- Paperback: 425 pages
- Publisher: HarperOne (January 1, 1994)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1269365355
- ISBN-13: 978-1269365352
- ASIN: 0060663421
- Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 80 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #34,360 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The World's Wisdom: Sacred Texts of the World's Religions Paperback – July 20, 1995
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"[Shows] that all the widsom we need is already available to us in abundance."-- Thomas Moore"Phillip Novak's loving and imaginative presentation of key texts from several traditions offers an excellent resource . . . showing that all the wisdom we need is already available to us in abundance."-- Thomas Moore, author of "Care of the Soul" and "Soul Mates""I do not know where I could turn to find a richer harvest."-- Huston Smith, author of "The World's Religions""A superb collection from the most entrancing literature ever to find expression in human language, literature that emerges from the mysterious depths os the soul where the primordial world of the sacred manifests itself most clearly."-- Thomas Berry, author of "The Dream of the Earth""Beautifully organized . . . the volume is a major contribution to both the lay and professional studies of religion."-- "Publishers Weekly
From the Publisher
An essential collection of the world's spiritual wisdom--a world bible for our time from Buddhist, Hindu, Confucian, Taoist, Jewish, Christian, Islamic, and primal religion sources.
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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.
Each chapter covers one of the religions described in Huston Smith’s book, and highlights the major religious texts involved.
It is a book that can be revisited over and over again, especially for those interested in comparative religions. I highly recommend.
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.
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.