Parallel Myths

by J.F. Bierlein

“Unusually accessible and useful . . . An eye-opener to readers into the universality and importance of myth in human history and culture.”—William E. Paden, Chair, Department of Religion, University of Vermont

For as long as human beings have had language, they have had myths. Mythology is our earliest form of literary expression and the foundation of all history and morality. Now, in Parallel Myths, classical scholar J. F. Bierlein gathers the key myths from all of the world's major traditions and reveals their common themes, images, and meanings.

Parallel Myths introduces us to the star players in the world's great myths—not only the twelve Olympians of Greek mythology, but the stern Norse Pantheon, the mysterious gods of India, the Egyptian Ennead, and the powerful deities of Native Americans, the Chinese, and the various cultures of Africa and Oceania. Juxtaposing the most potent stories and symbols from each tradition, Bierlein explores the parallels in such key topics as creation myths, flood myths, tales of love, morality myths, underworld myths, and visions of the Apocalypse. Drawing on the work of Joseph Campbell, Mircea Eliade, Carl Jung, Karl Jaspers, Claude Lévi-Strauss, and others, Bierlein also contemplates what myths mean, how to identify and interpret the parallels in myths, and how mythology has influenced twentieth-century psychology, philosophy, anthropology, and literary studies.

“A first-class introduction to mythology . . . Written with great clarity and sensitivity.”—John G. Selby, Associate Professor, Roanoke College

  • Random House Publishing Group; June 2010
  • ISBN: 9780307754646
  • Read online, or download in secure ePub format
  • Title: Parallel Myths
  • Author: J.F. Bierlein
  • Imprint: Ballantine Books

In The Press

“Unusually accessible and useful . . . An eye-opener to readers into the universality and importance of myth in human history and culture.”—William E. Paden, Chair, Department of Religion, University of Vermont

“A first-class introduction to mythology . . . Written with great clarity and sensitivity.”—John G. Selby, Associate Professor, Roanoke College


About The Author

The author of Parallel Myths and The Book of Ages, J. F. Bierlein teaches in the Washington Semester and World Capitals Program at American University in Washington, and also works for a social sciences consulting firm. Multilingual, he is deeply interested in theology, existentialism, art, opera, and the study of classical Greek, Sanskrit, and Hebrew, as well as other languages. Professor Bierlein and his wife, Heather Diehl, live in northern Virginia.