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What are some good academic introductory books for Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, and Buddhism?

Averroes MD

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Are you looking for something general, historical, theological, etc? There's strains within all of these religions that have their own focus as well, though perhaps more so within Buddhism and Christianity.

Some that are coming to mind though:

Barton's Cambridge Guide to Biblical Interpretation

Martin Luther's Basic Theological Writings - I was raised as a Moravian and it runs deep, so I think Luther gets too much credit in the Protestant Reformation but that's a different issue. That said, it serves well to be versed in his writings and influence.

Strauss' Four Portraits, One Jesus - I enjoyed it for providing an analysis and commentary of the Gospels and how they developed, and obv. how Jesus is portrayed in them. Some of my classmates didn't like the book.

Hillerbrand's The Protestant Reformation


You already know this but I'd also look at whatever syllabi you have access to from mainstream seminaries, particularly intro NT, HB, Buddhism, and Hindu courses. Obviously every professor teaching them has an agenda and some are heavy in that regards but not necessarily a bad thing.

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What do you need it for? Yourself? A friend? Brushing up on some history, theology, or ...? 

If you want a world religion's book, look up Living Religions by Fisher and Reinhart. That's probably the best world religion's textbook. I teach with it, and it gives a well-rounded overview of all the religions you mentioned.

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Basic, but decent introductions:

  • The World's Religions by Huston Smith
  • God Is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions That Run the World by Stephen Prothero
  • A Little History of Religion by Richard Holloway
  • Living Religions by Mary Pat Fisher and Robin Rinehart
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