01: If it wasn’t so expensive ($385), one could predict that most RW subscribers would want to buy the newly published Religions of the World: A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Beliefs and Practices (ABC-CLIO), edited by J. Gordon Melton and Martin Baumann.
There is no other work currently on the market as these four volumes (totaling more than 1,500 pages). Melton is known as the author of the famous Encyclopedia of American Religions but this new encyclopedia is something far different. In a time of globalization, its scope is the entire world. Especially for this reviewer, writing from Europe, the editors should be commended for their consistency in providing information (including current statistical data on religious affiliation) for every country and territory around the world.
No doubt the cooperation of David Barrett, editor of the impressive Encyclopedia of World Christianity, contributed to the breath of this project. However, many of its entries on countries and territories are original contributions written by some of the 200 authors associated with the project.
From Bhutan to Nigeria, from Norway to Haiti, one will find reliable information on the religious situation in 240 nations and territories. There are also entries about a wide variety of religious groups — well-known or lesser-known ones — around the world. It is amazing to find under one same cover entries written by scholars in clear language about the Austrian Buddhist Association, the Order of the Cherubim and Seraphim and the Methodist Church of Cuba.
It would be an impossible task to cover every religious group around the world, but several hundreds of them are described. In addition, core essays provide general background on several religious traditions. What makes this work distinctive is its focus not on concepts and ideas (as most encyclopedias on religion do), but on religious organizations.
— Reviewed By Jean-François Mayer