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A Short History of Myth Paperback – October 1, 2006
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Top Customer Reviews
What Armstrong does very well is to explain how advances in the material and economic condition of human civilization throughout history and prehistory interacted with this basic human need to transcend his immediate condition to create various epochs of myth. She goes beyond myth to explain the competitors to myth, be it ritual without mythology (i.e., Confucianism) or logos (i.e., Greek rationalism) and how they had their roots in myth and why they are linked still. Her explanations are lucid and her prose is clear. For such a short book, she packs a lot of information in and, more importantly, compelling ideas.
The only shortcoming I felt was the last chapter on Armstrong's view of the future in the West, which seems to rely too heavily on literature.Read more ›
Throughout the ages, myth has developed appropriate to the society of that time, whether it be early hunting societies, later agricultural societies, urban societies or modern society. The early mythology was understood to be mythology. Mythology is a way to get at the truth. I had the opportunity to speak briefly to Ms. Armstrong at a booksigning when I purchased this book. I told her that I believe in God but, I do not view God anthropomorphically. I related to her that God is unimaginable to me but that I nonetheless pray to anthropomorphic mythological images of God because I cannot pray to an abstraction. Ms. Armstrong (to my great pride and delight)heartily endorsed my viewpoint. The tragedy today is that so many people have no appreciation for myth. They either do not believe in any sort of divinity and only accept what can be proven logically, historically, and scientifically or they take an opposite view which also denies myth. This opposite view is that everything in the Bible actually happened and can be proven through reason; that everything is scientifically and historically true and not a myth.Read more ›
Armstrong follows the development of myth from prehistoric times to the present. Myth, as she describes it, is a fundamental part of human development, and similar stories can be found from culture to culture. The use of myth is a way for people to connect with the unseen forces of the universe. In the earliest days (the era of the hunter-gatherers), everything seemed to be imbued with this supernatural force: rocks, animals and the sky. With the development of agriculture and civilization, new myths developed and eventually, there would be a rebellion against myth.
In fact the concluding portion of the book revisits the ideas Armstrong presented in greater detail in The Battle for God. Namely, when there is a conflict between myth and reason, a backlash will occur (taking the form of what we would consider fundamentalism).
As with other books of Armstrong's that I have read, this is written with a sophisticated audience in mind and will not be an easy read for everyone. In addition, the more religiously orthodox may be offended by some of her writing, which treats the stories of the monotheistic faiths as mythical as the tales of Zeus or Odin. But with these caveats in mind, this is a good, insightful book that will provide perspective on the role that myth has played in human development.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Wonderfully written. A big idee explained in concise and clear language.Published 10 days ago by Amazon Customer
The book is fascinating. I am taking a class using it. HOWEVER, I will NEVER buy from that seller again as the whole cover has an ugly non-peel,off sticker plastered all over it. Read morePublished 11 days ago by S. Hershberger
This was not short. I wrote an outline to follow it better. The part I liked best was the analysis of our current modern need for mythology, Our dependence on Science /technology... Read morePublished 18 days ago by D. Muise
I found this book very interesting,insightful and the author was very concise with the subject. I have read Joseph Campbell's book,the Power of Myths and Mrs Armstrong's book was... Read morePublished 21 days ago by Amir K. Akwetee
In a swift 149 pages, Karen Armstrong covers a lot of ground. She communicates the importance of myth. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Abner Rosenweig
Contains a good summary of current insight. Perhaps a bit too slanted towards the need for a God mythology.Published 5 months ago by Sandra Skinner
I love everything this woman writes. I think I have read almost all of her works. She has a broad vision of the whole scope of religious history that is just astounding to me. Read morePublished 5 months ago by George T. Chapman
I have read several of Karen Armstrong's books prior to this book.
One of the reasons I choose this book was Ms Armstrong provides an abridged and simple understanding of a... Read more