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J., E. (1921). Pagan and Christian Creeds: Their Origin and Meaning: By Edward Carpenter (George Allen and Unwin, Ltd., London. Pp. 318. Price 10s. 6d.).. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 2:141-143.

(1921). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 2:141-143

Pagan and Christian Creeds: Their Origin and Meaning: By Edward Carpenter (George Allen and Unwin, Ltd., London. Pp. 318. Price 10s. 6d.).

Review by:
E. J.

This is a book that would be useful to every psycho-analyst. It contains in a handy and readable form material that is not readily accessible otherwise. It has the superiority over the usual text-books of mythology in embracing a wider scope, taking into account the work done during the past century by anthropologists as well. The subjects dealt with include a comparative study of the solar myths, Christmas festivals, totem-sacraments, rites of expiation, initiation, and redemption, saviour-gods and virgin-mothers, the sex-taboo, magicians, kings and gods, food and vegetation magic — in short, the whole evolution of religion and allied phenomena. Two chapters deal with the genesis and exodus of Christianity respectively.

Scholars might find a good deal to criticise in the details of the work, especially as the material is all gathered at second or third hand; and the author is not over-discriminating in his choice of authorities, appearing to rely equally on men like Reinach and less trustworthy writers such as J. M. Robertson and Andrew Lang. But the broad outlines of what he has to present are sound enough, and, after all, he is avowedly acting as a transmitter between the expert and the uninformed. Not that he confines himself to playing this part. Much of what he has to say has been transmuted by his own general outlook on life, which is at once poetic and rationalistic. Of the three main naturalistic theories of myths and religions his view is that the phallic cults came first, the cult of magic and the propitiation of earth-divinities and spirits (including vegetation magic) came second, and only last came the belief in definite God-figures residing in heaven (including the solar, lunar and stellar myths).

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