Reviews provided by Syndetics
Library Journal Review
This comprehensive, four-volume work details the history, development, organization, current status, and contact information for major organizations associated with various living world faiths. Edited with the requisite authority by Melton (director, Inst. for the Study of American Religion) and Baumann (history of religions, Univ. of Lucerne), this unique encyclopedia is not concerned with defining and analyzing the major world religions but rather with presenting the constitutive communities, groups, and associations within each religion. The result is a sort of "encyclopedia of associations" for world religions with superb commentary. The 1200 alphabetically arranged entries have been contributed by 200 international scholars reflecting diverse research interests and religious affiliations. Some 16 core essays provide the framework for the listed organizations, covering the major religions of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism, as well as traditional African religions, Western esoteric traditions, and a general consideration of unbelief. In the remaining entries, readers will encounter information on the Circle Sanctuary in Wisconsin, Freemasonry, the Legion of Mary, Santer!a, serpent handlers, the Reformed Church in America, and Satanism, to name a few. Another major feature is the inclusion of entries for 276 recognized nations and territories, assessing the distinctive role of religion and religious practice within each and offering statistical tables as well as maps provided by David. B. Barrett, author of World Christian Encyclopedia. The book is fully indexed and cross-referenced, and all the entries are signed and include relevant addresses, web sites, and bibliographies. This remarkable work is recommended for academic and larger public libraries, which might also consider Barrett's work as a companion volume.-John-Leonard Berg, Univ. of Wisconsin Lib., Platteville (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
School Library Journal Review
Gr 9 Up-In an unusual, creative, and effective approach, this encyclopedia surveys religion by country, as well as by individual entries for each sect or faith. The 240 lengthy essays provide a clear overview of religious orientation in each nation and are accompanied by maps and tables (including 50-year projections of numbers of adherents). They alone are worth the set's cost. The five largest religious communities plus Jainism, Shintoism, Zoroastrianism, Sikhism, and seven other major traditions earn extensive individual articles. Another 1000 entries cover "the most important religious bodies in the world." Naturally, a few communities and organizations (e.g., Taize in France) are overlooked, but the scope of these volumes is nevertheless impressive. The entries on Islam and its Sunni, Shiite, and Wahabi variants are of particular interest. Bibliographic citations and mailing addresses end each entry, and Web site references abound. "Unbelief" receives a lengthy entry, and atheism is distinguished from "nonreligious" in statistics. (Atheism and agnosticism are not cross-referenced to Unbelief, although the reverse is true.) With any work of this size, minor errors appear, but they are few. Occasional average-quality, black-and-white photographs and reproductions illustrate these volumes. This set is intended for sophisticated users.-Patricia D. Lothrop, St. George's School, Newport, RI (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Melton and Bauman's useful title focuses on religious communities--their history, growth, and present status. Entries (more than 240) are provided for countries of the world; each includes a discussion of the country's various religious groups, a map of the country, a brief bibliography, and perhaps most helpful for reference purposes, a table detailing the number of adherents of each religion in that country with projections for 2025 and 2050. Sixteen "core essays" cover each of the world's major religions as well as ethnoreligions, traditional African religions, the Western esoteric tradition, and unbelief. Most of the remaining 900 or so entries focus on important religious communities within the larger world traditions. Researchers interested in comparative, scholarly, extensive discussions of religion and various traditions will want to consult the classic Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, ed. by James Hastings (13v., 1917), or Encyclopedia of Religion, ed. by Mircea Eliade (16v., CH, Jun'88). Melton and Bauman provide quick overviews and excellent basic information regarding the major religions and number of followers in each country. Recommended for public, college, and university reference collections. C. J. Busick University of Colorado at Boulder