The Other God: Dualist Religions from Antiquity to the Cathar Heresy (Yale Nota Bene) Paperback – 2 Oct 2000
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"A book of prime importance for anyone interested in the history of religious dualism. The author's knowledge of relevant original sources is remarkable; and he has distilled them into a convincing and very readable whole." -- Sir Steven Runciman
"A splendid account of the decline of the dualist tradition in the East . . . both strong and accessible. . . . The most readable account of Balkan heresy ever." -- Jeffrey B. Russell, Journal of Religion
"The most fascinating historical detective story since Steven Runciman's Sicilian Vespers." -- Colin Wilson
"Well-written, fact-filled and fascinating...has in it the making of a classic." -- Harry T. Norris, Bulletin of SOAS
'Superbly erudite, this is a demanding but fascinating account' -- Phil Baker, The Sunday Times, 7 October 2001
About the Author
Stoyanov is a distinguished researcher based at the Warburg Institute, London University.
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Top Customer Reviews
Based on some other reading I'd done in this area, I had low expectations for this book. As I read it, the beginning didn't grab me. I didn't see where it was leading. But every new 50 pages seemed better than the preceding 50, not because the preceding 50 wasn't good, but because the latest 50 tied all the earlier pages together. It just kept getting better and better.
If you like reading about the Cathars, "The Other God" is even better. It shows the roots of Catharism, way back to Armenia and before. It tells the Cathar history. It discusses the Cathar beliefs. It's all very scholarly, with the main 294 pages backed up by 126 pages of footnotes and a select bibliography of 32 pages. Items that get alluded to in other books on the Cathars get discussed in depth here, such as the contribution of the Bogamils to Catharism. Not to mention the earlier contributions of Zoroaster, Mani, and Mithraism. Stoyanov is thoroughness incarnate.
If you've read the "Da Vinci Code" or "Holy Blood, Holy Grail", you'll recall the claim that Mary Magdalene had been Jesus's wife. You might have read discussions about that without hearing where it originated. Stoyanov points out that the Cathars introduced that belief (which isn't found in Bogamilism). No evidence it was based on fact (just as a lot in the Bible doesn't have factual support) but the belief did have a function: it at the least gave a higher status to women, something that many women who read the "Da Vinci Code" resonated with.Read more ›
Whilst some apparently deep scholarship has gone into this book (fully one-third of the 467 or so pages in this book comprises the notes and bibliography) and yet it is written so as to be easily accessible to the general reader, it's ultimately deeply unsatisfying.
Why so? Well firstly, there are factual mistakes and misattributions. To take examples over a couple of pages: Diocletian abdicated in 305 so was not publishing edicts in 307; Julian became emperor in 360 not 361; the Persian rock relief alluded to in Taq-e Bostan is regarded by most scholars as in fact depicting the first Sassanid king Ardashir I and his son Shapur I along with their 'guardian angel' Izad Bahran standing over the body of the deposed last Parthian king Artabanes IV, rather than Shapur II and Mithra standing over Julian; the edict outlawing other religions in 380 was not a Theodosian edict, but a joint edict of Theodosius, Gratian and Valentinian II (admittedly the latter of these three was powerless and emperor in name only, but Gratian was just as religiously zealous as Theodosius in his Catholicism). Granted, these kind of errors are not directly relevant to the subject of the book, but it just makes one wonder about the accuracy of the scholarship in general when even basic facts are incorrect.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
He's interested in the Bogomils, and in the Cathars, and the Manicheans, but not much in other kinds of dualists. Read morePublished on 1 July 2014 by Jezza
this book was bought as a present and I have had no feedback as it was sent to Turkey last yearPublished on 13 Dec. 2013 by deggsie
So little research has been done on dualist religions. This wide ranging and thoroughly researched book is a marvelous introduction.Published on 2 Nov. 2013 by MRS M K MARKARIAN
One of the best written books I've read for a long time. That detail, content and knowledge are exemplary and would reccomend to anyone interested in dualism or the Bogomils and... Read morePublished on 20 April 2012 by andy w
The history of secret societies and sects will not be the same after the publication of this book. The amount of new and frequently astonishing information concerning ancient and... Read morePublished on 27 Oct. 2000
This book offers an astonishing amount of information on very little known religions and heretical secret movements from ancient Egypt to Siberia. Read morePublished on 19 Oct. 2000
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