Customer Reviews for

A History of God: The 4000 Year Quest for Judaism, Christianity and Islam

Average Rating 4
( 47 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(24)

4 Star

(10)

3 Star

(6)

2 Star

(6)

1 Star

(1)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

Most Helpful Favorable Review

4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

Excellent Introduction to the Human Concept of God

As a religious Christian, I wish to thank Karen Armstrong for this wonderful book that taught me about the depth and richness of my religion and its history, as well as of other religions that believe in God. This is not an easy book, of course, but then who ever said ...
As a religious Christian, I wish to thank Karen Armstrong for this wonderful book that taught me about the depth and richness of my religion and its history, as well as of other religions that believe in God. This is not an easy book, of course, but then who ever said that theology is easy? Flipping through the first few pages I was at first appalled at what seemed like blasphemy: ¿people invented a god¿? As I progressed in the reading, however, I understood a lot more about what the author means. While we do know stories about God from the collections in the Bible and other Holy texts, those stories are revealed and we therefore cannot collect more by our own scholarly means. This is therefore not a history OF God itself, since the God Christians, Jews, and Muslims believe in is beyond time, beyond history. ¿History¿ itself is a human concept, and therefore the only history we humans can write about is HUMAN history. What Armstrong has delivered to us here is a very thorough and dispassionate history of the human CONCEPT of God. Viewed in that light, the book is actually a very reasonable introduction to the three Western religions. The ideas in the book furthermore are no different from the material taught in theology seminaries ¿ it¿s just that we lay people are not taught or conditioned to think critically about these issues, and so we tend to hold our prior understanding as dogma, rather continuing on the quest for a true meaning of religion. The book thoroughly describes the evolution of the concept of God, and how every generation of humanity brought a refinement to the idea. Thus we see how early Judaism divorced itself from the multiplicity of pagan gods while retaining some of the pagan legends; how the Judaic God later evolved to that of the Pharisees and Rabbi Hillel, then the Cabbalists, then the reformers; how Christianity at the same time evolved in a path separate from Judaism; and later fragmented into many branches. One even learns about the relationship between Hinduism and Buddhism to the Judeo-Christian traditions. This evolution is traced all the way to the present day, where the concept of God has been transformed but nevertheless remains. In parallel, Armstrong also explores Islam with its various branches: Sunni, Shi¿a, Sufi, Ismaili, Alawite, Druze, etc. Since most people in the West are unfamiliar with Islam, Armstrong devotes somewhat more pages to it. This has led many critics to unfairly criticize her as being biased towards Islam. I however found her description and analysis of Islam to be as unbiased an accurate as the rest of the book, and quite as informative. You may be surprised, but after reading this book in full, my Christian faith has not been shaken a bit. Rather, based on the solid understanding I had gained, my faith only grew deeper and deeper. The book furthermore has pointed out to me many interesting references and ideas to explore about my religion and others discussed. I became particularly intrigued in mysticism and how close the mystic branches of all three religions are to each other. The index reads like an encyclopedia of everything you might want to know about religion. This is of course a major strength of the book. It is so comprehensive that the reader comes out with a very deep understanding of the subject matter. I myself read it slowly and took notes along the way, but found this exercise extremely rewarding. All in all, this is an excellent and highly recommended addition to your library. It is a book you¿ll want to keep and consult over and over.

posted by Anonymous on September 6, 2003

Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review

Most Helpful Critical Review

6 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

About three-quarters good

My opinion of this book changed enormously during the course of reading it. This is not a particularly interesting subject to me, but I realize that it is an important one and Armstrong was recommended to me as a particularly good authority. I don't know enough ab...
My opinion of this book changed enormously during the course of reading it. This is not a particularly interesting subject to me, but I realize that it is an important one and Armstrong was recommended to me as a particularly good authority. I don't know enough about the literature of the field to say if this is generally worth reading for all its flaws, or if other books do the same job better. For the first half of the book Armstrong recounts the rise of Judaism, Christianity and Islam in a reasonably dispassionate and sympathetic manner; this is what I wanted. Viewing religion as a human historical event is, of course offensive to some, and I¿m sure that one hundred scholars would have one thousand objections to her facts and interpretations, but I would take that as unavoidable no matter how excellent the book. Armstrong has obviously done an enormous amount of research and she comes across as both learned and lucid. While it is not an easy read, I never felt puzzled by the concepts. I feel that I have learned a lot and reading this book has been worthwhile for me, despite my upcoming criticisms. I am also willing to cut her a little slack on the subject of Western Christianity; writing in English, she can assume that most of her readers are either familiar with the topic or at least have access to other sources. She seemed to be focusing upon the formal theology of the religions, and not the day to day aspects as experienced by the typical believer; when this struck me I reminded myself that this is not a cyclopedia of religion and she cannot cover everything. She then began to become a little partisan, dispraising Western Christianity and idealizing Islam, which I attributed to a laudable desire to enhance the Western view of Islam, although the attack portion of her program probably backfired with some readers. But as I read on, the work becomes more and more judgmental, personal and advocative. Armstrong¿s hatred of Western Christianity as the least mystical and most fundamentalist creed is revealed in ever stronger terms as she goes along. According to Armstrong¿s theses, Islam and Eastern Christianity should have produced societies that were more tolerant, eqalitarian, and generally possessed of fewer social ills than Western Christianity owing to what she considers to be their more advanced and healthier beliefs. I cannot say that all this has ever struck me as being so unfailingly true as to be self-evident, and she does not even attempt to prove it. Her coverage of the last couple of centuries seems somewhat spotty. Armstrong discusses the effect of European colonization of the Islamic heartland on Muslims, but says nothing of the effect of decades of Communism on any religion. Her section on the Jewish theological response to the Holocaust is somewhat sketchy, and there is little or nothing on the modern divisions of Judaism. Sikhism is briefly noted, but Bahai, oddly enough given her professed admiration for religious fusion, is never mentioned, nor is Mormonism. Meanwhile, and hardest to explain in terms of size limitations or focus, Eastern Christianity virtually vanishes from the book after the fall of the Byzantine empire. Armstrong sounds remarkably foolish to me for the last fifteen or so pages of the book; perhaps her apparent belligerence is to convince herself. Armstrong proclaims that the failings of Western Christianity make it too brittle to absorb change and have lead to the so-called ¿Death of God¿ and for the health of our society *we* need to create a vibrant new mystical faith to assuage the despair of humanity. I have visions of a pageant of piety for the benefit of the *less advanced* or perhaps Prozac communion wafers. This is where is becomes necessary to consider the typical lay person. Perhaps it¿s just my ignorance, but I thought that in dealing with the question of evil, the local clergy of mo

posted by Anonymous on August 21, 2004

Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing all of 6 review with 3 star rating   See All Ratings
Page 1 of 1
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 21, 2004

    About three-quarters good

    My opinion of this book changed enormously during the course of reading it. This is not a particularly interesting subject to me, but I realize that it is an important one and Armstrong was recommended to me as a particularly good authority. I don't know enough about the literature of the field to say if this is generally worth reading for all its flaws, or if other books do the same job better. For the first half of the book Armstrong recounts the rise of Judaism, Christianity and Islam in a reasonably dispassionate and sympathetic manner; this is what I wanted. Viewing religion as a human historical event is, of course offensive to some, and I¿m sure that one hundred scholars would have one thousand objections to her facts and interpretations, but I would take that as unavoidable no matter how excellent the book. Armstrong has obviously done an enormous amount of research and she comes across as both learned and lucid. While it is not an easy read, I never felt puzzled by the concepts. I feel that I have learned a lot and reading this book has been worthwhile for me, despite my upcoming criticisms. I am also willing to cut her a little slack on the subject of Western Christianity; writing in English, she can assume that most of her readers are either familiar with the topic or at least have access to other sources. She seemed to be focusing upon the formal theology of the religions, and not the day to day aspects as experienced by the typical believer; when this struck me I reminded myself that this is not a cyclopedia of religion and she cannot cover everything. She then began to become a little partisan, dispraising Western Christianity and idealizing Islam, which I attributed to a laudable desire to enhance the Western view of Islam, although the attack portion of her program probably backfired with some readers. But as I read on, the work becomes more and more judgmental, personal and advocative. Armstrong¿s hatred of Western Christianity as the least mystical and most fundamentalist creed is revealed in ever stronger terms as she goes along. According to Armstrong¿s theses, Islam and Eastern Christianity should have produced societies that were more tolerant, eqalitarian, and generally possessed of fewer social ills than Western Christianity owing to what she considers to be their more advanced and healthier beliefs. I cannot say that all this has ever struck me as being so unfailingly true as to be self-evident, and she does not even attempt to prove it. Her coverage of the last couple of centuries seems somewhat spotty. Armstrong discusses the effect of European colonization of the Islamic heartland on Muslims, but says nothing of the effect of decades of Communism on any religion. Her section on the Jewish theological response to the Holocaust is somewhat sketchy, and there is little or nothing on the modern divisions of Judaism. Sikhism is briefly noted, but Bahai, oddly enough given her professed admiration for religious fusion, is never mentioned, nor is Mormonism. Meanwhile, and hardest to explain in terms of size limitations or focus, Eastern Christianity virtually vanishes from the book after the fall of the Byzantine empire. Armstrong sounds remarkably foolish to me for the last fifteen or so pages of the book; perhaps her apparent belligerence is to convince herself. Armstrong proclaims that the failings of Western Christianity make it too brittle to absorb change and have lead to the so-called ¿Death of God¿ and for the health of our society *we* need to create a vibrant new mystical faith to assuage the despair of humanity. I have visions of a pageant of piety for the benefit of the *less advanced* or perhaps Prozac communion wafers. This is where is becomes necessary to consider the typical lay person. Perhaps it¿s just my ignorance, but I thought that in dealing with the question of evil, the local clergy of mo

    6 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 26, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Well written but highly biased

    This book appears to be written primarily from a christian perspective about other non-christian and some fringe christian religious movements. The author gives a brief overview of each religion and then goes on to explain why these religions are inacurrate or false, and how christianity is the truth and thus superior to all other religions.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 1, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 18, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 29, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 6 review with 3 star rating   See All Ratings
Page 1 of 1