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A History of God

Karen Armstrong's A History of God explores the history of monotheists' relationship to their God, exploring Judaism, Christianity and Islam. It's a topic bound to aggravate a lot of readers - reading the 174 Amazon reviews "Lowest Reviews first" is fun. Some people find it disrespectful of religion, while others find it dangerously respectful of religion and disrespectful of rationality.

Armstrong tackles a topic that is obviously too large for a mere 399 pages, and does show her own opinions occasionally, especially at its conclusion, where she expresses her hopes for more mystical and less fundamentalist religion. The book can't dive too deep into the details of the subjects it discusses, providing enough information to tell the story and show paralllels across the three religions. Jumping among the three (with comparative asides on Buddhism and Hinduism) creates some challenges for telling the story. Armstrong does make different choices than many similar works, spending more time on Ranters than on Quakers, for example, but I usually find it works pretty well.



Thanks for this. I agree with your summary. This fall I read both this book and the new one about the age of transformation, which was fascinating but somehow didn't quite live up to its potential for me. I learned a good bit about Chinese, Indian, and Muslim traditions that I did not know from both books.