- Format: Hardcover
- ISBN: 978-1-5261-5617-4
- Pages: 456
- Publisher: Manchester University Press
- Price: £25.00
- Published Date: May 2021
- BIC Category: History, RELIGION / Antiquities & Archaeology, RELIGION / History, Humanities / General & world history, Humanities / Archaeology, Humanities / History of religion
Prophets and believers asks what we really know about the origins and early spread of major monotheistic religions, once we strip away myths and later traditions. Beginning with Mormonism and working backwards through Islam, Christianity, Judaism and Zoroastrianism, the book uses historical scholarship and the findings of archaeology to reconstruct the times, places and societies from which these faiths emerged, revealing the contexts and features that allow religious movements to take root. Throughout history many individuals have claimed to be in direct contact with the divine, receiving instructions to spread a new religious message. While most have disappeared without trace, a few managed to gain millions of followers and establish a lasting religion. But why did some succeed where others failed?
'An intriguing and sensitively presented survey of the often surprising links and continuities between some of the world's great religions over three millennia.'
Diarmaid MacCulloch, Professor of the History of the Church, University of Oxford
1 Introduction: religions' origins in context
2 Frontiers of place and belief: Mormon origins and journeys
3 Vision, faith and conquest: the source and power of Islam
4 Rural Galilee to imperial cities: the beginnings and spread of Christianity
5 Scribes, priests and exiles under foreign rule: the emergence of monotheistic Judaism
6 Ahura Mazda and the enigmas of Zoroastrian origins
7 Prophets, texts, religions and history: some conclusions
Robin Derricourt is an Honorary Professor of History in the School of Humanities at the University of New South Wales and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities. He holds a PhD in archaeology from the University of Cambridge. His previous books include Inventing Africa: History, Archaeology and Ideas (2011), Antiquity Imagined: The Remarkable Legacy of Egypt and the Ancient Near East (2015) and Unearthing Childhood: Young Lives in Prehistory (2018), which received the PROSE Award for Archaeology and Ancient History.