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Bowker, John (Westerdale) 1935-

BOWKER, John (Westerdale) 1935-

PERSONAL: Born July 30, 1935, in London, England; son of Gordon Westerdale and Marguerite Bowker; married Margaret Roper (a university lecturer), June 22, 1963; children: David Charles. Education: Oxford University, B.A., 1958. Hobbies and other interests: Books, painting, poetry.

ADDRESSES: Home—14 Bowers Croft, Cambridge CB1 8RP, England.

CAREER: Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, England, fellow, 1962-74, assistant lecturer, 1965, lecturer, 1969; University of Lancaster, Lancaster, England, professor of religious studies, 1974-85; Trinity College, Cambridge, dean, 1984-91; Gresham College, London, England, professor of divinity, 1992-97, fellow, 1997—. Wilde Lecturer, 1972-77 and Hanson Lecturer, Oxford University,; Staley Lecturer, Rollins College, 1978-78; also lecturer at University of Cardiff, Newcastle University, University of Toronto, and other schools.

MEMBER: Institute on Religion in an Age of Science (vice president, 1980); Christian Action on AIDS (president, 1987-91); Culture and Animals Foundation, 1984-92.

AWARDS, HONORS: HarperCollins Religious Book Award, 1993, for The Meanings of Death.

WRITINGS:

The Targums and Rabbinic Literature: An Introduction to Jewish Interpretations of Scripture, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 1969.

(Contributor) Making Moral Decisions, SPCK (London, England), 1969.

Problems of Suffering in Religions of the World, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 1970.

The Sense of God: Sociological, Anthropological, and Psychological Approaches to the Origin of the Sense of God, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1973, 2nd edition, Oneworld (Rockport, MA), 1995.

Uncle Bolpenny Tries Things Out, Faber (London, England), 1973.

Jesus and the Pharisees, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 1973.

The Religious Imagination and the Sense of God, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1978.

Worlds of Faith: Religious Belief and Practice in Britain Today, Ariel Books, 1983.

(Editor) Senses and Culture: The Function and Management of Aggression and Cooperation in Biocultural Evolution, Zygon, 1983.

Licensed Insanities: Religions and Belief in God in the Contemporary World, Darton, Longman & Todd (London, England), 1987.

Is Anybody out There?: Religions and Belief in God in the Contemporary World, Christian Classics (Westminster, MD), 1988.

Hallowed Ground: Religions and the Poetry of Place, SPCK (London, England), 1993.

Is God a Virus? SPCK (London, England), 1995.

The Meanings of Death, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 1993.

World Religions: The Great Faiths Explored and Explained, DK (New York, NY), 1997, revised edition, 2003.

(Editor) The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1997, published as The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions, 2000.

What Muslims Believe, Oneworld (Boston, MA), 1998.

The Complete Bible Handbook, DK (New York, NY), 1998.

The Religious Imagination and the Sense of God, Clarendon Press (New York, NY), 2000.

(Editor) The Cambridge Illustrated History of Religions, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 2002.

God: A Brief History, DK (New York, NY), 2002.

EDITOR, WITH JEAN HOLM

Attitudes to Nature, Pinter (New York, NY), 1994.

Human Nature and Destiny, Pinter (New York, NY), 1994.

Making Moral Decisions, Pinter (New York, NY), 1994.

Picturing God, Pinter (New York, NY), 1994.

Rites of Passage, Pinter (New York, NY), 1994.

Sacred Place, Pinter (New York, NY), 1994.

Sacred Writings, Pinter (New York, NY), 1994.

Women in Religion, Pinter (New York, NY), 1994.

Worship, Pinter (New York, NY), 1994.

Myth and History, Pinter (New York, NY), 1994.

SIDELIGHTS: Theologian and educator John Bowker released two simultaneous studies in 1997, World Religions: The Great Faiths Explored and Explained and The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions, the latter of which he edited. The two books complement each other, providing overviews of varying detail on the wide range of worldwide faith. Library Journal reviewer Glenn Masuchika found that while The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions is essentially "a one-volume desktop encyclopedia for ready reference," in "World Religions," Bowker is "freed to range over what he wants to say and how he wants to say it." Gervase Rosser, writing in Journal of Ecclesiastical History, lauded Bowker's dictionary as an "extraordinary" achievement: "Individual entries, often thumbnail sketches of highly complex issues, are written with a marvelous combination of intelligence, clarity and vividness."

To Times critic John Hapgood, The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions reflects its editor's sensibilities. "Those who know and admire John Bowker's other work will not be surprised to find it centring on information theory. He argues that religions are protective systems designed to transmit well-tested information about explorations of human possibility."

In God: A Brief History Bowker offers a book "chockfull of facts, stories, legends and illustrations" on religious traditions around the world, as a Publishers Weekly contributor noted. Explaining that the work cites philosophers, psychologists, and scholars through the centuries to explain God's place in society, the Publishers Weekly critic cited "numerous problems" in Bowker's reading, specifying that the author "never explains what he means" by the term God. But Gary Gillum in a review for Library Journal found more to like, characterizing God as "a fascinating, all-purpose book." David Edwards in Times Literary Supplement called the book "a clear-minded and unifying masterpiece."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

American Reference Books Annual, 1998, review of The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions, p. 591.

Booklist, July, 1997, review of The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions, p. 1837; October 15, 1999, Barbara Bibel and J. Christopher McConnell, review of The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions and World Religions, p. 472.

Book Report, September-October, 1997, review of World Religions: The Great Faiths Explored and Explained, p. 65.

Catholic Library World, December, 1997, review of The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions, p. 66; September, 1999, review of The Complete Bible Handbook, p. 35.

Choice, January, 1992, January, 1992, review of The Meanings of Death, p. 762; October, 1997, review of The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions, p. 273; May, 1999, D. D. Siles, review of The Complete Bible Handbook, p. 1590; March, 2001, J. R. Luttrell, review of The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions, p. 1241.

Christian Century, March 8, 1989, review of Is Anybody out There?, p. 268; November 6, 1991, review of The Meanings of Death, p. 1044.

Journal of Asian Studies, August, 1992, review of The Meanings of Death, p. 621.

Journal of Ecclesiastical History, April, 1999, Gervase Rosser, review of The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions, p. 314.

Journal of the American Academy of Religion, spring, 1998, Russell McCutcheon, review of Myth and History and Rites of Passage, p. 147.

Kliatt Young Adult Paperback Book Guide, November, 2001, review of The Complete Bible Handbook, p. 24.

Library Journal, July, 1991, review of The Meanings of Death, p. 102; May 1, 1997, Glen Masuchika, review of The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions, p. 94; November 15, 2001, Martha Cornog and Eliabeth Plantz, review of What Muslims Believe, p. 82; June 1, 2002, Gary Gillum, review of God: A Brief History and William Collins, review of The Cambridge Illustrated History of Religion, p. 158.

Medical Humanities Review, fall, 1993, review of The Meanings of Death, p. 31.

Middle East Journal, summer, 1994, review of The Meanings of Death, p. 564.

New Statesman, April 14, 1995, review of Is God a Virus? p. 40.

New Statesman & Society, October 11, 1991, review of The Meanings of Death, p. 23.

Observer (London, England), June 20, 1993, review of The Meanings of Death, p. 62.

Publishers Weekly, November, 30, 1998, review of The Complete Bible Handbook, p. 65; June 10, 2002, review of God: A Brief History, p. 58.

Quill & Quire, December, 1998, review of The Complete Bible Handbook, p. 20.

Religious Studies, December, 1993, review of The Meanings of Death, p. 559.

Religious Studies Review, October, 1992, review of The Meanings of Death, p. 311; October, 1997, review of The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions, p. 367.

School Library Journal, December, 1997, review of The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions, p. 154.

Theology Today, July, 1998, Terry Muck, review of The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions, p. 271.

Times (London, England), March 27, 1997, John Hapgood, "Heart of a Heartless World," p. 41.

Times Higher Education Supplement, April 25, 1997, Anthony Freeman, review of The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions, p. 24.

Times Literary Supplement, November 1, 1991, John McManners, review of The Meanings of Death, p. 27; November 8, 2002, David L. Edwards, "Manifestations of the One," p. 15.

Tribune Books (Chicago, IL), August 25, 1991, review of The Meanings of Death, p. 5.

Voice of Youth Advocates, October, 1997, review of The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions, p. 258; June, 1999, review of The Complete Bible Handbook, p. 138.

Zygon, December, 1999, review of Is God a Virus? p. 713.

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