Anastasios Yannoulatos, Archbishop of Tirana and All Albania, Traces from the Quest of the Transcendental. Collection of Religious Studies, Athens: Akritas Publications, 2004, 493 pages.
The quest for the Transcendental, the “Holy”, the “Saint”, has been a basic human proclivity since the dawn of History until today, from the most primitive to more complex societies. Today there seems to be a particular interest in the way of life, the philosophical and religious ideas that flourished in various cultures. This book by Anastasios of Albania, though not a uniform structure, is a collection of studies concerning the above. That is, a collection of religious studies, a religious primer, which informs and enlightens the reader on religious traditions known, less familiar or even unknown. In order to respond, as the author himself states, to the demands of the University Chair, he did not limit himself to the study of bibliography, but sought to utilise the experience of various travels in many countries of all the continents, where the main religions flourish and even the direct personal meeting with followers and worship centres of different religions. According to the author, the better knowledge of other religions is not a gnosiological luxury, but a precondition for us to grasp the multifaceted religious phenomenon, the directions and forms that the quest for the Transcendental took, the quest for God, in the different longitudes and latitudes of the earth.
The book begins with introductory issues: the definition of Religion, the catholicity of the phenomenon, its meaning and essence, the types of religions, the dynamics of religions in our time, the relation of religion to ethics, science and art. He also deals with the significance of the science of religion, its history and trends.
The second part of the book contains studies on some of the leading religious personalities, such as Zarathustra, Buddha, Lao Tse, Confucius, Mencius, Mohammed , Nanak.
The next chapter examines some of the surviving religions, such as the African ones, Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, Islam, and Sikhism.
The fourth chapter includes some special issues, such as idolatry, mysticism, yoga and Orthodox Christianity, Christians and Muslims in Europe today, etc.
The book is lavishly illustrated, includes an index of terms and Greek and Latin names and closes with the author’s voluminous biographical and writing work.