The Chambers Dictionary of Beliefs and Religions

Ed: Mark Vernon
Chambers, hb, £30.00

This magisterial work is a treasure trove of belief and practice. Mark Vernon, a former Church of England priest, has put together a massive tome of nearly 700 pages that outlines beliefs and ideas ranging from Kabbalah to Calvinism. Alongside the 3,200 entries, there are special sections on ‘hot topics’, including articles on euthanasia, multiculturalism and the family. Unlike some of the Dictionaries of this genre, the entries are succinct, making it ideal for schools, students and those with a general interest in the subject. But he offers a wide-ranging view of the subjects under discussion.

For example, in the article on homosexuality, he outlines the views of the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches, as well as the divergent views in Anglicanism. But he also outlines how Jews, Muslims, Hindus and others treat the subject. The book is enhanced by a range of full-colour illustrations. This is a valuable contribution and one that will be referred to frequently with the rising importance of religion in the modern world.
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