BB -- Religion

Die Religionen der Menschheit [Human Religions]. Friedrich Heiler. Ed. Kurt Goldammmer. 6th unrev. ed. Stuttgart: Reclam, 1999. 672 p. ill. 22 cm. ISBN 3-15-010460-2: DM 39.80 [00-1/4-135]

This standard work has become a classic resource for information on the world's religions. The sixth edition (an unrevised reprint of the fifth) is a readable historical presentation accompanied by an index that provides easy access to the text, a limited apparatus for annotation, and good bibliographic references. The content is presented as a sketch of religious phenomenology, and its character is determined by its considerations of a "synthesis" of religions, which arise from the author's background in Modernism, liberal theology, and the ecumenical movement, as well as his interest in the typology of religions. Today this work would of course be expanded by a discussion of pluralistic theology, Küng's Weltethos, or the meetings of world religions in Assisi in 1986 and the world summit in Rome in 1999. It can be used as a good introduction and summary. To be sure, it captures a particular historical period in theological research and does not deal with issues that have become important only in the last few decades. One therefore assumes that further revision would not be appropriate and that it will remain a document for a particular era of religious study. The popular work of Mary Pat Fisher, Living Religions (1997), is in some ways already a competitor to this one. [ar/mjc]

Religionen der Welt: Grundlagen, Entwicklung und Bedeutung in der Gegenwart [Religions of the World: Principles, Development, and Importance in the Present]. Ed. Monika and Udo Tworuschka. Special ed. München: Orbis-Verlag, 1996. 480 p. ill. 28 cm. Original title: Bertelsmann-Handbuch Religionen der Welt. ISBN 3-572-00805-0: DM 29.95 [00-1/4-136]

This handbook is a special edition of a work that first appeared in 1992. Bibliographic references are brief but sufficient for further study. Although the subject coverage in the index could be expanded, the index is broad and particularly valuable for personal names. Only modern religions are treated--purely historical information is omitted. The information is solid, and the handbook is suitable as an introduction for a wide readership interested in reliable information. The reference-work character is more strongly apparent than in F. Heiler's Die Religionen der Menschheit (see RREA 6:95 above), which is intended more for reading than for reference. [ar/mjc]

Lexikon der Religionen: Phänomene, Geschichte, Ideen [Dictionary of Religions: Typologies, History, Ideas]. Original ed. Franz König. Ed. Hans Waldenfelp. 3d ed. Freiburg [et al.]: Herder, 1996. xiv, 737 p. 19 cm. (Herder-Spektrum, 4090). ISBN 3-451-04090-5: DM 29.80 [00-1/4-138]

This dictionary appeared in 1956 as Religionswissenschaftliches Wörterbuch, and was completely revised in 1987 under its current title. It now reappears in a paperback edition. As the original author was a Catholic cardinal, the book was conceived as a means of bringing the classic content of Catholic theology into dialogue with other world religions and, conversely, to incorporate information on the history and contemporary beliefs of those other religions into the Catholic sphere. The compact, extensive content offers detailed condensed information. Although it of course lacks discussion of the issues that have arisen since 1987, it belongs in a collection of basic resources for theological and religious studies and should be included in the collections of even small libraries. [ar/mjc]

Knaurs großer Religionsführer: 670 Religionen, Kirchen und Kulte, weltanschaulich-religiöse Bewegungen und Gesellschaften sowie religionsphilosophische Schulen [Knaur's Comprehensive Guide to Religion: 670 Religions, Churches, Cults, Religious-Ideological Movements and Societies, as well as Schools of Religious Philosophy]. Gerhard J. Bellinger. Authorized special ed. Augsburg: Weltbild-Verlag, 1999. 431 p. ill. 22 cm. ISBN 3-8289-4818-9: DM 29.80 [00-1/4-139]

Previously published in 1986, 1987, 1990, and 1992 (revised), this concise guide contains articles on items that one can seldom find elsewhere. The many statistical summaries and illustrations (e.g., temple and cloister plans, etc.) contribute to the condensed character of the work. This is a reprint of the 1992 revision, and the statistics correspond to those of the Britannica Yearbook for 1992 and other similar reference works. [ar/mjc]

Kompaktlexikon Religionen [Compact Dictionary of Religions]. Ed. Rüdiger Hauth. Wuppertal: Brockhaus, 1998. 373 p. 22 cm. ISBN 3-417-24677-6: DM 49.80 [00-1/4-140]

Partially excerpted from Irving Hexham's Concise Dictionary of Religion, the Kompaktlexikon has been compiled by a specialist in the study of sects and religious philosophies and thus focuses on these special areas. Although it is justly called "compact," encompassing about 2,000 articles, one finds here items that are not included in much more extensive works. For this reason it deserves a place even in larger collections. The brief articles are characterized by precise introductory information and avoid overemphasis of particular viewpoints. The tone is neutral, the organization is solid, and there are no illustrations. This work can be recommended for a broad readership that does not seek specialized information and can do without further bibliographic references. [ar/mjc]

Lexikon Die Religionen der Welt [Dictionary of Religions of the World]. Udo Tworuschka. Gütersloh: Gütersloher Verlagshaus, 1999. 341 p. ill. 23 cm. ISBN 3-579-02217-2: DM 39.95 [00-1/4-141]

Compared to the Kompaktlexikon Religionen by R. Hauth (see RREA 6:99 above), this dictionary is similar in scope but has a more lavish presentation, including numerous illustrations, some in color. The criteria that the author applied to the conception of this work are an orientation toward the contemporary, the practical, persons, dialogue, and communication. In the treatment of persons the articles are restricted to Christian figures. More bibliographic references are available than in the Kompaktlexikon. It is difficult to weigh the pros and cons of these two works--in this work there is more of a focus on world religions than in the Kompaktlexikon, because of the treatment of sects and new religions in the latter. Otherwise, both appeal to a broad public that is looking for basic information. In terms of production and aesthetics this volume is to be preferred. [ar/mjc]

Metzler-Lexikon Religion: Gegenwart - Alltag - Medien [Metzler Dictionary of Religion: The Present - Everyday Life - The Media]. Ed. Christoph Auffarth and Agnes Imhof. Stuttgart; Weimar: Metzler. 25 cm. ISBN 3-476-01678-1 (set): DM 722.00 [00-1/4-143]

Vol. 1. Abendmahl-Guru [The Last Supper-Guru]. 1999. xviii, 532 p. ill. ISBN 3-476-01551-3

Vol. 2. Haar-Osho-Bewegung [Hair-Osho Movement]. 1999. 632 p. ill. ISBN 3-476-01552-1

Vol. 3. Paganismus-Zombie [Paganism-Zombie]. 2000. 727 p. ill. ISBN 3-476-01553-X

The subtitle of this dictionary makes us curious right away, and we also notice that editorial responsibility rests with apparently young authors, not with a cardinal or well-known professor. Its basis, as expressed in the introduction, is an anthropology-centered theory of religion. A number of the articles reflect a traditional methodology, are thorough and current in research, are readable, and are reassuringly objective (e.g., "Enlightenment," "Islam"). But others are more problematic, reflecting unclear methodological criteria, superficial analysis (e. g., "Superstition"), and comments that are suggestive rather than informative or clear. The orientation toward the world of the media has brought with it a much more extensive use of images than in other reference works--images intended not just to illustrate points in the text, but to supply information. However, the images are sometimes problematic: they may support a one-sided approach to interpretation; they sometimes seem to be used just for effect; the captions are occasionally somewhat offhand; and they take up a great deal of space that might be devoted to text. In summary, this dictionary makes a unique attempt to comprehend religion in a way that portrays its effects in the media and public consciousness of the West. For this reason, it will have to be used as a supplement to traditional reference works on religion. Metzler-Lexikon Religion takes a new approach, and the editors would have done well to emphasize this fact and avoid entirely the appearance of the classic handbook of religion. Still, we can learn from its errors as well as from its successes. [ar/vh]

Bücherverzeichnis zur Kirchengeschichte: eine kommentierte Bibliographie [Catalog of Books on Church History: An Annotated Bibliography]. Ed. Lutz E. von Padberg and Michael von Fürstenberg. Paderborn: Bonifatius Druck, Buch, Verlag, 1999. 245 p. 23 cm. (AMATECA: Repertoria, 1). ISBN 3-89710-061-4: DM 49.80 [00-1/4-144]

The publication of a bibliography is always a difficult undertaking, and information technology now represents a competitor that will always be ahead in terms of currency. This particular bibliography was completed in the summer of 1998, and the preface is dated August 1999. The introductory chapter, which contains "Pointers for a Literature Search" by Stephan Holthaus, is poorly executed in terms of organization, description, titles included, and currency. He does not even mention the possibility of looking for recent literature in online library catalogs; surely the Karlsruhe Virtual Catalog should have been mentioned in this context. The second chapter, which covers "Recommended Reading for Students and Basic Anthologies," contains a worthwhile commentary and will be helpful for the beginner. The next two sections of the book are unannotated lists of titles (in contradiction to the volume's subtitle). Electronic resources are relegated to the fifth and final section of the bibliography. It seems a shame to separate paper and electronic formats for the same sources (e.g., Patrologia), and even more problematic is the lack of a thorough introduction to the use of the Internet. Finally, the lack of an index, in combination with an organizational structure that is not always logical, makes use difficult. Any new edition should include a thorough reevaluation of the organization of the bibliography and the addition of an index. A CD-ROM format would facilitate the solution of these problems as well as allow for further updates via the Internet. [ar/vh]

La bibbia: edizioni del XVI secolo [The Bible: 16th-Century Editions]. Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali. Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze. Ed. Antonella Lumini. Firenze: Olschki, 2000. xlii, 328 p. ill. 24 cm. (Biblioteca di bibliografia italiana, 162). ISBN 88-222-4868-6: Lit. 80,000 [00-1/4-145]

This catalog was compiled for an exhibit early in 2000 at the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale in Florence. It includes the library's holdings of 302 complete and partial editions of the Bible from the 16th century in all languages. Brief but instructive essays introduce the volume; they discuss the provenance of the editions included, a survey of Bible translations of the period, and the descriptive criteria used in the catalog. The descriptions in the catalog section offer detailed information beyond that available in other sources, including biographical information on editors and translators, the influence of particular editions, identification of specific printings, descriptions of individual books (including bindings), and extensive bibliographic references. The book is beautifully printed. There are 24 plates, some in color, and a bibliography and extensive index. Especially for the Latin and Italian Bible editions, this catalog is a bibliographic resource beyond anything available elsewhere. [ch/vh]

Theologische Literatur des Mittelalters in Bulgarien und Serbien 865-1459 [Theological Literature of the Middle Ages in Bulgaria and Serbia, 865-1459]. Gerhard Podskalsky. München: Beck, 2000. viii, 578 p. 25 cm. ISBN 3-406-45024-5: DM 198.00 [00-1/4-146]

Usually one handbook suffices to establish an author's status in the scholarly world; this is already the third for Podskalsky, who has also written important handbooks on aspects of Russian and Greek theology. Here, he has done an impressive job of embedding his topic in history, thoroughly incorporating earlier research, and including other aspects such as church architecture, painting, and music, so that Orthodoxy becomes a "Gesamtkunstwerk" (complete work of art). The importance of the book goes beyond its topic to questions of higher education policy in Germany (the need to financially support the smaller disciplines), European politics (the inclusion of less numerous groups in the concept of Europe), and the importance of Orthodoxy in ecumenical thought. This is and will remain a fundamental reference work. [hro/vh]

Bildlexikon der Heiligen, Seligen und Namenspatrone [Illustrated Dictionary of Saints, the Beatified, and Patron Saints]. Vera Schauber and Hanns Michael Schindler. Augsburg: Pattloch, 1999. ix, 806 p. ill. 29 cm. ISBN 3-629-00705-8: DM 98.00 [00-1/4-147]

This handbook seems to have the imprimatur of the Catholic Church, as it has a preface by the Archbishop of Cologne and, in addition, reflects the reduction in the number of saints (by about one-third) instituted after the 1969 Vatican Council. However, it does also include persons who have not been declared saints, but "who have led an exemplary Christian life." According to the dust jacket, about 4,000 names are included, covering the period through summer 1999. There are approximately 1,500 illustrations, some color and full-page, many of which have appeared in earlier publications. For the "classic" saints, there are more thorough and detailed sources of information in the familiar older dictionaries, which are not replaced by this one (e.g., Reclams Lexikon der Heiligen und der biblischen Gestalten, 8th rev. ed., 1996; or Lexikon der christlichen Ikonographie, 1990). The main contribution of the Bildlexikon is its currency and inclusion of numerous names from the recent period; for this it deserves a place in library reference collections. [sh/vh]

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