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Discover the historical importance of religion in the world's cultures

Closely edited for clarity and readability, and conceived for students with little or no background in the academic study of religions, Religions of the World offers the most up-to-date and historically accurate coverage of the world’s major religions. It not only explains to students why it is imperative to study religions, but does this through the support of primary source documents, coverage of religions as they exist today, and integrated media resources.

In preparing the twelfth edition of Religions of the World, Mark Woodward drew on his introductory teaching experience – to thousands of undergraduates over the last decade – and his living / working experiences in Asian Christian, Buddhist, Confucian and Muslim societies for extended periods. He continues to stress the importance of religion in the world’s cultures, and the need to promote harmony and understanding among people of different faiths.

Teaching and Learning Experience

Personalize Learning - MyReligionLab delivers proven results in helping students succeed, provides engaging experiences that personalize learning, and comes from a trusted partner with educational expertise and a deep commitment to helping students and instructors achieve their goals.

Improve Critical Thinking - Outstanding student pedagogy and Religion and Violence boxes encourage students to examine their assumptions, discern hidden values, evaluate evidence, assess their conclusions, and more!

Engage Students - Religions of the World provides undergraduate students with a relevant text written at a level they can understand, and explains religious diversity and complex themes within context of real people and real life.

Support Instructors - Teaching your course just got easier! You can create a Customized Text or use our Instructor’s Manual, Electronic “MyTest” Test Bank or PowerPoint Presentation Slides. Plus, Religions of the World’s coverage is both comprehensive and broad enough that you can choose which religions you want to cover, and not find it necessary to use handouts, course packs, or supplemental texts.

MyReligionLab does not come automatically packaged with this text. To purchase MyReligionLab, please visit: or you can purchase a valuepack of the text + MyReligionLab (at no additional cost): VP ISBN-10: 0205201180/ VP ISBN-13:9780205201181

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"The main strength is that it covers the major religions adequately. The other strength is that it covers the traditional religions in the Americas and in Africa. The other strength is that the vocabulary words are bolded and there is a glossary for them. "

Ivory Lyonns, Mount Union College

"Very good textbook, it covers all the world religions from east to the west, this means, it is complete, thorough, and comprehensive. It gives a place to discuss those new religions such as Baha'i faith and some other hot topics such as Religion and Violence, etc. It offers some new perspectives and points of view to consider regarding religion and its role in the contemporary world."

-Hong Qu, Iowa State University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780205098514
  • Publisher: Pearson
  • Publication date: 11/21/2011
  • Edition number: 12
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 1,273,957
  • Product dimensions: 7.80 (w) x 9.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

In This Section:

I. Author Bio

II. Author Letter

I. Author Bio

Mark Woodward is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Arizona State University and Visiting Professor of Comparative Religion at the Center for Religious and Cross-Cultural Studies at Gadjah Madah University and Sunan Kalijaga State Islamic University, both in Yogyakarta Indonesia. He conducted ethnographic research in Indonesia, Burma and Thailand, and is also author of the books, Islam in Java and Java, Indonesia and Islam.

II. Author Letter

Dear Colleague,

I would like to take this opportunity to introduce the new edition of Religions of the World. This is the twelfth edition, and the book has gone through many changes over the years. It was originally authored by Lewis Hopfe, a dedicated teacher and scholar whose vision for teaching the World Religions course combined a sense of history with an appreciation of keeping the subject alive by focusing on contemporary trends in religions and the role of religion in world affairs.

In the editions I have edited, and sections of the book that I have rewritten, I have done the best that I can to retain this perspective. I continue to include both primary texts and first hand accounts of what is now called "lived religion" or somewhat less pretentiously "religion and everyday life. In fact, I explore these "living religions" in terms of the historical and cultural factors that produced them, the lives of their founders, their basic teachings, and their historical development and current status in the world.

I have been fortunate enough to have lived in many parts of the world and to have had the chance to interact with people from most of the religious traditions discussed in the book. These experiences have had a major impact on almost every chapter, especially those concerned with contemporary religious life. It is also apparent in original photographs that I have used whenever possible.

Another unique feature of this book is frank and honest discussion of the issue of religion and violence. I think that there is no escaping this issue and that our students will hold us accountable if we do not help them to understand how it is that people of many, indeed almost all, faiths can use religion to motivate or excuse violence and the dehumanization of others.

Please do let me know what you think of the new edition of Religions of the World. If you have any comments, suggestions, or questions about the book, please do not hesitate to send me an e-mail at

I look forward to hearing from you!

Best regards,

Mark Woodward

Arizona State University

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Table of Contents

Brief Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Basic Religions and World Religions

Chapter 2 Native American Religions

Chapter 3 African Religions

Religions Originating in India

Chapter 4 Hinduism

Chapter 5 Jainism

Chapter 6 Buddhism

Chapter 7 Sikhism

Religions Originating in China and Japan

Chapter 8 Chinese Religions

Chapter 9 Shinto

Religion Origination in the Middle East

Chapter 10 Zoroastrianism

Chapter 11 Judaism

Chapter 12 Christianity

Chapter 13 Islam

Chapter 14 Baha’i (Online Bonus Chapter)




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