Customer Review

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Helpful & Accurate, but disorganized & not comprehensive, June 6, 2009
This review is from: Nelson's Illustrated Guide to Religions: A Comprehensive Introduction to the Religions of the World (Hardcover)
I received a review copy of Nelson's Illustrated Guide to Religions, eager to have a current resource for relevant information about world religions from a Christian perspective. This large (800+pages) book has information on a variety of world religions, from Baha'i to Witchcraft. It also has an excellent introductory chapter detailing the author's perspective on the study of religions from an evangelical Christian perspective, including a discussion of cults and ten tests for truth in religion.

The book does a good job of detailing the major religions of the world, including their history, theology and practices, major controversies, and more. There are many timelines and short biographical sketches of major leaders interspersed throughout the chapters. It also has an extensive chapter on various facets of "New Age" spirituality which are missing from older books.

This book does, however, fall short in several areas. First, it is not a "comprehensive" introduction as listed on the cover, for it does not cover every religion. Second, I was disappointed that the book was not unified or systematic in its approach. Essentially, this is actually 19 smaller books, because each chapter has its own approach and internal organization. There is a whole chapter on Branch Davidians for reasons that are unclear, unless the author just had a particular interest in them and had enough material for an entire chapter. Freemasonry is a subcategory in the New Age chapter, also for reasons that are a mystery to me. Some religions have a table at their end with such listings as typology, websites, and recommended reading, but the tables don't all contain the same entries. I would have also appreciated a systematic approach to listing how each religion answers basic world view questions.

Overall, I can recommend this book's extensive valuable and accurate information, but its shortcomings in organization detract from its value.
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