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Religious Experience (5th Edition) by Ninian Smart, Prentice Hall;
ISBN: 002412141X; 1996
The classic introduction to the modern study of religion that originally
appeared in the 1960's as The Religious Experience of Mankind
in Four Dimensions: Existential and Aesthetic, Historical and Comparative
by Walter Arnold. Kaufmann, McGraw-Hill; ASIN: 0070333947; 1976
One of the few truly critical introductions to world religions. He
spares no one.
of the Sacred: An Anatomy of the World's Beliefs by Ninian Smart,
University of California Press; ISBN: 0520219600; 1999, $19.95 USD
A classic introduction to the study of religion.
Religious History in the Modern Age. by Barbara Harshav (Translator),
Hans G. Kippenberg, Princeton Univ Pr; ISBN: 0691009090; 2001, $19.95
This is the best introduction to the study of religion currently on
Politics of Religious Studies by Donald Wiebe, St. Martin's Press
(Short); ISBN: 0312238886; 2000, $21.95 USD
I must confess, somehow this passed me by, but Don is always good for
a fight. So I must read this book asp. It's bound to be full of controversial
arguments and new ideas.
Zaehner, ed., The
Concise Encyclopedia of Living Faiths, Hutchinson, London, 1959,
Hutchinson; ASIN: 0091075203, $25.98 USA
following texts should be read by any student who wishes to master the field
of Religious Studies. The list provided
here is an introductory one which is intended to introduce the reader to the
Paine, The Age of Reason, Secaucus, New Jersey, Citadel Press, 1974
reading for anyone studying religion or theology.
Smart, The World's Religions, Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, N.J.,
1989, pp. 578.
is by far the best introductory text currently available in Religious Studies.
Zaehner, ed., The Concise Encyclopedia of Living Faiths, Hutchinson,
London, 1959, pp. 435.
invaluable reference work with essays by leading scholars in all fields. Although first published in 1959 the book has
gone through many editions and is still in print.
Basham, The Wonder That Was India, ollins, London, 1954.
essential and highly informative introduction to Indian religions and civilization.
Nakamura, Ways of Thinking of Eastern Peoples: India, China, Tibet and Japan.
East West Center, Honolulu, 1964.
valuable introduction to non‑western ways of thought and action that provides
an essential background to understanding religious behavior.
Smart, Reasons and Faiths, Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, 1958,
excellent philosophical introduction to inter‑religious dialogue and understanding.
Smart, Doctrine and Argument in Indian Philosophy, George Allen and Unwin,
London, 1964, pp. 256.
Eliade, Yoga, Immortality and Freedom, Routledge & Kegan Paul, London,
1958, pp. 536.
is the classic introduction to Yoga. Critics may find fault and some of the
material may be outdated but it is a must for anyone approaching the religions
Eliade, The Sacred and Profane: the Nature of Religion, Harcourt, Brace
& World, New York, 1959, pp. 256.
Eliade, The Myth of the Eternal Return, Princeton, Princeton University
a considerable improvement of Joseph Campbell the books of on mythology are,
I believe, flawed by his fascist orientation. The issue of Eliades fascism is
a hotly debated subject among scholars, nevertheless, I am convinced that he
was, and remained, a fascist in his basic ideology and that he promoted fascist
thinking through his theories of myth.
Zaehner, Hinduism, Oxford University Press, London, 1968.
excellent, if philosophical, introduction to the religion we know as Hinduism.
Hopkins, The Hindu Religious Tradition, Dickenson Publishing Co., Encino,
good general introductory text.
Conze, Buddhism: It's Essence and Development, Bruno Cassirer, Oxford,
1951, pp. 212.
other work approaches Conze's genius for conveying the feel of Buddhism as well
as the facts about the Buddhist tradition.
Conze, Buddhist Thought in India, George Allen & Unwin, London, 1962.
much neglected work that Conze viewed as his greatest contribution to Buddhist
Gibb and J.H. Kramers, Shorter Encyclopedia of Islam, E.J. Brill, Leiden,
invaluable text for understanding Arabic concepts that shape Islamic theology.
This is particularly important for anyone studying Islam that is a religion
claiming to be based on a sacred and untranslatable scripture.
Cragg, The Event of the Qur'an: Islam in Its Scripture, Allan and Unwin,
useful study that sets Islam firmly within its own scriptural tradition.
Cragg, The House of Islam, Dickenson, Belmont, California, 1969.
good popular introduction to Islam.
H. Smith, Chinese Religions, Weidenfeld and Nicholson, London, 1968.
book is regarded by many as the best survey of Chinese religions available.
A. Moore and A.V.. Morris, eds., The Japanese Mind: Essentials of Japanese
Philosophy and Culture. East-West Centre, Honolulu, 1967.
stimulating work which emphasizes the diversity of Japanese thought.
B. Earhart, Japanese Religions: Unity and Diversity, Dickenson, Belmont,
B. Welbourn, Atoms and Ancestors, A.J. Arnold, London, 1969.
style of this short book easily misleads the uninitiated. Nevertheless, this is by far the best introduction
to African religions. A revised edition
is being prepared by Irving Hexham.
Welbourn, East African Rebels, SCM Press, London, 1961
reading for anyone who wants to understand inter‑religious contact, religious
change, and the impact of missionaries on traditional religions.
Stark and William Sims Bainbridge, A Theory of Religion, New York, Peter
Stark and William Sims Bainbridge, The Future of Religion, Secularization,
Revival and Cult Formation, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1985
Stark, One True God: The Historical Consequences of Monotheism, Princeton,
Princeton University Press, 2001