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For a contemporary world in which religious belief exercises a more potent – some might say more dangerous – influence on global events than many would have thought possible a generation ago, the nature and interpretation of the core tenets of religious faith has become a matter of compelling and widespread interest, both within and outside practising religious communities.
Each of the 14 chapters of Sacred Texts is devoted to one of the principal religious and other belief systems of humanity, both defunct and extant. The chapters follow a consistent pattern: a short and accessible introduction to the faith in question, followed by extracts that clearly illustrate its mythic narratives, its spiritual and theological doctrines, its central moral teachings, its rituals and modes of worship, and its mystical traditions. Accompanying notes make clear the meanings of all the quoted passages. Taken together, the extracts provide a rounded and coherent picture of each religious tradition.
Sacred Texts covers not only Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Taoism, Confucianism, Shintoism and Sikhism, but also small-scale traditional religions, new religions, and secular worldviews such as humanism. It is an essential reference for those who wish to understand the nature – and continuing appeal – of religious belief in a globalised, multi-faith world.