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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.)
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For the Books That Changed the World series of brief "biographies" of momentous books, Armstrong accepted the arguably most daunting assignment. What other book has as long a history of influence as the Bible, or has affected more people and societies? The author of the sweeping histories of religion The Great Transformation (2006) and A History of God (1993) is, of course, up to the task and provides an excellent précis of the writing and compiling of the Bible and the ensuing centuries of biblical interpretation. Armstrong traces the Bible's transformation from a miscellany of texts into scripture, to which the Jesus movement added the Gospel and the other New Testament texts pretty much in tandem with the development of midrash and the Talmud by non-Christian Jews after the 70 CE destruction of the third temple in Jerusalem. She shows both Christian and rabbinic traditions of interpretation subsequently converging upon charity or love as the essence of God. The subjects of the last three chaptersthe medieval monastic practice of reading the Bible called lectio divina, Martin Luther's doctrine of sola scriptura, and intellectual modernityare each considered for the ways they gave rise to interpretive movements that affected Christianity directly and spurred reactions in Judaism. This is one terrific little book. Olson, Ray --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Editorial Reviews
Bought it for my daughter for Christmas. She said she likes it.Published 2 months ago by Stephen Darr
The author did a good job of condensing millennia of history into a short, non-academic read, and clearly explained difficult philosophical and analytical concepts. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Dave Hunter
Having been a Catholic as a youngster I found this book and her other one "The Spiral Staircase: My Climb Out of Darkness" very interesting. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Richard A. Roberts
As its subtitle implies, this book tells the story behind the creation of the various books that are assembled together as the Bible. This is a long history. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Fezziwig
Once again, Karen Armstrong shows the Bible from a perspective that is most refreshing and open-minded.
Her writing is hard to beat.
I have read most of Karen Armstrong's books and this one does not disappoint. Very objective and scholarly book.Clear and well written as are all her books.Published 7 months ago by Kindle Customer