The Bible

  • by Karen Armstrong
  • Narrated by Josephine Bailey
  • 6 hrs and 8 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

As the work at the heart of Christianity, 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, having been translated into over 2,000 languages, as well as the world's best-selling book, year after year. But the Bible is a complex work with a complicated and obscure history. Made up of 66 "books" written by various authors and divided into two testaments, its contents have changed over the centuries. The Bible 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, and life 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, and how it became accepted as Christianity's sacred text. She explores how scripture came to be read for information and how, in the 19th century, historical criticism of the Bible caused greater fear than Darwinism. The Bible: A Biography is a brilliant, captivating book, crucial in an age of declining faith and rising fundamentalism.


What the Critics Say

"Who better [than Armstrong] to recount the history of the Bible?...Intriguing." (Publishers Weekly)
"Groundbreaking....Armstrong shows a depth of insight and transparent understanding of complex theological issues....[She is] simply one of the best writers ever on religion." (Library Journal)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Stay clear...unless you are a biblical scholar

I was interested in this book because I wanted to learn more about how the Bible came to be. Since the subtitle pens it is a 'biography', I thought (silly me) that it would be an engaging account of the history of the book. Instead, this was a dry, almost clinical, account of the minutia of ancient Biblical history. The author, Karen Armstrong, seems to take delight in throwing verbose grammar at the reader, to the point that it obscures the message. If I wasn't driving while listening to this book I would want a dictionary to go along with it. The narrator does not help things, as she reads this book like a scientific research paper: dry--no, make that arid. I would only recommend this book if you are already a Biblical scholar; Armstrong goes into such rapid fire detail about such a vast expanse of history that it is impossible to follow the thread of the book unless you have a good grounding in the subject matter already. There must be a better, more engaging narrative out there on how the Bible came to be.
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- Max "Max"

A very important contribution to history

I realize some who have never read anything about the historicity of the Bible may hear some words they have never encountered before. That said if you have read Armstrong before or historical discussions on the Bible this book was not difficult to follow.

The most important aspect of this book is in reality the comprehensive linear layout which is without doubt a very important historical contribution from Armstrong. I have not found a single source text that lays out the evolution of the various contents of the spiritual documents for the Hebrews and the Christians from antiquity to today. Most history type books such as the Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary present slices of the Bible but even that set of book doesn't take a reader all the way through the Bible to illuminate how it came together presented side by side by with the major historical factors.

Further the book is so very compact and therefore can be reviewed quickly and so enables the reader to see the trajectory for the evolving spiritual thinking. This vista which Armstrong reveals to us the laymen reader is virtually unparalleled in the history of those that have written these histories in the past. Personally I wish it had been longer so that even more details could have been exposed.

Finally I must confess that I am an Armstrong Fan to the core and therefore I admit I have some bias in what I read/listen to from this very insightful writer and researcher.
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- Leo

Book Details

  • Release Date: 11-09-2007
  • Publisher: Tantor Audio