The renowned religious historian “preaches the gospel truth . . . explaining how the spiritual guide . . . came into being and evolved over the centuries” (Vanity Fair).
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. It is also the world’s most widely distributed book and its bestselling, with an estimated six billion copies sold in the last two hundred years. But the Bible is a complex work with a complicated and obscure history. Its contents have changed over the centuries, it 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, how it became accepted as Christianity’s sacred text, and how its interpretation changed over time. Armstrong’s history of the Bible is a brilliant, captivating book, crucial in an age of declining faith and rising fundamentalism.
“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.” —Choice
“An excellent précis of the writing and compiling of the Bible and the ensuing centuries of biblical interpretation . . . one terrific little book.” —Booklist
Part of Atlantic Monthly's Books That Changed the World series, this "biography" ambitiously undertakes discussing not only the Bible itself (including its history, authorship and origins) but more than 2,000 years of its interpretation by Christians and Jews. In eight short chapters, Armstrong brings the story of biblical hermeneutics from the early church fathers through the rise of monasticism, medieval Kabbalists, and Renaissance inquiry up to the Reformation and the Enlightenment. Armstrong has already perfected the concise but erudite primer on religion, so this brief introductory work can be preserved in its entirety without the awkward abridgments that characterize other scholarly religion books that are adapted to audio. Another plus is the crisp narration by ber-British actress Josephine Bailey. She's in top form, lending the clipped and decidedly upper-crust accent that has served her well. American listeners may smile at hearing familiar biblical names such as Hezekiah or historical names such as Tyndale rendered with a British pronunciation, but Bailey's tone is flawlessly in keeping with Armstrong's learned account. Simultaneous release with the Atlantic Monthly Press hardcover (Reviews, Aug. 27).