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A History of God: The 4,000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam (1993)

de Karen Armstrong

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MembresRessenyesPopularitatValoració mitjanaMencions
7,829911,130 (3.85)137
"As soon as they became recognizably human, men and women--in their hunger to understand their own presence on earth and the mysteries within and around them--began to worship gods. Karen Armstrong's masterly and illuminating book explores the ways in which the idea and experience of God evolved among the monotheists--Jews, Christians and Muslims. Weaving a multicolored fabric of historical, philosophical, intellectual and social developments and insights, Armstrong shows how, at various times through the centuries, each of the monotheistic religions has held a subtly different concept of God. At the same time she draws our attention to the basic and profound similarities among them, making it clear that in all of them God has been and is experienced intensely, passionately and often--especially in the West--traumatically. Some monotheists have seen darkness, desolation and terror, where others have seen light and transfiguration; the reasons for these inherent differences are examined, and the people behind them are brought to life. We look first at the gradual move away from the pagan gods to the full-fledged monotheism of the Jews during the exile in Babylon. Next considered is the development of parallel, yet different, perceptions and beliefs among Christians and Muslims. The book then moves "generationally" through time to examine the God of the philosophers and mystics in all three traditions, the God of the Reformation, the God of the Enlightenment and finally the nineteenth- and twentieth-century challenges of skeptics and atheists, as well as the fiercely reductive faith of the fundamentalists of our own day. Armstrong suggests that any particular idea of God must--if it is to survive--work for the people who develop it, and that ideas of God change when they cease to be effective. She argues that the concept of a personal God who behaves like a larger version of ourselves was suited to mankind at a certain stage but no longer works for an increasing number of people." "Understanding the ever-changing ideas of God in the past and their relevance and usefulness in their time, she says, is a way to begin the search for a new concept for the twenty-first century. Her book shows that such a development is virtually inevitable, in spite of the despair of our increasingly "Godless" world, because it is a natural aspect of our humanity to seek a symbol for the ineffable reality that is universally perceived."--Publisher's description.… (més)
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Es mostren 1-5 de 90 (següent | mostra-les totes)
In the beginning, I was fascinated to learn of all the ways that early Jews, Christians, and Muslims have thought about their god. But as the book went on, it went on and on. I regret to say I found myself bored with this no doubt well-researched and scholarly work. I came away with the notion that not one person understands the essence of god, or even whether he truly exists as such. ( )
  TheGalaxyGirl | Mar 31, 2024 |
Karen Armstrong can take a long and complex subject and reduce it to its fundamentals, without oversimplifying. She refreshes the understanding of what one knows, and provides a clear introduction to the unfamiliar. This is an intellectually challenging book. A fascinating way of approaching the subject.
  PendleHillLibrary | Feb 22, 2024 |
I read this a few years ago but from notes written at the time found it quite interesting. It contrasted the development of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. However, it was a bit of a marathon and it was very heavy going at times with all the umpteen people with their religious theories. The thing I liked most was the Thomas Hardy poem right at the end, The Darkling Thrush. ( )
  kitsune_reader | Nov 23, 2023 |
Another one I've "read at" as opposed to reading from page 1 to the end. ( )
  Kim.Sasso | Aug 27, 2023 |
I have been reading the Bible, I mean literally from cover to cover - Old and New Testaments from Genesis to Revelation. Needless to say it is very time consuming and not at all easy, even with the assistance of a “tutorial” Bible guide. And rather than answering numerous questions, the Bible just elevates my curiosity and evokes more questions… so many questions…

Therefore along with the Bible and the tutorial I am reading other related theological books, one of them titled "A History of God" by Karen Armstrong. Karen Armstrong was raised as a Roman Catholic, and grew up to become a nun. She had a difficult time connecting with God, and felt like a failure. She then left the religious fold and began studying theology and the history of religion.

Covering a period of 4000 years she touches on Greek Mythology and the Egyptian beliefs and explains how religion slowly evolved to the idea of God and from there she expounds on how Judaism, Christianity and Islam (to a lesser extent) developed the idea of a “personal” God - a God that shows all the feelings and emotions of humans: he loves, judges, punishes, sees, hears, creates, and destroys.

One of the most interesting points learned is that every religion down through the ages had to either adjust its doctrine to fit human needs at that time or it became extinct. This helps explain the cause for different sects as with the Orthodox Jews and Reform.

Additionally, it explains the evolution of the Roman Catholic church - and the breaking away of Lutherans and Protestants - among other sects.

Karen Armstrong gives detailed presentations of the arguments made throughout history for and against various beliefs… major issues such as “how much of the Bible is simply symbolic - as opposed to literally proven fact.” And the different arguments amongst theological scholars about the Trinity, all based on interpretations of different languages the Bible was written in - Latin, Greek, Hebrew, and Arabic.

It isn't possible in this limited review to list all the topics discussed - just flipping through the pages you will come across stories from the Bible, and theories of many philosophers including Aristotle, Spinoza, Plato, and Nietzsche. Various details about the Muslims, Muhammad and the Koran. Information about the Sufis and Kabbalist, the Jesuits and the Crusades, and some notations about Hinduism and Buddhism.

In conclusion the author addresses the rise of atheism and ponders the question of whether God has any future at all in this quickly changing, scientific, intellectual world of today.

In summary, "A History of God" is a very informative book offering a wide overview of past and present theological beliefs.

Rated 5 Stars June 2022

. ( )
  LadyLo | Dec 16, 2022 |
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Karen Armstrongautor primaritotes les edicionscalculat
Cracknell, RobinAutor de la cobertaautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Lynch, KathleenDissenyador de la cobertaautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
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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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"As soon as they became recognizably human, men and women--in their hunger to understand their own presence on earth and the mysteries within and around them--began to worship gods. Karen Armstrong's masterly and illuminating book explores the ways in which the idea and experience of God evolved among the monotheists--Jews, Christians and Muslims. Weaving a multicolored fabric of historical, philosophical, intellectual and social developments and insights, Armstrong shows how, at various times through the centuries, each of the monotheistic religions has held a subtly different concept of God. At the same time she draws our attention to the basic and profound similarities among them, making it clear that in all of them God has been and is experienced intensely, passionately and often--especially in the West--traumatically. Some monotheists have seen darkness, desolation and terror, where others have seen light and transfiguration; the reasons for these inherent differences are examined, and the people behind them are brought to life. We look first at the gradual move away from the pagan gods to the full-fledged monotheism of the Jews during the exile in Babylon. Next considered is the development of parallel, yet different, perceptions and beliefs among Christians and Muslims. The book then moves "generationally" through time to examine the God of the philosophers and mystics in all three traditions, the God of the Reformation, the God of the Enlightenment and finally the nineteenth- and twentieth-century challenges of skeptics and atheists, as well as the fiercely reductive faith of the fundamentalists of our own day. Armstrong suggests that any particular idea of God must--if it is to survive--work for the people who develop it, and that ideas of God change when they cease to be effective. She argues that the concept of a personal God who behaves like a larger version of ourselves was suited to mankind at a certain stage but no longer works for an increasing number of people." "Understanding the ever-changing ideas of God in the past and their relevance and usefulness in their time, she says, is a way to begin the search for a new concept for the twenty-first century. Her book shows that such a development is virtually inevitable, in spite of the despair of our increasingly "Godless" world, because it is a natural aspect of our humanity to seek a symbol for the ineffable reality that is universally perceived."--Publisher's description.

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