By Gregory Shushan
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Additional info for Conceptions of the Afterlife in Early Civilizations: Universalism, Constructivism and Near-Death Experience
Despite their advocacy of a comparative approach ‘not from the level of the universal, not from the level of the piecemeal, but somewhere in between’, all the contributions to Laurie Patton and Wendy Doniger’s (1996: 11) anthology which deal with cross-cultural comparisons of myth are social-constructivist in their almost total reliance on political and psychological interpretations. 9 It does not follow the anthropological assumption that any cross-cultural similarities that cannot be explained by diffusion must be explained in social constructivist terms.
Early Civilizations, Contact, Diffusion, and Cultural Continuity 3. Near-Death Experience Part Two: Conceptions of the Afterlife in Early Civilizations 4. Old and Middle Kingdom Egypt Introduction The Pyramid Texts Teaching for King Merikare The Coffin Texts The Book of Two Ways Summary and Conclusions 5. Sumerian and Old Babylonian Mesopotamia Introduction The Bilgames Texts Inana’s Descent to the Underworld and Other Dumuzid Texts Ningishzida’s Journey to the Netherworld The Death of Ur-Namma Enlil and Ninlil Etana and Other ‘Ascent’ Texts Other Miscellaneous Texts Summary and Conclusions 6.
NDEs); and it does concern itself to some extent with ‘the question of metaphysical interpretation’ (Paden 1988: 41) if/when the comparative data lead in that direction. The approach is phenomenological in that it attempts to allow the texts to construct their own meaning as far as possible. Van den Leeuw (1933: 688) stated that phenomenology must ‘confront chaotic “reality”, and all its still uninterpreted signs, and ultimately to testify to what it has understood’. Its goal is to ‘endeavour to observe what appears while adopting the attitude of intellectual suspense’, then to attempt to ‘clarify and … comprehend’ what has been observed.