REVIEW SYMPOSIUM Walter Burkert, The Creation of the Sacred: Tracks of Biology in Early Religions. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1996. xii + 255 pp. ISBN 0-674-17569-7. INTRODUCTION WILLY BRAUN The observation that practically all tribes, states, and cities have some form of religion has been made repeatedly, ever since Heroditus. An- cient philosophers made this "consensus of nations" proof for the exist- ence of the gods. The question is not whether ethnographers may still find a few exceptions to that consensus; it is the universality of the consensus that is to be explained.... The ubiquity of religion is matched by its persistence through the millennia. It evidently has sur- vived most drastic social and economic changes: the neolithic revolu- tion, the urban revolution, and even the industrial revolution. If religion was ever invented, it has managed to infiltrate practically all varieties of human cultures; in the course of history, however, religion has never been demonstrably reinvented but has always been there, carried on from generation to generation since time immemorial. So begins Walter Burkert's Creation of the Sacred. Like any good book, its opening lines anticipate the territory over which the reader can expect to travel. Unlike
Method & Theory in the Study of Religion – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 1998
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