Religions - A Guide: New Religious Movements, Sects and Alternative
Edited Christopher H. Partridge
Hardcover / 448 pp / Oxford University Press / 2004 / 0195220420"Partridge, Senior Lecturer in theology and contemporary religion at Chester College, England, has compiled an encyclopedic work covering more than 200 religious movements. He defines a 'new religion' as 'a religion, sect or alternative spirituality that emerged or rose to prominence during the 20th century,' which allows the inclusion of groups like Freemasonry and the Baha'i Faith, with roots in the 18th and 19th centuries. Sixty-three scholars, each with impressive academic credentials, contribute to the book, which organizes groups by the major religious tradition in which the movement is founded. Included are studies of Christian groups such as Jehovah's Witnesses and Christian Science, Muslim groups such as the Nation of Islam and the Sufi Community and various controversial bodiesHeaven's Gate, the Branch Davidians and others. Partridge deliberately selected contributors whose work centers in religion and philosophy but who have no personal connection to the group under consideration. Treatment of each movement is characterized by both brevity and fairness. The various writers provide brief historical and doctrinal sketches, avoiding value judgments and criticism. Larger articles called 'features' treat broader themes (e.g. 'Celtic Christian Spirituality' or 'Chinese New Religions'), providing helpful background for the shorter entries and helping the reader to understand each sect within a larger historical context. Dozens of illustrations, many of them in color, and a thorough index add to the book's usability. Intended for a general audience, this volume is a welcome addition to the available literature." From Publishers Weekly
Also gives background information on the major religions of the world as well ancient esoteric systems.