William Robertson Smith on rituals (over myths)

“So far as myths consists of explanation of ritual their value is altogether secondary, and it may be affirmed with confidence that in almost every case the myth was derived from the ritual, and not the ritual from the myth; for the ritual was fixed and the myth was variable, the ritual was obligatory and faith in the myth was at the discretion of the worshipper”

Smith, W.R. (1889) Lectures on the Religion of the Semites, First Series: The Fundamental Institutions, Burnet Lectures 1888/9, Edinburg: Adam & Charles Black

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