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Death and the Afterlife: A Cultural Encyclopediaby Richard P. Taylor
Synopses & Reviews
Readers of Death and the Afterlife: A Cultural Encyclopedia will find that spending time with death is life-giving in most cultures today and throughout history. The Underworld, whether the Greek Hades or the Chinese Yellow Springs, is not just a repository of the dead, but the source of fertility, wealth, and hidden wisdom bestowed only upon the adventurous who cross the border between this world and the next.
This comprehensive reference work contains hundreds of entries on the sometimes obscure, complicated, and mysterious (but always fascinating) funeral customs of dozens of cultures. More than a gathering of information, this reference draws out the underlying meaning of funeral and afterlife traditions. Each entry is extensively documented and includes the insights of thoughtful native authors and commentaries directly related to the cultural topic at hand. A topic finder by culture, a bibliography, an index, and primary source references are included.
Book News Annotation:
This encyclopedia focuses on mythical ideas of death and the afterlife; cultural traditions concerning death, dying and the afterlife; religious and ethnic funeral rites around the world; and customs and ceremonies for the dead. Taylor (religious studies, U. of California-Berkeley) aims his work at a general, but thinking audience. He assumes little background in comparative religion, folklore, history, archaeology, or linguistics, and he's used popular translations of classics rather than scholarly editions. The entries are thoughtfully written, and the topics are treated with context in mind—that is, their links to other traditions in the same and other cultures are described. Each entry contains cross-references and a bibliography, and arrangement is alphabetical. Indexing is in depth, and some b&w illustrations are included.
Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
This cultural encyclopedia examines customs and beliefs relating to death and burial in clear, well written articles covering most major religious and cultural traditions from prehistoric to modern times.
• Each entry is extensively documented and includes the insights of native authors and commentaries directly related to the cultural topic at hand
• Includes hundreds of entries, each extensively documented and enriched with insights of native authors
• A bibliography and primary source references are included
What can we learn from the study of death and burial practices throughout world history? This essential reference draws out the underlying meaning of funeral and afterlife traditions and makes available a variety of human responses to that most fundamental reality in the cycle of life: death.
From prehistoric to modern times, death and burial have been intimately connected to culture and religion. This encyclopedia covers humankind's traditions in a clear, approachable way.
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