Michael Jordan,
Encyclopedia of Gods:
Over 2,500 Deities of the World

(Facts on File, 1993)

What a book! Encyclopedia of Gods is an exhaustive survey of the gods of the world. It includes major and minor deities from every culture and spanning time from 60,000 years ago to the present. You can read of the ancient gods of the Mesopotamian culture right alongside their modern descendants.

The listings are arranged alphabetically. They vary from a two-sentence description to a lengthy narrative that includes physical description, powers, domain, relatives and associates, adversaries, titles, known period of worship, other names, region of worship and where the god is found in literature and art.

Jordan has included a chronology of the major religions covered by this book and a "Civilization Index." The Civilization Index is the handiest thing in the world for quick reference when you know the name of the culture but not their deities. You can look up "African," find the subdivision of interest (such as wind, creator, death or lake) and see all the deities that exercise dominion over that realm. This is a 21-page list. Then there is a subject index that encompasses another 17 pages.

This is a top-of-the-line reference book that puts you right on the entry in no time. It is extremely thorough, especially with the cross-referencing. The entries are written in colorful and entertaining style, with lively language. I enjoy reading this one from cover to cover. It is a book that will provide entertainment year after year. You are certain to find gods listed here that you have never heard of before. For the student of folklore or religion, it is a must-own reference. For the person with a casual interest, it is an engaging manuscript that will fascinate the imagination and take you on journeys to distance places and times.

- Rambles
written by Alicia Karen Elkins
published 6 April 2003

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