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The Origins of the Mithraic Mysteries: Cosmology and Salvation in the Ancient World Paperback – 1 Mar 1991


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Product details

  • Paperback: 170 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; New Ed edition (1 Mar 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195067886
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195067880
  • Product Dimensions: 21 x 1.1 x 14 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 659,635 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'Ulansey contributes important new ideas and presents them in clear and well punctuated stages, avoiding the abstruse technicalities which might have deterred non-astronomers.' Classical Review 'Dr Ulansey's extremely interesting book throws a completely new light on the origin of the Mithras religion.' B.L. van der Werden, University of Zurich '(Puts) the development of western Mithraism in an utterly new perspective.' Martin Schwartz, University of California, Berkeley 'the first new attempt to find a global explanation for the mysteries of the god Mithra ... For this exceedingly difficult endeavor, the scholar of Boston University should be commended ... major contribution to this new trend of research.' Ioan P. Culianu, University of Chicago, The Journal of Religion

From the Author

Synopsis:
The teachings of the ancient Roman "mystery religion" of Mithraism-- one of the most important competitors of early Christianity-- were guarded with the utmost secrecy, revealed only to select initiates. While the Mithraists never wrote down their secret doctrines, they did leave a key to them in the cryptic iconography that filled the walls of their underground temples. Until now, all attempts to decipher this iconography have proven fruitless. Most experts have been content with a vague hypothesis that these images somehow derived from ancient Iranian religion. In this groundbreaking work, David Ulansey offers a radically different theory. He argues that Mithraic iconography was actually an *astronomical code*, and that the cult began as a religious response to a startling scientific discovery. As his investigation proceeds, Ulansey penetrates step by step the mysteries concealed in Mithraic iconography, until finally he is able to reveal the central secret of the cult: a secret consisting of an ancient vision of the ultimate nature of the universe.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Of the many riddles left to us by antiquity, none is more intriguing than that of the ancient Roman religion known as the Mithraic mysteries. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 16 Dec 1999
Format: Paperback
This is simply an excellent piece of work, which confidently challenges the Iranian hypothesis of Cumont by arguing for an astronomical rather than comsogonic interpretation of the tauroctony and questioning Cumont's "circular" proof for a Zoroastrian genesis to Roman Mithraism. Shoul be read alongside Cumont, however, so that a possible synthesis between the two Mithraic scholars can be proposed. Beautifully illustrated and written in a racy style that will appeal to the non-specialist whilst not insulting the scholar.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 23 Aug 1998
Format: Paperback
The author is careful to document his sources and makes no assumptions in his evaluations. The book is specifically written to disclose the origins of the Mithraic Mysteries. Thus, specific discussions of rituals, etc. are left to the reader to obtain from other sources. I felt that the author did an excellent job in sticking to the intent of the book, and the book is a nice source for anyone interested in learning HOW Mithratism originally developed, and WHY it was so popular during the time of the first century A.D. You do not have to be a scholar to understand this work, and I applaud the author for a job well done.
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Format: Paperback
A plausible and well-argued exploration of the origins of the Mithras Mystery School. While readers looking for reconstructed rituals may be disappointed, this book offers a coherent and satisfying account of the cosmic mystery at the very heart of the cult's iconography and teachings. As such, it can also offer the general reader a valuable insight into the way religion evolves.
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Format: Paperback
A book very well written. David Ulansey is obviously extremely knowledgeable in astrology and symbolism and his presentation is compelling. I would have liked though to have a clearer connection to the role Mithraism played in the Roman Empire world. Mr. Ulansey is not promising more than the origins of the Mithraic Mysteries, this is very true. However, there seem to be a gap between the pirates of Cilicia and the Roman Empire. I'm still looking for that clear connection.
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