Student Question

What is a good summation statement to define J. G. Frazer's, The Golden Bough?

Expert Answers

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A possible summation statement could be the following: In The Golden Bough, Fraser argues that common themes unite myths and religions across cultures.

A common theme, for example, uniting many myths and religions is fertility, the idea of a being or god who must die in order to fertilize the land with his blood and allow new life to spring up. Fraser saw Jesus, for example, as a more advanced version of a magical fertility god bringing life to the soil.

Fraser also argues that in order to explain and try to control nature, cultures advance from magic to religion to science. He privileges science above both the mythological (magical) and the religious.

Fraser states that magic is a direct attempt to control nature. Religion uses appeals to gods or a god to try to control nature. Science uses reason and empirical study to understand how nature works in order to be able to control it.

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