By Mike Gleason
Mithras Reader: An academic and religious journal of Greek, Roman, and Persian Studies, Volume 1, edited by Payam Nabarz
Twin Serpents Ltd., 9781905524099, 2006
This book, the first in an ongoing series, is divided into three sections. The first section in composed of academic papers. The second is filled with Mithraic-based art work and the final section is devoted to articles by modern practitioners. As such, there is a unifying theme, even while there are divergent views.
The series is dedicated to all the religions of the classical world in their varying aspects. Obviously, however, there is a bias towards Mithraism in its different manifestations.
The first section, being composed of academic papers, presents some unique difficulties for the average layman. The most obvious of these is the nature of the papers themselves. Many of them are written by scholars whose primary language is not English, so they suffer from all the ills of being translated (twisted syntax and other difficulties abound). In addition, they assume a level of erudition and familiarity with the classical world which may well be beyond the average.
Another “problem” with the academic papers is that they are oriented towards other academics. Thus quotations in Latin or French are not provided with English translations, since the authors assume a familiarity with classical languages and literature. This may be a false assumption for many readers.
The second section, at least in this volume, is composed of black and white illustrations which convey very little vibrancy. While a few are very clear and effective, others suffer from lack of contrast and would have benefited from some form of enhancement. I realize that color illustrations add to the cost of production, but there are advantages to their judicious use.
The third section is comprised of articles written by modern devotees. As such, it offers insight into the current worship practices.
Following this section is a series of reviews/advertisements for items (books, games, and DVDs) which may be of interest to the reader