An Encyclopedia of Religion

An Encyclopedia of Religion

An Encyclopedia of Religion

An Encyclopedia of Religion

Excerpt

When, more than three years ago, it was suggested that I undertake the editorship of an Encyclopedia of Religion, I had no idea of the immensity of the task or of the complications involved in its execution. The idea, however, seemed good to me, especially in view of the fact that there was no desk-size ready reference work in this vast field, authoritative and up-to-date, to which one could conveniently turn. Dean Shailer Mathews ' and Dr.Gerald Birney Smith Dictionary of Religion and Ethics, published nearly a quarter of a century ago, many of us have found valuable and useful; but the time did seem right for a new work, with more recent scholarly information and one which, perhaps, would carry articles of wider scope and treatment, more recent bibliographies and, perhaps, more representative of conflicting schools of thought.

It was clear, at the outset, that the services of a large number of specialists must be sought and their counsel enlisted, if such a work was to measure up to satisfying requirements.

The first task was to draw up a prospectus to make clear the nature of the volume sought and, on this basis, to engage the interest of others. Among the items contained in this prospectus were the following: 1) a concise definition to be given terms of importance and topics of primary significance in the field to be treated with more fullness; 2) the size of the volume to be limited to that of a handy desk-reference; 3) the topics to include the widest ranges of the field: the theologies of the major religions, denominations and cults with special attention to Biblical literature and Christian theology, ecclesiastical history and polity, the usual divisions of cultural and academic interests as these relate to religion, viz., philosophy, psychology, ethics, sociology, history, comparative religion, art and architecture, musicology and liturgy, important controversial disputes, missionary enterprises, religious education, and the like, together with the masters and leaders of classical religious thought; 4) the composition to be guided by three ideals of writing: authority, simplicity and succinctness; 5) the treatment of subject matter to be historical and descriptive rather than apologetic; 6) variant meanings and usages of terms to be given wherever necessary, together with etymologies of the more technical terms; 7) articles to carry an appended bibliography carefully selected by the expert in the subject with year dates of SYSTEMations; 8) the identification of each contribution to be designated by authors'

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