The worlds religions are becoming increasingly globalized. One can no longer equate particular faiths with corresponding geographic locations. Islam is as much a south or southeast Asian religion as it is a middle eastern one. And Christianity is growing by leaps and bounds in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, while it declines in Europe. In addition to these major population shifts, small communities of adherents of every religion are scattered across the globe, where they mingle with and adapt to local cultures.
What are we to make of this new religious world? The Oxford Handbook of Global Religions offers a comprehensive look at world religious societies in their contemporary global diversity. Comprising 60 essays, each by a leading scholar, the volume focuses on communities rather than beliefs, symbols, or rites. Communities in the diaspora and at the periphery are covered, as well as the central geographic regions of all the major living religious traditions. It is organized into six sections: the Indic cultural region, the Buddhist/Confucian, the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim regions, and the African cultural region. In each section an introductory essay discusses the social development of that religious tradition historically. The other essays cover the basic social factsthe communitys size, location, organizational and pilgrimage centers, authority figures, patterns of governance, major subgroups and schismsas well as issues regarding boundary maintenance, political involvement, role in providing cultural identity, and encounters with modernity.
The worlds religious communities are more diverse than ever before, and there is no other volume that covers the tremendous variety of faith communities discussed in this Handbook. This volume will be indispensable to anyone interested in contemporary religion.
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Oxford University Press, Incorporated
November 02, 2005
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