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Book Review: by Lang Reid
 

The Religions Book

At a very early stage of my adult life I was advised there were two topics to avoid in discussions. One was politics and the other? Religion!
I rather took the advice to heart, as these days I am a confirmed atheist, but at least this was to give me a clean slate to read The Religions Book (ISBN 978-1-4093-2491-1, DK, 2013) without bias in any particular direction of faith.
The Contents page begins with Primal Beliefs from prehistory, followed by Ancient and Classical Beliefs from 3000 BCE. It then covers Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity (from first century CE), Islam (from 610 CE), Modern Religions (from the 15th Century), finishing with a directory, glossary and an index.
Right from the start the reader has to face concepts such as “Why are we here?”, “Why do we die?” and then “Sacrifice and Blood Offerings.” All these concepts helped form a belief system, which apparently the society of man needs.
Certain belief tenets are traced, such as “The Good Live Forever in the Kingdom of Osiris” a concept mirrored in many other religions often called the ‘Heaven’ destination. (And does anyone have a couple of coins to pay the ferryman across the river Styx?)
Timelines are used throughout the book, showing the religions ‘in vogue’ at any particular period, and then further timelines showing the significant events in any particular religion.
The transition from multiple Gods to monotheism is well explained, and how some of these still exist today. For some people, there is a case to answer when it is recorded that “God told Abraham that Jewish people must be circumcised.” In today’s society, that might be a harder concept to sell!
Surveying the world’s religions, from Buddhism and all its branches to Zoroastrianism, and even the Cargo Cult, this book is providing succinct yet thought-provoking insight into the philosophy and practices of each, The Religions Book is ideal for anyone seeking to gain a better understanding of the world’s religions.
With intriguing artwork, flow charts, and diagrams, complex world religions are made accessible in this comprehensive guide. The Religions Book is also perfect for religion and philosophy students, or literally anyone with an enquiring mind, wondering about the ‘why’ and the ‘how’.
The principles of the five main world religions - Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam as well as ancient and primal belief systems are explored in much detail, and it is the attention to detail that makes this book stand out.
At B. 825 for this beautifully executed hard-back, it is a literary bargain. A reference book full of interest (even for atheists) that has been meticulously researched by notable contributors. Anyone with an enquiring mind will find this book fascinating.
Pre-eminent figures such as Mahatma Gandhi, St Paul, and Al-Ghazali are covered, with how they spread their sphere of influence.
May I quote from Thomas Jefferson, “Religions are all alike - founded upon fables and mythologies.” I leave you to decide if this is indeed true, after you have read this book! This is definitely one that you should have on your shelves instead of Bookazine’s.


 
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The Religions Book