Book Review: The Rivers of Paradise: Moses, Buddha, Confucius, Jesus, and Muhammad as Religious Founders


Editor: David Noel Freedman

Editor: Michael J. McClymond

Book Reviewer: Deborah Sommer, Gettysburg College

Document Type


Publication Date


Department 1

Religious Studies


In his introduction to Rivers of Paradise, David Noel Freedman explains how the book finds a guiding metaphor in a passage from Genesis (2:10–14) that relates how a river emerges from Eden and splits into four different rivers that flow to different parts of the world. He associates these five rivers with five “great personality religions of the world,” which are traditions “originating in and centering around the person, the life and experience, of a single individual—as it happens all of them men” (p. 2). These “founding fathers” are Moses, the Buddha, Confucius, Jesus, and Muhammad, in that order; no one after them has accomplished anything comparable to their achievements. Rivers is an edited volume of five essays on these figures and their legacies. Of the five “founders” mentioned in the title, I am competent only in primary sources that deal with Confucius, and so I shall focus my comments accordingly. [excerpt]


Original version is available from the publisher at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1540-6253.2004.00170_5.x/full



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