Wordtrade LogoWordtrade.com


Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences


Religion References

An Introductory Dictionary of Theology & Religious Studies edited by Orlando Espin, James B. Nickoloff (Liturgical Press) Students enrolled in undergraduate theology and religious studies courses are frequently confronted with the daunting task of mastering new and unfamiliar terminology. While some textbooks include glossaries to aid the introductory student, many educators assign classroom texts that assume students' prior knowledge of key terms. Having ready access to a wide variety of definitions in a single, compact volume is especially important in our multicultural and religiously plural world. Spanning the gamut from "Aaron" to "Zwingli," this dictionary includes nearly 3,000 entries written by about sixty authors, all of whom are specialists in their various theological and religious disciplines. The editors have designed the dictionary especially to aid the introductory-level student with instant access to definitions of terms likely to be encountered in--but not to substitute for--classroom presentations or reading assignments. Designed as a supplement for student coursework, An Introductory Dictionary of Theology and Religious Studies is also a useful resource for catechesis or religious education, for those pursuing interfaith or interreligious dialogue, and for those whose duties require communication with persons from diverse religious traditions.

This well designed and useful guide to words and terms in religious studies offers a balanced and reasonably thorough introductory definitions to current topics in religious studies. The book is especially good in presenting catholic topics but it also offers germane definitions of other Christian confessions and the major world religions. The entries do not recognize the new religions or esoteric religious history or topics. I would assume a second edition would include metaphysical and occult trends in religious studies. I believe this reference work, which is offered at a modest price, belongs in all public community libraries as well as high school and college libraries where religion is likely part of the curriculum.

College professors of religion have been discovering over the past two decades that their students are frequently unfamiliar with ideas, terms, historical events, or persons deemed important in the study of religion. An Introductory Dictionary of Theology and Religious Studies intends to provide basic definitions and back­ground information on concepts, persons, objects, and events that seem to be important or useful for the academic study of the world's major religions. It is further intended for students at colleges and universities where the academic study of religion is part of the undergraduate curriculum.

This dictionary is not meant to take the place of the professor, or of the profes­sor's classroom explanations, or of other required reading. It is simply intended to provide a source of information with which students may initiate or enrich their study.

The dictionary is purposely introductory. The entries included in this volume were not written in order to break new scholarly ground or to disseminate recent research results. The authors were asked simply to present the subject matter in synthetic form, explaining what is commonly held by mainstream specialists in the field, in language understandable to beginners.

The dictionary is not intended, furthermore, for catechesis or religious education, although it might prove helpful in those contexts as well. We have kept the college religion course in mind, and not the parish, as the primary context in which this volume might be used.

Although the dictionary reflects the Catholic heritage of many of the authors, a significant portion of entries was written by scholars from other religious tradi­tions or from none. We hope the dictionary will be useful to students in institutions public and private, denominational and secular.

  • We have attempted to be as ecumenical, multicultural, and international as possible. In order to achieve this aim, we have made the following decisions:
  • We have tried to reflect developing-nation and U.S. minority perspectives in the list of entries, alongside European and Euro-American perspectives.
  • We have included entries on U.S. Latino/a, Latin American, African Ameri­can, African, and Asian theologians, besides the expected ones on Europeans and Euro-Americans.
  • We added entries on religions present in the United States but usually absent from American introductory dictionaries (for example, Umbanda, Condomblé, Santeria, Vodoun, native religions from the Americas, and so on).
  • We also represented European countries usually ignored in American dic­tionaries (for example, Spain, Portugal, Russia, and Greece).

To achieve the preceding four goals, as well as to make sure that women from across the world were included, we chose to have entries on scholars and religious leaders still living, working, and writing.

The emphasis of this dictionary is on mainstream Christianity, in particular "Catholic" Christianity, broadly understood. At the same time, we have acknowledged Protestant, Anglican, and Orthodox Christianity and have included as many entries as possible on every one of the world's other great religions. Specialists in these other traditions, often members thereof, authored the many entries on Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Santeria, and so forth.


Fifty Years of Philosophy of Religion: A Select Bibliography (1955-2005) by Andy F. Sanders, Kristof De Ridder (Brill Academic Publishers) Excerpt: In the mid-1970s, my teacher Huib Hubbeling, professor of the philosophy of religion, launched a bibliographical project that was meant to give advanced students the opportunity to get acquainted with the preparatory stages of inquiry. As a result, a systematic, selected bibliography of works in the field of the logic, epistemology and analysis of religious language appeared in 1974.' Listing nearly 920 titles of hooks and articles from 72 journals, its terminus a quo was 1955, the year in which the influential collection New Essays in Philosophical Theology was published for the first time. A sequel with a broader category system, covering the years from 1975 until 1986 and listing almost 2300 entries, appeared in 1988. The present vol­ume not only includes most of the material contained in these ear­lier bibliographies but has been updated for the period 1987 -2005 with nearly 4800 additional entries.

While the compilation of the 1974 bibliography had been largely a matter of rummaging in the repositories of libraries, of (re)typing, Blueing and tipp-exing, its 1988 sequel was produced largely by elec­tronic means, such as Dbase III, the University's Cyber computer and the international electronic collections The Philosopher's Index and Religion Index One. Since the mid-1980s many new bibliographical resources have become available, such as, for example, A TLA (produced by the American Theological Library Association), Francis (produced since 1984 by the Institut de l'Information Scientifique et Technique of the French Centre .National de la Recherche Scientifique), an international bibliography of periodical literature in the humanities, arts and social sciences (produced since 1983 by K.G. Sauer Verlag, Munich, part of the Thomson Corporation) and JSTOR, the major online archive of academic journals.

With only limited resources available, we decided to use the data­bases of Philosopher's Index (PI) and ATLA as our primary sources for bringing the present bibliography up to date for the period after 1986. These databases have been searched by means of hundreds of key-words delineating the eleven categories by which all the material should subsequently be systematized. As expected, the searches yielded not only a host of 'double' entries but also brought to light that quite different formats were in use (punctuation, spelling, abbre­viations and the like). Hence, XML (Extensible Mark-up Language) had to be employed in order to ensure that the format of the entries in print would be standardized. Not all problems could be solved in this way, however. The occurrence of multiple entries, the use of standard abbreviations of journal titles and the like, had to be solved during the proof-readings.

The category system as a whole covers a wide variety of topics—from issues in modal logic to radical hermeneutics and transcen­dental metaphysics, from Plato to Derrida, from creation to eschatology, from traditional theism to negative theology and from religious lan­guage to modern physics, and almost anything in between. For the purpose of this volume, 'philosophy of religion' has been taken to include both the philosophical study of religion (as a branch of phi­losophy proper) and philosophical theology (philosophy from within a particular religion as a branch of theology). Depending on one's philosophical orientation, say, 'analytical', hermeneutical', 'phenomenol­ogical', 'existential', 'contemplative' etc., a plethora of approaches may be discerned. Rather than following any one approach in par­ticular, however, the category system of the present volume focuses on problematic issues in specific fields of enquiry, such as 'religious language', 'religious experience', 'religious epistemology', 'theism', `science and religion', and the like. The eleven main categories accord­ing to which the present volume is subdivided in as many Parts can briefly be described as follows.

  • Part I lists work of a general, historical and/or introductory kind, such as general introductions in the field, surveys, anthologies, read­ers, and the like. Works of a more general nature on, or by, philoso­phers and/or theologians like, for example, Augustine, Anselm, Pascal, Hegel, Schleiermacher, Kierkegaard and Marcel, have been included here as well, especially if it did not seem to fit well in any of the other categories.
  • Part II covers logical and semantical issues in religious language, problems of sense and reference, meaning and significance, but also analogy, metaphor, symbol, and myth. It also lists analyses of the meaning of key religious concepts, such as 'faith', 'revelation', 'eter­nity' and the like.
  • Part III deals with the nature, scope and status of religious expe­rience in general (3.1) and of mystical experience in particular (3.2). Though there will be some overlap, attempts to establish or deny the evidential or justificatory status of religious experience vis-a-vis religious belief, however, have been brought under the heading of `religious epistemology' (Part IV).
  • Part IV covers work in religious epistemology, broadly so-called. It includes many entries on the traditional problematic of 'faith and reason' both in its historical and its contemporary guises such as the nature and 'logic' of religious belief and belief formation, as well as particular questions concerning the consistency, coherence, verifiability, falsifiability, rationality, justifiability and truth of religious belief. Since constructive and critical attempts to answer these questions often employ general epistemology, relevant work on foundationalism, rel­ativism, reliabilism, pragmatism, post-modernism and traditionalism has been included as well. Much work in this category is apologetic in character and often closely related to, or part of, theism. Alternative approaches in the epistemology of religion, however, like the Wittgen­steinian, can be found here as well. Listing almost 800 entries, Part IV also has a number of entries on the nature of theological method, on the question whether theology may count as a science, on 'other minds' and on theological 'realism'. Since the latter issue often involves a more or less explicit comparison with the kind of realism that science is sometimes supposed to involve, there is some overlap with Part VII, Religion and Science.
  • Part V deals with constructive and critical work in, on or against various brands of theism, broadly so called. This is to say that not only classical theism but also panentheism and versions of Thomism have been included. The same goes for its historical adversary (athe­ism) and for its more recent alternatives — in so far as they deal specifically deal with theism — such as Wittgensteinianism and 'post­modernism'. The large number of entries — nearly 3600 — concerned with the various aspects of theism seems to confirm its status as the dominant tradition in the philosophy of religion. Part V has there­fore been divided in five sub-categories: (5.1) general and/or histor­ical, (5.2) the concept of God (including discussions of divine attributes like omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, eternity, all-goodness, personhood, transcendence), (5.3) arguments for or against the exis­tence of God, (5.4) the problem of evil including the free will defence and versions of theodicy and (5.5) atheism and agnosticism.
  • Part VI (almost 400 entries) lists work in the hermeneutical and phenomenological traditions that has not been included in other (sub-)categories. Constructive work in the Wittgensteinian tradition of philosophy of religion can be found here as well.
  • Part VII deals with the relatively new field of inquiry called Religion and Science or Science and Theology. Listing more than 1200 entries, it has been divided in three sub-categories. General and Historical Issues (7.1) has entries on issues concerning the relation (and its history) between 'religion' and 'science' as, for example, one of separation, controversy or complementarity, the nature of causation, the cre­dentials of (in)determinism, the possibility of free will, scientism, super­naturalism and the rise of modern science. Theological Issues (7.2) has more than 400 entries on miracles, the resurrection, 'life after death' or 'eternal life' and creation. Finally, Modern Physics, Cosmology and Biology (7.3) deals with questions regarding the consequences, if any, of modern scientific theories for religious belief such as Big Bang, chaos and complexity, evolution, socio-biology, supervenience, cre­ationism and 'intelligent design'. Not surprisingly, this category exhibits thematic overlap with in Parts IV, V and IX.
  • Part VIII, on religion and aesthetics and Part IX, on religion and morality, list work on the relation between religion and moral­ity, the autonomy of morality, and so-called divine command theory.
  • Part X has more than 250 entries on the implications of reli­gious diversity, such as, for example, issues like exclusivism, inclu­sivism and pluralism, interreligious dialogue and questions of truth, the particularity of salvation and the uniqueness of Christianity.
  • Finally, Part XI shows that work in so-called feminist philosophy of religion is a small, but growing field of enquiry in its own right.

It goes without saying that a categorization like this is to a cer­tain extent arbitrary. Further, the requirement not to exceed a limit of 650 pages of printed text means that the present volume is by no means exhaustive. Moreover, multiple listings of certain entries, as well as listings of shorter discussion notes and reviews have been kept to a minimum. Still, we do think that the present bibliography offers a fair sample of major work published in the field over the past fifty years.

The majority of the entries is in the English language, though a quite a few in German, French, and even some in Dutch, have been included as well. The predominance of the English language appears to be due mainly to the fact that majority of the relevant journals and the publishers of books and journals in the field are English or American. It does not follow, however, that the present bibliogra­phy only lists so-called 'analytical' philosophy of religion as it is prac­tised in the Anglo-American world. Work in the 'continental' tradition (`phenomenological philosophy of religion' or 'hermeneutics of reli­gion') and in the history of philosophy of, or about, religion has been included as well. In this area, additional searches have been made in other databases than PI and ATLA, such as PiCarta, Google Books and WorldCat, the world's largest bibliographic database, built and maintained collectively by libraries that participate in the Online Computer Library Center, Inc. (OCLS).  

Religion Past And Present: Encyclopedia of Theology And Religion (Complete 10 volume set)

Religion Past & Present: A-Bhu: Encyclopedia of Theology and Religion by Hans Dieter Betz, Don S. Browning, Bernd Janowski, Eberhard Jungel (Religion Past and Present: Brill Academic Publishers) At this time I’ve only seen the first volume, but this eventually 10 volume set offers a very fundamental  survey of Christian religious thought with a reasonable representation of Jewish and Islamic influences. The volumes do not represent Eastern religious traditions except in a once over lightly fashion. I have included the subject areas because it best describes the strengths of this reference book which is in its theological considerations of major religious themes as institutionally defined primarily by Christian dogmatics, secondarily considered is the Jewish tradition, with some nods to the Islamic especially in its historical modes.  There are articles on the major non-Western religions but for the most part none are representative or integrated into the theological discussions that the reference chronicles. Perhaps some future edition, where comparative theologies have wrangled with the nature of Buddha and the divine, the paramitas and virtues, the nature of prayer, the rise of Pentecostalism and other features of our global religious outlook.

However if you overlook this lack of balanced broad focus, and instead concentrate on what the reference volumes actually offer, someone seeking elucidation of the major themes and traditions of Western European, especially Germanic, religious engagement will find this reference quite useful.  From examining only this first volume it was difficult to gauge to what degree orthodoxy in its Greek and Russian forms are given full scope, nor was it easy to tell how well their theological traditions are integrated into the discussions present.


This English version Religion Past and Present (RPP) is a translation and adaptation of the fourth edition of Religion in Geschichte tend Gegenwart (RGG). This work provides the reader with a depth and breadth of information unmatched by any comparable theological reference work in the English language. In its compre­hensiveness and through its systematic presentation of the material, RPP offers a coherent theological vision rooted in the tradition of modern Protestantism without, however, being bound to any particular theological school or program. In doing so, it recalls the tradition of the universal encyclopedia, providing a compendium of material extending across a wide and diverse range of disciplines. It covers not only all the major theological disciplines (biblical studies, church history, systematic theology, ethics, church law and practical theology) but also allied fields such as history, philosophy, sociology, psychology, science, law and economics. In addition, there are a substantial number of entries on topics in literature, music and the arts. Naturally, the entire field of religious studies is represented, as is the range of religious experience found in traditions other than Christian­ity. But in addition to its aim of comprehensiveness, RPP strives to be both international and contemporary, providing the reader with summary of the state of each discipline at the dawn of the twenty-first century. Although its language is terse and compact, befitting an encyclopedia, RPP will appeal to a wide range of read­ers. For the sake of readability, abbreviations in the text have been minimized, and RPP's style follows current academic convention in following, where appropriate, that of the Society of Biblical Literature. In short, this is a reference work that embodies the highest standards of contemporary scholarship without sacrificing clarity and accessibility.

In the interest of mediating the full depth and scope of the German work, we have been selective and conservative about making changes.

We are convinced that readers will benefit from learning how topics are approached from perspectives which may stand at variance with their own habits and styles of thought. At the same time, the work has been selectively adapted to bring out the international character and intent of the original. This has been done in the first place by omitting a number of minor articles that were written primarily for the especially German circumstances of the original audience. We have also lightly edited some articles in order to meet the needs of the international reader. In adapting the work we were guided by the principle: as little as possible, but as much as necessary. We have, however, been able to add a small number of new articles, including biographical ones on figures such as Gerhard Ebeling, Paul Ricoeur, Hans-Georg Gadamer, John Paul II, who have died since the publication of the German work. In addition, we have tried to aid the reader by providing information about existing English editions where available and accessible, including originally English items which RGG cites only in German translation. At the same time, we have resisted any temptation to equate international scholarship with works written in or translated into English, and the bibliographies contain references to works in all major European and many non-European languages.


Preface to the Fourth Edition

As the fourth edition is published, the RGG has almost reached the century mark in its history. Both in their entirety and as individual articles, the four editions together reflect the 19th and 20th centuries in a way unmatched by virtually any other document in the history of religious and theological scholarship.

Alongside the evident differences between the editions, it is not difficult to see the points of agreement. The planning for the first edition (1909-1913) in 1904-1906 already linked its intent to summarize the state of research of the 19th century with an extension of perspective beyond the traditional primary disciplines, listed as the history of extra-Christian religion, art and music, education, the social sciences, church law and church politics, as well as contemporary Christianity. This basic concept continued to apply in the subsequent editions, though the overall perspective and the attention given to individual subject areas were necessarily subject to change as appropriate.

The preparations for the second edition (1927-1932), which began shortly after the end of the First World War, amounted almost to a complete revision. The 1927 Preface lists its aims as consideration of the new gen­eral situation in theology, an increased emphasis on non-Christian religions and the interplay between religion and culture (art, literature, philosophy, the social sciences) as well as an account of the results of scholarly endeavor thus far, in view of the "dynamism and abundance of present-day religious and theological life," as it cautiously puts it.

The third edition (1957-1965) emerged at the time of European reconstruction after the catastrophe of the Second World War. It was a result of the new orientation in the church and theology in view of the collapse that occurred at the end of the war, a collapse that had left nothing but ruins in the fields of religion, theology, and the church. A feature of this edition was the seriousness with which the "Protestant" Christian faith was now regarded as well as its deliberate location in the increasingly significant ecumenical movement among the churches. From these points of view, established wisdom and the recently added reservoir of knowledge was sifted and set out in accessible order. The fact that this edition was tailored largely to the prevailing circum­stances in the German-speaking world contributed, paradoxically enough, to its abiding importance.

It is appropriate here, finally, to point out a further point of agreement between the editions up to now. All three editions would never have been possible without the initiative, risk-accepting courage and resolute com­mitment of the publishing house of Mohr Siebeck. The new fourth edition also stands in this tradition.

The developments of the last 50 years in the areas of science and technology have not left the world of reli­gions untouched. For one thing the general economic upturn and the global expansion of scholarly research in old and new subject areas have led to an accumulation of knowledge that would scarcely have been conceivable in earlier times. Not only this, but on the basis of new knowledge, methods and perspectives scholarly think­ing has itself undergone radical change, though the extent of these changes and their effects on the fields of theology and religious studies are not yet clear. In addition a new ecumenical appreciation of the problems has established itself.

So what does "completely revised" mean in relation to the fourth edition? Completely revised, first of all, are the list of subject areas and the list of entries, though the tracking down of gaps and overlaps by careful com­parison with earlier editions was only the beginning. The lists of subjects and lemmata then had to be adjusted to the new scholarly circumstances. New too is the international perspective in the commissioning of area edi­tors and authors, extending beyond Europe. For the editors too, this expansion made the preparatory work a voyage of discovery in less familiar fields. The journey was longer than expected, and on the way we learned to appreciate our traveling companions, the area editors, authors, editors and the publisher. For our part we now invite readers to discoveries in the variety of articles in the new RGG.

The articles take their orientation by the following guidelines:

I. The fourth edition of RGG, too, sees itself as a continuation of the aim that began with the first edition to provide a reference dictionary for theology and religious studies that would give an account of the essential phenomena of religious and ecclesiastical life and of the theological reflection pertaining to this life. Despite all the necessary changes, the traditional framework of the division of subjects has been largely maintained. The title, however, has dropped its former definite article, which was open to misunderstanding. The dictionary is now called "Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart".

2. In dealing with the evangelic heart of the Christian faith, Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart is to be so presented that readers are informed in the best way possible in the available space and that they are given the wherewithal to form a balanced view in relation to other and alien religious realities as well as their own. The RGG is not committed to any particular theological tendency or school.

3. The articles should offer a snapshot of the current state of knowledge, present the relevant methodologi­cal issues and draw attention to open questions and tasks for future research.

4. Regarding the problem of how to refer to the Jewish Scriptures and the Christian Old Testament in articles and article headings, a rule was established that should ensure the cooperation of all authors. Follow­ing a number of discussions aimed at facilitating Christian-Jewish cooperation on biblical texts, an interna­tional compromise solution has emerged which has in the meantime been acknowledged by all sides and has established itself. In accordance with this, both Old Testament and Hebrew Bible are used as standard terms. Authors are free to use either of these terms.

5. In order to avoid imbalance in the compilation or an arbitrary selection, the fourth edition of RGG has refrained from including articles on persons who are still alive. Significant figures in contemporary history may be found in the corresponding specialized articles via the index.

6. The bibliographical information in RGG has been kept brief in view of the many possibilities of access to detailed bibliographies in modern databases. Mention is made of standard works, text editions, biographies, and special monographs essential for scholarly work, important journal articles, as well as references to com­plete bibliographies in other publications. No bibliographies are given for the history of interpretation of bibli­cal books, since these are now available in up-to-date commentaries and electronic media.

7. Although the home ofRGG is in Germany, from the first edition on, it has been a feature of the work to take in a perspective beyond the national boundaries. This orientation will be reinforced in the fourth edition, so that the dictionary will in future have an even stronger international profile and also be able to serve as a source of information for countries beyond Europe.

Subject Areas and Area Editors

  • Biblical and Christian Archaeology

    • Hermann Michael Niemann, Rostock, in cooperation with Guntram Koch, Marburg

  • Church History: Asia, Africa, Latin America

    • Klaus Koschorke, Munich, in cooperation with Johannes Meier, Mainz, Kevin Ward, Leeds, England, and Martin N. Dreher, Sao Leopoldo, Brazil

  • Church History: Early Church

    • Christoph Markschies, Berlin (preparation until 1995: Barbara Aland, Munster)

  • Church History: Middle Ages and Reformation Ulrich Köpf, Tubingen

  • Church History: Europe in Modern Times I

    • Albrecht Beutel, Münster (until vol. II: Johannes Wallman, Bochum)

  • Church History: Europe in Modern Times II

    • Friedrich Wilhelm Graf, Munich (until vol. II: Joachim Mehlhausen, Tubingen)

  • Church History: North America, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand

    • Mark A. Noll, Wheaton, IL (until vol. I: Martin E. Marty, Chicago, IL)

  • Church Music and Liturgy

    • Franz Karl Prathl, Graz, Austria, in cooperation with Anthony William Ruff, Collegeville, MN (until vol. III: Don E. Saliers, Atlanta, GA, in cooperation with Robin A. Leaver, Princeton, NJ; vol. IV: J. Neil Alexander, Atlanta, GA)

  • Church Law

    • Christoph Link, Erlangen

  • Culture, Art, Media, and Religion

    • Enno Rudolph, Lucerne, Switzerland, in cooperation with Thomas Schmidt, Gottingen, Reinhard Schmidt-Rost, Bonn, and Peter Burke, Cambridge, England (until vol. I: Frank Burch Brown, Indianapolis, IL, in cooperation with Rainer Volp, Mainz, and Graham Howes, Cambridge, England)

  • Ecumenism: Catholicism

    • Peter Neuner, Munich (preparation until 1995: Werner G. Jeanrond, Lund, Sweden)

  • Ecumenism: Orthodox Church Karl Christian Felmy, Erlangen Ecumenism: Reformed Churches

    • Mark A. Noll, Wheaton, IL (until vol. I: Glenn Hinson, Richmond, VA)

  • Dogmatics

    • Christoph Schwöbel, Tubingen Ethics and Related Social Sciences Eilert Herms, Tubingen

  • Fundamental Theology

    • Christoph Schwöbel, Tubingen

  • History of Religion: Prehistory to the Ancient Near East

    • Manfred Hutter, Bonn (until vol. IV: Firtz Stolz, Zurich, Switzerland)

  • History of Religion: Greco-Roman Antiquity Hubert Cancik, Tubingen

  • History of Religion: Pre-Islamic Religions, Islam and Arab Christianity

    • Josef van Ess, Tubingen

  • History of Religion: South, Central and East Asia Hubert Seiwert, Leipzig

  • History of Religion: Other Religions

    • Lawrence Sullivan, Notre Dame, IN

  • Judaism: Early Judaism

    • Peter Schafer, Berlin and Princeton, NJ, in cooperation with Klaus Herrmann, Berlin

  • Judaism: Middle Ages and Modern Times

    • Michael Brenner, Munich (until vol. II: Joseph Dan, Jerusalem, Israel and Berlin)

  • New Testament

    • Hans-Josef Klauck, Chicago, IL

  • Old Testament/Hebrew Bible

    • Eckart Otto, Munich and Pretoria, South Africa

  • Philosophy

    • Gunter Figal, Freiburg i.Br. Philosophy of Religion

    • Christoph Schwöbel, Tubingen

  • Practical Theology and Related Social Sciences, Education

    • Christian Grethlein, Münster (until vol. I: Friedrich Schweitzer, Tubingen in cooperation with Richard R. Osmer, Princeton, NJ, and Volker Drehsen, Tubingen)

  • Religion and Science

    • Ted Peters, Berkeley, CA (until vol. III: Philip Hefner, Chicago, IL)

  • Religious Studies

    • Manfred Hutter, Bonn (until vol. IV: Fritz Stolz, Zurich, Switzerland)

  • Religious Studies and Missiology Werner Ustorf, Birmingham, England


New Religions: A Guide : New Religious Movements, Sects and Alternative Spiritualities edited by Christopher Partridge (Oxford University Press) Well conceived and handsomely executed these descriptions of new religions provide a personal touch with each entry attempting to note some of the unique features these various groups have and to whom they appeal. The book also ahs great design features and is fun to read and browse, providing authoritative, personable cultural contexts, a “cliff-notes” to who’s who in the NRMs.

From Christian Science and the Jehovah's Witnesses to Soka Gakkai, Wicca, and Falun Gong, the last century and a half has seen an unprecedented growth of new religious movements, sects, and alternative spiritualities. New Religions offers an authoritative and lavishly illustrated guide to more than two hundred of these wildly varied groups and movements. The volume is organized according to an entirely new method of classification, which associates movements, sects, and spiritualities with the religious traditions from which they arose. Rastafarianism, for example, is shown to have its roots in Christianity, while Bahai is an offshoot of Islam. Included are both long-established groups like the Seventh-Day Adventists and the Hutterites and more recent movements like Santeria, the Unification Church, and ISKCON (the 'Hare Krishnas'). In addition to Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Zoroastrianism, Indian Religions, and the Religions of East Asia, sections are devoted to movements and groups inspired by Indigenous and Pagan Traditions, and by Western Esoteric and New Age Traditions. Particularly fascinating is the discussion of the religious offspring of Modern Western Culture, including Scientology, UFO-based groups (such as the Raelians), and even the worship of celebrities like Elvis and Princess Diana. Each entry clearly and concisely explains the history, beliefs and practices, and status in the world today of the movement or group in question. Special entries highlight broad topics such as New Religions in China as well as intriguing subjects such as Cargo Cults, Martial Arts, Astrology, and Feng Shui. Written by specialists, New Religions is a fascinating and colorful guide to the bewildering array of religious and spiritual options available to the modern seeker.

From Publishers Weekly: Partridge, Senior Lecturer in theology and contemporary religion at Chester College, England, has compiled an encyclopedic work covering more than 200 religious movements. He defines a "new religion" as "a religion, sect or alternative spirituality that emerged or rose to prominence during the 20th century," which allows the inclusion of groups like Freemasonry and the Baha'i Faith, with roots in the 18th and 19th centuries. Sixty-three scholars, each with impressive academic credentials, contribute to the book, which organizes groups by the major religious tradition in which the movement is founded. Included are studies of Christian groups such as Jehovah's Witnesses and Christian Science, Muslim groups such as the Nation of Islam and the Sufi Community and various controversial bodies—Heaven's Gate, the Branch Davidians and others. Partridge deliberately selected contributors whose work centers in religion and philosophy but who have no personal connection to the group under consideration. Treatment of each movement is characterized by both brevity and fairness. The various writers provide brief historical and doctrinal sketches, avoiding value judgments and criticism. Larger articles called "features" treat broader themes (e.g. "Celtic Christian Spirituality" or "Chinese New Religions"), providing helpful background for the shorter entries and helping the reader to understand each sect within a larger historical context. Dozens of illustrations, many of them in color, and a thorough index add to the book's usability. Intended for a general audience, this volume is a welcome addition to the available literature. Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Legitimating New Religions by James R. Lewis (Rutgers University Press) (Hardcover) James R. Lewis has written the first book to deal explicitly with the issue of how emerging religions legitimate themselves. The legitimacy that new religions seek in the public realm is primarily that of social acceptance. Through a series of wide-ranging case studies, Lewis explores legitimation strategies as well as the tactics that critics use to delegitimate such groups. Cases include the Raelian Movement, Native American prophet religions, spiritualism, the Church of Christ-Scientist, Scientology, Church of Satan, Heaven’s Gate, Unitarianism, Hindu reform movements, and Soka Gakkai, a new Buddhist sect.

Excerpt: Over the course of the this study, the concept of legitimacy will be explored in the context of a series of case studies of different religious groups. These case studies will elucidate the is-sue of legitimacy in new religions by examining how a selection of specific legitimation strategies manifests in concrete situations. Al-though the focus is contemporary alternative religious movements, many of the issues raised in the discussion can be extended to any religious tradition, particularly those with a historically specifiable point of origin.

I have worked in the field of new religious movements for the better part of two decades. Most of the case studies utilized in these pages have been drawn from groups I have researched in the past. One result of this approach is that I use the Movement for Spiritual Inner Awareness—a group I spent years studying and with which I am intimately familiar—as my primary example in several chapters.

My approach involves a mix of methodologies. Although my primary point of reference is sociological, I also examine legitimation from a religious studies approach that—in the tradition of theorists such as Rudolf Otto (1992), Joachim Wach (1958) and Mircea Eliade (1959)—examines the role religious experience plays in the generation of new religious forms. Additionally, in a number of different studies of comparative data from new religions of earlier periods informs my analysis. In chapters 9 and 10, I include data collected from survey research on former members of controversial new religions (for a brief description of this research, see Appendix B). In chapter 6, I also refer to a survey of religious Satanists (for details, see Appendix A).

I had originally envisioned this book as a series of chapters, each one of which would examine a specific legitimation strategy in the context of a specific case study. When I actually got down to writing, however, it quickly became apparent that this original vision was too artificial to do justice to the complexity of the material. As a consequence, most chapters examine a mix of different legitimation strategies in the life of one or more religious groups.

The book is divided into two major sections. Part 1 surveys the range of strategies used to legitimate new religions. Part 2 examines some of the strategies deployed by critics in their efforts to delegitimate new religions. My original conception of this study was to focus on the various strategies examined in the first section. However, as I got further into it, I found that the issue of legitimacy in contemporary new religions was too closely bound up with the cult controversy to ignore or downplay the impact of this conflict—hence part 2.

After discussing the analysis of religious experience in terms of the approach to religion articulated by the Otto-Wach-Eliade tradition,' chapter 2 examines the prophetic consciousness of founders of new religions via a case study of John-Roger Hinkins, the founder of the Movement for Spiritual Inner Awareness. With the exception of less formally organized audience cults and client cults, the principal source of the "prophet motive" is frequently a profound religious experience which legitimates a new religious vision in the mind of the founding prophet.

Chapter 3 carries forward this discussion in the context of Native American prophet religions. In addition to their visions, these prophets drew on familiar themes from their cultural traditions to legitimate their new religious syntheses. The theoretical perspective that portrays the personal charisma of the founder as the "glue" holding together alternate views of reality is also analyzed and critiqued.

Through the legend of Jesus' journey to India, chapter 4 examines the phenomenon of the fabrication of a pseudo-tradition. Each successive person who perpetuated the Jesus-in-India story was attracted to the legend because the Indian Jesus could be deployed to legitimate their own brand of spirituality.

The appeal to science as a legitimation strategy is the theme of chapter 5. Religious groups like Spiritualism, Christian Science, and Scientology claim they are scientific religions because they model their approach to spirituality after the methods of science. In contrast, a prophet such as Rael bases his "atheistic religion" in the secularist worldview derived from natural science.

Chapter 6 examines the variety of legitimation strategies deployed in the Satanist tradition founded by Anton LaVey. Like Rael, LaVey appealed to the authority of science in the guise of science's contribution to the secular worldview. Additionally, he appealed to human nature as viewed through the lens of Darwinism. Another legitimation strategy LaVey made use of was to amplify his personal charismatic status by creating an impressive pseudo-biography in which he portrayed himself as an extraordinary individual.

Chapter 7 considers how Heaven's Gate was able to legitimate group suicide. The thrust of the analysis in this chapter is to argue that, from the viewpoint of participants, the teachings of the group, including their final radical act, were plausible—which is a different way of saying that the teachings appeared legitimate to participants. The discussion also returns to one of the themes of chapter 3, namely that, rather than relying on charisma as their sole source of legitimation, prophets plant their visions in the fertile fields of pre-existing religious ideas, an approach that allows their new teachings to appear plausible to potential recruits.

Chapter 8 examines two legitimation strategies utilized by the Enlightenment, Western Unitarianism, and the Hindu reformer Ram Mohan Roy: the invocation of the authority of tradition—a tradition reinterpreted so as to legitimate innovation—and the in-vocation of the image of distant societies or movements, the existence of which appear to reinforce the legitimacy claims of one's own movement.

In the next set of chapters, the discussion shifts to an examination of the delegitimation strategies that characterize the cult controversy. Chapter 9 looks at anti-cult atrocity tales in terms of the common themes that current apostate narratives share with nineteenth-century anti-Catholic and anti-Mormon apostate narratives. These themes, which aim to challenge a religion's legitimacy by portraying it as a pseudo-religion, are analyzed in terms of a deep structure that is derived from the projections of the dominant society.

Chapter 10 takes a roughly comparable approach to the pseudo-disorders of "religious insanity," which supposedly characterized converts to sectarian religion in the nineteenth century, and of "information disease," a supposedly unique psychological disorder caused by prolonged exposure to cultic brainwashing. This strategy challenges a religion's legitimacy by asserting that membership in such a religion induces psychopathology.

One of the issues overlooked by prior analyses of the cult controversy is how particular new religions are drawn into the "cult wars," as well as how the delegitimating power of anti-cult ideology is used in specific conflicts involving individuals and groups who, for the most part, have no interest in the wider anti-cult crusade. Chapter 11 examines some of the conflicts through which a specific new religion—the Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness—has been drawn into the cult controversy.

Although certain kinds of analyses of religion have been rejected by academia, older patterns of prejudicial scholarship have tended to persist in the subfield of new religious movements. As a consequence, researchers have articulated judgmental points of view that in effect call into question the legitimacy of certain new religions. Chapter 12 analyses this issue through an examination of select scholarship on Soka Gakkai International.



Recent Reference Books in Religion: A Guide for Students, Scholars, Researchers, Buyers, and Readers 2nd Edition by William M. Johnston  (Fitzroy Dearborn) provides incisive summaries and evaluations of more than 350 contemporary reference works on religious traditions ancient and modern that have bee published in English, French and German.

For maximum usefulness to readers, Professor Johnston has broadly defined religion to include not just the world religions of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism but also such alternative approaches as mythology, folklore, and the philosophy of ethics.

Each entry, analyzing a particular work, includes full bibliographic details as well as commentary: outstanding articles and contributors are highlighted; strengths and weaknesses are carefully noted and weighed. Readers are directed to volumes whose strengths complement the weaknesses of others.

An indispensable guide in any religious studies collection, Recent Reference Books in Religion: 2nd Edition includes works published through the end of 1997. It also includes a Glossary that describes types and functions of reference books, and five indexes: Titles, Authors, Topics, Persons and Places. [Review pending]

Macmillan's Encyclopedia of Religion (Macmillan) Now over ten years in print this major account of the world’s religions is the best resource for authoritative information on the world’s major religious traditions. Still the work remains especially uneven in the quality of articles. Eliade died soon after the work was in production and there was not as strong or even editorial control over the quality and depth of information presented. Some scholars did excellent contributions, others are rather slap-dash and the selection of article length and topics selected seem somewhat bewildering and idiosyncratic. The work did show something of the creative ferment in religious studies but it tended to avoid controversy or provide a systematic view of history or of religions. But even with these qualifications it is the only current Encyclopedia of religion though it is hoped that some of the Internet projects now in creation will eventually make up for its generally uneven executions. Good reading.

CD-ROM edition is Out of Print:

A full nine years after its appearance in print, the most authoritative multivolume set on world religions is available in electronic format. The CD-ROM version of the 16-volume Encyclopedia of Religion [RBB O 1 87] offers DOS, Macintosh, and Windows 3.1 and Windows 95 versions all on one disc. The DOS version features pull-down menus and a sidebar offering various retrieval capabilities. The accompanying 19-page manual points out, however, that the DOS version does not offer all of the query functions available in the Windows version, such as the ability to retrieve by entry title. Therefore, this review concentrates on the Windows version.

The entire text of the encyclopedia is available on the CD-ROM, as well as the relatively few illustrations that were in the print set. None of the articles were updated for the CD-ROM--an important consideration for any library already owning the print work. The opening screen features three major search buttons: "Synoptic Outline," "Contributors," and "Encyclopedia." The first is divided into two categories: Religions and The History of Religion. The Religions category features hyperlinks to entries on specific religions (Indian Religions, Southeast Asian Religions), while the latter covers more philosophic topics (Art, Science, Society). "Contributors" is a list of all contributors with hyperlinks to their articles, while "Encyclopedia" offers the complete text of the work, literally "cover-to-cover," starting with the prefatory material on through the entries proper. Unfortunately, this method does not allow for specific article lookup but only the ability to click on a letter of the alphabet and then scroll through all the entries until the desired one is found.

A toolbelt features options such as the table of contents and the ability to bookmark articles. The search button will be the one used most often. Clicking this button results in a window where one may enter keywords. They can be combined with Boolean operators, truncated, and phrase searched using quotation marks (such as "second great awakening"). There are also some fairly sophisticated features available, including the use of symbols for ordered or unordered proximity operators, followed by the number of words allowed to separate them. Searching luther melancthon/25, for example, retrieves luther within 25 words of melancthon in that order. (Unfortunately, wildcards may not be used in phrase or proximity searching.) Another advanced feature is using the "%" sign to search for word roots. Entering give%, for example, will retrieve gave, giving, etc. Using a dollar sign after a word will retrieve synonymous terms. A search on satan, for example, retrieves 174 hits. Searching satan$, however, retrieves 355 hits, as the search also retrieves occurrences of devil, Mephistopheles, and Beelzebub. These latter two features are excellent enhancements for a full-text database. Most of these options (except for the availability of the NOT operator) are briefly outlined in the search box screen, although there are a variety of help screens available, too. The help system, unlike most Windows-based help systems, does not offer searchable help. Instead, the user must pore through a variety of menu-based help options. The search box features one confusing piece of information. At the top of the box are the directions: "Enter a word or '[' to begin query." If the user enters a bracket as instructed, another message appears: "Which scope: Level, Field, Highlighter, Note, Popup or Group." We could not locate any onscreen help regarding these options, nor are they mentioned in the manual. To further confuse matters, when one chooses search from the pull-down menu at the top of the screen, the very first option is Query, which opens a retrieval window where the only instructions given are: "Enter a word or '[' to begin query" without any indication of the availability of Boolean operators. It is only when one chooses search, then search the Encyclopedia of Religion that the same window pops up that is available by clicking search on the toolbelt. The search pull-down menu does, however, offer options not easily seen from the toolbelt Search option, including the ability to search by article titles or by author.

The entries are easily read on the screen and may be printed out or downloaded; illustrations also will print. Cross-references are hyperlinked. A minor annoyance is that every paragraph of text begins with a citation to the volume number and page of the printed work, such as "Encyclopedia of Religion Reason, Vol.12, p.223." Although this is a useful feature for anyone wishing to make an exact citation for bibliographic purposes, it is also apparently the way records are counted as "hits" in any search functions: paragraph by paragraph rather than article by article. For example, performing a search by author on Martin E. Marty retrieves 132 hits according to the search results; Marty wrote only three articles in the work

Religion and Emotion: A Critical Assessment and Annotated Bibliography edited, selected and essays by John Corrigan, John M. Kloos, and Eric Crump (Greenwood Press)

 The study of emotion currently is undergoing a renaissance across the arts and sciences. Some of the most interesting and original contributions have been in the area of religion and emotion. This bibliography documents work from diverse fields of the humanities, social sciences and especially psychology.

The bibliography is the only one of its kind and is extensive. It is not exhaustive. Works have been selected for inclusion based upon several criteria. Most importantly, a piece of scholarship must have made a significant contribution to the study of religion and emotion through its presentation of data, its innovation in terms of approach or mode of analysis, its interpretation, or its critical engagement of previous work. In some cases, books (and a few articles) have been listed even though only one part of the book directly addresses the topic of religion and emotion, the authors judging that the scholarly discussion in such a book meets one or more of the criteria of significance. Second, in view of the likely readership, the authors have chosen to include scholarship only in English, German, French, and Latin. Third, the bibliography favors recent scholarship over older scholarship. However, works of historical importance, regardless of the date of their authorship, have been included. Fourth, scholarship in certain areas, such as medical science and literary studies, has been admitted to the bibliography only in as much as it intersects with disciplinary categories chosen by the authors in their organization of the field.

Organization. Part One lists historical studies according to several historical periods/categories: (1) ancient (to the eighth century), (2) medieval and early modem, (3) seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries, (4) nineteenth century, (5) twentieth century, (6) survey works. Historical studies include research bearing on numerous religious traditions (Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, etc.) and a broad range of geographical locations.

Part Two enumerates research in the social and behavioral sciences. It organizes scholarship according to three primary areas: psychological studies, anthropological studies, and sociological studies. Works included in this part of the bibliography likewise address a diversity of religious traditions and popular religious expressions globally distributed.

Part Three is divided into two sections, theological works and philosophical studies bearing on religion and emotion. These two sections represent a deep historical tradition of reflection on emotion. The bibliography is here limited to Western intellectual traditions, and, within the section on theology, largely, but not exclusively, to Christianity.

Religion and Emotion: A Critical Assessment and Annotated Bibliography gathers over 1,200 entries from scholarly literature in the fields of history, psychology, sociology, anthropology, theology, and philosophy. This unique bibliography demonstrates the coherence of religion and emotion studies as an area of research while noting the breadth of that area and the ways in which researchers have employed various methods and disciplinary approaches. An extensive introductory essay identifies the leading themes in the scholarship and demonstrates both the complexity of the field and the ways in which work from several disciplinary perspectives has overlapped. Featuring outstanding annotations and a detailed overview of the field, the bibliography demonstrates the breadth and vitality of scholarly research in this area.

Many works listed in the bibliography blend disciplinary perspectives. Certain historical studies intersect with literary studies or philosophy. Scholarship located under a social science heading often draws upon several different fields in exploring religion and emotion, integrating, for example, sociological, psychological, and historical perspectives. Theological and philosophical works have profoundly influenced each other as well as contributed to the development of research in other areas. The authors have organized the bibliography essentially on disciplinary ground, but the borders marking that ground are porous and at times indefinite. Readers accordingly might discover useful annotations for works in sections other than the one or two that are of primary interest to them.

An Introduction surveys the scholarship in all three parts of the bibliography, noting predominant themes, the contributions of particular persons, and research clustered around specific emotions. It critically assesses the overall landscape of the study of religion and emotion with a view to locating continuities, junctures, debates, and prospects within the literature.

Names and spelling. Titles in French, German, and Latin have not been translated Words in these languages and others occasionally have been utilized in annotations, in almost all cases with an English translation.

Indices. The end matter of the book includes a topic index (according to page number) and an author index (by entry number). The former comprehends all major topics, including references to proper names in the annotations. The latter lists all primary authors (including up to the first three authors of coauthored or co-edited works) and editors.

Headline 3

insert content here

WT Main | About WT | Review Links | Contact | Review Sources | Search

Copyright © 2007. All Rights Reserved.

Headline 3

insert content here