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Arlow, J.A. (1951). Man's Religions: By John B. Noss. (New York: Macmillan Co., 1949. Pp. 812.). Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 32:329.

(1951). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 32:329

Man's Religions: By John B. Noss. (New York: Macmillan Co., 1949. Pp. 812.)

Review by:
Jacob A. Arlow, M.D.

This book is an objective, factual, running description of the history and essential teachings of the principal religions of the world. As much as is possible in dealing with this subject, the author maintains an attitude of fair-minded sobriety, avoiding departure into areas of controversy. It is perhaps for this reason that no mention is made of the deeper insights which psycho-analysis has contributed to our understanding of the phenomenology of religion.

The earlier expositions of comparative religion were primarily theocentric. God's revelation to specially designated members of the human race was the central and unequivocal focus. In such studies, the development of different religions was regarded as a record of the numerous manifestations of divine revelation. In current appraisals, which are considered more scientific, the dynamics of religious development have been shifted from divine revelation to the dynamics of the historical process. The present work is characteristic of this trend. Factors of comparative anthropology, of economic and political geography, receive special emphasis. In discussing the origin and development of man's religious needs, these elements are placed in the forefront.

While such interpretations broaden our understanding of religions, they do not deepen it. It is at this turn that the omission of psycho-analytic insights is most to be regretted. Because it is humanistic, psycho-analysis, of all disciplines, offers the broadest as well as the deepest comprehension.

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