Historical Dictionary of New Religious Movements

2d ed. Scarecrow. 2012. 416p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780810861947. $80. Online: NetLibrary, Overdrive, MyiLibrary, EBL, & Questia REF
Normally one expects the second edition of a work to be better than the first. It is hoped that entries have been updated and omissions and errors corrected. In this second edition, Chryssides (religious studies, Univ. of Wolverhampton, England) unfortunately has not met those expectations. The basic format remains: alphabetically arranged, cross-referenced entries on movements and individuals generally regarded to be outside traditional mainstream religions ("About-Picard Law," "Gaia Hypothesis," "Illuminati," "Allan Kardec," "Benjamin Creme," etc.). Some problems with the earlier work have been addressed; for example, this edition includes entries on the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and on Robert J. Lifton. However, many entries have not been updated, and information is unevenly reported: some entries—"African Church Incorporated," "Jews for Jesus"—are given short shrift, while others—"Avatara Adi Da," "Omoto"—are much longer, for reasons that are unclear. Also perplexing is the bibliography's inclusion of only 21 titles for a volume with more than 500 entries; the first edition offered approximately 103 pages of helpful bibliographic references. Instead, Chryssides states that additional sources of information can be found on websites of religious organizations. While he provides ample web addresses, this is no substitute for scholarship. Adding to the book's shortcomings is a poorly edited index. There are no index entries for the Hare Krishnas (ISKON), Islam, Jews for Jesus, or Judaism, for example, though they are included in the text.
VERDICT This volume has its good points: a decent chronology, a list of web resources, and an informative introduction. Yet these are unfortunately not enough to offset the issues with the rest of the book.
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