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Greek Popular Religion, by Martin P. Nilsson, [1940], at

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Late in the last century the American committee for Lectures on the History of Religions came into existence. It was established to cooperate with colleges and seminaries over the United States in providing courses of lectures to be delivered at various centers and to publish the lectures. All the lectures, except those of Professor Paul Pelliot on "Religions in Central Asia" in 1923 and those of Professor A. V. Williams Jackson on "The Religion of Persia" in 1907-8, were published as the "American Lectures on the History of Religions." They formed an important series of volumes, the titles of which are:

T. W. Rhys Davids, Buddhism (1896)

Daniel G. Brinton, Religions of Primitive Peoples (1897)

T. K. Cheyne, Jewish Religious Life after the Exile (1898)

Karl Budde, Religion of Israel to the Exile (1899)

Georg Steindorff, The Religion of the Ancient Egyptians (1905)

George W. Knox, The Development of Religion in Japan (1907)

Maurice Bloomfield, The Religion of the Veda (1908)

Morris Jastrow, Aspects of Religious Belief and Practice in Babylonia and Assyria (1911)

J. J. M. de Groot, Religion in China (1912)

Franz Cumont, Astrology and Religion among the Greeks and Romans (1912)

C. Snouck Hurgronje, Mohammedanism (1916)

J. E. Carpenter, Phases of Early Christianity (1916)

The Committee was organized as a response to what was

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felt to be a general need. Professor C. H. Toy was the first chairman, and after him Professor Richard Gottheil, seconded by Professor Morris Jastrow, served in this capacity for many years.

In 1936 the members of the Committee turned over the funds and responsibilities to the American Council of Learned Societies, which appointed a Committee consisting of Dean Shirley Jackson Case and Professors C. H. Kraeling, James A. Montgomery, Herbert W. Schneider, and the writer. This is a revolving Committee: Dean Case, after his retirement from the Divinity School of the University of Chicago, was succeeded by Dean E. C. Colwell; and at the expiration of Professor Schneider's term in July, 1940, Professor Arthur Jeffery took his place. The Committee enjoys the most helpful cooperation of the Institute of International Education in planning the journeys of its lecturers.

The Committee is fortunate in the first lecturer, Professor Martin P. Nilsson, who needs no introduction to the world of scholars. Starting as he did with the training of a philologist, proceeding to work as archaeologist and historian, and bringing to all that he handles an inborn understanding of folkways, he has made a series of fundamental contributions to our knowledge of ancient religion and primitive customs. In the extensive literature relating to ancient Greece, there is no work which serves the purposes of this volume.

The Committee wishes to express its thanks to Brown, California, Chicago, Cincinnati, Colorado, Columbia, Cornell, Harvard, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Stanford universities, to Kenyon, Mount Holyoke, Swarthmore, and Wellesley colleges, and to Meadville Theological School for generous participation in the scheme; to the Archaeological Institute of America for the third lecture, "The Religion of Eleusis," which was delivered under the auspices of the

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[paragraph continues] Norton Lectureship and which, treating as it does the highest form of Greek popular religion, fits into and enriches this volume; and to the Columbia University Press for undertaking the publication of the series and for much editorial help-fulness.

To Mr. Emerson Buchanan, of the Columbia University Library, the Committee owes an especial debt for his careful revision of the entire manuscript. Professor Wendell T. Bush and Mrs. Marguerite Block, Curator of the Bush Collection of Religion and Culture, Columbia University, provided many of the illustrations.

If the new series serves sound learning in this field as its predecessor has done, the Committee will have great cause for happiness.

For the Committee

Harvard University
Cambridge, Massachusetts
September, 1940 

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