Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Parallel Myths” as Want to Read:
Parallel Myths
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Parallel Myths

3.84  ·  Rating Details  ·  572 Ratings  ·  36 Reviews
An entertaining and thought-provoking look at the common threads woven through the world's greatest myths -- and the central role they have played through time.
Paperback, 368 pages
Published October 11th 1994 by Ballantine Books
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Parallel Myths, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Parallel Myths

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,027)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Mar 04, 2012 John rated it liked it
I was greatly looking forward to re-reading this book for a book club and I was somewhat letdown. I am a bit of a student of mythology so I was quite excited to find a book that purported to draw on the work of Joseph Campbell, C.G. Jung, and Mircea Eliade. I found this book useful as a broad survey of censored myths. It is an easy and enjoyable read. I was disturbed, by some of the sloppiness. Just starting the book I soon found some embarrassing errors.

Page 6
MARS - the Mars bar was not direct
Ruby Hollyberry
This was assigned for a college course on mythology. It is AMAZINGLY bad. There are so many errors in it, I can't tell you. The explanation of the origin of Christmas Trees is completely wrong from beginning to end, for one example. For another, the Finnish goddess Ilmatar is mentioned and her name is assumed to be "something-mother" on the logic that "matar" sounds like mother. It does sound like that, but this is not an Indo-European language, so you can't make those kinds of linguistic assump ...more
Taylor Reece
Apr 01, 2015 Taylor Reece rated it really liked it
Interesting, but some of the myths were different from how I learned them…
Christy Stewart
Just what I was looking for; something to use for quick referencing. Not for the more advanced student of mythology, it's a pretty light read.
Mar 03, 2014 Pj rated it it was ok
Bierlein succeeds in generating a provocative comparison between parallel myths of various civilizations. It was disappointing, however, to see Bierlein pander to a religious (namely Christian) readership in the final chapter, where he argues that myth is not necessarily fiction and that readers' faith should not be questioned given these parallels. Additionally, though he mentions matriarchal theory briefly, he misses an opportunity to explore the sexism inherent in some creation myths he discu ...more
Jan 10, 2010 Elizabeth rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: those interested in mythology and comparitive theology
Reading this book has been a wonderful experience after muddling through the far more difficult tome, The Hero with 1000 Faces by the late Joseph Campbell. Certainly the goals of the two works were not the same but rather merely similar in terms of the subject matter. This book is an excellent introduction to the novice in the field of cultural anthropology and frankly should be required reading for college freshmen who aspire to a well rounded liberal arts education. The author has taken severa ...more
Aug 22, 2009 Rebecca rated it really liked it
The first 200 pages of this book are a tsunami of gods and goddesses, floods, falls, monsters and heroes. Loki, Odin, Izanami, Amaterasu, Blue Jay, the Star Girls, Zues, Hera, Bran the Blessed, Angus Og, Ollantay, Hiawatha, Ishtar and Ra... it's overwhelming and wonderful to read these episodic myths, grouped into general theme: creation myths, early man, journey to the underworld, apocalypse and romance.

The organizational themes are both helpful and problematic-- the author makes sometimes arbi
Meredith Haskins
Dec 08, 2013 Meredith Haskins rated it liked it
Book Summary from my son: Parallel Myths, by J.F Bierlein is a book about ancient myths. The stories come from the Ancient Greeks, Aztecs, Ancient Indians, and from many other people and places. These stories are cultural folktales based on not only religion but on moral stories. So these stories not only introduce you to god and morals and what not, they teach you life lessons that you should follow, not just for the religion but rules that everyone should follow in everyday life.According to a ...more
Dec 17, 2012 Jason added it
Shelves: read-2010
This book has a LOT of myths included. Too many, I would say. Not because there are really too many, but the summaries have made them EXTREMELY truncated, which hurts them a little bit, especially when you can see themes beginning to change a little bit. That being said, it also includes a lot of thought about myths from anthropology, philosophy and psychology (however it pretty much stops short at 1960 as far as these field go, despite the fact that it was written in the '90s) which is extremel ...more
Tabitha Chamberlain
Feb 16, 2015 Tabitha Chamberlain rated it really liked it
anyone who believes reading will change their fundamental beliefs shouldn't worry about what they are reading, but what they believe. the book was pretty much written to be part of a college class on myths and mythologies. it is dry in places and repetitive in others. it's broke into different sections such as: creation, love, heroes, and underworld to name a few. reading these together is where the repetition comes in. the end of the book goes over some philosophy of why we believe what we beli ...more
Mark Valentine
May 04, 2016 Mark Valentine rated it really liked it
As an accessible introductory textbook on Mythology, Bierlein's book fulfills the task; it functions more than a collection or anthology--it provides theory as well. For me, the chapters on theory, criticism, and interpretation helped deepen my understanding of the connected myths and I hope to continue my reading on the topic (inspired by Bierlein).
Aug 04, 2015 Rebecca added it
Shelves: didnt-finish
It ended up being more an anthology of myths than a study of them, which was really more what I was looking for. Might be a good start for a research paper.
I wish I could choose all three shelves. I've read a good amount of the stories featured in this book and while it is a textbook from class, I have every intention of keeping it. This is a collection of stories about love, life, and death taken from so many different cultures. When I have kids, I would love for some of these stories to be their introduction to the way life is (i.e. how they perceive death).

If you find this on, I highly suggest buying it. The stories and myths in it are
Jan 25, 2016 marked it as to-read
Shelves: methodological
اسطورههای موازی / ج. ف. بیرلین / تهران: مرکز، چاپِ سوم 1391
اساطیر - مطالعات تطبیقی

Jeremiah Peter
Aug 11, 2011 Jeremiah Peter rated it liked it
It was a very textbookish, which I expected, but it did not focus on what I thought it was going to, mainly “Parallel Myths” as the title indicates. Instead, this book should have been called “A Bunch Of Tragically Abridged Myths Followed By Some Varied Explanations As To Why They Have Common Themes, And Then A Protracted Discussion On The Evolution Of Western Religion.” I suspected that this was the original title, but that the editors thought it was too long and might deter some casual readers ...more
Aug 16, 2012 CinnamonHopes rated it liked it
I started reading and lost this book, then refound it a year later.

Having said that, it started off really well - I loved the way the author organized the myths into sections like 'creation myths.' It made really obvious the similarities. The end of the book was less than inspired, however. It started reading like a poorly-written research paper; large quotes by various experts, with little or no explanation or context. However much a quote can stand for itself, it started to feel as though I wa
Apr 02, 2013 Monica rated it it was ok
It's an OKAY introduction to some general ideas found in comparative mythology. It is by no means authoritative, nor would I recommend it as a starting text in mythology studies (Hamilton and Doniger would be two better starts). It is accessible; it is full of retellings of myths which serve as a beginning point of study. My high school students were engaged by its introduction to the work/thinking of Levi-Strauss, Jung, Frazer, et al. It works on those levels, even if rather simplistically.
Kim Graff
Jul 28, 2012 Kim Graff rated it really liked it
I found this book interesting and well structured. There was a good variety of myths in the book, particularly of their origins (Greek, Native American, Norway, India, Egypt, Mauri, etc). It's broken up in chapters with themes (Underworld, Love Stories, etc). I'd say this is a good book for anyone wanting to learn more about myths, in other words, a good start. From this book, you can figure out which myths you're more interested in learning more about.
Amy Freese
Mar 04, 2015 Amy Freese rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Very well done, informative. Learned lots of new things. I will be keeping this one in mind as a reference source.
Trisha Keiman
A wonderful book on myths from different countries around the world and finding parallels with each other and well as various cultures. Draws from Jung, Joseph Campbell, Karl Jaspers, Claude Levi-Strauss etc. It also guides you as to identifying and interpreting the myths. It part-psychology, part-philosophy and part-anthropology. Great read to pick up and read again a week later!
Mar 15, 2009 James rated it it was amazing
I got this at the Smithsonian Museum. I love books about mythology. This book traces the similarities in the myths of all cultures. If you are not a lover of mythology, you might not like this book. If you are , you will find Bierlein's comparisions interesting.

Jul 30, 2010 Mattie rated it liked it
Shelves: mythology
This book has a bunch of myths from around the world, and I like that, but... they are all summarized in a page, sometimes even a paragraph. If you're looking for a more thorough anthology of mythology, you should try something else. DD:
Mar 13, 2012 Sarah rated it it was ok
Shelves: gave-up
I normally really like books on mythology, but this was just too dry for my liking. Some of the stuff seemed interesting, but I think I can find another book on the subject that's a little more engaging.
Oct 18, 2008 Bridgett rated it it was amazing
This book was fun to read. I liked reading all the myths from around the world, though I was already familiar with many. I especially liked the discussion of what myth is and its affect on humanity
Molly Huggins
Jan 30, 2013 Molly Huggins rated it really liked it
I have not read this in a few years; it was assigned as a text book for a mythology class. It was very interesting and a good read, comparing myths from across all different cultures.
Jul 07, 2011 Heather rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: 2011-read, own, myth
Excellent source of world mythologies. Author provides interesting commentary and resources for further reading. It's an excellent addition to our library!
Sep 26, 2012 Michelle rated it liked it
This book was an interesting read for the novice but I don't think that the persona who has studied a lot of mythology will find value.
Ben Tousey
May 29, 2013 Ben Tousey rated it it was amazing
Biblical mythology side by side with Babylonian and Egyptian theology, what could be better?
Patricia Awapara
Dec 15, 2012 Patricia Awapara rated it really liked it
Very Interesting read. Compares all types of myths around the world and through out the ages.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 67 68 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Inner Reaches of Outer Space: Metaphor as Myth and as Religion (Collected Worksl)
  • Don't Know Much About Mythology: Everything You Need to Know About the Greatest Stories in Human History but Never Learned
  • Primal Myths: Creation Myths Around the World
  • The Language of the Goddess
  • The Winter Solstice: The Sacred Traditions of Christmas
  • Medieval Folklore: A Guide to Myths, Legends, Tales, Beliefs, and Customs
  • Math for Mystics: From the Fibonacci Sequence to Luna's Labyrinth to Golden Section and Other Secrets of Sacred Geometry
  • Ostara: Rituals, Recipes & Lore for the Spring Equinox
  • The Illustrated Signs and Symbols Sourcebook
  • Celtic Myths and Legends
  • Gods and Myths of Northern Europe
  • Classical Mythology
  • Mythology
  • Encyclopedia of Gods: Over 2,500 Deities of the World
  • Llewellyn's Complete Book of Astrology: The Easy Way to Learn Astrology
  • Underground! The Disinformation Guide to Ancient Civilizations, Astonishing Archaeology and Hidden History
  • A Dictionary of Superstitions
  • Mythology 101: From Gods and Goddesses to Monsters and Mortals, Your Guide to Ancient Mythology

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »