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Review of 'Death, ritual and belief: The rhetoric of funerary rites (second edition)'

By J. Hugh A. James

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Reviews the book "Death, ritual and belief: the rhetoric of funerary rites (second edition)" by Douglas J. Davies. It is a study of funeral rites, grounded in anthropology and including theological, philosophical and psychological perspectives on death. It covers basic aspects of Middle Eastern, Eastern and Western religious traditions, but also includes empirical research on such things as people experiencing the presence of the dead, and attitudes to the death of pets. Davies argues that the human animal never lets death have the last word. Through religious ritual and secular rites, in words and in music, in architecture and in art, people express their trust in hope over fear. Davies conveys a sense of triumph over death, and a distinctive feature of the book is his emphasis on the verbal nature of death rites. Davies explores how human cultures assert this ongoing power of human existence despite the ravages of death. The revised edition includes additional material on the death of Jesus in Christianity, theories of grief and the location of death, and 'offending deaths', as well as presenting Davies' own theory on death in the birth of world religions. Some people might find this book not to read. However, it makes a significant contribution of new ideas, and a development of existing theories, to the field of death studies. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2010 APA, all rights reserved)

Publication Title Mental Health, Religion & Culture
Volume 7
Issue 4
Pages 365-366
ISBN/ISSN 1367-46761469-9737
Publisher Taylor & Francis
DOI 10.1080/13674670310001606405
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Belief
  2. Death
  3. peer-reviewed
  4. Religions
  5. Rituals and Ceremonies
  6. traditions
  1. peer-reviewed