Book Review on ‘The World’s Religions’ by KP Paul

Book Review on ‘The World’s Religions’ by KP Paul

Partridge, Christopher H. The World’s Religions: The New Lion Handbook. Oxford: Lion, 2007. £14.99

 The author of this book is Christopher Hugh Partridge, born in 196, who is an author, editor, professor at Lancaster University, and founding Co-director of the Centre for the Study of Religion and Popular Culture. Partridge is also a leading scholar of topics in popular culture. He is a well-known researcher in the field of Christian theology and Western alternative spirituality. He has written some books on the UFO religions, mystical experiences, and fundamentalism.

This book is divided into fourteen parts as chapters, namely understanding religion, religions of antiquity, indigenous religions, Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, the religions of East Asia, the Bahai faith and religion in Today’s world. Under this division, there are sub-topics. This book has 494 pages including index and acknowledgments.

The content can be grouped into three sections: Part one to three, Part four to eleven, and Part twelve to fourteen.  The first section gives the introduction of the religions including the views of different historical people such as Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim, Sigmund, Max Weber, Freud, and Rudolf Otto. Some of them are defined religion in a positive way and some negative way. However, his chapter defines the term religion, its aspects, and its effects on the people of society. It also describes that how religion is related in every aspect of society throughout the history to this modern world, also talks about the essences of the religion such as rituals, beliefs, practices, power, and culture, indigenous religions case study and indigenous religion in Asia. The second section (Part four to eleven) describes eight major religions individually. The essential features of every individual religion are well defended which are origin and development within the deferent civilization and society, sacred writings or scripture, gods and goddesses, the doctrine of life, the afterlife, rituals, festivals, beliefs and practices, family, and society. The last section (Part twelve to fourteen) describes the developments of new religions as the alternative to old in the modern world.

This book has accomplished its purpose. Though the book has the contribution of specialist authors from many different countries, the language and terms are straightforward to understand. The unique features such as articles on issues of syncretism, pluralism, secularism, fundamentalism, and nationalism from different people have made this book even more reliable. The content gives a clear picture of the development of religion, ancient religions (Egypt, Greece, Rome), the eastern religions, and secular ideologies. The primal Religions are defended by doing case studies from different parts of the world today.

The work is very significant with the great effort of the 80 contributors from around the world that includes a high quantity of fresh material with the numbers of key features. Because of its highly significant for the readers who related to religions, the previous editions were sold over 300,000 copies.

It is written in chronological order such as the origin and definition of religion, characteristics of religion, and its development. Then it moves on to individual religion and its reformation in the modern age. There is not any comparative method but the inclusion of the person’s experiences in order to present the picture of their context. The case studies are used as a useful method for this book.

The substantial aspect of this book is its contributors who were well experienced in religious research and study. It shows that the presented data and the information are very accurate in the sense of religious history and development, the philosophy of religion, its attributes, and its relationship to society and the nation. In this book, every religion has been verified by expertise with reliable sources, so the information and data can be taken without any hesitation. There are over thousands of reference entries listed at the end of the book, which is a very helpful glossary for research.

One of the major attractions of this book is color photographs, maps, and diagrams, which makes the content very exciting as a reference. These pictures have helped to understand the overall picture of each religion’s costumes and culture. Though the picture covered many spaces, it has enough detail to be used for the related study.

This book does not have a footnote and bibliography. It would be better if the author mentioned the proper footnote and bibliography. The data and internal materials are very worth reading, but the book is quite heavy because of the overweight paper. If soft paper would have been used, the price of the hard copy could be reduced for the reader’s compensation.

In comparison to most reference books, this book is very educational and at the same time entertaining to read because of illustrations, pictures, and maps. This book is very reliable for the knowledge about the religions of the world. Through this book, the reader can be convinced that the contribution of the religion of human civilizations throughout history and its significant relationship to human society all over the world nowadays.  This book can be a useful reference tool for the research, and it is beneficial for the specialist, teachers, students, and as well as general readers.

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