The Illustrated Guide to World Religions

ISBN 13: 9780195219975

The Illustrated Guide to World Religions

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9780195219975: The Illustrated Guide to World Religions

Graced with rich illustrations and written by a team of eminent scholars, The Illustrated Guide to World Religions presents a wealth of information on faiths around the world.
Each chapter in this volume examines one of seven major world religions--from Judaism to Christianity and from Islam to Buddhism--and contains information about its holidays and festivities, key historical and mythological figures, architectural styles, calendars, language, and important texts. The book deals with such issues as the afterlife, the role of women, the importance of saints, and the quest for higher wisdom. We discover, for instance, that Pure Land Buddhism--found mainly in China, Japan, and Tibet--holds that meditation on a particular deity at the moment of death will help insure rebirth into that deity's celestial domain. In Judaism, on the other hand, the concept of an afterlife has never played a central role. Uniquely organized in a manner that encourages comparative analysis, the book's lavish full-color art, maps, and photographs all focus on faith in practice, in both elaborate ritual and everyday life.
Religion continues to be a monumental force in a rapidly changing world. Whether tracing the origins of your own faith or attempting to satisfy a curiosity about religious practices an ocean away, The Illustrated Guide to World Religions will be a fascinating and indispensable guide to the complexity of the world's living religions.

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Review:

Few topics are as complex as religion, and few educational references do as impressive a job of summing up in clear, precise, and easy-to-understand prose the precepts, history, and practices of the world's major faiths. Michael D. Coogan has all the background to tackle such a formidable task. Currently the director of publications for the Harvard Semitic Museum, he has taught at Harvard and Wellesley, excavated in Israel, Jordan, and Egypt, and edited both the Oxford Companion to the Bible and the Oxford History of the Biblical World. Beautifully illustrated with artwork, photography, maps, and graphs, this guide provides a lucid introduction to Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism, as well as the religious traditions of China and Japan. Coogan explains each religion's origins and divine beliefs, sacred texts and individuals, the concepts of death and the afterlife, and how the religion is expressed in society, rites of passage, education, and gender roles. The reference shelves have been lacking a good, comprehensive yet accessible religion guide. It's a pleasure to see such a concise, readable, and attractive piece of erudition address that need. --Stephanie Gold

About the Author:


Michael D. Coogan, the co-editor of The Oxford Companion to the Bible, is Lecturer at Harvrad Divinity School and Director of Publications for the Harvard Semitic Museum.

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