Philip Novak is the Santo Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and Religion at Dominican University in San Rafael, California, where he has taught for over twenty years, and the author of "The World's Wisdom", a widely used anthology of the sacred texts of the world's religions and the companion reader to Huston Smith's "The World's Religions". Like his mentor Huston Smith, gifted teacher Sacred Texts of the World's Religions.
The World's Wisdom: Sacred Texts of the World's Religions
This extraordinary book is an essential collection of the world's most profound and enlightening wisdom - a world Bible for our time - containing sacred readings from Buddhist, Hindu, Confucian, Taoist, Jewish, Christian, Islamic, and primal religion sources. Like his mentor Huston Smith, gifted teacher and author Philip Novak sees religious traditions as the distilled wisdom of humankind. Here Novak has gathered the most powerful and elegant expressions of this global wisdom in a distinctive and accessible volume. I have been using it with great satisfaction for years in my comparative religions classes.
That it is cheap is an added bonus for students.
The World's Wisdom: Sacred Texts of the World's Religions
Sometimes the editor puts material in his own idiosyncratic order, rather than conceptually, in a way that can be easily taught--a major problem esp. Another negative about the text is the "Grace Notes" subsection in each chapter, which consists of mostly irrelevant developments in the later post-scriptural traditions, especially mystical re-interpretations. Most of those should be eliminated and replaced with more from the canonical core of the tradition.
His selections from the Muslim Hadith are not representative: On the plus side, he does an excellent job covering including the Oral Torah in Judaism unlike his mentor, Huston Smith. Now to my critique of the Kindle edition: I was hoping that I could replace my well-worn paper copies with the Kindle edition. Sometimes they are as much as a full page off. I'm used to pointing out a text by say, "p.
This makes it difficult the grasp the whole of the reading. Tightening up the presentation would have made it much easier to preserve pagination. A major disappointment in Kindle presentation. To begin, Novak assembled this book as a compendium to accompany Huston Smith's book on world religions, so you may want to give both of them a shot at the same time, reading Novak's sections after the corresponding Smith sections. For me, that says a lot. Concerning what was selected, there is no doubt that Novak put some serious effort in selecting what he did.
The reader will get a very nice exposure to many elements within each religious tradition. However, the translations chosen are not so impressive, but there may be issues beyond the author's control here, so I cannot fault him too much. For example, the Dao Dejing was translated by Stephen Mitchell, who did an alright job, but his is hardly considered to be the authoritative translation. The good news is that it is nearly published in it entirety!
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On a similar positive note, the citations in the back are often quite informative. With a flip to the back, you will be brought to the original source. Now, I don't want to say that this book is showing its age, but many of the sources seem a bit dated. My suspicion is that this was how the price of the book was kept to a minimum. Also, in the last fourteen years since this was published, a lot of good translation work has come from Chinese philosophy.
I worry that some of the older translations may give false impressions as to the state of the research today. With this book, you have to take the good with the bad, and the best part seems to be the affordability.
You will not be able to find a collection as thorough as this for anywhere near the price. For such complex religions as Hinduism and Christianity, you need a little more. I know most are buying this as apart of college courses like me , which is a shame as this isn't anything I didn't read in HS. Author really has a good study of texts in many ancient books. These books are considered holy in many religions.
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The passages are from Bhagavat Geeta, Bible, Koran etc. A more information on the background of books is essentials. The author selects the passages wisely. The book does not explain why some texts are chosen over others though.
The World's Wisdom
This can be a personal preference and I think the author has done well. But sometimes its not easy to find the hidden meaning behind the scriptures. It means much more than just a plane translations. The author uses effective and easy language for translation. However since I know a little Sanskrit, I can say the translation could have been more accurate. This book can be helpful to scholars, teachers and public speakers. Bought for college religion class and Bought for college religion class and sold it back to my school when I finished.
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It shares about religion in interesting ways. Great book, not an easy read. More suitable for senior highschool year or even early college. This book, filled with excerpts of sacred texts of many of the major world religions, is a planned companion in structure to Huston Smith's masterpiece, World Religions.
It offers the sacred texts without commentary or judgement to support the reader in simply BE-ing with the texts and finding their own interpretation of the essence of the writings.