From one of the world's leading writers on religion and the highly acclaimed author of the bestselling "A History of God" comes a major new work: a chronicle of the ninth century BCE, when the peoples of four distinct regions of the civilized world created the religious and philosophical traditions that have continued to nourish humanity into the ...
From one of the world's leading writers on religion and the highly acclaimed author of the bestselling "A History of God" comes a major new work: a chronicle of the ninth century BCE, when the peoples of four distinct regions of the civilized world created the religious and philosophical traditions that have continued to nourish humanity into the present day. 25 maps.
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Publishers Weekly, 2006-01-16 Having already recounted "a history of God," the redoubtable Armstrong here narrates the evolution of the religious traditions of the world from their births to their maturity. In her typical magisterial fashion, she chronicles these tales in dazzling prose with remarkable depth and judicious breadth. Taking the Axial Age, which spans roughly 900 B.C.E. to 200 B.C.E., as her focal point, Armstrong examines the ways that specific religious traditions from Buddhism and Confucianism to Taoism and Judaism responded to the various cultural forces they faced during this period. Overall, Armstrong observes, violence, political disruption and religious intolerance dominated Axial Age societies, so Axial religions responded by exalting compassion, love and justice over selfishness and hatred. Thus, the central Buddhist and Jain practice of ahimsa, doing no harm, developed in India in reaction to the self-centeredness of Hindu ritual, and Hebrew prophets such as Amos proclaimed that justice and mercy toward neighbors offered the only correct way of walking with God. Accounts of the world's religions often present them as discrete entities developing apart from each other in a vacuum. Armstrong's magnificent accomplishment offers us an account of a violent time much like ours, when religious impulses in various locations developed practices of justice and love. (Apr. 3) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Publishers Weekly, 2006-06-05 It's not what one may expect from a book about the development of the world's religions: "Crouched in his mother's womb, he lay in wait for his father, armed with a sickle, and the next time Uranus penetrated Gaia, he cut off his genitals and threw them to the earth." However, the Greek myth of Cronus clearly illustrates Armstrong's main thesis, that the "simultaneous" development of the world's religions during what Karl Jung called the axial age, is a direct result of the violence and chaos, both physical and spiritual, of past civilizations. Armstrong, a former nun turned self-described "freelance monotheist," has enough background and personal investment in the material to make it come alive. Her delivery is crystal clear, informative and, though somewhat academic, easy for the layman to understand. Her voice is straightforward yet wrought with palpable concern. This reinforces the book's goals of creating a clear understanding of where religious developments have come from and explaining how today's "violence of an unprecedented scale" parallels the activities that created the "axial age" in the first place. Simultaneous release with the Knopf hardcover (Reviews, Jan. 16). (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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