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Название: Encyclopedia of Creation Myths
Авторы: Leeming D., Leeming M.
This attractively illustrated work is the first to bring together creation myths from a wide variety of cultures in an encyclopedic format, though a number of anthologies of creation myths do exist. The principal author, a professor of English and comparative literature at the University of Connecticut, has written or edited several popular books on mythology. The majority of entries are retellings of various creation myths; for example, "Eskimo Creation" or "Hebrew Creation". There are also entries for important themes ("Creation from Clay"), gods and other figures ("Prometheus"), bodies of literature ("Bible"), and scientific "myths" ("Big Bang Theory"). Entries range from a single sentence to several pages; a number contain extensive portions of important creation texts. Most contain references to one or more sources listed in the bibliography at the end of the book. Liberal cross-references are both embedded in the text and at the end of entries. The 30 black-and-white illustrations depict creation myths in art and artifact. An extensive, detailed, and generally accurate index concludes the book. Unfortunately, despite a great deal of useful information contained in this book, it too often falls short of the standards of accuracy and completeness one expects. The entry "Maori Creation", for example, indicates that the god Io is the "timeless "ex nihilo" creator of the universe," failing to mention that many now believe this conception of Io to be the result of missionaries attempting to reconcile the native religion with Christianity. The entry "Shoshonean (Luiseno) Creation" indicates that the "Shoshonean Indians" and Luiseno people refer to the same group, while in fact the Luiseno are only one small tribe who speak a language from the Shoshonean language group, one that includes the Hopi, Shoshoni, and Comanche languages, among others. "Yahweh" contains the puzzling statement that Yahweh "formed part of the Indo-European invasion into the Fertile Crescent region." The article "Earth-Diver Creation" explains this common form of the creation story as a supreme being who "sends an animal . . . into primal waters," and that the diver animal "can best be seen as the creator's spirit or soul." This is certainly an interpretation of this myth that has been made. Here, however, it is presented as the primary meaning of the myth, with no mention that in many versions the diver is (or is sent by) a cultural hero distinct from and often antagonistic to the supreme being. A check of the "Encyclopedia of Religion" will yield a very different account of this archetype. There are other problems as well. For a significant number of entries, the only reference given is to Maria Leach's "The Beginnings" (Crowell, 1956), a young adult book. This encyclopedia seems aimed at users in high-school, undergraduate, and public libraries; however, words such as "parthogenic" appear without definitions. The work also lapses into vague and overgeneralized statements; we are told that the Maori "possess a highly sophisticated and complicated religious and mythological system that concerns itself with profound spiritual matter and the nature of Being itself." In short, although this work contains much useful information and fulfills a need, it cannot be recommended.