The Rivers of Paradise, edited by David Noel Freedman and Michael J. McClymond

Max Weber's early 20th-century sociological analysis of the ideal types of religious leadership is still a useful benchmark for discussions of founders of religious traditions. The Rivers of Paradise takes up Weber's challenge by exploring the foundational roles that Moses, the Buddha, Confucius, Jesus and Muhammad played in their respective traditions. Five authors (Carl S. Ehrlich on Moses, Richard S. Cohen on Shakyamuni Buddha, Mark Csikszentmihalyi on Confucius, Michael J. McClymond on Jesus and Daniel C. Peterson on Muhammad) provide informative and thorough summaries of the current scholarship on each of these figures. In the cases of Moses, Shakyamuni Buddha and Confucius, reliable knowledge of the life of the founder is extremely difficult or impossible to come by. Consequently, the discussions of these figures turn more on the memories of them in the later traditions.

 

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