Part of Atlantic Monthly's Books That Changed the World series, this "biography" ambitiously undertakes discussing not only the Bible itself (including its history, authorship and origins) but more than 2,000 years of its interpretation by Christians and Jews. In eight short chapters, Armstrong brings the story of biblical hermeneutics from the early church fathers through the rise of monasticism, medieval Kabbalists, and Renaissance inquiry up to the Reformation and the Enlightenment. Armstrong has already perfected the concise but erudite primer on religion, so this brief introductory work can be preserved in its entirety without the awkward abridgments that characterize other scholarly religion books that are adapted to audio. Another plus is the crisp narration by uber-British actress Josephine Bailey. She's in top form, lending the clipped and decidedly upper-crust accent that has served her well. American listeners may smile at hearing familiar biblical names such as Hezekiah or historical names such as Tyndale rendered with a British pronunciation, but Bailey's tone is flawlessly in keeping with Armstrong's learned account. Simultaneous release with the Atlantic Monthly Press hardcover (Reviews, Aug. 27). (Nov.) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
British author and former nun Armstrong (A Short History of Myth) is one of the best writers on the Bible and contemporary world religions currently being published. Always erudite and accessible, she understands the value of historical precedent, apocrypha, biblical scholarship, and good storytelling. In this work, part of Grove/Atlantic's "Books That Changed the World" series, Armstrong argues that the Bible is one of history's most powerful and valuable books. Reminding listeners that the 66 books in the Bible were passed down orally and then turned into scripture and collected into a single work that became one of the most sacred and debated texts in Christianity, Armstrong offers engaging analysis and commentary. The Bible, written by multiple authors, using various points of view, and most often associated with Christianity, has changed over the course of its history. Different religions, denominations, and sects have taken the text as their own, which has led some to challenge the book's historical accuracy. Armstrong explores change and controversy with rational thinking and genuine respect, and Josephine Bailey's reading is lively and provocative. Recommended for all libraries with large audio collections. [Also available as downloadable audio from Audible.--Ed.]--Pam Kingsbury, Univ. of North Alabama, Florence Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
"Armstrong can simplify complex ideas, but she is never
"Armstrong at her best--translating and distilling complex history into lucid prose that will delight scholars and armchair historians alike."
"Her conviction, passion, and intelligence radiate throughout the book, making us feel the urgency of the ideas it seeks to convey."
"A tour de force ... She has dedicated herself to understanding the most prominent world faiths and explaining them to a secular/postsecular society."