Cover image for Atlas of the world's religions
Atlas of the world's religions
Smart, Ninian, 1927-2001.
First published 1999.
Publication Information:
New York : Oxford University Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
1 atlas (240 pages) : color illustrations, color maps ; 33 cm
General Note:
Relief shown by shading on some maps.

Includes glossary, index, and col. ill.
Subject Term:
Added Corporate Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
G1046.E4 A8 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Oversize Non-Circ

On Order



This superbly illustrated and organized reference source is the first comprehensive visual guide to the world's religious traditions. With text by leading experts, and lavishly illustrated with photographs, thematic maps, site reconstructions, and tables and charts, many in full color, theAtlas charts the origin, growth, and spread of all major faiths. A survey of contemporary religious life, its historical background, and a glossary, index, and list of resources enhance the research value of the book.

Author Notes

Ninian Smart, Founded British First Department of Religious Studies at University of Lancaster; and J. F. Rowny Professor of Comparative Religions, University of California, Santa Barbara (Emeritus).

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The modern religious world is diverse and complicated. Getting acquainted with it geographically was made a lot easier in 1999 with Smart's Atlas of the World's Religions. Taking the editorial reins for the updated coverage is Denny (University of Colorado, Boulder), who has preserved well over 90 percent of the content from the original edition. Among the new features are approximately 10 two-page spreads covering Mormonism, Christianity in South America, and modern pilgrimages, to name a few. The 2 opening chapters set the tone for the 10 that follow. The apparent purpose of these 2 chapters and the rest of the atlas is not simply to depict how things currently stand but also to provide insight regarding how those things came to be. The treatment of Judaism, for example, begins with a two-page spread on Ancient Israel and ends with one on Judaism in the Modern World, with all the necessary stops in between. At least two-thirds of the atlas' 200-plus maps highlight the past, while the rest focus on the present. This attention to history sets the atlas apart from its closest rival, The Atlas of Religion (University of California, 2007), which focuses almost exclusively on the twenty-first century. Six ample chapters deal with world religions, like Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam. Other chapters provide a regional focus. Small, full-color photos abound but never take away from the main attraction: the maps. Alongside the photos and maps is a fair amount of text. The writing is only slightly academic in tone and describes the most notable events depicted in the maps. Readers will appreciate the thoroughness of the 20-page index, along with the glossary and bibliography that accompany it. Libraries with the first edition of this atlas may be mildly disappointed in how little has changed with the second. Others, though, will greatly appreciate the visual way the atlas supplements religious dictionaries and encyclopedias. Highly recommended to most libraries, public or academic.--Osburn, Wade Copyright 2008 Booklist

Library Journal Review

The study of religions has been presented primarily in a chronological narrative followed by a description of the holy forms, rites, and rituals of a particular religion. However, religion as a cultural force exists in space as well as in time. This atlas from Smart (e.g., The World's Religions) is a welcome change from the existing literature. The drama of Muhammad's hejira, or "emigration," is intensified when one sees the dangerous path he took across the sands of Arabia from Mecca to Yathrin (Medina), for instance, and the immensity of the Jewish plight is apparent when one looks at the movement of Jewish refugees in the 1930s, knowing that the Holocaust is about to begin in earnest. The atlas is also to be commended for inclusiveness. Beyond the expected coverage of the major religions, there are large sections on the "native" religions of the Pacific and Africa. The running text, detailed enough to qualify as an introduction to world religions, emphasizes and enhances the maps, charts, time lines, and photographs. Despite inadequate treatment of Native American religions, Arctic religions, and Australian Aboriginal religions, which will likely be covered more thoroughly in the next edition, this atlas is highly recommended for all libraries.ÄGlenn Masuchika, Chaminade Univ. Lib., Honolulu (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Like its well-received predecessor (1999) with the same title, this second edition is arranged around 12 chapters that deal with the current religious scene and the historical geography of religion, and ten units that treat various religions and regions. It includes more than 300 full-color maps, extensive essays, many color photographic illustrations, time lines that begin each chapter, and useful tables, along with the usual scholarly accoutrements. This edition features considerably more text, ten new double-page spreads, and some changed illustrations. New maps on current themes include diasporic religions, new religions, modern pilgrimages, and ecological concerns. Other new maps deal with religion and language, and three cover more recent phenomena--the spread of Mormons and LDS activity, Christian movements in South America, and Pentecostal and charismatic expansion. The glossary is arranged alphabetically, rather than by topic, and includes some 200 new entries. The bibliography is nearly one third greater in size. Although some might question whether eight years is too soon for a revision, academic libraries, especially those that lack the first edition, will find this volume useful in reinforcing the relevance of religious impulses in history and the present. Summing Up: Recommended. Lower-level undergraduates and above; general readers. D. G. Davis Jr. emeritus, University of Texas at Austin