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Jeffrey Burton Russell

Författare till A History of Witchcraft - Sorcerers, Heretics, & Pagans

17+ verk 2,517 medlemmar 14 recensioner 5 favoritmärkta

Om författaren

Jeffrey Burton Russell (Ph.D., Emory University) is professor emeritus of history at the University of California-Santa Barbara, where he taught from 1979 to 1988. He has also taught at the University of Mexico, Harvard, University of California-Riverside, Notre Dame and California State visa mer University-Sacramento. Russell has published numerous books and articles in his area of expertise, the history of theology. Early in his academic career, Russell was honored as a Fulbright Fellow, Harvard Junior Fellow and Guggenheim Fellow. visa färre


Verk av Jeffrey Burton Russell

Associerade verk

Facing Evil: Light at the Core of Darkness (1988) — Bidragsgivare — 47 exemplar
The Blackwell Companion to the Study of Religion (2006) — Bidragsgivare — 42 exemplar


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This book tackles the history of the Christian perception of evil, from the start of Christianity to the fifth century. While I have very little background in theology, I still found this book understandable & interesting. The author does a good job of describing beliefs & how they arose, then explaining why they continued, changed, or died out.
brp6kk | 1 annan recension | Nov 26, 2023 |
Well, I haven't read this one cover to cover, but I've read enough to know that I would not trust anything it says without further verification. For example, he talks on pages 45 and 46 about a Norse divinitory practice called seith which, he claims is attested in the Edda, Seith is not mentioned in either Edda. It's sole mention in the sagas comes from the Saga or Erik the Red, It's significantly different than described in the book.
The passage quoted in the book is not from the Edda at all, but from Grimm's Teutonic Mythology, Vol 3, page 1043
There are several other errors - notably in the confusion betwixt witchcraft and sorcery and the confusion between diabolical arts and either.
Poorly written and attested - an illustration of Diana indicates she led the Wild Hunt, which was a bit far north for her to go, and there is no evidence of this either.
Errors of fact, errors in logic, mis-attribution of sources..I expected better from a full professor in the UC system.
One star for nice pictures and decent printing. Save your money.
… (mer)
dhaxton | Nov 30, 2022 |
Fascinating exploration of the development of the Western, Christian idea of the personification of evil. The mid-70's anthropological methodology, however, now reads as paternalistic and condescending to anything pre-Christ, but we can forgive him because he was of the V. Gordon Childe era, as well as being firmly in the Jungian camp, which struck me as delightfully antiquated. His break down of pre-Hellenistic faith structures was also limited to what the Church Fathers deigned to assimilate into the nascent Christian faith. His ideas of evil, whether it is natural or moral, how and where in a divine world or body of divine beings it resides, were the most compelling arguments. His assertion that our current ideation of evil is contemporary with Christian thought is also dated, but those are my only qualms with the book. Enjoyed it, will look out for his "Witchcraft in the Middle Ages".… (mer)
MaryJeanPhillips | 3 andra recensioner | Jun 22, 2022 |
Pros: quite thorough in some areas, decent number of images, very interesting subject matter

Cons: fair amount of repetition, some sections could have been fleshed out more

This is the third book in Russell’s history of the devil, following The Devil: Perceptions of Evil from Antiquity to Primitive Christianity and Satan: The Early Christian Tradition. It examines the development of the history and figure of the devil during the middle ages, considering issues like when and why he fell, what he looks like, what his powers are, his role in the fall of mankind and its subsequent salvation by Christ, and whether God is ultimately responsible for the devil's actions.

The book has 11 chapters: The Life of Lucifer; The Devil in Byzantium; The Muslim Devil; Folklore; Early Medieval Diabology; Lucifer in Early Medieval Art & Literature; The Devil and the Scholars; Lucifer in High Medieval Art & Literature; Lucifer on the Stage; Nominialists, Mystics, & Witches; and The Existence of the Devil. The book also has an essay on the sources used, a bibliography and an index.

Due to the nature of the topic and how people and institutions wrote either building on the past or opposing the writings of others (writings that were deemed heretical), there’s a fair amount of repetition. It’s really interesting seeing the slow development of ideas. The book focuses mainly on the timeline of the fall of the devil & the evil angels (at the time of creation, sometime later) and the image and powers of the devil.

I’d have liked longer chapters on the Muslim devil and Byzantium as I don’t know as much about those areas of belief and his examination of them was very superficial.

The book includes a decent number of black and white photographs to help visualize the subject matter.

The section on witches was interesting as it focused on how preachers kept the fire and brimstone ideas of the devil alive even as theological discourse around evil was slowly letting ideas of the devil fade in importance.

The book pointed out a lot of interesting information about how Christian thinkers in the middle ages approached ideas of evil, the devil and God’s omnipotence. Despite the level of repetition, it’s a fascinating book.
… (mer)
Strider66 | May 11, 2021 |



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