Religious Studies


The religious studies collection serves the needs of faculty and students in the Religious Studies Department as well as a number of other departments across campus These include the departments of Anthropology, Sociology, Asian Studies, Classics, English, Fine Arts, History, Music and Philosophy. This collection also aims to meet the needs of students, faculty, and other users (e.g. social workers, psychiatrists, psychologists, sociologists, clergy, etc.) with interests in religious issues across the spectrum of the humanities and social sciences. It supports teaching and research leading to Ph.D. degrees in the field of Buddhist studies and M.A. degrees in the following areas of concentration: history of religions; Judaic studies; Biblical studies; Christian thought and institutions; Islamic studies; religions of South and East Asia (China, Japan and India).

Current areas of collecting

The religious studies selector covers the following subjects:

  1. Inquiry into the religious aspect of human societies and cultures associated with them:
    • Geography of Religion,
    • Comparative Mythology,
    • Comparative Religion,
    • Anthropology of Religion
    • Philosophy of Religion: Religious Thought and Ethics,
    • Psychology of Religions,
    • Sociology of Religion,
    • State and Religion.
  2. History of Religions:
    • Religion among Pre-Literate Peoples:
      • Prehistoric societies (archaeological materials),
      • Pre-Literate cultures (contemporary studies within cultural anthropology),
      • Oceanic, Australian Aborigines’ religion.
      • Indian Religious Traditions and Hinduism,
      • Buddhism: Theravada (Hinayana), Mahayana, Tantric and Zen Buddhism,
      • Jainism,
      • Sikhism,
      • Tibetan Religions,
      • Chinese Religions:
        • Taosim,
        • Confucianism
      • Japanese Religions:
        • Shintoism,
        • Ainu Religion,
      • Ural-Altaic Religion and Mythology,
      • Religions in Near Eastern Antiquity and the Classical World:
        • Mexopotamia, Egypt, Persia
        • Greece and Rome; Hellenistic syncretism,
      • Religions of Pre-Columbian North, South, Central America,
      • Germanic and Norse, Celtic, Baltic, Slavic Religion and Mythology,
      • Ancient Israel; Classical Judaism, and Early Christianity,
      • Islam as a Religious Tradition:
        • Qur’an and Hadith,
        • Islamic Law. Institutions,
  3. Religious traditions in the West:
    • Jewish Traditions in Medieval and Modern Times,
    • Christianity in Medieval and Modern Times Reformation; Relations to other Religious and Philosophical Systems,
    • Religious History of Canada and North America,
    • English Bible: versions, history and criticism.
    • Religious history: general and by period, region, country (worldwide coverage).
    • Mythology, Religion, and Religious Life of the Native People of Canada.

    Special emphasis is placed on religious aspects of human societies and cultures: geography of religion; comparative mythology and religion; state and religion; religious history: general and by period, region, country; church and state in Germany: 1933-1945; Islam; Asian religions of the Pacific Rim (particularly China, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia), especially Buddhist studies.


    Indexes and abstracts, bibliographies, encyclopedias, handbooks, biographic sources, concordances and directories, as well as nonfiction monographs.

    Publication date

    The majority of acquisitions will be for current publications, with retrospective purchasing to fill collection gaps and to meet research needs of users, in particular faculty. There is no time allocated to systematic retrospective buying.


    Predominantly English with selected materials in the major European languages. Corpus of scriptural writings in original languages: Hebrew, Greek, Latin etc. (Main Library); vernacular materials from South, Southeast, and East Asia: Sanskrit, Pali, Hindu, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Tibetan, etc. (Asian Library).

    Geographic origin

    Worldwide coverage.


    Subject areas designated as primary responsibility of the Theological Colleges: theological methodology; theology, study and teaching about the Bible; doctrinal, dogmatic, systematic theology; practical theology: liturgy and ritual, prayer, hymnology, spirituality; Christian denominations and sects and their publishing. Directories of Christian denominations and sects.

    Collections in other UBC Libraries/ Areas of overlap

    Asian Library: Vernacular materials from South, Southeast, and East Asia.

    Fine Arts Library: Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, Islamic art, architecture, iconography.

    Law Library: A basic information level collection of the Canon Law, Jewish and Islamic Law; Hindu and Sikh Law and family studies, predominantly in English, some in vernacular.

    Music Library: Religious music.

    Special Collections: Retrospective and current materials on the Dukhobors; British Columbia; religious life and history; Native People of British Columbia, their religion and mythology.

    Woodward Library: Practical church work: social work with the sick; Religion and medicine; Religion and health.