This book, the pre-Christian use of incense, is drawn from a larger work concerning the historical use of incense in religious ceremonial that was written in the opening years of the 20th century by Edward Godfrey Cuthbert Frederick Atchley (1869–1945), a distinguished Anglican liturgical scholar associated with the Alcuin Club.
The body of work from which this text is drawn was researched over many years and eventually published by Longmans Green of London in 1909, under the title A History of the Use of Incense in Divine Worship. The subject-matter is primarily about the role of incense in religious ceremonies, both private and public, although other applications are discussed.
The author explores in the pre-Christian use of incense, the religious use of incense in much of the ancient world as we know it. This investigation is a fascinating and enlightening exploration of the historical evidence for the widespread use of incense in religious ceremonial and is as relevant today as it was a century of more ago.
The purpose of the present inquiry is to ascertain the origins of the various ways in which incense was used in ancient times and subsequently used in the Christian era: understanding by this the sensing of persons, alters, and other ornaments, and the carrying of a sensor at the head of religious processions. In order to do this it is proposed to examine first of all the chief religions of antiquity which might of had an influence direct or indirect upon Christian ceremonial and find out how they used incense and aromatic perfumes, and what was the motive underlying that use or uses. It is reasonable to suppose that the use of incense amongst Christians did not arise de novo, but that it was derived from, or at least suggested by, similar usages among the religions the Church once and for all surpassed and replaced.