Cover image for The encyclopedia of religion
Title:
The encyclopedia of religion
Author:
Eliade, Mircea, 1907-1986.
Publication Information:
New York : Simon & Schuster Macmillan, [1995]

©1995
Physical Description:
16 volumes in 8 : illustrations ; 29 cm
General Note:
"Complete and unabridged ed. 1993"--T.p. verso.

Originally published: New York : Macmillan, c1987.
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780028971353
Format :
Book

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BL31 .E46 1995 V.3&4 Adult Non-Fiction Reference material
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Summary

Summary

Through 2734 articles by international scholars, the world's major religions of Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, and Islam are explained in hundreds of articles that are almost like small encyclopaedias themselves. It provides a Who's Who of religious history - the gods and goddesses, the deities and demons, of world mythology, as well as the men and women who have affected the course of religion - and human history - as priests, popes, and prophets; saints, scholars and shamans; reformers and revolutionaries; teachers and theologians.


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

200'.3 Religion Dictionaries [CIP] 86-5432 Edited by the late historian of religion and philosopher Mircea Eliade, along with a team of other renowned scholars, The Encyclopedia of Religion is the first major international English-language encyclopedia covering general religious topics to appear in nearly half a century. The approximately 2,750 articles were written by 1,400 scholars and specialists representing the finest minds in contemporary religious studies from many different countries. American contributors include Martin Marty, Joseph Kitagawa, and Jacob Neusner.Rather than provide definitions for religious terms and brief biographies of religious figures, this work embodies the role of the encyclopedia as a systematic network of descriptive and interpretive essays ``on important ideas, beliefs, rituals, myths, symbols, and persons that have played a role in the universal history of religions from Paleolithic times to the present day.''Most articles fall into five broad categories: (1) ``historical and descriptive essays on particular religious communities and traditions''; (2) wide-ranging explorations of general topics in the history of religion, such as Altar or Peace; (3) specific entries for religious phenomena, terminology, or artifacts within a particular tradition, e.g., Passover or Chinvat Bridge; (4) ``examinations of the relationships between religion and other areas of culture,'' such as Law or Agriculture; and (5) biographical and analytical summaries of more than 1,000 significant religious figures. Biographical entries cover only deceased persons, including figures such as Karl Rahner and Mircea Eliade who died recently.The underlying methodology of the encyclopedia is the history of religions. This includes the histories of religious activities and phenomena, the interaction between histories of individual religions, and the ``phenomenological, comparative, sociological, and psychological studies of religions.'' With this historical emphasis, authors sometimes fail to cover adequately the distinctive features of a particular religion. For instance, the article Mormonism provides a good historical survey of this important American religion and mentions a few unusual social practices, but it fails to explain the doctrine and theology that set this group apart from other Christian churches.While many articles were written by individuals who subscribe to the particular religious tradition they were describing, others were prepared by individuals without any religious affiliation with their topics. Unlike some previous religious encyclopedias, such as New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge with its blatantly Christian bias, The Encyclopedia of Religion displays a remarkably objective, nonjudgmental tone. This can especially be seen in the treatment of primal or primitive religions, which are often viewed as inferior to the religions of more technologically advanced peoples. Articles dealing with items or concepts used in many different religious traditions often provide examples from relatively obscure religions, with treatment equal to or greater than those from well-known traditions. For instance, the article Afterlife: Geographies of Death notes examples from ancient Egyptian, Polynesian, northern Eurasian, Shipape (South America), Bellona Island, Tiv (Nigeria), Inuit (Eskimo), ancient Greek, Trobriand Island, Celtic, Tasmanian, Hopi, Dusun (Borneo), and other religions, as well as briefly mentioning Buddhism and Christianity. In general this technique works quite well. However, in a few cases it has been overdone to the exclusion of useful information about a particular concept primarily found in one or a few major religions. This can be seen in the article Resurrection, in which the author acknowledges the term's close association with Christianity but then proceeds to devote as much space to possible but as he himself terms somewhat doubtful resurrection analogies in Taoism and Ind


Library Journal Review

Eliade, assisted by ten well-known editors and an impressive group of contributors, has produced a monumental encyclopedia that aptly reflects contemporary religious scholarship and interdisciplinary influences from the humanities, the fine arts, the social sciences, and the natural sciences. The work largely replaces the Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, edited by James Hastings (Edinburgh, 1908-1926; New York, 1955. reprint), an important reference series that has become outdated both in its conception of religion as chiefly theoretical (rather than also sociological and practical) and its Western bias, and by the progress of religious research (including hermeneutical and methodological approaches) and discovery (e.g., Dead Sea Scrolls, Nag Hammadi library, and research in folk religion and in gnostic and esoteric traditions). While there are several one-volume encyclopedias and dictionaries of religion in general, as well as multivolume encyclopedias of single religions, nothing compares in scope and currency to the present work. The entries are clearly written, with attention to scholarly detail; alphabetized, but with sub-topical organization (e.g.,``Rites of Passage'' has five adjacent articles providing an overview, several definitions, and separate articles on Hindu, Jewish, and Muslim rites); and accompanied by end-of-entry bibliographies. The work especially deserves commendation for its internationalism of topics, contributors, and points of view; its attention to primitive religions throughout the world; its treatment of alchemy, the occult, mysticism, and popular traditions; and its conception of religion as a vital part of human culture (including articles on atheism and Marxism). Religious information is used to illuminate human experience and the meaning of being humana use that implies, for many of the contributors, a belief in the unity of core experience beneath its diverse manifestations. Its coverage of the so-called great religions is comprehensive and balanced but avoids presenting them (or anything else) as normative. As editor Joseph M. Kitagawa says, the aim was ``to produce not a dictionary but a genuine encyclopedia that would introduce educated, nonspecialist readers to important ideas, practices, and persons in the religious experience of humankind from the Paleolithic past to our day.'' In this aim the editors have succeeded admirably. Nonspecialist readers of all types will find here a wealth of information on religion and its interaction with other aspects of human culture. Indispensable for all libraries. (Index not seen.) Carolyn M. Craft, English, Philosophy & Modern Languages Dept., Longwood Coll., Farmville, Va. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Choice Review

A June 1988 feature article reviews this title on page 0000.