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Founding Gods, Inventing NationsConquest and Culture Myths from Antiquity to Islam$
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William F. McCants

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780691151489

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691151489.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
Founding Gods, Inventing Nations

William F. McCants

Princeton University Press

This introductory chapter provides an overview of the book's themes and methodology. This book foregrounds the study of pre-Islamic culture myths and uses it to frame the Islamic material in the chapters that follow. This framing also reflects the author's belief that Islamic thinking about the origins of civilization is deeply indebted to antique thought on the subject, both in content and assumptions. Furthermore, Muslim authors were shaped by social and political circumstances that were similar to those confronting Hellenistic- and Roman-era authors and thus share many of their concerns and solutions to intellectual and cultural dilemmas. Finally, by bringing Islamic material into the debates of classicists, the book hopes to encourage scholarly communities on both sides of the Arab conquests to consider the Mediterranean and Near Eastern patrimony through a wider-angle lens. The indebtedness of Islamic culture myths to antiquity is not only evidenced by the fact that Islamic culture myths cluster around the same subject areas as pre-Islamic culture myths but also by the fact that there are numerous linkages between the myths themselves.

Keywords:   civilization, pre-Islamic culture, Islamic thinking, Islamic culture

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