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Understanding World Religions: An Interdisciplinary Approach
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Understanding World Religions: An Interdisciplinary Approach


Zondervan 2011

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Globalization and high-speed communication put 21st-century people in contact with adherents to a wide variety of world religions, but usually, valuable knowledge of these other traditions is limited at best. On the one hand, religious stereotypes abound, hampering a serious exploration of unfamiliar philosophies and practices. On the other hand, the popular idea that all religions lead to the same God or the same moral life fails to account for the distinctive origins and radically different teachings found across the world’s many religions.

Understanding World Religions presents religion as a complex and intriguing matrix of history, philosophy, culture, beliefs, and practices. Hexham believes that a certain degree of objectivity and critique is inherent in the study of religion, and he guides readers in responsible ways of carrying this out. Of particular importance is Hexham’s decision to explore African religions, which have frequently been absent from major religion texts. He surveys these in addition to varieties of Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Scripture references are linked directly to Greek and Hebrew texts, along with the English Bible translations of your choice. For any word in any language, you can double-click on that word and your digital library will automatically search your lexicons for a match. That gives you unprecedented access to linguistic data, along with all the tools you need for exegesis and interpretation.

Key Features

  • Reflection on Christian approaches to other religious traditions
  • Suggestions for further study
  • Bibliographical references and index

Praise for the Print Edition

An ideal, clear, and lively introduction to world religions for North American students that also briefly deals with their modern developments, e.g. in the field Buddhism.

—Michael Hahn, professor of Indology and Tibetology, Philipps-University, Marburg, Germany

A book that goes beyond mere description to engage real, and often controversial, issues. All university teachers grappling with these issues will find it of great use. Unlike most texts of this nature, it has an extensive section on African traditions that ought to interest scholars teaching African politics. It is a highly commendable piece of work.

—Henry Srebrnik, professor of political studies, University of Prince Edward Island

Hexham offers an introduction to the study or religion based on his years of teaching the subject, an impressive multi-cultural knowledge of various religious traditions, and in a style that is readable and engaging. Not another boring catalogue of religious beliefs and practices looked at from a pseudosophisticated afar, Hexham’s book convey something of the diversity and controversies involved in the academic study of religions.

—Larry Hurtado, professor and director of the Center for the Study of Christian Origins, The University of Edinburgh

Many Western presentations of Islam merely pass on selected remarks from unreliable tertiary sources. Irving Hexham’s chapters on Islam are unique in that they reach beyond library versions, Muslim polemic, and Western politically correct advocacy to the actual discourse of devoted Muslims around the world today. Hexham takes seriously the sourcebooks through which Muslims understand their faith and practice, and the perspectives of recent authors whose influence shapes modern Muslim views. He rightly relies on some of the strongest scholarly studies of Islam for his analysis and evaluation, which sheds light on a subject that remains confusing for many Westerners.

—Gordon Nickel, author, Narratives of Tampering in the Earliest Commentaries on the Qur’an

I enjoyed the chapters on Indian religions enormously. They are enlightening and fascinating for anyone who has brushed the surface of India and its religious traditions. The author has produced a work that is very readable and thought-provoking, but more importantly, one that brings the religions to life in a practical way.

—Bill Warden, Canadian Ambassador to Pakistan (1981–1983)

Product Details

  • Title: Understanding World Religions: An Interdisciplinary Approach
  • Author: Irving Hexham
  • Publisher: Zondervan
  • Publication Date: 2011
  • Pages: 512

About Irving Hexham

Irving Hexham is a professor of religious studies at the University of Calgary and an adjunct professor of world Christianity at Liverpool Hope University. He has published 27 academic books, including The Concise Dictionary of Religion, Understanding Cults and New Religions, and Religion and Economic Thought, plus 80 major academic articles and chapters in books, numerous popular articles, and book reviews.

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