As the work at the heart of Christianity, the Bible is the spiritual guide for one out of every three people in the world. It is also the world's most widely distributed book, translated into over two thousand languages, and the world's best selling book, year after year. But the Bible is a complex work with a complicated and obscure history. Made ...
As the work at the heart of Christianity, the Bible is the spiritual guide for one out of every three people in the world. It is also the world's most widely distributed book, translated into over two thousand languages, and the world's best selling book, year after year. But the Bible is a complex work with a complicated and obscure history. Made up of sixty-six "books" written by various authors and divided into two testaments, its contents have changed over the centuries. The Bible has been transformed by translation and, through interpretation, has developed manifold meanings to various religions, denominations, and sects. In this seminal account, acclaimed historian Karen Armstrong discusses the conception, gestation, and life of history's most powerful book. Armstrong analyzes the social and political situation in which oral history turned into written scripture, how this all-pervasive scripture was collected into one work, and how it became accepted as Christianity's sacred text. She explores how scripture came to be read for information, and how, in the nineteenth century, historical criticism of the Bible caused greater fear than Darwinism. This is a brilliant, captivating book, crucial in an age of declining faith and rising fundamentalism.
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Good summary of Bible source materials, its formation, and how the Bible has been used in the ensuing years..
Oct 29, 2009
a meticulously researched overview
Shows how inspirational texts were re-purposed in the light of human experience to form the book we have today. Includes some of the recent archaeological conclusions and discusses their impact on the story.
Publishers Weekly, 2008-01-28 Part of Atlantic Monthly's Books That Changed the World series, this "biography" ambitiously undertakes discussing not only the Bible itself (including its history, authorship and origins) but more than 2,000 years of its interpretation by Christians and Jews. In eight short chapters, Armstrong brings the story of biblical hermeneutics from the early church fathers through the rise of monasticism, medieval Kabbalists, and Renaissance inquiry up to the Reformation and the Enlightenment. Armstrong has already perfected the concise but erudite primer on religion, so this brief introductory work can be preserved in its entirety without the awkward abridgments that characterize other scholarly religion books that are adapted to audio. Another plus is the crisp narration by uber-British actress Josephine Bailey. She's in top form, lending the clipped and decidedly upper-crust accent that has served her well. American listeners may smile at hearing familiar biblical names such as Hezekiah or historical names such as Tyndale rendered with a British pronunciation, but Bailey's tone is flawlessly in keeping with Armstrong's learned account. Simultaneous release with the Atlantic Monthly Press hardcover (Reviews, Aug. 27). (Nov.) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
Publishers Weekly, 2007-08-27 Of all the "Books That Changed the World"-the recently launched series to which this book belongs-surely the Bible is among the most important. And of all contemporary popularizers of religious history, surely Armstrong is among the bestselling. Who better, then, to recount the history of the Bible in eight short chapters than this former nun and literature professor who relishes huge topics (The History of God) and panoramic descriptions (The Great Transformation)? Armstrong not only describes how, when and by whom the Bible was written, she also examines some 2,000 years of biblical interpretation by bishops and rabbis, scholars and mystics, pietists and critics, thus opening up a myriad of exegetical approaches and dispelling any fundamentalist notion that only one view can be correct. Readers unfamiliar with ecclesiastical history may feel overwhelmed by dense chapters that read more like annotated lists than narrative-a hazard of trying to cover so much in so little space. (A glossary helps to anchor the bewildered.) At her best when she pauses long enough to expand on a topic, Armstrong offers intriguing insights on, for example, the allegorical method developed by Origen in the third century and the mystical midrash of the Kabbalists in medieval Spain and Provence. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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