This fascinating volume provides a concise, illustrated introduction to five of the great religious traditions of the world--Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, Confucianism, and Shinto.
Buddhism, one of the world's great religious traditions, attracts millions of modern-day followers. Hinduism, one of the most ancient of all belief systems, is increasingly well known in the West through expatriate Indian communities. Taoism has been an important influence on Western thinking, especially through the impact of the Tao Te Ching. Confucianism, less metaphysical in its principles, emphasizes family values and the role of the individual within the state. And Shinto, distinctively Japanese in character, is the most animistic of the great religions, based on a belief in numerous individual spirits. The contributors explore a great variety of topics within these religions, including: the life of the Buddha; karma and rebirth; inspiring teachers and gurus; the life of Confucius; sacred Taoist texts; the epics of the Ramayana and Mahabharata; holy landscapes, shrines, and festivals; enlightenment; and--for all the faiths--the spiritual and ethical teachings, art and architecture, sacred writings, ritual and ceremony, and death and the afterlife.
Also included are extracts from or summaries of historical texts, with author commentaries that explain the significance of each piece and place in its full context. Authoritative and accessible, Eastern Religions provides a gateway for all those in the West who wish to move one step closer to the spirit of the East.
With this book, Coogan (religious studies, Stonehill Coll.; editor of Oxford's Illustrated Guide to World Religions) provides one of the better introductions to major South Asian and East Asian religious traditions. Four expert authors introduce Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, and Shinto. To aid comparison, each article has parallel sections on origins and historical development, aspects of the divine, sacred texts, sacred persons, ethical principles, sacred space, sacred time, death and the afterlife, and society and religion. The clear, crisp prose avoids academic jargon without losing the complexity and richness of the traditions being examined. The back material contains religion-specific glossaries and reading lists. Though the text is well illustrated in color without being visually top-heavy, the ample margins and double spacing result in a rather small typeface for most of the text. In the end, however, this work holds up very well against older studies, such as Horace Grant Underwood's The Religions of Eastern Asia, as well as recent works, such as Willard G. Oxtoby's World Religions: Eastern Traditions. Highly recommended.-William Collins, Library of Congress Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Product dimensions: 7.60 (w) x 5.10 (h) x 1.50 (d)
Meet the Author
Michael D. Coogan, the general editor, is Professor of Religious Studies at Stonehill College in Easton, Massachusetts and Director of Publications, Harvard Semitic Museum. He is the editor of The Oxford History of the Biblical World and The New Oxford Annotated Bible (3d Edition).
Vasudha Narayanan (Hinduism) is Professor of Religion at the University of Florida. Malcolm David Eckel (Buddhism) is Associate Professor of Religion at Boston University. Jennifer Oldstone-Moore (Taoism and Confucianism) is Assistant Professor at Wittenberg University, Ohio. C. Scott Littleton (Shinto) is Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at Occidental College, Los Angeles.