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William Robertson Smith

The land of a god corresponds with the land of his worshipers.

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The god can no more exist without his people than the nation without its god.

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The dissolution of the nation destroys the national religion, and dethrones the national deity.

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The god, it would appear, was frequently thought of as the physical progenitor or first father of his people.

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But, strictly speaking, this mythology was no essential part of ancient religion, for it had no sacred sanction and no binding force on the worshippers.

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This being so, it follows that mythology ought not to take the prominent place that is too often assigned to it in the scientific study of ancient faiths.

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That the God-man died for his people, and that His death is their life, is an idea which was in some degree foreshadowed by the older mystical sacrifices.

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In better times the religion of the tribe or state has nothing in common with the private and foreign superstitions or magical rites that savage terror may dictate to the individual.

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This, it may be said, is no more than a hypothesis... only of that force of precedent which in all times has been so strong to keep alive religious forms of which the original meaning is lost.

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We are so accustomed to think of religion as a thing between individual men and God that we can hardly enter into the idea of a religion in which a whole nation in its national organisation appears as the religious unit.

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