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The Good Book: A Humanist Bible Hardcover – March 29, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


Undeniably thought-provoking Christopher Hart, Sunday Times Truly ... a good book, full of sage counsel, wise advice and comfort for the sorrowing Richard Holloway, Observer There is an immense depth of human wisdom on display here, and five minutes with any passage will have you contemplating all day Independent on Sunday There are many sentences, thoughts and sentiments in The Good Book that are illuminating, life-enhancing and revelatory on a personal level Glasgow Herald I am glad he put this book together and it will occupy a valuable place in my library as a source for inspiration and wisdom. **** Terry Waite, Sunday Express Grayling is ... a skilled writer of prose ... most impressively [he] demonstrates mastery of Greek history and culture in Histories and Acts Rabbi Ariel Abel, Jewish News Professor Grayling himself neatly exemplifies the values of calm rationality which are at the heart of Stoicism, and which influenced early Christian thought Church Times --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

A.C. Grayling is professor of philosophy at Birkbeck College, University of London. He is the author of the acclaimed Among the Dead Cities: The History and Moral Legacy of the WWII Bombing of Civilians in Germany and Japan, Descartes: The Life and Times of a Genius, and Toward the Light of Liberty: The Struggles for Freedom and Rights That Made the Modern Western World. A fellow of the World Economic Forum and past chairman of the human rights organization June Fourth, he contributes frequently to the Times, Financial Times, Economist, New Statesman, and Prospect. Grayling's play "Grace," co-written with Mick Gordon, has played to full houses in London and New York, starring Lynn Redgrave; its central debate over the virtue of religion gives Grayling a strong platform for The Good Book. He lives in London.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Walker Books (March 29, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802717373
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802717375
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.9 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (102 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #464,972 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

459 of 469 people found the following review helpful By Sapere Aude on April 14, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this book with no expectations. I had read an article about it, as an atheist I liked the idea and wanted to support Grayling's work so I bought it. I really was pleasantly surprised.

This book is not a compilation of work. You will not open it up and find passages from various works called out by author. It is truly written in the style of the Bible - Grayling has taken the collected wisdom of hundreds of secular philosophers and melded it together in the flowery prose form typical of the Bible. There is no reference list at the back to tell you where anything came from, he has taken the ideas and the texts and melted them together.

The Good Book begins with Genesis, where you can see the ideas of Darwin laid out in an inspirational way. Reading through this I was really pleasantly surprised at how much I liked it. I'm used to this language being peppered with things I don't believe in, and listening to it at weddings or funerals generally gives me a lump in my stomach. Here was the same kind of lofty language, but saying the things I believed! I didn't realize how much I would enjoy hearing Darwin's theory of evolution told as a beautiful story of how we began and the cycle of life.

As you make your way though the book, you can clearly see where he has incorporated Plato's dialogs, but without specific references. Characters are mentioned in the same way as the Bible, introduced without preamble, just snippets of conversation or story which attempt to showcase an idea. There are passages on grief and death as well.

If you are looking to learn the works of these philosophers in an intellectual way, this is not the book for you. This book is meant to absorb the ideas they upheld in a more spiritual feeling way.
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262 of 281 people found the following review helpful By Kate Perez on April 3, 2011
Format: Hardcover
What ever your religious outlook, even if you do not have one, I can recommend this genuinely wonderful and wise book to add to your library. Grayling has taken his whole life of learning and crafted it into a beautiful and uplifting, humanist and athiest, book of wide wisdom. It is the sort of book that you can read from cover to cover, and become totally engrossed, or you can take any page, chosen at random, and derive great food for thought from it. Grayling crafted his language like music and it reads like a fresh flowing mountain river. I do think that this book will be around for a few more thousand years.
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46 of 46 people found the following review helpful By E. Raslich on November 18, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There are a lot of reviews on here less than 5 stars. Carefully read some before you pass this book over. A.C. Grayling has produced a timeless work worthy of the highest esteem. Some descriptions make this sound like an anthology, a refutation of the bible, or worse. It is none of the above. It is painstakingly crafted, beautifully laid out on the page, and an immense volume that you will enjoy for a long time. I found myself pondering passages carefully. They are written in beautiful prose sometimes and clever rhymes at others. There are quotes within quotes within stories told be sages, and voices from unknown and unidentifiable speakers.
Others say dense, I say full of subtleties.
Others say hard to read, I say filled with english of the highest degree.
Others say devoid of references, I say the knowledge is timeless.

Do not delve into this looking to have atheistic beliefs reinforced, passages by ancient authors quoted, summarized, and referenced, or to have science presented as a refutation to the biblical history of the world. This is a work that should be taken wholly unto itself. Enjoy.
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90 of 98 people found the following review helpful By Sean P. Cooper on April 12, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It is absolutely fantastic! Last night I stayed up with my 10 year old daughter and my 7 year old boy reading the Parables chapter - the story of the leopard and fox. They couldn't get enough of it. I read untill I was horse and they wanted more. I had to cut it off and go to bed however after I put them to bed I read it under my covers to not wake my wife. Honestly I can't put it down and I can't wait till I get off work today so I can go home and read it. Thank you AC Grayling!

Regarding the criticism of the lack of footnotes - valid point, at first I was a bit disappointed that there were no sitations of the author, however I think I am actually glad he didn't put them in because it truly would be a distraction for me. I could see myself not focusing on the passage and become more concerned about who wrote what. Then I'd have to go look it up, etc. It seems a bit more pure this way with only the wisdom and poetry to focus on. I bought 4 copies for friends and family. I treasure this text like a box of gems to open and discover every day. I'm lucky to have found out about it and yes it is far superior and a lot less scary than the original.
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413 of 479 people found the following review helpful By Kingdom Come on April 4, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Following on the heels of "Moral Landscape" (not in the "Dawkins Delusion" pathetic flea way, but in the happy coincidence way), a book that helps Humanism, Free-thought, atheism, of just plain irreligious secularism to inspire people to be human.

I never found the Christian Bible to be of any value. The writing is poor quality, with only a few memorable lines in the whole vile volume of bigotry, racism, sexism, xenophobia, and feces obsessions. The Jewish and Muslim versions started or continued that same trashy series. The Mahabharata is no better, though the unintelligible and incoherent mess of characters makes that book more confusing than revolting.

Here is a book I am not afraid to let my child read. No stories about daughters banging their drunk dad. No stories about sacrificing unnamed daughters to some god. No cooking food over dung. No genocide. No deaths of all first born sons. No promises of cured illnesses. No appeals to an end of the universe. No masochistic gods having themselves beaten so they can become a zombie. Nope. Just a clean book of good thoughts. Probably the book they would have written 3000 years ago if they weren't ignorant, warmongering, polygamous, and genocidal tyrant sheep herders too busy laying siege to their "promised land" to give a hoot about kindness or charity.
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