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Understanding the Religions of the World: An Introduction

Willoughby Deming

ISBN: 978-1-118-76757-3 June 2015 Wiley-Blackwell 520 Pages


Understanding the Religions of the World offers a new approach to the study of religion which moves away from the purely descriptive and instead helps students understand how religions actually ‘work’. Covering all the main faith traditions, it combines historical context, contemporary beliefs and practices, and original theory, with numerous study features and valuable overviews.

  • A major new student-focused textbook concentrating on contemporary practices and beliefs of world religions
  • Brings together a team of experts to provide a uniquely comprehensive coverage of religious traditions, including African religions and the religions of Oceania, which are rarely covered in detail
  • Integrates original theory by arguing that each religion operates according to its own logic and order, and that they fulfill our need for a point of orientation
  • Incorporates extensive student features including chapter introductions, ‘did you know?’ sections, boxed examples/material, numerous images and maps, conclusions, study questions and teaching plans, available on publication at

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Contributors vii

Preface for Teachers ix

A Note about the Chapter Features xii

About the Website xiii

Introduction 1

1 Hinduism 9

2 Buddhism 61

3 Chinese Religion 115

4 Japanese Religion 167

5 African Religions 201

6 Religions of Oceania 237

7 Judaism 269

8 Christianity 325

9 Islam 389

10 Change in Religions and New Religions 449

Glossary of Key Terms 481

Index 495