Death, Burial and Rebirth in the Religions of Antiquity (Religion in the First Christian Centuries)
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In Death, Burial and Rebirth in the Religions of Antiquity, Jon Davies charts the significance of death to the emerging religious cults in the pre-Christian and early Christian world. He analyses the varied burial rituals and examines the different notions of the afterlife. Among the areas covered are:
* Osiris and Isis: the life theology of Ancient Egypt
* burying the Jewish dead
* Roman religion and Roman funerals
* Early Christian burial
* the nature of martyrdom.
Jon Davies also draws on the sociological theory of Max Weber to present a comprehensive introduction to and overview of death, burial and the afterlife in the first Christian centuries which offers insights into the relationship between social change and attitudes to death and dying.
origins, provided the moral template for the self-denying lives of the nun in her celibacy, of the mother in her selflessness, of the worker in his faithfulness, of the scholar in his dedication, of the wife and husband in their chastity, of the pilgrim in his fortitude, of the child in its obedience, of the soldier in his self-sacrifice. The common theme is self-sacrifice, self-denial, self-control—the martyr-heroes and heroines of day-to-day life. Give light, O Lord, that we may trace In
conferring ownership of land and chattels. Bayliss suggests that for ordinary people, the cultic responsibilities seem to have been restricted to the grandparental generation, and should not therefore be seen as a multigenerational tribal descent-line ritual (Bayliss 1973:121-2). This perhaps reflects the sense that ordinary humans had that their arrangements lacked the support of the gods, a sense in which Mesopotamian thanatology is very unlike the Egyptian. Rites for the monarch, however,
the benign creation of the gods, the world, the animals, the plants. Humanity is a natural part of the creativity of the gods. In Zoroastrianism, man is created by god in his own image. In the Hebrew creation story, in Genesis, creation is presented as completed and perfected by the creation of humanity. As Rabbi Nehemiah put it, and he was only one of many sages who saw it this way, 'one man is equal to the entire work of creation' (Bialik and Ravnitzky 1992:575.3): humanity is created in the
death to life; and having wrenched man from destruction, He hath raised him to the skies, transplanting mortality into immortality, and translating earth to heaven. (ibid.: 102) The corollary, of course, was just as absolute a damnation for those who are hostile to the Christian message, especially heretics, described by Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage (martyred 258 CE) as: Pests and plagues to the faith, snake-tongued deceivers, skilled corrupters of the truth, spewing deadly venom from their
mobilising armies of evil demons and archdemons in a permanent war with Ahura Mazda, the source of goodness and life. In the 'time of mixture' (i.e. this world until it is saved) he kills all levels of creation—the sky, the waters, the soil, fire and all original (i.e. living) creations: the original plant, original animal, original human (Cohn 1993:96). 'Official' Judaism set its face against such dualism. God creates everything, the creation is good, nature and everything else is subordinate