The Archetype of the Dying and Rising God in World Mythology is the first global treatment of the dying and rising god archetype since that classification was called into serious doubt in the final decades of the twentieth century. While assaults on the concept have focused on the Classical and ancient Near Eastern (Biblical) traditions, this study goes beyond but also includes these areas to encompass world mythology. Beginning with an interrogation of the most influential criticisms, the author then examines evidence for the archetype's validity by analyzing dying and rising god myths from ancient Near Eastern, Classical, and non-Classical sources from around the world. He treats implications of the archetype for religious studies, literature, and psychology, both in discussing the myths themselves and in separate chapters dedicated to these fields. The focused treatment on single myths makes this book a useful reference source. At the same time, its inductive approach to evidence provides a conclusive argument on the question with applications that warrant reading it from cover to cover. Additional distinctive features of this book include a thematic interpretation of T. S. Eliot's Waste Land, a new perspective on the Jungian archetypes, and a call for a neo-archetypal approach to literary criticism.
Paul R. Rovang is professor emeritus of English at Pennsylvania Western University-Edinboro.
Chapter One: The Death of an Archetype?
Chapter Two: Other Ancient Near Eastern Candidates?
Chapter Three: Greco-Roman Connections
Chapter Four: Non-Classical and Traditional Cultures
Chapter Five: Jesus
Chapter Six: The Dying and Rising God in Literature: T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land
Chapter Seven: The Dying and Rising God as Archetype
About the Author
While many modern scholars have dismissed the existence of the dying and rising god archetype in the religions of Europe, North Africa, and the Near East, others have used the archetype to reduce the crucified and resurrected Christ to a derivative myth with little historical value. Paul Rovang first amasses decisive evidence for the ubiquity of the archetype and then argues, along with C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien, that Christ, far from a Hebrew version of the archetype, was the myth that became fact. This is a well-researched and carefully-argued book that sets the record straight on the nature and implications of Frazer’s dying and rising god.
A fresh and revitalizing contribution to the interpretation of world mythology and mythopoeic literature. The impressively multicultural collection of “dying and rising god” (and, importantly, “goddess”) stories here examined particularly lends itself to Rovang’s skilled application of Jungian psychology and archetypal criticism, among other approaches. An illuminating and enjoyable read for anyone interested in the characteristics of the “dying and rising god” myth, its usefulness in literary and cultural interpretation, and what it means to us as humans on our shared journey.