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The purpose of this website is to introduce and supplement Irving Hexham's textbook Understaning World Religions (Zondervan, 2011). It was written to help students and others gain a basic knowledge of the major world religions. The website has three main sections containing opan source books that can be downloaded as free pdf files. The first, this one, introduces the book and the academic study of religion. The second, discusses specific world religions, atheism and worldviews. The third, assumes that most North Americal readers are from cultural backgrounds shaped by Christianity. Therefore it provides gain an understanding of Christian history and beliefs as a background to the study of other religions.


Download a free pdf copy of The Concise Dictionary of Religion it will provide you with basic information and technical terms about various world religions

To find out why UWR was written click here. To read the introduction and first chapter click here. You may also like to read some reviews and endorsements.
Download a free copy of Irving Hexham and Karla Poewe's Understanding Cults and New Religions on cults and new religions.
Concise Dictionary of Religion

UWR Book

Understanding Cults and New Religions

Download a free copy of Fred Welbourn's classic work Atoms and Ancestors which is unuppassed.

Download a free pdf copy of Tom Paine's The Age of Reason. This is a daunting book, but essential reading for anyone wanting to understand modern unbelief.

Download a free copy of Edward Conze's Buddhism: Its Essence and Development.

atoms and ancestors

Tom Paine Age of Reason

Conze Buddhism+


Syed Abul A'Ala Mawdudi is a well known Muslim writer whose views on Islam are popular among Muslims. His Islamic Way of Life presents a Muslim understanding of Islam.

This classic work, The Religious Quest of India by J. N, Farquhar and H. D. Griswold introduces Indian religions to Western readers and remains valuable even today.

Israel Abrahams' Judaism provides a concise introduction to the Jewish traditon.
Mawdudi Islamic Way of Life Farqzgar Religious Quest of India Abrahams Judaism

Read the Catholic Encyclopedia online. It contains many informative articles on Christian history, art, and other topics

Zondearvan has also produced a DVD to accompany the book. It is intended for use in churches as well as colleges and universities and provides a Christian perspective on the relationship of different religions to Christianity. You can find out more about it at: Understanding World Religions Video Lectures
Read some classic academic dictionaries and encyclopedias on world religions.Although older works they contain many articles that remain valuable today.
Catholic Encyc

.UWR Video Course





Watch a short video where Irving talks about the Zulu prophet Isaiah Shembe

Hear Irving discuss UWR with Canadian radio host Dave Rutherford click here.
Watch a short video where Irving discusses the work of Ninian Smart.
Isiah Shembe Dave Rutherford Ninian Smart



In 2012 Understanding World Religions won a Christianity Today book award. It has also received some excellent reviews and endorsements by leading scholars.

CT Book Award


  Now Visit the Vogelstein Press Website  
Vogelstein Press
This website was first created in 2011 as a basic website. It was extensively revised to the extent that it became a new website in 2014. At that time new sections of various world religions, links to classic texts, the sections on worldviews and the extended sections on Christianity were added. All texts and graphics on Understanding World Religions are protected by copyright, 1995, 199, 2011, 2014.Permission to reproduce material found on this Web Site must be obtained from the appropriate copyright owner. World religions graphic by Christopher Tobias from Irving Hexham's Understanding World Religions, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Concise Dictionary of Religion, InterVarsity Press, Carol Stream, 1994.