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Occidental Mythology: The Masks of God 3 (The Masks of God #3)

4.28 of 5 stars 4.28  ·  rating details  ·  1,276 ratings  ·  47 reviews
A systematic and fascinating comparison of the themes that underlie the art, worship, and literature of the western world.
Hardcover, 564 pages
Published 1964 by Viking Press (NY) (first published August 15th 1958)
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Barnaby Thieme
In the third volume of his monumental comparative survey of the development of mythological motifs, Campbell turns his attention to the emergence of the great Occidental religious traditions beginning in the Near East.

Having examined in previous volumes the religious infrastructure of the newly-emergent agricultural and urbanized Levant, Campbell reviews the emergence of the specialized priestly class. The priests of Sumer turn their attention heavenward to the orderly precession of the celesti
Mar 09, 2008 Wendy rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in religions, psychology etc.
The seminal work of Frazier was The Golden Bough and thus the weaving of myths...with reoccuring themes thru the history of man and memorialized in archeaology,and religions ..became apparent to me as a reader and so I was delighted to come across Campbell. Joseph Campbell's books of which I have read four, continues and amplifies this insight..with a multiplicity of examples of the weaving and reweaving of threads and elements, the different depictions of "the hero", the different presentations ...more
Edward Richmond
Joseph Campbell's work is fun to read, but it's not actually good scholarship. His tendency to make sweeping generalizations is a weakness, and close examination of the details in the myths he discusses make a lot of his arguments fall apart.

This said, the guy wasn't a poseur; he had genuine credentials in both medieval French and Sanskrit. It's not that he's imagining things that aren't in the text, or relying on others to do grunt work in translation that he isn't personally capable of doing.
The connections between Judians, Christianity, and Islam are pretty evident, but to mix in Zorastrianism, the Levant, Greek and Roman mythology and how they all intermingled was fascinating. This book truly sparked an interest for me to research the origins of the Bible.
CG Fewston
The Masks of God, Vol. 3: Occidental Mythology (1964) by Joseph Campbell casts a large net over what it is to hold a Western faith in distinction from an Eastern faith and how such distinctions developed among the varied belief systems over the ages. Campbell's book on comparative mythology includes, but is not limited to what will be reviewed here, the interconnections between East and West relating to ''the serpent's bride'' as well as the age of Moses. In one chapter, Campbell also discusses ...more
Occidental Mythology is the third book in Campbell’s The Masks of God tetralogy. This is not light reading. Densely packed, each page is loaded with historical references that make most textbooks seem like waiting room material.

I have quickly become a devotee of this man, but his writing can be overwhelming. The Masks of God is undeniably an ambitious project with its sweeping exploration of global myth. However, Campbell is so well versed in his subject I believe he forgets at times that the r
Lisa (Harmonybites)
This is the third volume of Campbell's The Masks of God and each installment so far has been increasingly impressive. The first volume, Primitive Mythology dealt with pre-historic and those contemporary indigenous societies still with a paleolithic level of technology. By necessity, it depended upon archeological evidence and a lot of psychological speculations, those of Freud in particular. It made for very dry reading pretty much throughout and made me a little skeptical of his take--what if t ...more
I have a soft spot for Joseph Campbell. He's like a kindly old uncle, whose wonderful stories sparked in me a life long passion for mythology. It doesn't matter that now that I've grown up and delved more deeply into the field I've come to realize that much of what he had to say about myth turned out to be hogwash. He's still Uncle Joe and I love him.

This book has literally been sitting, unread, on my shelf for decades. I bought it in high school and kept thinking "someday I'll get around to it.
Was great for research purposes but I did find his writing a little dry, even condescending at times. It is definitely a very academic book, which is to be expected of course. But extremely interesting all the same.
Clinton Boyda
Heavy read, interesting ideas.. a bit of yawner though as his writing style is very dry.
Idea of victor telling the story and myths being written by the rulers is intriguing.
I love comparative mythology, and Campbell's book is indeed well written... in a way that brings joy to the comparative enthusiast, however, he's a sloppy researcher. His theories make sense...until a point. Once you dig deeper you can see how he tries to make things fit in, and if something doesn' will not be all... so I believe that he's too much of a reductionist. Also I feel that his comparisons are a bit exaggerated and the monomyth theory doesn't have a solid background ...more
Holly Lindquist
This is the volume in Joseph Campbell's Masks of God that covers Judaism, Christianity, & Islam. It is especially useful for illuminating the fascinating and often surprising foundations of Judeo-Christian myth, and one would be hard-pressed to find a more meticulous and thorough guide to such things. This is an exemplary work, although not quite perfect. For instance, Campbell sometimes made connections that later historical discoveries proved erroneous (He implied Stonehenge was inspired b ...more
Marc Estes
Awesome...Just Awesome!!!
Like everyone else at the time, I was, I admit, a true believer in Jospeh Campbell. But the more I read the more I realised how prejudiced he could be at times against Western religions..esp the Roman Catholic Church. Now, there is nothing wrong per se with being against the RCC. But there is when you let it influence how you look at other religions. Which, as it turns out, he did admit in several interviews. Which is a shame,because he had some truly original thoughts about mythology.
This was one of the densest and most enjoyable books I have read in a while. Campbell constantly references the previous two volumes in the series, so it is a very easy thing to pick up the flow of the mythological connections between the various areas and eras of the world by reading this one volume. It took me quite a while to read, however, more so than any of Campbell's other works have taken. Lengthy block quotes from ancient texts litter the pages.
At times, a brilliant book, at times a bit overwritten, but still quite important, looking at the evolution of mythology/religion in the West, including the decline of the Græco-Roman rule, the rise of Christian and Muslim orthodoxy and then the emergence in the Renaissance and Reformation of the idea of the individual directly his own relationship to G-d.

Not as good as the Hero with a Thousand Faces, but a good read (usually)
Příšerný překlad.....
David Melbie
Dec 10, 2010 David Melbie rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Students of the soul.
Recommended to David by: I'm a big fan.
. . . how amazingly current it reads -- the clash of religions, politics, etc., that is still happening today.

This is a good read in understanding Western thought and Eastern thought, and on the fusing of the two in certain sects of both. Very interesting. --From A Reader's Journal, by d r melbie.
Erik Graff
Mar 23, 2009 Erik Graff rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Erik by: Richard Allen Hyde
Shelves: religion
I read the entire Masks of God series, but not in order, being introduced to it by Rich Hyde, a friend from high school who also attended college and seminary with me, while the two of us were at grandmother's cottage together. In all of them the influence of C.G. Jung's archetype theory is pronounced.
covers the historical times & spaces most familiar to students of the 'western tradition,' moving from the levant through Persia, Egypt, Greece, Rome, and so on. Despite the familiar setting and period, perspective will defamiliarize (it's not intentionally brechtian, but the effect is similar).
Adrienne Stapleton
Campbell uncovers the roots of Occidental religions by discussing the artifacts and myths of the Levant, Egypt, Greece, and Rome. The common themes of the snake, the goddess, the intertwined snakes (caduceus) demonstrate the possible common influences of the subsequent traditions in these area.
Really very good. Very complete, covers each oriental group in detail. I was confused by the inclusion of Egypt and Mesapotamia (I don't think of either as Oriental per se) but, it was a coherant piece that had strong overarching themes. Very highly reccomended.
Don't start with this one - go read "Primitive Mythology" and then "Oriental Mythology", as the themes discussed here need to be placed in the context of the larger narrative arc developed throughout the series.

The series, overall: well worth all 2000+ pages.
Bob Sacco
A truly great book. People who think that they know everything about their religion to read this in order to get an idea of what went before and what cultural/historical currents they are swimming in without knowing that they are doing so.
Interested in mythology? Read Joseph Campbell. Interested in religion? Read Joseph Campbell. Interested in art? Read Joseph Campbell. Interested in History? Read Joseph Campbell. Interested in philosophy...
Rafael da Silva
Uma abordagem diferente que só Joseph Campbell deu às mitologias. Abordadas de modo psicológico, alegórico, não-religioso e não-sobrenatural. Um bom livro para se entender a história psicológica da humanidade.
Patrick Calabria
One of those books that is so dense that getting through it is a Haul...but the whole time you know you're gonna read it again just because you know you can get more out of it.
Feb 11, 2008 Mike rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Mike by: Ted K.
Shelves: eye-openers
This is some pretty heavy stuff, you have to really like this kind of thing, which I do, but it was one of those books I have to plow through slowly. Really cool though.
Rich Hoffman
Part three of a masterful four part series this is the skelton key of understanding the history of Europe. It is another lifetime must read.
Mar 11, 2008 Mike rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lunatics; aesthetics
This just really hits my personal fascination with Eastern thought and spirituality. Again, it makes for great pondering...
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Joseph John Campbell was an American mythology professor, writer, and orator best known for his work in the fields of comparative mythology and comparative religion.
More about Joseph Campbell...

Other Books in the Series

The Masks of God (4 books)
  • Primitive Mythology (The Masks of God, #1)
  • Oriental Mythology (The Masks of God, #2)
  • Creative Mythology (The Masks of God, #4)

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