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Paperback Thou Art That : Transforming Religious Metaphor Book

ISBN: 1608681874

ISBN13: 9781608681877

Thou Art That : Transforming Religious Metaphor

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Book Overview

Woven from Joseph Campbell s previously unpublished work, this volume explores Judeo-Christian symbols and metaphors and their misinterpretations with the famed mythologist s characteristic conversational warmth and accessible scholarship. Campbell s insights highlight centuries of confusion between literal and metaphorical interpretations of Western religious symbols that are, he argues, perennially relevant keys to spiritual understanding and mystical...

Customer Reviews

4 ratings

No Horizons In Space

THOU ART THAT is the first volume in THE COLLECTED WORKS OF JOSEPH CAMPBELL which contains materials gathered from previously uncollected essays, letters, diaries, articles and lectures. As such it presents a broad sampling of Campbell's work on mythology and the Western religions.Campbell believes that the stories in the Bible should be read metaphorically. By interpreting events historically institutional religions create a problem. When people realize that the events probably did not take place, then the power of the message is diminished. Examples of such events are the Fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and the Exodus from Egypt.A fairly thorough discussion is introduced in Chapter VI of Judo-Christian symbols such as the Virgin Birth, Judas and the Flight into Egypt. Here we see why Campbell is so much admired for the breadth of his knowledge of mythology and his ability to bring this learning to bear on Jewish and Christian origins.In one of the more interesting parts of the book Campbell describes the basic differences between the world religions of creed which are Buddhism, Christianity and Islam and the leading ethnic religions of birth which are Hinduism, Judaism and Shintoism.Often Campbell points out that our ideas of the universe are being reordered by our experience in space. There are no horizons in space causing many people to retreat into fundamentalism.For a small book THOU ART THAT is filled with much food for thought. I highly recommend it and am looking forward to reading future volumes in this series.

A Must Read!

If one has any history with, or lives in a society influenced by the Judeo-Christian tradition, regardless of religious affiliation, this book will help you gain insight into some of your deepest questions. The only draw-back, as with the other posthumous Campbell books, is that it's more or less a compilation from various discourses. So it helps if you're familiar with several of Campbell's works. Even still, accepting that there is no driving thesis, one still comes away with a central understanding that the Bible has an equal place (not an exalted place) with the world mythologies. Fundamentalists may go into this journey with a critical eye, buth they can't deny the spiritual evaluation Campbell reverently evokes when putting Biblical mythology in proper context - with the universe and with yourself, for thou art that.

A pleasant taste of metaphor study.

This is a wonderful taste of the large, unpublished work of Campbell yet to be shared. I would recommend this book to those who want a good introduction to Campbell's work. Hopefully it will inspire them to read more about mythology and deepen their knowledge. This book is concerned mainly with mythos (meaning) versus logos (symbol) and how many people get caught up in symbols, thus missing the meaning (the mistake most fundamentalists are trapped in). As always with Campbell, his explanations are so eloquent and educated that one cannot help but want more. The only complaint I have about this book is its size--only 100 pages of Campbell's writing (mostly from lectures and notes). It certainly could have been expanded to twice that with very little effort. However, for those used to Campbell's written work, they will be pleasantly surprised how different his lecturing is. One mistake the editor, and many a reviewer, make is to try and say that Campbell focuses on the Judeo-Christian aspect of symbol abuse. If one were to read all of Campbell's work, they would find this to be quite wrong. Campbell is not so shallow. His concern is mythology, all of it, world-round. In fact, the majority of his work focuses on primitive mythology. He certainly spoke and expounded on the Judeo-Christian aspect much in his lecturing, but this is mostly because that is what his audience was interested in, especially the new-agers who desperately clung to Campbell in the last decades of his life.But I encourage those interested to dig deeper than this book into Campbell's work where can be found a rich, scholarly depth and breadth of mythos/logos study.

An eye-opening book

Like Donald Wayne Mitchell, I need to preface this review with a disclaimer: I am a non-practicing Jew, so it is clear that the paths to enlightenment offered by scriptural, faith-based religions clearly have not given me the sense of connecting to the transcendent that I would like. I very respectful grant Mr. Mitchell's central thesis concerning Thou Art That--that a person of faith in the literal truth of the Old and/or New Testaments might find this book dissatisfying--I must disagree with a number of his points. Mr. Campbell's central argument is NOT, as Mr. Mitchell would have it, that there is 'artistic license' taken in the Bible. There have been enough of those books around--no one needed to look to Joseph Campbell for that. Rather, Campbell says that the symbols of the scriptures have been MISREAD by professional interlocutors as literal fact, as historical accounts rather than spiritual metaphors. The question isn't whether Noah really sailed the ark onto Mt. Ararat or Christ really lived the life described (so inconsistantly) in the Gospels. The question is what spiritual and psychological truths do these stories tell us about the journey we all take through our own lives.I walked away from reading this book over the weekend with more respect for the tradition that bore me, if not necessarilly for the people who taught me the signs and symbols of that tradition. Even books of the Scripture that I've always really detested--the Book of Joshua, with all its blood, or the Book of Numbers with its interminable laws--appear to me in a very different light after reading this wonderful work.(Having said all that, I did find the third chapter--on "Our Notions of God"--to be a bit choppy and confusing. Did anyone else experience this? Had I simply drunk to much coffee that day?)
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