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A history of God by Karen Armstrong
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A history of God (original 1993; edition 1999)

by Karen Armstrong

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4,90549937 (3.89)88
Member:meridian_coffeehouse
Title:A history of God
Authors:Karen Armstrong
Info:London : Vintage, 1999.
Collections:Religion, Your library, Non-Fiction
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A History of God by Karen Armstrong (1993)

  1. 02
    The Bible unearthed by Israel Finkelstein (zangasta)
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  Bruno_Estigarribia | Mar 31, 2014 |
waw. Very thorough analysis of all monotheistic religions. ( )
  albertkep | Jan 22, 2014 |
Should be required reading. ( )
  GTTexas | Dec 31, 2013 |
I know I'm an atheist and all, but I still enjoy Armstrong. Wrote this review several years ago:

Rarely does one come across a book that is recognized as erudite, essential, and readable simultaneously. Karen Armstrong's The History of God has brilliantly analyzed the rise of fundamentalism as a reaction to the emphasis on logos of the Enlightenment as opposed to mythos that had been essential to one's view of the world. "The economic changes over the last four hundred years have been accompanied by immense social, political, and intellectual revolutions, with the development of an entirely different, scientific and rational, concept of the nature of truth; and once again, a radical religious change has become necessary." As science and technology began to become associated with such visible successes in overcoming disease and social ills, the tendency was to believe that logos (rational, scientific thinking related exactly to facts and external realities) was the only “means to truth and began to discount mythos [that which is timeless and constant, “looking back to the origins of life . . to the deepest levels of the human mind . . . unconcerned with practical matters” and rooted in the unconscious, that which helps us through the day, mythological stories not intended to be literal, but conveying truth:] as false and superstitious.” The temptation is to think of mythos as meaning myth. Inj this context that would be incorrect. Armstrong uses this word as it relates to mystery and mysticism, rooted ultimately in traditional biblical and Islamic history “which gives meaning to life, but cannot be explained in rational terms.”Logos, however, was unable to assuage pain and suffering leading to a vacuum the fundamentalists sought to revive. The danger unseen by modern fundamentalists is that they have tried to imbue mythos with an element of literalism essential to logos. The difference between these two concepts forms the basis for the battle between modernism and fundamentalism.

She traces the beginning of the fundamentalist movement back to the time of Columbus when a crisis occurred in Spain. Ferdinand and Isabella expelled both Muslims and Jews from Spain. The three religious groups had actually coexisted quite happily and profitably together for several centuries, but the prospect of modernity and threats from a new world view, science, threatened age-old traditions and myths. The fundamentalist movement was an attempt by traditionalists to retain a sectarian view of the world.

For many of these people the world can be divided into two camps: good and evil and those forces that are not allied with their own narrow view of the world are labeled as evil. That these believes are rooted in fear does not lessen their impact or importance to the faithful. Often an arrogance and condescension – I plead guilty here – make secularists insensitive to those who feel their religious beliefs have been undermined and challenged. The seemingly irreconcilable difference between rationalism and mysticism perhaps make militant fundamentalism inevitable. The danger for fundamentalist lies in their attempts to turn mythos into logos, e.g., have sacred texts be read literally and inerrantly as one would read a scientific text. That may lead to inevitable discrepancies between observation and belief that may hasten the defeat of religion.

Of great benefit, is Armstrong's clear explanation of the differences and conflicts that exist in Islam. Shiite and Sunni branches represent very different interpretations of a major faith.

The eventual outcome of the dichotomy of secular versus sectarian remains unknown. What is apparent is that fundamentalism cannot tolerate pluralism or democracy and compromise seems unlikely. The author identifies two major threads in the development of fundamentalism: (a) fear of the modern world and (b) that the response to fear is to try to create an alternative society by preaching "an ideology of exclusion, hatred, and even violence." She warns at the end of the book, "If fundamentalists must evolve a more compassionate assessment of their enemies in order to be true to their religious traditions, secularists must also be more faithful to the benevolence, tolerance, and respect for humanity which characterizes modern culture at its best, and address themselves more emphatically to the fears, anxieties, and needs which so many of their fundamentalist neighbors experience but which no society can safely ignore." ( )
1 vote ecw0647 | Sep 30, 2013 |
The idea of a single divine being - God, Yahweh, Allah - has existed for over 4000 years, but the history of God is also the history of human struggle. While Judaism, Islam and Christianity proclaim the goodness of God, organized religion has too often been the catalyst for violence and ineradicable prejudice. This controversial account of the evolution of belief examines Western society's unerring fidelity to the idea of One God and the many conflicting convictions it engenders. Karen Armstrong's first book, "Through the Narrow Gate", described her seven years as a Roman Catholic nun. Since 1982 she has been a writer and broadcaster.
  Priory | Aug 23, 2013 |
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As a child, I had a number of strong religious beliefs but little faith in God.
In the beginning, human beings created a God who was the First Cause of all things and Ruler of heaven and earth.
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From the back:

Why does God exist? How have the three dominant monotheistic religions - Judaism, Christianity, and Islam - shaped and altered  the conception of God?
How have these religions influenced each other? In this stunningly intelligent book, Karen Armstrong, one of Britain's foremost commentators on religious affairs, traces the history of how men and women have perceived and experienced God, form the time of Abraham to the present.
The epic story begins with the Jews' gradual transformation of pagan idol worship in Babylon into true monotheism - a concept previously unknown in the world. [Aside from Akenaton] Christianity and Islam both rose on the foundation of this revolutionary idea, but these religions refashioned "the One God" to suit social and political needs of their followers.
From classical philosophy and medieval mysticism to the Reformation, the Enlightenment, and the modern age of skepticism, Karen Armstrong performs the near miracle of distilling the intellectual history of monotheism into one superbly readable volume, destined to take its place as a classic.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0345384563, Paperback)

Armstrong, a British journalist and former nun, guides us along one of the most elusive and fascinating quests of all time--the search for God. Like all beloved historians, Armstrong entertains us with deft storytelling, astounding research, and makes us feel a greater appreciation for the present because we better understand our past. Be warned: A History of God is not a tidy linear history. Rather, we learn that the definition of God is constantly being repeated, altered, discarded, and resurrected through the ages, responding to its followers' practical concerns rather than to mystical mandates. Armstrong also shows us how Judaism, Christianity, and Islam have overlapped and influenced one another, gently challenging the secularist history of each of these religions. --Gail Hudson

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:43:24 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Explores the ways in which the "idea" and "experience" of God evolved among monotheists--Jews, Christians and Muslims.Explores the evolution of the idea and experience of God, from Abraham to the present day.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 3 descriptions

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