismeant that polytheistic traditions were to beincorporated in Christian practices, as well asthe other way around: Mary Magdalene was forinstance associated with the Celtic Ladies ofthe Lake. Instead of religious conversion,it was simply a matter of convincing thepopulace to include Jesus in their currentreligious practices.
Inthis account of the history of Christianity, theauthor invites us to view the connectionsbetween the church and paganism with neweyes.
PhilippeWalter is a Professor emeritus ofMedieval French literature at the University ofGrenoble III. He is in charge of the edition andtranslations of the Grail prose novels in the Bibliothèque de la Pléiade (Gallimard).
From his extensivebibliography, we can highlight: Merlinor the World's knowledge (2000), Arthur, the Bear and the King (2002), Galahad, the Apple Tree and theGrail (2004), Arthurianmythology - A dictionary (2014).
Findmore about the author here.
"Itis generally understood that Christianitystrengthened its position early on in thepopular mind by usurping and bending paganrituals and sacred locales. In thisambitious scholarly treatise, professor ofmedieval French literature Walter marries thepagan and Christian calendars in great detail byexamining ancient myths, saints, andcelebrations. [...] While hedoesn’t attack Christianity on its spiritualmerits, he concludes boldly that ‘Christianity would have had no chanceof imposing itself in the West if, on certainpoints of dogma and rites, it had not respondedto the religious needs of the convertedpagans.’ . . .
This volume makes a strong scholarlycontribution to understanding theevolution of belief, where ‘it is important tounderstand that nothing has been lost orcreated."
"Walterwrites in a distinguished academictradition that goes back to Jesse L.Weston and Sir James Frazier. He describes arich complex of pagan, European traditions thatinform Christian ritual. In doing so, heilluminates beliefs that underlie some of ourmost cherished stories and practices. I will recommend this book to mystudents.”
— STEVE HARRIS,ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF ENGLISH, UNIVERSITY OFMASSACHUSETTS
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