Priests, Warriors, and Cattle: A Study in the Ecology of Religions

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University of California Press, 1981 - Religion - 242 pages
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"Do cultures which have similar socio-economic and ecological bases also have similar religious systems? This is the basic issue raised in this book. Underlying this is the question of whether religion is to be seen as an independent, free-floating speculative entity, or whether it is rooted in and largely determined by the givens of culture, economy, and ecology. In other words, is religion primarily directed toward abstract universal concerns, or are practical and temporal matters a fundamental part of religious thought? To address this problem the author has selected a test case, in which two cultures, historically and geographically quite separate but ecologically and socio-economically quite similar, are compared. Two semi-settled pastoralist groups whose livelihood depends on the herding of cattle were selected: the present-day Nilotic peoples of Africa (Nuer, Dinka, and Masai) and the Proto-Indo-Iranians, who flourished about 2000 B.C. The religion of each group is examined in detail, with special emphasis being placed on the myths they recount, the rituals they practice, and the ways in which their societies are organized, as well as the gods they worship"--Book jacket.

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