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A Concise Introduction to World Religions, 4th Edition
Based on the best-selling World Religions: Eastern Traditions and World Religions: Western Traditions, A Concise Introduction to World Religions, Fourth Edition, is ideal for single-semester courses. Renowned contributors trace the origins and evolution of the major traditions, explain their essential teachings, outline their practices, and examine their interactions with modern culture and society, while insightful introductory and concluding essays suggest countless avenues for further reflection and study.
It has been an honor for us to edit this fourth edition of A Concise Introduction to World Religions. The late Will Oxtoby was an outstanding researcher, but his true excellence was as a teacher. It is no coincidence that the publications for which he will be remembered best are the textbooks World Religions: Eastern Traditions and World Religions: Western Traditions. It was also as a teacher that Will first met Alan Segal, who became a colleague, a close friend, and eventually a collaborator on those books. After Will’s death early in the planning of the first edition of A Concise Introduction to World Religions (2006), it was Alan who took over as general editor and saw the work through to completion. He also oversaw the development of the second edition of the present work, but just before it went to press, in 2011, he died—barely three months into his retirement from Barnard College.
With Alan’s death, new authors were required for the chapters on Judaism and Christianity. In choosing his original contributors, Will Oxtoby looked for people who combined scholarship with sympathetic appreciation of the traditions in question. We have tried to be true to that vision in choosing our own contributors. This is the first Concise edition to include Michael Desrochers’s excellent work on the religions of antiquity.
In his original foreword, Will wrote that people often used to ask him why he would waste his life on something as unimportant as religion, but that no one ever asked that question after the Islamic revolution in Iran. We have had the same experience: since the terrorist attacks of 9/11, not a single student has raised the issue of relevance. On the contrary, the study of world religions is now seen as more important today than ever before.
Important Features of This Edition
This fourth edition of A Concise Introduction to World Religions builds on and further refines the significant changes made to the third edition. The introductory chapter has been enhanced in several ways. Now titled “Studying Religion,” it has been newly written to give more attention to theories about religion and methods for the study of religion. In addition, at the suggestion of reviewers, we’ve added a new chapter on the religions of antiquity.
We have also added three new features: Interview boxes, Practice boxes, and Women in the Traditions boxes. The Interview boxes offer a short interview with an important or influential member of one of the traditions discussed in each chapter. The Practice boxes invite students to glimpse facets of religion as observed in daily life. The Women in the Traditions boxes expand the coverage found in the chapters by examining an issue related to women’s practice or lives within a tradition.
Dynamic Pedagogical Program
• Traditions at a Glance boxes provide thumbnail summaries of numbers and distribution of participants, founders and leaders, deities, important texts, and noteworthy doctrines.
• Timelines help to place religious developments in historical context.
• Informative maps provide useful reference points.
• A vibrant art program highlights practitioners’ lived experiences.
• Sacred Texts tables give students a convenient summary of the most important texts in each tradition, how and when they were composed, and how they have been used.
• End-of-chapter discussion questions enhance students’ critical understanding of key concepts, glossaries explain key terms, and lists of further readings and recommended websites provide excellent starting points for further research.
Compelling Boxed Features
• Document boxes provide generous excerpts from scripture and other important writings.
• Sites boxes draw attention to locations of special significance to each tradition.
• Focus boxes give students greater understanding of certain aspects of each tradition.
Extensive Ancillary Package
Online resources provide an outstanding array of teaching and learning tools for both instructors and students. Instructors can benefit from a suite of ancillaries designed to support their teaching goals.
An instructor’s manual contains chapter summaries, learning objectives, student activities, class discussion topics, essay topics, and lists of multimedia resources for each chapter. PowerPoint slides cover all key concepts and are easily adapted to suit a particular course. Students have access to a wealth of additional information in the student study guide, which offers chapter summaries, learning objectives, short-answer questions (with answers), reflection questions, research paper topics, and multimedia resources.
Contributors xviii Preface xx
1 Studying Religions 2
Roy C. Amore & Amir Hussain
2 Indigenous Traditions 26
3 Religions of Antiquity 76
4 Jewish Traditions 126
5 Christian Traditions 182
Wendy L. Fletcher
6 Muslim Traditions 244
7 Hindu Traditions 302
8 Sikh Traditions 364
9 Jaina Traditions 400
10 Buddhist Traditions 434
Roy C. Amore
11 Chinese and Korean Traditions 496
Terry Tak-ling Woo
12 Japanese Traditions 560
John K. Nelson
13 New Religions
and Movements 592
Roy C. Amore