A History of God Hardcover – 1994
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Top Customer Reviews
While this book is a tremendous reference, unfortunately it does have a significant weakness as a reference, and that is that the text itself is not all that organized. Her choices for the eleven chapters are fine, but you will find no sections or subsections within the chapters. Instead each chapter is just a long recitation with no breaks, and this can make referring back to a section rather difficult. The book does have a decent index which helps. Also, there is a very good bibliography which also helps with additional research on a topic.
The writing is a little uneven. Some sections are very well done, and others are a bit more difficult to follow, however the writing is never poor. In particular, her discussion of the early history of each of the major monotheistic religions is very well done, and it gives the reader a good understanding of what those religions were like before they started adapting to other forces in the world.Read more ›
To tell you a little about the author, Karen Armstrong spent seven years as a nun in a Roman Catholic order before becoming a freelance writer, broadcaster and author. Armstrong describes at the very start her own religious background and clearly defines the distinction between faith and belief. The book then proceeds to provide (as the book's name suggests) a chronological history of God.
Specifically the book describes the history of the three faiths which believe in one God (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) and describes the historic interaction between them in great detail. I personally found the origins of Judaism described here fascinating, the way in which different stages of the Old Testament actually refer to different interpretations of God. The origins of Christianity were interesting although did not necessarily introduce vast new material. This is unlike the narrative of Islam's history, which at a time in the world where there's so much friction between these three religions, showed the commonality between them.
The book then continues to detail how these faiths developed over the next 2,000 years around the world and with the last chapter titled "Had God a Future?" the book does not seek to avoid some controversial thinking.
I strongly recommend this book to anyone interested in a history of religion - I did not find the book to be biased towards a religion, but rather a highly educated literary masterpiece. There is a huge amount of material in this book, and yet it's very readable, not at all dry. I can't wait to read more of Armstrong's books.
Armstrong's account gave important and much needed information on Islam. She gives us a gallery of very intelligent thinkers who kept abreast of the great works of Philosophy and discoveries of Science. That many of these Muslim thinkers had used Mathematics and Science to aid their religious contemplation while always emphasising the imperative of religion bolstering morality is an important palliative to the very pernicious fundamentalism that seems to saturate our conciousness of Islam. Another interesting incite of this book was that the literalist tendency was until recently a western phenomenon, a fact rarely considered in our insistence that we know the past better than the facts of History. Armstrong's book is a monument to how an important question is frequently over simplified.
Important subjects such as Mysticism and the Enlightenment are given erudite chapters. The former being a Western kin to Buddhism. Emphasis is rightly given to how pervasive Mythology is, an example at hand being the belief in human progress or that evolution is progressive (something that drives my Philosophy of Science tutor nuts).
This a very important book and ideally would have a greater readership. As a Philosophy student with an interest in religion I found it as rewarding as the rest of my family who possess no specialist knowledge.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Deeply interesting book as are her others. I haven't read them all but probably will eventually..
I began to read her as my new book basically deals with humanity, exploring... Read more
A HISTORY OF GOD: An awesome title and subject indeed. The authoress makes a common but fatal mistake. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Jennifer
Totally absorbing book. Might not go down well with some religious people. Has inspired me to compose a letter to whoever is in charge of God's bio to suggest a few changes that... Read morePublished 6 months ago by David Jack
This book was recommended to me as one of the best books on history of religion, and now after having read it cover to cover I can say that while it is quite thorough, it still... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Leo L
still to finish this as it's a tomb of a book, but certainly so far so goodPublished 10 months ago by lynda duncan