Gregory Shushan challenges post-modern scholarly attitudes concerning cross-cultural comparisons in the study of religions. In an original and innovative piece of comparative research, he analyses afterlife conceptions in five ancient civilisations (Old and Middle Kingdom Egypt, Sumerian and Old Babylonian Mesopotamia, Vedic India, pre-Buddhist China, and pre-Columbian Mesoamerica).These are considered in light of historical and contemporary reports of near-death experiences, and shamanic afterlife 'journeys'. "Conceptions of the Afterlife in Early Civilizations" is a significant study, for it presents a comprehensive new comparative framework for the cross-cultural study of myth and religion, while at the same time providing a fascinating exploration of the interface between belief and experience.This groundbreaking new series offers original reflections on theory and method in the study of religions, and demonstrates new approaches to the way religious traditions are studied and presented.Studies published under its auspices look to clarify the role and place of Religious Studies in the academy, but not in a purely theoretical manner.
Each study will demonstrate its theoretical aspects by applying them to the actual study of religions, often in the form of frontier research.
Gregory Shushan is Visiting Lecturer in Religious Studies at University of Wales Lampeter, UK; and Research Associate at University College Cork, Ireland. Gavin Flood is Academic Director of the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies and the author of An Introduction to Hinduism (CUP 2004).
Foreword by Gavin Flood; Acknowledgements; Abbreviations of Primary Sources; Introduction; Part I; 1. Comparison, Universalism, and the Rehabilitation of the Comparative 'Similar'; 2. Early Civilizations, Contact, Diffusion, and Cultural Continuity; 3. Near-Death Experience; Part II; 4. Old and Middle Kingdom Egypt; 5. Sumerian and Old Babylonian Mesopotamia; 6. Vedic India; 7. Pre-Buddhist China; 8. Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica; Part III; 9. Analysis of Similarities and Differences; 10. The Interface of Conception and Experience; 11. Alternative and Supplementary Theories; 12. Conclusions: Theoretical Eclecticism and A New Comparative Framework; References; Index.