"A fascinating investigation." --"Christian Advance" "For the Books That Changed the World series . . . 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? [Armstrong] is, of course, up to the task and provides an excellent precis of the writing and compiling of the Bible and the ensuing centuries of biblical interpretation. . . . This is one terrific little book." --"Booklist" "Dispels any notion of religion as a rigidly fixed reading of sacred texts. Spanning millennia, from the scripture's origins in oral stories to the conflicting beliefs, ancient and modern, over its message, her book will discomfort fundamentalists who believe that the Bible means what it says and says what it means." --Rich Barlow, "The Boston Globe" "One of the merits of Armstrong's book is that it points to the modern origin of literalist interpretations of Scripture, and then revisits the preceding centuries of Biblical scholarship to bring its considerable diversity to the notice of modern readers." --Edward Norman, "Literary Review" "Vintage Armstrong: sweeping, bold, incisive, and insightful. In eight chapters it covers the history of the writing, canonizing, and reading of the Bible... Her choice of topics is impeccable ... and her brief, 23-page discussion on the rise of the Talmud is masterful." --P.L. Redditt, "Choice" "A handy, erudite primer on the Holy Books." --"The Jerusalem Report" "A whirlwind tour through biblical studies. . . Armstrong's analysis of the freedom previous generations (however far removed) felt with adapting, editing, redacting and re-writing the texts to suit contemporary purposes will undoubtedly remind savvy readers of all the current uses to which these same texts are being put." --Kel Munger, "Sacramento News & Review" "[Armstrong] shows how the highly disparate writings that now compose0Vom Verlag:
As the single work at the heart of Christianity, the world's largest organized religion, the Bible is the spiritual guide for one out of every three people in the world. The Bible is also the world's most widely distributed book. Translated into over two thousand languages, it is estimated that more than six billion copies have been sold in the last two hundred years. It remains the best-selling book in the United States, year after year, with at least twenty-five million copies sold in 2005 alone. 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, life, and afterlife 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 "as the pragmatic scientific ethos of modernity took hold, scripture was read for the information that it imparted" and how, in the nineteenth century, historical criticism of the Bible caused greater fear than Darwinism. As she writes, "'If Jonah did not spend days in a whale, ' asked a Lutheran pastor, 'did Jesus really rise from the tomb?'" Karen Armstrong's history of the Bible is a brilliant, captivating book, crucial in an age of declining faithand rising fundamentalism.
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