Religions of the West Today

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I deal for courses in Western religions and world religions, Religions of the West Today covers the same material as the parallel chapters of the authors' longer textbook, World Religions Today, Third Edition. Revealing the significance of religion in contemporary life, it explores major religious traditions-Judaism, Christianity, Islam, indigenous religions, and new religions-as dynamic, ongoing forces in the lives of individuals and in the collective experience of modern societies. This unique volume accomplishes two goals; it connects today's religions to their classical beliefs and practices while also focusing on how these religions have responded to and been transformed by the modern world. The authors combine thorough coverage of the historical background of each religion with up-to-the-minute discussions of its current practices. Each chapter includes an "Encounter with Modernity" section that illustrates the tension between premodern views and modernity. The text is enhanced by numerous pedagogical aids-timelines, maps, illustrations, discussion questions, and a comprehensive glossary of key terms-and more than 100 illustrations and photographs. It also incorporates "Tales of Spiritual Transformation" boxes-which relate the stories of people whose lives have been changed by religious faith-and "Teachings of Religious Wisdom" boxes, which introduce primary source material.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195373615
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 12/31/2008
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 9.20 (w) x 7.40 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

John L. Esposito is University Professor, Professor of Religion and International Affairs, Professor of Islamic Studies, and Founding Director of the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University.

Darrell J. Fasching is Professor of Religious Studies at the University of South Florida.

Todd T. Lewis is Professor of World Religions at the College of the Holy Cross.

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Table of Contents

Preface xi

Chapter 1 Introduction 3

Globalization: World Religions in Everyone's Hometown 3

Understanding Religious Experience and Its Expressions 5

The Great Transition: From Tribal Life to Urban Life and the Emergence of World Religions 15

The Great Religious Stories of the World 18

Modernization in Global Perspective 25

Modern Colonialism, the Socialist Challenge, and the End of Modernity 28

Postmodern Trends in a Postcolonial World 31

Conclusion: We Are All Heretics in the Postmodern Situation 32

Discussion Questions 32

Key Terms 33

Notes 33

Chapter 2 Indigenous Religions 35

Overview 35

Origins of Homo religiosus: Prehistory 41

Religion's Origins Among Hunter-Gatherers 42

Indigenous Religious Traditions: Soul Belief and Afterlife 46

Shamans: "Technicians of the Sacred" 53

Indigenous Religions Today 61

Conclusion 70

Discussion Questions 71

Key Terms 72

Suggested Readings 72

Notes 73

Chapter 3 The Many Stories of Judaism: Sacred and Secular 75

Overview 75

Encounter with Modernity: Modern Judaism and the Challenge of Ultra-Orthodoxy 78

Premodern Judaism: The Formative Era 84

Premodern Judaism: The Classical Era 101

Judaism and Modernity 114

Judaism and Postmodern Trends in a Postcolonial World 129

Conclusion 142

Discussion Questions 143

Key Terms 144

Suggested Readings 144

Notes 145

Chapter 4 Christian Diversity and the Road to Modernity 147

Overview 147

Encounter with Modernity: The Fundamentalist-Modernist Controversy 152

Premodern Christianity: The Formative Era 157

Premodern Christianity: The Classical Era 171

Christianity and Modernity181

Christianity and Postmodern Trends in a Postcolonial World 198

Conclusion 207

Discussion Questions 210

Key Terms 211

Suggested Readings 211

Chapter 5 Islam: The Many Faces of the Muslim Experience 213

Overview 213

Encounter with Modernity: The Challenge of Western Colonialism 220

Premodern Islam: The Formative Era 223

Premodern Islam: The Classical Era 237

Islam and Modernity 259

Islam and Postmodern Trends in a Postcolonial World 265

Islam: Postmodern Challenges 288

Conclusion 296

Discussion Questions 296

Key Terms 297

Suggested Readings 298

Notes 298

Chapter 6 Globalization: From New to New Age Religions 301

Overview 301

New Religions 303

New Age Religions 308

Religious Postmodernism and Global Ethics 323

Discussion Questions 333

Suggested Readings 334

Notes 334

Glossary G-1

Art Credits A-1

Index I-1

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