Saturday, July 4, 2009

Beverley, James A.. Nelson's Illustrated Guide to Religions: a Comprehensive Introduction to the Religions of the World

Thomas Nelson Publishers. 2009. c.850p. illus. photogs. index. ISBN 978-0-7852-4491-2. $39.99.

While the title and subtitle of this book suggest that it consists of a large number of illustrations and serves as a basic introduction to world religions, they are somewhat misleading since this publication is quite scholarly in its presentation and content. Here Beverley (Professor of Christian Thought and Ethics, Tyndale Seminary, Toronto, Ontario; Associate Director, Institute for the Study of American Religion, Santa Barbara, CA; author of Religions A to Z, Christ and Islam, Islamic Faith in America), a leading, evangelical, Christian scholar, attempts to present a comprehensive, detailed, up-to-date text that provides descriptions and evaluations of more than 200 religions, sects, and cults from a Christian perspective. In alphabetically- arranged chapters, varying considerably in content, depth, length, organization, and scope, the author examines hundreds of religions and sectarian movements that fall within nineteen broad categories (Baha’i, Branch Davidians, Buddhism, Christian Science, Christian Sectarian Groups, Hinduism, Islam, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Judaism, Mormonism, The New Age, Orthodoxy, Protestantism, Roman Catholicism, Satanism, Scientology, Sikhism, Unification Church, and Witchcraft). He oftentimes inventories the principles and beliefs of each religion and religious movement, analyzes and critiques each, and provides critical opinion and commentary on controversial issues. Beverley sets forth additional information by means of colored photographs, detailed timelines, sidebars, biographies, question-and-answer sections, lists of recommended printed and online resources, and appendices. Well-documented, with a concise, sizable, 109- page index, this research-oriented survey may be used as a guide that can be read from cover-to-cover and/or as a reference tool. Written by a leading expert on religions, it is recommended for laypersons with some knowledge of religions as well as for graduate students, scholars, and theologians. Large public, academic, and special libraries may consider this a worthwhile purchase for supplementing book collections covering world religions, religious movements, sects, and cults.