Title: Eastern Religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Shinto
Author: edited by Michael D. Coogan
Publisher: Oxford University Press
More detail than most coffee-table style books
Solid introductions to eastern religions for the average reader
Includes selections from original texts, scriptures
Less detail than most academic books
Explanation of beliefs, history of eastern religions
Collection of five previously published books
Numerous full-color photographs and illustrations
There is no question but that Americans should learn more about religions around the world, but good means for doing so arent as common as they should be. These religions communicate foreign concepts in foreign languages there simply arent any easy reference points that would facilitate understanding, as there can be with Islam, for example. Eastern Religions, edited by Michael D. Coogan, may provide the access that will help people.
Eastern Religions combines five previous books: Hinduism, by Vasudha Narayanan; Taoism, by Jennifer Oldstone-Moore; Shinto, by C. Scott Littleton; Buddhism, by Malcolm David Eckel, and Confucianism, also by Jennifer Oldstone-Moore. Each of the five books, now combined into a single volume, constitutes a separate section and retains its original basic structure: different chapters on historical origins, sacred texts, the nature of divinity, customs, afterlife beliefs, and more. The structure of the book invites the reader to compare and contrast the various ways in which these religions deal with subjects like gods, ethics, and the afterlife.
If you have all or most of the individual books, theres probably no reason to get this new collection if you really want, you can complete your collection more easily by purchasing what you are missing. If you only have one or two, however, it might be easier to buy this and sell what you already have.
One advantage that this combined volume has over the individual books is the combined index. Although there may not be too many occasions to take advantage of this, it is possible that you will be looking for a concept that occurs in more than one religion. With the individual books, youll have to look it up multiple times; with the combined volume you can look it up once and get all the entries at once.
Also as with the original books, this volume presents each religion in combination with many full-color photos and illustrations which help readers connect more readily with the people they are reading about. These books are less technical than those used in the typical college course, but more detailed than the typical coffee table book.
They could be used in college courses, but they are probably better suited for adults or students simply looking to learn something about these religions on their own. Its not quite a comprehensive introduction, in the sense that there are certainly plenty of things left out, but it is a very good introduction which covers a broad range of important topics.