The Illustrated World’s Religions

The Illustrated World’s Religions: A  Guide to our Wisdom Traditions, was first published in the late 50s as The Religions of Man by religion scholar Huston Smith.  This edition is a great overview of many of the world’s religions, and goes further with beautiful photos and paintings that will give you an aesthetic feel for the religions Smith covers, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Islam, Judaism, Christianity, and what he calls the “Primal Religions.”

Unlike many books on religion that purport that theirs is “the right” religion, I appreciate how Smith paints the picture of each without favoritism, rightness or wrongness.  As a top thinker in the comparative philosophy of religion, Smith does however discuss similarities and differences between religions, but does so without judgement.  He could have easily done this with religions he personally studied and practiced in his life: Vedanta Hinduism, Zen Buddhism, and Sufism.

In his career, Smith has taught at Washington University, MIT, and Syracuse University, and produced award winning documentaries. He currently teaches at the University of California, Berkeley. This is a top notch guide to our “wisdom traditions,” and Smith brings his intellectual expertise with aesthetic and moving visuals to make learning about these traditions even more interesting.  It’s an excellent work in the world of spirituality books for those who want to increase their breadth of knowledge of religion and the cultures in which they exist.

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