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Classic Studies of World Religions
The purpose of this webpage is to provide readers with easy access, in pdf format, to some of the classic texts on world religions. All of the works provided are in the public domain. Each week we will attempt to post a new book. All of the books are in the public domain. They come the Internet Archive, where they are sometimes hard to find, and other online sites, or were scanned for the purpose of posting to this website. Links are also provided to other sources for online books in pdf format like Rob Bradshaw's excellen Theology on the Web website where you can find numerous books and journals.
The following texts can be read online or downloaded as pdf files
Anti-Christian works:
Tom Paine
The Age of Reason - to read online click here. Paine's Age of Reason is largely ignored by theologians, but its arguments shaped nineteenth century thought and in many ways gave rise to the comparative study of religion.
Ludwig Feuerbach
The Essence of Christianity - to read online click here. This is the book that gave birth to Karl Marx's theories of religion and society.
David Friedrich Strauss

The Life of Jesus
The New Faith and the New

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels

On Religion. Inspired by Ludwig Feuerbach the anti-religious polemic of Marx and Engels was far more complex then most people think. They saw religion as a key factor in human life which led to the study of politics and society.
Nietzsche, Friedrich
  The Philosophy of Nietzsche
Works on mythology:


Macpherson, James
Grimm, Jacob
Lang, Andrew
Fraser, Sir James The Golden Bough
Chaimberlain, H. S
Rosenberg, Alfred
The Myth of the 20th. Century
N.B. The last two authors were key Nazi theorists and are included because of the evil they promoted.
Eliade, Mercea
Psychological works:
William James,
Freud, Sigmund,
Jung, Carl
Sociological works:
Durkheim, Emil,
Weber, Max
Niebuhr, Richard H,
Troeltsch, Ernst

Protestantism and Progress
The Social Teachings of the Christian Churches
Vol. 1
The Social Teachings of the Christian ChurchesVol. 1

von Hügel, Baron Friedrich Philosophy of Religion
Wach, Joachim,
Comparative religion:
Jordan, Louis Henry
Eliade, Mercea
  Patterns in Comparative Religion
  History of Religious Ideas Vol. 1
  History of Religious Ideas Vol. 2
  History of Religious Ideas Vol. 3
  Yoga Immortality and Freedom
Goodrich-Clarke, Nicholas The Occult Roots of Nazism
Reischauer, August Karl Studies in Japanese Buddhism
Smart, Ninian Buddhism and Christianity: Rivals and Allies
Classical histories:

Ecclesiastical History of the English Church and People - to read online click here. This is the earliest history of England and a key medieval text on religion and the conversion of the pagan British to Christianity.

Biographical Writings and Letters of the Venerable Bede

Geoffrey of Monmouth Histories
Gerald of Wales The Itinerary Through Wales
Robinson, Charles Henry The Conversion of Europe
Rowse, A. L. Constantine and the Conversion of Europe
world religiongs logo

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.