Religions of the World

Season 1
 (48)
2004ALL
Narrated by Academy Award-winner Ben Kingsley, this series objectively documents religions worldwide with interviews from experts. Travel to exotic locations around the world and see how such religions as Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Protestantism and Catholicism have shaped cultures, changed history and left their mark on humanity.
Starring
Ben Kingsley
Genres
Documentary
Subtitles
English [CC]
Audio languages
English
Playing the video isn't supported on this device/operating system version. Please update or watch on Kindle Fire, mobile devices, game consoles, or other compatible devices.
Add to Watchlist
Add to
Watchlist
By ordering or viewing, you agree to our Terms. Sold by Amazon.com Services LLC.
Write review

  1. 1. Judaism
    Watch on supported devices
    September 6, 2004
    47min
    ALL
    Subtitles
    English [CC]
    Audio languages
    English
    One of the world's oldest surviving religions, Judaism is both a theology and a way of life for over 12 million followers in the world today. The first religion to be founded upon the principle of monotheism, Judaism has survived despite persecution against its people throughout the ages.
  2. 2. Orthodox and Roman Catholic Christianity
    Watch on supported devices
    September 6, 2004
    47min
    ALL
    Subtitles
    English [CC]
    Audio languages
    English
    From the public ministry of Jesus to the legendary battles of the Crusades, examine the interwoven histories of these two distinct branches of Christianity. Although its followers were long persecuted by the Roman Empire, Christianity spread throughout the Mediterranean region and eventually became the favored religion of the Empire, following the ascension of Constantine to the Roman throne
  3. 3. Protestant Christianity
    Watch on supported devices
    September 6, 2004
    47min
    ALL
    Subtitles
    English [CC]
    Audio languages
    English
    Political, religious and social events of 16th-century Europe changed the course of history. These factors sparked the birth of Protestant Christianity, whose new doctrines were formulated in reaction to the Roman Catholic Church. Viewers will explore the many denominations that developed over the centuries, including Baptists, Calvinists, Mennonites, Presbyterians, Puritans and Quakers.
  4. 4. Islam
    Watch on supported devices
    September 6, 2004
    47min
    ALL
    Subtitles
    English [CC]
    Audio languages
    English
    Islam is one of the great monotheistic world religions practiced today. Discover the Islamic culture through the daily life and rituals of Muslims around the world. Viewers will learn about Islam's history -- from its inception in the seventh century, to the rise of the Ottoman Empire between the ninth and 12th centuries and to the present.
  5. 5. Hinduism
    Watch on supported devices
    September 6, 2004
    47min
    ALL
    Subtitles
    English [CC]
    Audio languages
    English
    Learn how and why Hinduism has survived to be one of the oldest and largest world religions with nearly one billion followers located mostly in India. Hinduism encompasses wide practices and traditions largely due to its great capacity to integrate the new with the old.
  6. 6. Buddhism
    Watch on supported devices
    September 6, 2004
    47min
    ALL
    Subtitles
    English [CC]
    Audio languages
    English
    Discover the history behind the philosophy that has led millions of followers on a quest for spiritual enlightenment. Through the epic story of Siddhartha Gotama, learn why Buddhists believe the key to "Nirvana" lies within themselves, accessible through thoughtful meditation and prayer.
  7. 7. Shinto
    Watch on supported devices
    September 6, 2004
    47min
    ALL
    Subtitles
    English [CC]
    Audio languages
    English
    Explore the rituals and ceremonies of Japan's Shinto through interviews, archival and on-location footage. Shinto or "the way of the Kami" which loosely translated, means "god" or "the sacred" is rooted in mythology and folk rituals that are passed through the generations, yet unique in having no congressional worship, founder, or organizing doctrine.
  8. 8. Confucianism and Taoism
    Watch on supported devices
    September 6, 2004
    47min
    ALL
    Subtitles
    English [CC]
    Audio languages
    English
    While the major religions of the Western world affirm a belief in a single God, Confucianism and Taoism focus inward on human behavior and thought. Learn how the philosophy and doctrine of Confucius has impacted Chinese culture. Enter the world once shrouded in secrecy as the rituals of Taoism are explained.
  9. 9. Religions of Small Societies
    Watch on supported devices
    September 6, 2004
    47min
    ALL
    Subtitles
    English [CC]
    Audio languages
    English
    Examine the religious rituals and myths of the many small groups of indigenous people living around the world. From the Ainu of northern Japan to the Indians of North America, discover common beliefs and practices that bind these societies on a spiritual level. Learn how these small societies have maintained their cultural identities while fighting off the encroachment of Western ideology.
  10. 10. Ancient Religions of the Mediterranean
    Watch on supported devices
    September 6, 2004
    47min
    ALL
    Subtitles
    English [CC]
    Audio languages
    English
    As the world's largest sea, the Mediterranean has nourished various civilizations for centuries. Trace the spiritual history of the Mediterranean Basin, examining the ancient cultures that have greatly influenced the religions of the modern world. From Mesopotamia and Egypt to the empires of Greece and Rome, discover the mythologies, gods and rituals that played an important role.
  11. 11. African and African American Religions
    Watch on supported devices
    September 6, 2004
    47min
    ALL
    Subtitles
    English [CC]
    Audio languages
    English
    Learn about the cultural diversity of Africa through its many religions -- traditional and neo-traditional African, Christianity and Islam. See how shared elements of various customs serve as unifying threads across tribes, centuries and even continents. Observe the strong traces of African religious spirituality that exist today in cultures, which have survived slavery.
  12. 12. Native American Spirituality
    Watch on supported devices
    September 6, 2004
    47min
    ALL
    Subtitles
    English [CC]
    Audio languages
    English
    Through archival footage, artifacts and interviews, viewers will gain a broad understanding of Native American spirituality featuring Aztec and Maya religions as well as that of Eskimos and Iroquois. Discover traditions with an ancient history that dates as far back as 9,000 B.C.E. and the way changing cultural circumstances have altered the religious lives of these people.
  13. 13. Skepticism and Religious Relativism
    Watch on supported devices
    September 6, 2004
    47min
    ALL
    Subtitles
    English [CC]
    Audio languages
    English
    Examine the role of philosophy and science in the universal quest to understand the "cosmic order" or purpose to life, and survey major Western thinkers, beginning with the Greek philosophers, Socrates and Plato. Discover how their ideas and questions about morality became the roots of skepticism and religious relativism, and later led to scientific work by Aristotle and Copernicus.

More details

Directors
Candace CorriganColey ColemanElizabeth CokerGene SmithJ.P. PeachJoan GeiserMichael D'AnnaPeter Randall LippmanStephen Kopels
Producers
Luis Florencio Tapia
Season year
2004
Network
Multicom Entertainment Group
Purchase rights
Stream instantly Details
Format
Prime Video (streaming online video)
Devices
Available to watch on supported devices

Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars

48 global ratings

  1. 35% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 15% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 30% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 9% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 10% of reviews have 1 stars
Sorted by:

Top reviews from the United States

PeachyPatReviewed in the United States on December 29, 2017
4.0 out of 5 stars
Basic Knowledge leads to Better Understanding.
Verified purchase
this is a difficult subject to tackle. Just finished the segment on Islam and I'm anxious to see the rest of the series. Some reviewers have complained that it is not an accurate picture of the religions being discussed. They lament that recent acts of terrorism or past atrocities have not been discussed. I see this series as a positive outlook on each religion. How each one begin and what are its tenants. To go into what is wrong with the religion or how their beliefs have been used to bring bad things into others' lives would defeat the purpose of this program. We all need to learn some basic facts about each other's beliefs and religious goals. How those beliefs have been twisted to suit individual or group dynamics is an entirely different discussion. I have attended many classes on different religions and read many books that describe and contrast the "big 3" religions. I think this program does a great job in the time given. I took some notes about things I wanted to further investigate. I agree with one reviewer that some form of this material should be taught in school. I am not a religious person at all, but it is important to me to understand how other people think and what directs their thinking about life. Religion is a huge part of our world, even if we don't participate ourselves.
13 people found this helpful
D. NykielReviewed in the United States on October 7, 2017
4.0 out of 5 stars
Fascinating---yet significantly shorter---version of the original series
Verified purchase
The BBC documentary series, “Religions of the World,” is a seventeen-part series meant to introduce viewers not only to the six major world religions---Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism---but also to many other lesser known religions or belief systems that often do not get as much attention from scholars of religion.
While I enjoyed all of the episodes, one thing I found odd about this series is that when I had read about it online, it was listed as having SEVENTEEN episodes which covered not just the five major religions---Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism---but also several other religious traditions, namely the broad category of indigenous Japanese religions known as Shinto, Confucianism, Taoism, Religions of Small Societies (whatever that means), Ancient Religions of the Mediterranean, African and African-American religions, Native American religions, and finally, Atheism, Skepticism and other forms of nonbelief---yet those episodes are not there. I found that really, really odd, irritating, perplexing and disappointing. Also, the episode on Hinduism, which I had watched on YouTube, was two hours and fifty minutes---yet on this version it is only fifty-five minutes. My suspicion is that, much as with feature films, when the people who made this series were making it, they made a so-called “international” version, which had all seventeen episodes and which had the ENTIRE two-hour-and-fifty-one-minute Hinduism episode (as opposed to the significantly shorter, fifty-five-minute American version), and that, unlike the original international version, this so-called “American” version only focuses on Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism, while the international version had many more episodes on other religious traditions as well. I call it the "American" version because I suspect that when it was originally broadcast in the UK, as well as when it was originally released internationally, the version available outside of the U.S. probably has the ENTIRE 17-episode series, including ALL two hours and fifty-one minutes of the original Hinduism episode, while---for some bizarre reason---the distributor assumed that Americans would not be as interested in the topic and therefore felt the need to shorten the Hinduism episode to fifty-one minutes and to shorten the series itself to only five episodes (as opposed to the original fourteen episodes).
Thus, while this particular series is a mere 5 ½ hours (300 mins.), had the entire series been available on Amazon, based on my own calculations of the actual length of the entire series---and that includes the entire two hours and fifty-one minutes of the Hinduism documentary in what I suspect is the “international” version of the documentary (as opposed to its significantly abridged American release, in which the Hinduism episode is only fifty-five minutes and which only has five episodes as opposed to all fourteen episodes included in the original series)---the entire series would have been 1200 minutes long---that is to say, twenty hours. In addition to the world's MAJOR religions (i.e. Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), I was under the impression that the series would contain the other eight episodes---namely the ones on the Shinto religion of Japan, Native American Religions, African and African-American religions, Confucianism and Taoism, one GENERAL episode on Christianity (not just Protestantism, Catholicism and Orthodox Christianity), Religions of Small Societies (whatever that means), and also on Atheism, Skepticism, and other forms of nonbelief. I also think it was odd that they left out the various new religious movements intending to revive ancient religions (e.g. Greco-Roman, Viking, Germanic, Celtic, etc) broadly called Neo-Paganism. It would have been interesting had they chosen to to explore those religions as well.
When discussing the Spanish Inquisition, the makers of this documentary got something wrong when they claimed that the “last Jews” were expelled in 1492. This is a common mistake made by many non-Muslim and non-Spanish historians. I suspect that the reason for this is because it coincides with Christopher Columbus' voyage to the New World, and is therefore easy to remember---regardless of the fact that it took a couple hundred years to expel all the Muslims and Jews completely. In actual fact, it took Spain 297 years to expel the Jews. All of the Jews who refused to convert to Christianity (or who were merely suspected of secretly practicing Judaism) were all kicked out of Spain by 1789. Furthermore, it took 138 years to expel the Muslims. All Muslims were expelled from Spain by 1630. It is interesting to note that in 2013, the Spanish parliament passed a law saying that any Jew who can prove, through either documentation and/or DNA, that they are in some way descended from some of the Jews who had been expelled from 1492-1789, can become a Spanish citizen if he or she wishes. When talking about the population of Indonesia---the country with the world’s largest Muslim population---Mr. Kingsley inaccurately states that Indonesia has 100 million Muslims, when in reality, there are around 270 million Muslims in Indonesia. (Then again, that very well may have been Indonesia’s Muslim population in 1998 when this movie was made, although I am not really sure whether that was true or not). When discussing Ramadan, he forgot to mention that in addition to refraining from food and drink, a Muslim also cannot have sex during the day either. When discussing Buddhism, the documentary claimed---inaccurately---that the Dalai Lama, the documentary claimed---inaccurately---that the Dalai Lama was seen as a "God King." Buddhists---whether Tibetan or otherwise---revere the Dalai Lama, but they do NOT worship him. Some Buddhists often choose to worshi Hindu gods, as well as the Buddha, and many Hindus consider the Buddha to be an avatar of Vishnu (the Hindu god of preservation), but---no---as far as I know, there is NO EVIDENCE to suggest that the Buddhists worship the Dalai Lama. I also thought it was odd how many of the episodes ended abruptly, often in the middle of discussing a particular aspect of the religion on which the particular episode focused, and this often would happen just when I was getting into them and expecting there to be more information. The only exception to this rule was the episodes on Hinduism and Islam. In spite of these flaws, and despite the fact that I will have to look elsewhere for the ENTIRE series, this series was good, nonetheless.
7 people found this helpful
Mark A. KuzelReviewed in the United States on July 3, 2016
5.0 out of 5 stars
First episode very concise on Jewish history
Verified purchase
Told from a perspective that seemed most familiar with Judaism and told Judaic history, hopes and dreams amazingly well and in a short time. I learned more than I knew previously about things like the extra biblical Jewish writings and how they came from oral tradition and when it was committed to written form. It told about Israel impossibly becoming a nation again almost 2000 years after the Romans tore Jerusalem down and kicked anyone who was of the Jewish faith out resulting in decentralization. It did not address the hopes that some Jews have of rebuilding the temple in Jerusalem which is going to be a huge event and is almost inevitable because it was the center of Jewish faith. Fascinating. As a Christian I was interested in these things. The Christian history is told in parts 2 and 3 and appears to be told from a Jewish perspective which is interesting in itself. Of course no more than an overview can be told of anything in 45 or so minutes but as a primer it was of value to me and I'm going to watch the chapter on Islam, #4, next.
6 people found this helpful
Dr WhyReviewed in the United States on May 18, 2022
3.0 out of 5 stars
Ads included -- Don't buy
Verified purchase
The Ben Kingsley narrated series "Religions of the World" is valuable and interesting. The Islam episode is especially good.

However, note that ADVERTISEMENTS are included EVEN WHEN YOU PURCHASE the episode(s). Unfair! Free with Amazon Prime with ads. Buy it -- and you still get stuck with non-optional ads.

Note also that the streaming version of the series has replaced many of the musical selections in the original VHS edition with schmaltzy muzak. The VHS music soundtracks were more culturally diverse -- bad move replacing them (although it could have been for copyright reasons - who knows?).
James CooleyReviewed in the United States on April 14, 2017
5.0 out of 5 stars
Ecce homo
Verified purchase
A quite surprisingly well-rounded and unbiased view of the world's major religions.
It avoids post-modernist intertextual regurgitation and sticks to the facts.
9 people found this helpful
ElizaReviewed in the United States on April 13, 2017
5.0 out of 5 stars
This is a great set of documentary films that will help in understanding ...
Verified purchase
If you are an open mind person, do not take in account those that rate this set low. They mostly peoplewho can't stand seeing Islam not being shown in a native light. All they want to hear is that Islam is evil.

This is a great set of documentary films that will help in understanding other ways of life. A must see for all teenagers because it will help break down is\them thinking and encourage being open minded to other religions .
9 people found this helpful
A KlavanoReviewed in the United States on February 6, 2016
5.0 out of 5 stars
Good instruction in a beautiful format
Verified purchase
Very nicely done. A good combination of details of a religion and what its culture is like. I work at an international seminary where the students are seldom exposed to anything outside Christianity. These DVDs helped make the Muslims, Jews etc. real people to them. Since they are English as Second Language speakers the visuals (and ability to get English subtitles) was very helpful. For my setting I would have liked to have skipped the DVDs on Christianity and added in more other religions, but I guess that would be a different collection.
One person found this helpful
AE MartinReviewed in the United States on November 1, 2016
4.0 out of 5 stars
Not bad for a possible teaching aide for comparison of religions
Verified purchase
This series is not bad. No doubt could be better in areas, but it is not bad. Works as good way to introduce teens and young adults to other religions as teaching aide for comparison of religions.
4 people found this helpful
See all reviews