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The Bible: A Biography Paperback – Jul 14 2008

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Douglas & McIntyre (July 14 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1553654250
  • ISBN-13: 978-1553654254
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 2 x 19.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 340 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #91,915 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Of all the Books That Changed the World-the recently launched series to which this book belongs-surely the Bible is among the most important. And of all contemporary popularizers of religious history, surely Armstrong is among the bestselling. Who better, then, to recount the history of the Bible in eight short chapters than this former nun and literature professor who relishes huge topics (The History of God) and panoramic descriptions (The Great Transformation)? Armstrong not only describes how, when and by whom the Bible was written, she also examines some 2,000 years of biblical interpretation by bishops and rabbis, scholars and mystics, pietists and critics, thus opening up a myriad of exegetical approaches and dispelling any fundamentalist notion that only one view can be correct. Readers unfamiliar with ecclesiastical history may feel overwhelmed by dense chapters that read more like annotated lists than narrative-a hazard of trying to cover so much in so little space. (A glossary helps to anchor the bewildered.) At her best when she pauses long enough to expand on a topic, Armstrong offers intriguing insights on, for example, the allegorical method developed by Origen in the third century and the mystical midrash of the Kabbalists in medieval Spain and Provence. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

For the Books That Changed the World series of brief "biographies" of momentous books, 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? The author of the sweeping histories of religion The Great Transformation (2006) and A History of God (1993) is, of course, up to the task and provides an excellent précis of the writing and compiling of the Bible and the ensuing centuries of biblical interpretation. Armstrong traces the Bible's transformation from a miscellany of texts into scripture, to which the Jesus movement added the Gospel and the other New Testament texts pretty much in tandem with the development of midrash and the Talmud by non-Christian Jews after the 70 CE destruction of the third temple in Jerusalem. She shows both Christian and rabbinic traditions of interpretation subsequently converging upon charity or love as the essence of God. The subjects of the last three chapters—the medieval monastic practice of reading the Bible called lectio divina, Martin Luther's doctrine of sola scriptura, and intellectual modernity—are each considered for the ways they gave rise to interpretive movements that affected Christianity directly and spurred reactions in Judaism. This is one terrific little book. Olson, Ray --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Observer on April 26 2010
Format: Paperback
I am admittedly a fan of Karen Armstrong and find that her books never disappoint. Writing a treatise on the bible fits beautifully with her other dissertations such as 'A History of God' and 'The Great Transformation'. Our journey in pursuit of the creation of the Good Book takes us through the various stages from earliest antiquity to the present. However, it is more than a mere history of its formation, as it also introduces us to the development of styles in reading and understanding scripture. We are reminded that scripture doesn't directly impart information about God but rather evokes sacred truths that can guide our lives if we allow them to flourish within us. As always Ms. Armstrong expertly brings us to a better, more educated understanding of what religion is all about. Anyone interested in the development of our society will be sure to find something of interest in this book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Richard J. Smith on Feb. 14 2010
Format: Paperback
I`ve been a fan of Karen Armstrong for many years and always look forward to her latest publication. In a world that sometimes appears chaotic and unstable Ms Armstrong voice has a calming influence. With this publication she has once more put things into a proper perspective. Whether you look at the historical perspective of the Bible or how it is perceived by some in the present Ms Armstrong provides a basis from which you can grasp the significance of the meanings the Bible has held for some and the impact it has had on them and the world. Amen.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By James Gallen TOP 100 REVIEWER on Nov. 16 2008
Format: Paperback
This book provides an overview of the story of the Bible, not the text itself, but how it was written, how the canon was selected and how it has been interpreted and used over the centuries. Spanning the millennia from the writing to the present, it gives a view of the place of the Bible in the world that is often missing when reading about a particular book or thene of the Scriptures.

Author Karen Armstrong introduces, or reminds, the reader, about the sources of the Old and New Testament, the multiple authors of Isaiah and the way the Bible shaped the Jewish self-image. As it progresses, she cites comments by many writers, Christian and Jewish, including Sts. Augustine and Jerome, Martin Luther and many others.

I have read a fair amount about the Bible (see my Listmania, "Thinking of God") but I learned things I had not previously known. From my perspective, telling the story in a continuum is the most helpful aspect of this book. For one who has studied the Bible less deeply, it will provide a good introduction.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By James Gallen TOP 100 REVIEWER on May 10 2010
Format: Hardcover
"The Bible: A Biography" provides the reader with an overview of the life of the book that shaped the Western World. A book, like a person or a community has a life, a story of how it was created, used and the effects it has had on the culture which it nourished. The Bible's story is like no other.

Author Karen Armstrong leads the reader through the process which created the Bible. A work compiled over centuries, it is a blend of Old and New Testament traditions. Gradually the unconnected books came to be recognized as sacred and were collected into canons which were finally defined in early Christian centuries. As readers of my Amazon reviews are aware, I have read much about the Bible but this book still taught me new things. For example, I was unaware that the Gospels initially circulated anonymously before acquiring the names by which we know them today.

Karen Armstrong not only explains how the Bible was formed, but how it shaped the cultures that used it. We read about the role it played in the development of Post-Temple Israel, its influence on intellectual thought in the Middle Ages and how modern social movements draw inspiration and support for this book.

Although "The Bible" is short, it does give the reader a deeper appreciation of its subject. For someone, like me, who is knowledgeable about the Bible but not an expert, it educates without overwhelming.
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By Pete Muileboom on Sept. 28 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
a must read if you want to understand how the bible was written and changed over 1500 years
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