What do the terms 'belief' and 'believe' actually signify? Is the concept of 'believing' integral to a solid religious conviction? Wilfred Cantwell Smith's radical study is a response to these topical and fervently debated questions. A highly respected author, he tackles these complex issues in a lucid and cogent style. Today the concept of 'believing' is generally considered to be of central significance to one's faith. Smith's comprehensive enquiry, conducted from a historical standpoint, reveals that this emphasis on its importance is a relatively modern phenomenon. The author traces the history of 'believing' through discussion of religious belief from a modern philosophical and linguistic perspective, assessment of the history of the English words 'belief' and 'believe', and the study of biblical passages. This profound and innovative text is an essential read for anyone interested in contemporary theological debate.