The Book of Miracles by Kenneth L. Woodward
The Meaning of the Miracle Stories in Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam

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Synopsis

For the first time in a single volume, the author of Making Saints presents the classic miracle stories of the great saints, sages, and spiritual masters of Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam -- and places them in the context of the sacred scriptures of each tradition.

In The Book of Miracles, Woodward brings together stories of the Talmudic wonder-workers, the first Christian hermits, the early Sufi mystics, the Muslim ascetics and martyrs, and the most revered Hindu and Buddhist saints. He explains the meanings and importance of their miracles and the role they play in each of these great religions.

Christians are familiar with stories of Jesus healing the sick and raising the dead, but many do not know the miracle stories of the early desert hermits, the great medieval monks, or the astonishing female mystics. Jews and other readers of the Bible know that God worked miracles through Moses, Elijah, and Elisha, but they may not be aware of the marvelous tales of miracle-working sages contained in the Rabbinic and Hasidic traditions. Islamic tradition recounts how the Prophet Muhammad multiplied food, cured the sick, and miraculously confounded his enemies, but many faithful Muslims may not have read the extraordinary tales of the Sufi mystics and their unusual spiritual powers.

Against this rich and absorbing background, The Book of Miracles also examines the accounts of contemporary miracles and those who work them. Woodward's modern subjects include the Lubavitcher rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson and the female Hindu sat guru Ammachi. He also looks at miracles recorded by current Pentecostal healers and miracles investigated by Vatican officials in connection with the canonization of saints. Instead of asking "Did it happen?" Woodward asks, "What does it mean?" -- thereby providing the reader with the keys to understanding claims of the miraculous. He shows how the meaning of miracles differs in each of the great world religions, and why, despite a culture of disbelief, eight out of ten Americans believe that miracles continue to occur. Convinced that the third millennium will see a convergence of world religions, Woodward demonstrates why miracles and their meanings -- more than doctrines or moral principles -- are what distinguish the great religious traditions from one another.

 

About Kenneth L. Woodward

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Kenneth L. Woodward is the author of Making Saints and a senior writer at Newsweek, where he has been Religion Editor for thirty-six years. He is the winner of a National Magazine Award. His articles have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Smithsonian, Commonweal, The Nation, and America, among other publications.
 
Published May 16, 2000 by Simon & Schuster. 419 pages
Genres: Religion & Spirituality, Law & Philosophy. Non-fiction

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The New York Times

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HE search for the historical Paul, for obvious reasons, has never been as pressing or controversial as the search for the historical Jesus.

Sep 26 2004 | Read Full Review of The Book of Miracles: The Mea...

The New York Times

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Roosevelt reminded two non-Protestant members of his administration, “and the Catholics and the Jews are here on sufferance.” Skip to next paragraph Stephen Satori Gustav Niebuhr Searching for Interfaith Understanding in America By Gustav Niebuhr 218 pp.

Dec 19 2008 | Read Full Review of The Book of Miracles: The Mea...

Publishers Weekly

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Longtime Newsweek religion writer Woodward (Making Saints) has written a study of miracles that doubles as a primer in world religions.

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