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118 of 124 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gorgeous
This richly illustrated book shows the world's most important religions with detailed annotation of sacred texts, paintings, epic imagery, symbolism, iconography, key beliefs, architecture and artifacts. World Religions gives insights into the world's main religions and offers a deeper appreciation for the belief you have chosen as your own.

Through the pages,...
Published on September 12, 2001 by Rebecca of Amazon

versus
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Nothing good to say!
This book is terrible. It is so obviously written from a Christian bias that it makes for very uncomfortable reading. The section on Buddhism skips entirely over the ideas of Mahayana Buddhism to focus on the more sensational beliefs of those who study Tantric Buddhism. The section on native belief systems is woefully inadequate, lumping peoples as diverse as Siberian...
Published 21 months ago by Muddy Lotus


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118 of 124 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gorgeous, September 12, 2001
This review is from: World Religions (Hardcover)
This richly illustrated book shows the world's most important religions with detailed annotation of sacred texts, paintings, epic imagery, symbolism, iconography, key beliefs, architecture and artifacts. World Religions gives insights into the world's main religions and offers a deeper appreciation for the belief you have chosen as your own.

Through the pages, the author looks at the beliefs and practices of many different religions from the ancient Egyptians to the faiths practiced today.

I have so enjoyed John Bowker's books and he has given me so insights into the religions of the world. He was the dean of Trinity College, Cambridge from 1984 to 1991. He is the author of many books, including The Meanings of Death and The Complete Bible Handbook.

With the knowledge presented, you can learn about the central leaders and their teachings, examine the similarities and differences and discover the main beliefs behind each faith.

The chapters include:

What is Religion? - An explanation of what it means to be religious.

Ancient Religions - Why have most cultures had a religion?

Hinduism
Jainism
Buddhism
Sikhism
Chinese Religions
Japanese Religions
Judaism
Christianity
Islam
Native Religions

The Golden Rule - How this rule exists in all religions in some form or the other.

Religious Timeline and Maps - Six pages, one with a very helpful timeline that shows when the religion came to be and how it evolved over time.

Further Reading - A page of books organized according to the religion they explain.

"What you do not want done to you, do not do to others." -Confucius, is found in every religion in some form or the other!

The belief in a higher power is found in every culture and seems almost essential to our existence. Why do we "want" to believe in a God? Why do we choose one religion over the other? Here you can explore your choice and see the choices of others.

A beautiful journey.

~The Rebecca Review
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97 of 101 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Almost Perfect, Flawed by Moments of Religious Bigotry, May 9, 2010
This review is from: World Religions: The Great Faiths Explored & Explained (Paperback)
First, this book is the most accessible, well-written and even-handed single-volume overview of current world religion I've ever found in English. I'd recommend this to anyone seeking to get at least a baseline grasp of what our neighbors believe. I will likely buy a copy for each of my nieces and nephews (with a few words of warning about the objectionable parts). At first the image-saturated, magazine-style format made me a little worried the book would be too lightweight, but the appealing and accessible format is well-used to convey a genuinely well-chosen selection of information. Author John Bowker has perfect credentials, as the author of The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions and editor of the The Cambridge Illustrated History of Religions. The last section, which draws attention to the hopeful & empathetic common message seemingly at the heart of all major faiths, is particularly welcome.

Author John Bowker makes a few odd choices I wouldn't agree with -- like translating the title of the Tao te Ching (Book of the Virtuous Path) as 'The Way of Power,' but generally these are only quibbles. The only element of this book that makes me slightly uneasy is when the author allows some religious bigotry against non-Christians to sneak into an otherwise excellent book. For example:

* The section on Islam includes a photograph of the Twin Towers burning and a picture of an angry-looking Islamic man in military gear holding up an assault rifle in one hand and the Qur'an in the other. Wow! Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf that his attempted genocide of the Jews was in the name of his Christian god, so why does Bowker not include photographs of the mass graves at Auschwitz in the Christian section? It's clear that Bowker's idea here is to make it clear to Western readers that not all Muslims agree with the 9/11 attacks -- many see them as having violated the very exacting conditions of Jihad (holy war) set down by the Qur'an and the Hadith. I can see what Bowker was going for, but this comes across as the demonization of a single faith.

* The non-religious (including atheists and agnostics) make up more than 12% of the world population, but they receive almost no mention here (compare to Jews, who make up 5% of the world population, yet receive their own chapter). Bowker's only acknowledgement of this huge segment of world belief seems to be this dismissive sentence: "Even though many people would deny that they are religious, it is clear that we are prepared for religion the same way as we are physically prepared for breathing, speaking a language, being musical, eating, and so on." This seems a very slippery way to say, "I, the author, disagree with atheists and agnostics." I do not have a problem with Bowker personally considering these moral systems inferior to his own (Christianity), but feel that his personal prejudices are out of place in an otherwise scholarly overview that pretends even-handedness.

* Bowker implies that native religions are mere silly, childish superstitions, in contrast to his own Christianity, which is an authentic understanding of capital-G God. Shaman travel to places that are "taken to be the other worlds" (while Christian otherworlds like Heaven are *real* places, not "taken to be" real places). Native peoples "translate" natural events such as famine into made-up Gods, while the famines described in the Old Testament *really were* due to Bowker's *real* Christian God. This comes across as transparent religious bigotry, which is a shame in what is generally an excellent and even-handed overview.

* On the last page, Bowker mentions that many people believe that religions are all just different paths to the same goal -- communion with the divine. He definitively states that this is untrue, claiming that "The accounts they [the various religions] give of the universe, of human nature, of the goals of life, of God or of a higher power, of the ways that lead to salvation or to enlightenment are deeply and irreconcilably different." Given that this book is presented as fact rather than opinion, I wish Bowker had been a little less slippery and more up-front here that he is expressing his opinion, not a fact, and more importantly that he is expressing the *minority opinion* in his field. Comparative Religion: A History has largely been a battle between serious scholars, who observe more and more that reigions serve the same social function and offer the same solace cross-culturally, and entrenched Christian scholars like Bowker, who bridle at the idea that theirs might not be the one true religion, and so need to always undercut the increasingly clear picture painted by their own field of study. Joseph Campbell spoke for the *majority* opinion in Bowker's field when he said that the quest for the divine is the same worldwide, and the major religions are "no more than local inflections."
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55 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars complete, interesting, and unbiased, December 10, 2002
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This review is from: World Religions (Hardcover)
Unlike other books that claim to present an unbiased, fair view of the religions of the world, this one actually delivers on that promise. It discusses in depth the various major religions, offering pictures of artifacts, religious ceremonial equipment, and illustrations of the gods/goddesses involved. I was impressed by the religious timelines, continental graphs by religious practices, and Golden Rule section that closes the book (saying to basically be respectful of others' views). This book does not endorse any of the religions, nor does it neglect any of them either. If you are shopping for an impartial, complete, detailed account of all of the world's major religions, I highly recommend this book to you. "Prejudice is the child of Ignorance." -- W. Hazlitt
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48 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars magnificent, June 3, 2000
This review is from: World Religions (Hardcover)
I brought this book home, tenderly spread it out on the floor, and lay there, transfixed, for about six hours until my wife yelled at me that it was time for dinner. It's been a long time since I found such a splendid, wonderful, absorbing, and gorgeous book. DK has done it again ... breathtaking pictures, clear explanations, and an inviting format. Though I'm 37, I felt the way I used to feel when I was 7 and was given a new non-fiction book. I wouldn't have the temerity to complain about the superficiality of some explanations--the book isn't intended as a scholarly treatise. For what it is supposed to do--give the reader an absorbing, respectful introduction to the major religions of the world and their trappings--I can't imagine how a better job could have been done.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Nothing good to say!, September 27, 2012
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This review is from: World Religions: The Great Faiths Explored & Explained (Paperback)
This book is terrible. It is so obviously written from a Christian bias that it makes for very uncomfortable reading. The section on Buddhism skips entirely over the ideas of Mahayana Buddhism to focus on the more sensational beliefs of those who study Tantric Buddhism. The section on native belief systems is woefully inadequate, lumping peoples as diverse as Siberian Shamans and North American First Nations people in the same category. It treats the religions of the Neo-Pagan Movement as non-entities. I bought this book as an adjunct to a Interreligious Understanding course and feel that it completely fails in its task, but in scope and individual facts.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars all the religions of the world, June 2, 2002
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This review is from: World Religions (Hardcover)
My husband and I recently bought this book after having seen it at the bookstore. It is a wonderful book that explains the basic ideologies and beliefs of the different religions of the world. Many illustrations and artfully photographed pictures are included to show religious relics as well as regions of the world. It is by no means a comprehensive in depth guide to every religion, but it is quite useful in giving one a thumbnail sketch of the religion in question, and it covers a lot of territory. For those of you who love coffeetable books with lots of nice pictures (like my husband does!) you will not be disappointed.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not explored or explained very well, October 16, 2012
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This review is from: World Religions: The Great Faiths Explored & Explained (Paperback)
This book reads like a travel book, short paragraphs all over the page pointing to pictures that are not very clear. There is really not a lot of explaining, just brief paragraphs referencing information.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars World Religions, March 14, 2007
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This review is from: World Religions: The Great Faiths Explored & Explained (Paperback)
Like most prolific readers, I have several books going at the same time; subject book is one of them. Although I have yet to finish reading it, I can say with conviction that it is well worth the reading.

Most of us have a general idea about most religions. This book provides important specificity enabling one to better see the differences as well as the similarities in the great religions of the world. It will make a great reference book for me as I continue my quest to better understand Christianity, its roots and how it correlates to other religions it seems to be at war with much of the time.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A decent introduction, April 29, 2009
By 
M. Keller (Glendora, CA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: World Religions: The Great Faiths Explored & Explained (Paperback)
It is an interesting and fairly well executed overview to the major world religions. I do not agree with much of the introduction regarding the inception and purpose of religions, but that is simply my opinion. It also does not include some fairly large religions like Juche and many Native African religions. Use this book as a basic introduction only, it does not contain a great deal of in-depth information.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In-depth study of religions, July 16, 2008
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This review is from: World Religions: The Great Faiths Explored & Explained (Paperback)
In-depth study and analogy of the world's major religions, including ancient faiths and religious beliefs.
I enjoyed reading this book very much.
Rich chronological analyses.
Enormous amount of information.
One of my most cherished books.
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World Religions: The Great Faiths Explored & Explained
World Religions: The Great Faiths Explored & Explained by John Westerdale Bowker (Paperback - February 20, 2006)
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