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37 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The World's Wisdom
Novak does a fine job selecting many absolute jewels from the texts of the world's major religions. His chapter introductions and brief explanations of certain passages will suffice to keep the beginner student of world religions focused upon the intended meaning of these texts. Each chapter glances different textual moments in the history of a particular religious...
Published on November 1, 2000 by Zerzura

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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars great idea, but...
Let me start by saying that I am an undergraduate student taking a class on world religions. I didn't just pick this book up for a fun introduction to religious scripture; it's for my class.

That said, I have really enjoyed it. We're only at Christianity in the class so far, but the author seems to have a wide-spread knowledge of which selections are important...
Published on April 23, 2007 by L. Hans


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37 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The World's Wisdom, November 1, 2000
By 
Zerzura (Chino Valley, AZ USA) - See all my reviews
Novak does a fine job selecting many absolute jewels from the texts of the world's major religions. His chapter introductions and brief explanations of certain passages will suffice to keep the beginner student of world religions focused upon the intended meaning of these texts. Each chapter glances different textual moments in the history of a particular religious group. There are "Grace Notes" sections at the end of each chapter which include some splendid writings from mystics/commentators within their respective traditions. One word of warning: there are some alterations made to some passages in order to include women in the many spiritual traditions which have sadly neglected to recognize women's spirituality. To Novak's credit, he does annotate each occassional alteration. In spite of this one possible nuisance for some few readers, this book is sure to inspire, and could well serve as a map for further, more thorough study of world religions. (Note: though Novak's book stands alone, it is designed--chapter by chapter--after Huston Smith's classic _The Religions of Man_, which examines the world's major religious traditions with far fewer references to their texts. Novak's selections make for a much more authentic and interesting introduction to the religions of the world.)
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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars great idea, but..., April 23, 2007
By 
L. Hans (Wisconsin, USA) - See all my reviews
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Let me start by saying that I am an undergraduate student taking a class on world religions. I didn't just pick this book up for a fun introduction to religious scripture; it's for my class.

That said, I have really enjoyed it. We're only at Christianity in the class so far, but the author seems to have a wide-spread knowledge of which selections are important to talk about (though as a lay-person, I really have no idea) and include. I already have it all marked up with my favorite passages from different religions and little notes about them!

The reason I'm giving it 3 stars, however, is this: lack of quick and easy citations. I am not a Bible scholar, nor am I a Jew or Christian, so reading his sections on Judaism and Christianity have been particularly confusing, since he does not tell the reader which book the selections are from. I have a feeling that there is some meaning lost when taken out of context and I really would like to be able to flip to the specific book of the OT or NT that a passage is from, but that is unrealistic at this point. If, however, he had given the name of the book, the chapter, line, etc etc, it would be much much easier. Other than that, I've loved it. I just wish that, when talking about the Gospels in class, I could flip to that section in Novak and know which book which passage came from immediately.
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the best of religion, September 3, 2000
By 
R. Reilly (Bryan, TX USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The World's Wisdom: Sacred Texts of the World's Religions (Paperback)
Easily the best anthology of religious writings I've seen, and I've seen quite a few. Beautiful and educational; as a teacher, I've found it very useful for religion courses. If you've any interest in religion or spirituality, this book is a must for your collection.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The World's Wisdom, February 25, 2006
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This review is from: The World's Wisdom: Sacred Texts of the World's Religions (Paperback)
An excellent compliation of primary materials on world religions. Excellent, but brief introductory notes make this book an excellent companion for introductory comparative religion courses.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A tremendous and affordable little book., October 30, 2009
By 
Ed (Eastish...) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The World's Wisdom: Sacred Texts of the World's Religions (Paperback)
To begin, Novak assembled this book as a compendium to accompany Huston Smith's book on world religions, so you may want to give both of them a shot at the same time, reading Novak's sections after the corresponding Smith sections.

Concerning the book itself, it is a fantastic collection of original sources and it looks like you can get a used copy + shipping for less than $10. For me, that says a lot. Concerning what was selected, there is no doubt that Novak put some serious effort in selecting what he did. The reader will get a very nice exposure to many elements within each religious tradition. However, the translations chosen are not so impressive, but there may be issues beyond the author's control here, so I cannot fault him too much. For example, the Dao Dejing was translated by Stephen Mitchell, who did an alright job, but his is hardly considered to be the authoritative translation. The good news is that it is nearly published in it entirety! On a similar positive note, the citations in the back are often quite informative. With a flip to the back, you will be brought to the original source. Now, I don't want to say that this book is showing its age, but many of the sources seem a bit dated. My suspicion is that this was how the price of the book was kept to a minimum. Also, in the last fourteen years since this was published, a lot of good translation work has come from Chinese philosophy. I worry that some of the older translations may give false impressions as to the state of the research today.

With this book, you have to take the good with the bad, and the best part seems to be the affordability. You will not be able to find a collection as thorough as this for anywhere near the price.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Reference Material, June 1, 2009
By 
Constance Cook-core "Constance" (San Diego Center for Spiritual Living) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The World's Wisdom: Sacred Texts of the World's Religions (Paperback)
This book, filled with excerpts of sacred texts of many of the major world religions, is a planned companion in structure to Huston Smith's masterpiece, World Religions. It offers the sacred texts without commentary or judgement to support the reader in simply BE-ing with the texts and finding their own interpretation of the essence of the writings. "The World's Wisdom" is a book I will continue to reference throughout my ministry - and that I will share with interfaith students as a valuable source of inspiration and comparison.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Deeper than you can imagine, June 3, 2008
On repeated visits to the bookstore, I kept getting drawn to this book, leafing through it and inevitably had to buy it.

The author wrote this book because there was no handy reference book for his students in which he could draw from all the wisdom of the various religions.

The book has great wisdom derived from all the worlds major religions. It even has creation myths from different parts of the world. Interesting to note the similarities and differences.

For example with Buddhism, he includes A Sutra about the practice of right mindfulness, which I find incredibly useful and reassuring. I also love the passage Dear to Me from the Bhagavad Gita.

I also appreciate the passage from Chuang Tsu about The Quiet Mind, which is brilliant.

If you were to read you would discover chapters on Primal religions, and even Shamanism. Novak allows us to see the patterns, and draw our own conclusions.

I trust you find this helpful.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Kindle edition seriously flawed, August 28, 2012
By 
D. Layman (Elizabethtown, PA United States) - See all my reviews
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Please understand the rating strictly applies to the Kindle formatting of this volume.

First to content: this is the best anthology of the world's religious texts. I have been using it with great satisfaction for years in my comparative religions classes. That it is cheap is an added bonus for students. Sometimes the editor puts material in his own idiosyncratic order, rather than conceptually, in a way that can be easily taught--a major problem esp. in Buddhism and Christianity. E.g., he places the quasi-biography of Siddhartha's coming-to-enlightenment on pp. 50-57, the four noble truths on p. 65 (I want to teach the truths directly after the enlightenment), the nature of nibbana on p. 75 (which follows logically from the 3rd truth).

Another negative about the text is the "Grace Notes" subsection in each chapter, which consists of mostly irrelevant developments in the later post-scriptural traditions, especially mystical re-interpretations. Most of those should be eliminated and replaced with more from the canonical core of the tradition. His selections from the Muslim Hadith are not representative: hadiths (technically, ahadith) are largely legal in nature; his selection is historical and moral. On the plus side, he does an excellent job covering including the Oral Torah in Judaism (unlike his mentor, Huston Smith).

Now to my critique of the Kindle edition: I was hoping that I could replace my well-worn paper copies with the Kindle edition. Alas, can't happen. Although it displays page numbers, THEY CANNOT BE TRUSTED. Sometimes they are as much as a full page off. I'm used to pointing out a text by say, "p. so-and-so, top of the page (...in the middle, at the bottom, etc.)." There is also far too much white space, esp. between stanzas of poetry (e.g., the selections from the Rig Veda at the beginning of the chapter on Hinduism).This makes it difficult the grasp the whole of the reading. Tightening up the presentation would have made it much easier to preserve pagination.

A major disappointment in Kindle presentation.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice research, May 11, 2000
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This review is from: The World's Wisdom: Sacred Texts of the World's Religions (Paperback)
Author really has a good study of texts in many ancient books. These books are considered holy in many religions. The passages are from Bhagavat Geeta, Bible, Koran etc. A more information on the background of books is essentials.
The author selects the passages wisely. There is so material out there that to select a few `sacred' text can be real difficult. The book does not explain why some texts are chosen over others though. This can be a personal preference and I think the author has done well. But sometimes its not easy to find the hidden meaning behind the scriptures. It means much more than just a plane translations. The author uses effective and easy language for translation. However since I know a little Sanskrit, I can say the translation could have been more accurate.
This book can be helpful to scholars, teachers and public speakers.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Collection!, April 21, 2011
By 
WKT (Knoxville, TN United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The World's Wisdom: Sacred Texts of the World's Religions (Paperback)
It is, to say the least, a rather daunting and thankless task to undertake. To gather bits and pieces of the worlds wisdom and spiritual writings into one small text--it is certain that you won't please everyone. However the author does a beautiful job here and has selected some real gems for you to savor and to spur the novice on to further reading. This makes a fantastic night stand book--and that is no slight of the book in any way. But I enjoy reading a few passages out of this before falling to sleep. It's not that the book will put you to sleep, rather it's best to read these sort of writings when your mind has settled from the turmoil of the day.
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The World's Wisdom: Sacred Texts of the World's Religions
The World's Wisdom: Sacred Texts of the World's Religions by Philip Novak (Paperback - January 1, 1994)
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