Ultimate Realities

A Volume in the Comparative Religious Ideas Project

Edited by Robert Cummings Neville
Foreword by Tu Wei-ming

Subjects: Philosophy Of Religion
Series: SUNY series, The Comparative Religious Ideas Project
Paperback : 9780791447765, 391 pages, November 2000
Hardcover : 9780791447758, 391 pages, November 2000

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Table of contents

Tu Weiming

Robert Cummings Neville


Robert Cummings Neville and Wesley J. Wildman

1. Ultimate Reality: Chinese Religion
Livia Kohn with James Miller

2. Ultimate Realities: Judaism: God as a Many-sided Ultimate Reality in Traditional Judaism
Anthony J. Saldarini with Joseph A. Kanofsky

3. Ultimate Reality in Ancient Christianity: Christ and Redemption
Paula Fredriksen

4. Ultimate Reality: Islam
S. Nomanul Haq

5. Vedanta Desika's Isvarapariccheda (“Definition of the Lord”) and the Hindu Argument about Ultimate Reality
Francis X. Clooney, S. J., with Hugh R. Nicholson

6. Cooking the Last Fruit of Nihilism: Buddhist Approaches to Ultimate Reality
Malcolm David Eckel with John J. Thatamanil

7. Comparative Conclusions about Ultimate Realities
Robert Cummings Neville and Wesley J. Wildman

8. On Comparing Religious Ideas
Robert Cummings Neville and Wesley J. Wildman

9. How Our Approach to Comparison Relates to Others
Wesley J. Wildman and Robert Cummings Neville

10. The Idea of Categories in Historical Comparative Perspective
John H. Berthrong

Appendix A: On the Process of the Project During the Second Year
Wesley J. Wildman

Appendix B: Suggestions for Further Reading


Index of Names

Index of Subjects

Explores ultimate realities in a range of world religions and discusses the issue and philosophical implications of comparison itself.


The idea of ultimacy as a comparative category that cuts across major religious traditions and cultures is discussed in Ultimate Realities, a multi-authored collaborative work. In this light, Chinese religion, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are examined by distinguished specialist historians. Two senses of ultimacy emerged in the Comparative Religious Ideas Project from which this volume came. One is the ultimacy of ontological matters such as God, the Dao, or Brahman. The other is the anthropological ultimacy of religious quests such as the Buddhist journey to enlightenment which does not stress any ontological ultimate, and indeed in some forms considers ontological ultimates to be problematic. Underneath this comparative study is a theory and method of comparison which are discussed at length and embodied in the project.

Contributors include John H. Berthrong, Francis X. Clooney, S. J., Malcolm David Eckel, Paula Fredriksen, S. Nomanul Haq, Joseph Kanofsky, Livia Kohn, James E. Miller, Robert Cummings Neville, Hugh Nicholson, Anthony J. Saldarini, Tina Shepardson , John Thatamanil,, and Wesley J. Wildman.

Robert Cummings Neville is Professor of Philosophy, Religion, and Theology at Boston University, and Dean of the School of Theology. He has written many books, including most recently, Behind the Masks of God: An Essay Toward Comparative Theology; Normative Cultures; The Truth of Broken Symbols; and Boston Confucianism: Portable Tradition in the Late-Modern World, all published by SUNY Press.