The Handy Religion Answer Book, Second Edition

by John Renard, PhD
Handy Religion 2e

Understanding an important key to understanding human culture and history.... [T]he average reader...should benefit greatly from this resource.

Renard (theological studies, St. Louis U.) offers a reference work on religion arranged in chapters on 8 different faiths. The material proceeds through almost 800 questions and one or two paragraph general answers.

Book News

When done well, [frequently asked questions] provide quick access to informative answers to specific questions. The Handy Religion Answer Book successfully ... introduce(s) some of the world’s major religious traditions. This well-priced volume is highly recommended.


packs a great deal of helpful information into a usable format.... provide(s) clear and succinct explanations.... Recommended.


A perfect primer for any general-interest collection wishing a simple question-and-answer format paired with wide-ranging discussions.

Midwest Book Review

Anyone – student, news junkie or bet-settler – who needs quick access to information about a major religion would do well to have nearby.

New York Daily News

Concise and accessible, this is an outstanding resource for those with a general interest in major religions of the modern world.

School Library Journal

Renard...has produced a book that is inviting to sit down and read through chapter by chapter.

St. Louis Post - Dispatch
A question-and-answer guide to the prominent religions of the world...

The spiritual world we live in today is a diverse and sometimes highly individual mix of religious practices and beliefs. The physical world is a much smaller place, often secular in appearance but still very much fueled by religious beliefs and conflict in the name of God. The Handy Religion Answer Book provides solid descriptions of major beliefs and rituals worldwide, affording the reader an understanding of contemporary religion.

Providing detailed descriptions of the history, beliefs, symbols, rituals, observations, customs, membership, leaders, and organization of the world’s eight major religious traditions, including Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism, Taoism, and Shinto.

Clearly and eloquently written by a scholar with more than 40 years of study and teaching experience, The Handy Religion Answer Book is an easy-to-use comparative guide for anyone seeking basic religious literacy and intellectual history.

This fully revised and updated edition contains a wealth of information and answers more than 1,000 questions, such as What is the significance of the Star of David? How did so many different Christian churches come into being? What is the importance of the month of Ramadan? What is an Ayatollah? and Do Taoists believe in heaven and hell?, as well as new questions concerning religion and violence and suborganizations that claim affiliation with the major faith communities. A glossary of religious terminology, and maps of the general coverage areas for each religion are also included.

About John Renard, PhD

John Renard, PhD John Renard received his doctorate in Islamic studies from Harvard University. He currently teaches courses in Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism, religion and the arts, and comparative theology in the Department of Theological Studies at Saint Louis University. He authored Visible Ink Press’s popular comparative religion primer, The Handy Religion Answer Book, as well as numerous titles on Islam, including Tales of God’s Friends: Islamic Hagiography in Translation, and Islam and Christianity: Theological Themes in Comparative Perspective. He lives in St. Louis, Missouri.

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