The Religion of the Mithras Cult in the Roman Empire: Mysteries of the Unconquered Sun

The Religion of the Mithras Cult in the Roman Empire: Mysteries of the Unconquered Sun

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By (author) Roger Beck

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  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Format: Paperback | 304 pages
  • Dimensions: 156mm x 232mm x 20mm | 458g
  • Publication date: 17 May 2007
  • Publication City/Country: Oxford
  • ISBN 10: 0199216134
  • ISBN 13: 9780199216130
  • Illustrations note: 17 figures
  • Sales rank: 451,487

Product description

A study of the religious system of Mithraism, one of the 'mystery cults' popular in the Roman Empire contemporary with early Christianity. Roger Beck describes Mithraism from the point of view of the initiate engaging with the religion and its rich symbolic system in thought, word, ritual action, and cult life. He employs the methods of anthropology of religion and the new cognitive science of religion to explore in detail the semiotics of the Mysteries' astral symbolism, which has been the principal subject of his many previous publications on the cult.

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Author information

Roger Beck is Professor Emeritus, at the University of Toronto.

Review quote

Given Beck's credentials and his reputation as an erudite scholar of the enigmatic mysteries of Mithras, one might rightly expect that this book would break new ground. Beck does not disappoint. The book is engagingly written and is an exemplar of how scholarship can be pursued in a fair, engaging manner. Richard S. Ascough, Studies in Religion This makes for an interesting eclectic journey through one of the most mysterious cults in the Roman Empire... Throughout the book this interpretative scheme is filled out with impressively meticulous analysis of the textual evidence, the symbolic structutre of the mithraeum, and the tauroctony. Anders Lisdorf, Journal of Roman Studies In learned and fascinationg detail, he explains the mithraeum as both symbolically and actually as a representation of the universe. Inga Mantle, The Journal of Classics Teaching not only compulsory reading for any scholar or student working on Mithraism, but ought to be taken full account of also by anyone with an interest in the study of ancient religion in general ... the persistent reader will be rewarded with the rich experience of having his or her thoughts continuously provoked by a great historian of ancient religion in the course of his attempts to make sense of the fascinating phenomena that were the Mithraic mysteries. Ted Kaiser, Ancient West & East

Table of contents

1. Introduction to interpreting the mysteries: old ways, new ways ; 2. Old ways: the reconstruction of Mithraic doctrine from iconography ; 3. The problem of referents: interpretation with reference to what? ; 4. Doctrine redefined ; TRANSITION: FROM OLD WAYS TO NEW WAYS ; 5. The Mithraic mysteries as symbol system. 1. Introduction and comparisons ; 6. Cognition and representation ; 7. The Mithraic mysteries as symbol system. 2. The mithraeum ; 8. Star-talk: the symbols of the Mithraic mysteries as language signs ; 9. The Mithraic mysteries as symbol system. 3. The tauroctony ; 10. Excursus