From Library Journal
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
The entries include broad topics such as prayer and cosmology; specific religions; historical events such as the Reformation and the Crusades; sacred texts; individuals; doctrines; sacred sites; customs; and ethics. Asterisks designate cross-references to terms with their own entries. See and see also references refer users to related material. Many entries have bibliographic citations to books on the subject for further research. Terms in language with non-Roman alphabets are transliterated. There is a special index of Chinese headwords with a Wade-Giles/Pinyin conversion table. A topic index directs readers to entry headings on broad subject areas so that someone interested in dietary laws and customs could look under Food and find entries for Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, Shinto, Sikh, Taoist, and Zen regimens.
A comparable source is The HarperCollins Dictionary of Religion [RBB Ap 15 96], which has 3,200 articles. This is far fewer than the Oxford work, but HarperCollins devotes significant space to comprehensive feature articles on major religions--32 pages on Buddhism, for example. It also covers extinct religions, such as those of ancient Greece and Rome, which are not included in the Oxford dictionary. In general, the HarperCollins dictionary has more coverage of religions, while the Oxford dictionary provides more coverage of concepts, people, events, and so on. For example, HarperCollins has several pages on Afro-Brazilian religions, while Oxford has a single paragraph. HarperCollins has six pages on Native American religions, which is not an entry in the Oxford dictionary. On the other hand, Oxford has nearly four pages on the Reformation, compared to one page in HarperCollins; over a column on John Calvin, compared to six lines in HarperCollins; a column on evil, compared to three lines in HarperCollins. The HarperCollins dictionary has no bibliographies, although sources are cited within the text. It does, however, have some illustrations, as well as maps, tables, and timelines.
Whether one is searching for the text of the Shema (the Jewish confession of faith) or information about Rastafarians, Oxford Dictionary of World Religions is a useful source. Although naturally less complete than Mircea Eliade's Encyclopedia of Religion [RBB O 1 87], it does provide a reasonably priced, very good introduction to a diverse subject area. Recommended for high-school, public, and academic libraries, especially those that do not already own the HarperCollins dictionary.