The Bible is the most read book in history. It has been translated into more than two thousand languages and sold at least six billion copies in the last two hundred years alone. Made up of sixty-six "books" divided into two Testaments, this complex and communal work has been transformed by its various translations into a single work at the heart of the world's largest and most powerful religion, Christianity. In this landmark account, Karen Armstrong discusses the complex origins, gestation, life and afterlife of this collection of "books". In her trademark lively and authoritative style, she asks how the various scriptures were collected into one work, how it became accepted as Christianity's sacred text, and how it continues to exercise profound political and philosophical influenceas well as religious control over the world around us.
"it was a profound treat to return, if indirectly, to the Good Book, guided by Armstrong's all-but incendiary intelligence...Without pulling a punch, she pursues the Bible's creation and influence from earliest antiquity to the present."
"Armstrong analyzes the social and political situation in which oral history turned into written scripture, how this all-pervasive scripture was collected in one work, and how it became accepted as sacred text...The author ends her account with the insistence that most of the major religious teachers of the past...as well as religious teachers from other faiths insisted that charity and loving-kindness were essential to biblical interpretation...This is a lucid, accessible and timely distillation of 2,000 years of biblical gestation, growth and interpretation."
"Asking Karen Armstrong to write about the Bible is like asking a tree to grow: it's perfectly natural...The story of the Bible's life that Armstrong fashions is not a study of the historical formation of sacred canon. Instead, it's a history of styles of reading scripture."
"The best writer on religion in our lifetime is Karen Armstrong, and her latest and slimmest book is as much worth reading as The History of God, The Battle of God...and everything else she produces with such astonishing regularity. Since the Bible lives in the minds of readers, this biography is a chronological account of how people have read and interpreter the most important literature in monotheism."
"Armstrong, a world-renowned religious historian, conveys with great, plainspoken lucidity how the texts of the Bible were understood differently in different times according to prevailing historic events. More importantly, she stresses that this was not a self-serving error, this reinterpretation of scripture, but a universally understood practice of making God's Word continuously relevant and immediate in human lives. What we have done in our secular scientific age is to turn biblical narrative into a museum piece."