Book Review: Great Events in Religion: An Encyclopedia of Pivotal Events in Religious History

Gregory A. Crawford


Designed to be comprehensive in its scope, this set covers major religious events from remote prehistory (ca. 60,000 BC) to the highly contemporaneous (AD 2014). Taken together, the editors have done an admirable job in choosing topics to cover and in compiling a highly readable, informative, and thought-provoking compilation. The first volume covers the period of prehistory to AD 600 and includes entries for topics as diverse as the first burials that indicate a belief in an afterlife found in Shanidar Cave, Iraq (ca. 60,000 BC), the discovery of the oldest human-made place of worship at Göbekli Tepe in modern Turkey (tenth millennium BC), the ritual use of alcohol (ca. third millennium BC), the founding of Buddhism (sixth to fourth centuries BC), the Roman conquest of Judaea in 63 BC, the conversion of Saul (Saint Paul) in AD 34, the Council of Chalcedon in AD 451, and the papacy of Gregory the Great (reigned AD 590–604). Volume 2 covers from AD 600 to 1450, thus encompassing the Middle Ages in the West, the rise of Islam in the Middle East, the growth of Christian monasticism, the crusades, the development of the first universities in Europe, and the lives of Joan of Arc and Jan Hus. The final volume covers from 1450 to the present, starting with the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks and ending with the rise of the Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL, or Daesh) in 2014.

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