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

3.85 of 5 stars 3.85  ·  rating details  ·  22,325 ratings  ·  899 reviews
"An admirable and impressive work of synthesis that will give insight and satisfaction to thousands of lay readers."
THE WASHINGTON POST BOOK WORLD
In this stunningly intelligent book, Karen Armstrong, one of Britain's foremost commentators on religious affairs, traces the history of how men and women have perceived and experienced God, from the time of Abraham to the presen
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Paperback, 496 pages
Published August 9th 1994 by Ballantine Books (first published January 1st 1975)
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Leslie
Whew. I thought I'd never finish this book. But two months later, I somehow managed to get to the end. Now, what to say about it?

I started this book knowing a moderate amount about the history of Christianity, a small amount about Judaism, and much too little about Islam. I relied heavily on my previous knowledge of Christianity and Judaism to make sense of Armstrong's extremely dense, often repetitive, and (to use her favorite word) esoteric prose. I found it a real challenge to keep up with he
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Paul
A MAJOR PROBLEM WITH RELIGION

(You may have already thought of a few, but this is my current thing.)

Religious thought is metaphorical and the constant danger is that the unlettered will take the metaphor literally. For instance, the Holy Trinity in Christianity - sorting out a satisfactory formula expressing the relationships between God the Father & Jesus the Son & the Holy Spirit presented hideous problems which took around 300 years to resolve and - it seems to me - the whole enterpris
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ma'a
الكتاب موسوعة كبيرة سيستغرق وقتا طويلا لاكماله.. قراءة اساسية لمن يدرس الثيولوجيا (علم العقائد)، الميثولوجي (علم الأساطير) ومقارنة الاديان

سأذكر نقطة منه علقت بذهني

فهمت منه مفهوم شخصنة الاله.. عندما جسد البشر الاله بحيث يكون بعيدا، ليس كمثل اي شيء نعرفه، اصبح الاله بعيدا، ولم يعد البشر يشعرون بالقرب منه

فهنا جسدته بعض الديانات بصفات نفهمها نحن البشر ونشعر بها، كي نشعر نحوه بالتآلف والقرب، وهنا اختلف المسيحيون عن بقية الأديان الابراهيمية، بحيث أنهم حولوه الى رجل، أو أب حنون محب، بينما ركز المسلمون
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April Sheridan
I still can't decide if it's good or not. That's that problem with being kinda dumb.
John
This is one of those books that make me feel woefully deficient in a certain subject. Having never taken a comparative religion class, and in fact bordering on an antiestablishment stance when it comes to organized religion, I can only conclude that this book was not the place to start.
The first couple of chapters which reviewed mankinds evolution from a polythesim to the monothesims of Judiasm, Christianity, and Islam were interesting, and for me blessedly linear and understandable. From ther
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Camille
If I could give a book six stars, I would give them to this book. I feel like I learned something new on nearly every page.

This book is truly a history book on a grand scale. It reminds me of the type of history Will Durrant wrote, where he would take a period of time and write extensively about all the facets of history within that time. Armstrong, on the other hand, takes just one facet of history and writes extensively about it over a long (4000 year) period of time. Reading it has allowed m
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Palsay
Buku ini memang tebal, hardcover pinjaman neng Erry. Ternyata benar kata broda Graha, meski tebal (dan gada gambarnya ;)), namun tidak membosankan untuk dibaca.

Dalam buku ini, Ms. Armstrong menitik beratkan pada tiga agama samawi di dunia, dengan sedikit meyinggung Buddha, Hindu dan kepercayaan lainnya. Dengan merujuk pada para Tokoh filsafat dan religi dari masa kebudayaan Pagan hingga agama modern, Ms. Armstrong secara sabar menuntun pembaca untuk menemukan benang merah pada ketiga agama besar
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Riku Sayuj
Plenty to speak about this but not finding quality desk time. Am creating a new shelf called to-be-reviewed-soon and will empty it after a bit of globe-trotting...
Jay Delorenzis
This is a phenomenal book. I've read this about 3 times. It has completely opened my mind about how religion works in the world. Karen Armstrong uses mind-numbing details to make her case as how the Bible became written and how we are to regard it. At the same time, we can have a personal relationship with that Being we call God. Religion is something purely human-made about a phenomena that is undeniable--God exists and He can exist purely for the benefit of the individual, however he or she de ...more
Drake
While this is an excellent summary of the history of the idea of God in Abrahamic religion, and I highly recommend it, I cannot give it five stars for third reasons. First, the author is overly generous in her assumptions concerning the literal interpretation of myth. For example, she asserts that the creation myths of Sumeria, Canaan, and Egypt were not intended to explain the origins of the world. Second, in her attempts at syncretism she sometimes overlooks very real, significant and extremel ...more
Barry
This book by Karen Armstrong covers the development of the world's three major monotheistic faiths. Although I am incredibly interested in the subject, this book was a tough read for me. It is very dense with information and I probably ended up skimming the text more than I should have. I'll most likely end up re-reading it some time down the road to gain a greater appreciation of the subject.

Arief Rahman
Karen Armstrong yang dulu adalah seorang biarawati dan kemudian meninggalkan ordo nya, kini lebih terkenal sebagai pemerhati dan komentator agama-agama dunia. Sudah banyak buku yang ia tulis yang mengangkat tema keagamaan dan juga biografi tokoh agama seperti Nabi Muhammad dan Sidharta Gautama. Kali ini dalam Sejarah Tuhan (gold edition diterbitkan Mizan tahun 2012) Armstrong membahas dengan lugas, secara gamblang namun mudah dipahami tentang tiga agama monotheis terbesar di dunia: Yahudi, Krist ...more
Anggun
stop in the mid of book, maksud hati ingin mendapat pencerahan terkait sejarah agama2 monoteisme tapi bukannya semakin tercerahkan tapi malah semakin bingung. mungkin sebaiknya harus memiliki pengetahuan teologi yg memadai terlebih dahulu sebelum membaca buku ini.
buku ini juga menunjukkan bahwa Tuhan terlalu besar dan agung untuk dibahas dan dipahami secara rasional. perubahan definisi dan pemahaman akan Tuhan di tiap jaman dan bangsa bukan berarti bahwa Tuhan selalu berubah2 mengikuti perkemba
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Jan
Karen Armstrong is a former Catholic nun and studied at Oxford. Her book, The Spiral Staircase, is a good description of the struggles that led to her leaving the convent.

There have been several good books written on the historic Jesus Christ, but very few on the historic God. As other reviewers have noted, this is a somewhat scholarly book, which it would have to be if one wanted to thoughtfully trace back man’s evolving beliefs on God. And, yes, over a sweep of 4,000 years, evolving is clearl
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[Name Redacted]
Karen Armstrong has no background in history nor in the academic study of religion, and it shows. This book's approach to the three Abrahamic religions is overly simplistic, presenting only Armstrong's often-erroneous views of these three prominent religions with almost no grounding in historical fact. She picks and chooses which sources to cite in accordance with her own biases and agenda, and it is clear that however much distance she might put between her life as a nun and her life as an armc ...more
Mitch
First of all, this book's title is misleading. It is not a history of God. It is a historical retelling of many men's interpretations of the idea of the monotheistic God of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

Still, "The Idea of God: A History" would not have sold as many copies.

The Bible says God created man in His own image. Karen states as fact the exact opposite: Man created God in his own image, then re-created him a lot of times in response to changing historical and cultural conditions.

Karen
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Tom Ippen
This book would be difficult to process for anyone who didn't have at least some background in religious studies. It was recommended to me as a great way to "jump in" to the history of Abrahamic religions, but Armstrong's sources and references are obscure and complex. Beyond that, this book is bursting with tons of fantastic comparisons between Abrahamic and Eastern beliefs, and the level of detail in documenting every theological change, movement and debate for the last few millennia is incred ...more
Eric_W
I know I'm an atheist and all, but I still enjoy Armstrong. Wrote this review several years ago:

Rarely does one come across a book that is recognized as erudite, essential, and readable simultaneously. Karen Armstrong's The History of God has brilliantly analyzed the rise of fundamentalism as a reaction to the emphasis on logos of the Enlightenment as opposed to mythos that had been essential to one's view of the world. "The economic changes over the last four hundred years have been accompanied
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Judy
Question: Can you distill a history of the way in which humans have understood and experienced God over the past 4,000 years into one volume? Answer: Apparently, yes. This is a fascinating look at the religious developments and traditions of Jews, Christians, and Muslims from Abraham to the modern age. Armstrong includes the philosophes and mysticism that has been present in all three monotheistic religions over the centuries and clearly places the evolution in religious thought into its histori ...more
Dan Scott
As an orthodox, Evangelical Protestant, I was unnerved by Armstrong's treatment of Monotheism as a religion, which makes Judaism, Christianity and Islam something like its three major denominations. That offends the believers of all three religions! Nonetheless, it was a helpful way to allow each group to see how the same major philosophical premises have encouraged similar developments in each religious community. Each have Charismatics, for example. Each have contemplatives. Each have intellec ...more
M Mushthafa
URL: http://rindupulang.blogspot.com/2001/...


Tuhan yang Menyejarah

Diskusi tentang Tuhan termasuk dalam kategori problem abadi yang tak kunjung mencapai titik final. Setiap zaman, bahkan sejak 4000 tahun yang lalu, manusia sebagai homo sapiens merekonstruksi konsep-konsep tentang Tuhannya. Tak jarang, bertolak dari konsepsi mereka terhadap Tuhan, lahir gerakan-gerakan sosial yang bersifat liberatif atau bahkan juga muncul tindakan “anarkis” demi menegakkan citra Tuhan yang mereka yakini.
Buku ini
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Septri Lediana
Sejarah Agama-Agama Manusia

Karen Amstrong terkenal sebagai penulis dunia yang banyak menghasilkan banyak buku laris tentang agama. Buku berjudul ‘Sejarah Tuhan’ menjadi salah satu buku Karen yang menjadi buku terlaris berbagai negara, termasuk Indonesia. Pada buku ini ia menuliskan tentang sejarah tiga agama besar, Islam, Kristen dan Yahudi (Yudaisme).

Layaknya sebuah ensiklopedia, tiap-tiap agama dipaparkan Karen dengan sudut pandang yang objektif. Pemaparan tanpa keberpihakan. Karen tak menjel
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Joseph
tough read esp the middle part

but basically liked the end because:

(1) for believers - you'll see how the conception of GOD changes through time and it's sort of inevitable ( however real GOD is and can be). We fit GOD into our needs

(2) for atheists - that even at the end of the day when you remove GOD from your life, you'll end up filling that emptiness with sth else. Basically you still need that spiritual stuff there in your brain (whatever you call it)

Other salient points:
(1) one has to take
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Ryan
One of the most informative, relevant, and fascinating books I've ever read. It was by no means an easy read. But for the amount of education you get out of it, the read is well worth it.

The author traces the history of monotheism (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) and shows not only their interconnectedness, but also their literal unity. The detail in the exploration of the history of monotheism was indeed comprehensive - but also appropriate as it shows how religion has developed from era to e
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Dallas Doctor
I cannot really recommend this book, only because the author struggles with the enormous weight of the subject and simply tries to cover too much and ends up short-changing most ideas ... there were parts that were illuminating and interesting, but most of the text was cumbersome ..

.. additionally, if the author had been half as critical of her own assumptions as she was of others, it would have been a very different, and much better book.
Adrian Stumpp
Armstrong, a former Catholic nun, traces the histories of Christ, Yahweh, and Allah from their common roots to the present, taking brief excursions along the way to explore some of the more interesting and eccentirc sects that have sprung up and usually been exterminated with extreme prejudice along the way. She points out, for example, that all three trace their claims of Truth back to a single man, Abraham, who believed in a god named El, who is none of the three major monotheistic deities of ...more
Tej
I had a really hard time keeping my attention focused on this one, but I think I was more at fault than the writer. I really enjoyed the last three chapters, which covered material that was already familiar to me. I think the words and concepts of the early days of Judaism and Islam were just too foreign for me to absorb. Lots of information to digest and even more thoughts to ponder. It's probably one I'll pick up again when I've done more studying.

As an inside joke to anyone who has studied We
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Laura
Part Fascinating, Part Dense: I found this book to be fascinating in parts and really dense in others. I am rating it somewhat low because, while I really enjoyed the ideas, I found the writing style to be very heavy in places and I am holding unto my stars for a more enjoyable read on the topic. The first three chapters were by far my favorite. They deal with the history behind the Old and New Testaments. The middle chapters deal with the evolution of Christian/Muslim/Jewish theology and were l ...more
Yugaljoshi
After finishing this book I read the back cover saying "the book is sort of a miracle". And for once I would agree to this back cover. Not because the book is unbiased or has some other traits but due to the sheer brilliance of the author to have covered these 3 vast religions in a 400 pager. The amount of text generated on Judaism, Islam and Christianity is phenomenal and to compress and make a juice of it in such a short form is nothing short of miracle. I did not had much knowledge of these r ...more
Mark
Armstrong's book is an example of a great, historic account of an important and ongoing phenomenon: the belief in God. In this book, she focuses on the Judaic god and the relationship of that god to Christianity and Islam. Going far beyond the obvious connections of these religions, Armstrong offers the reader and in depth study of religious belief itself and its connotations to human society. Her writing is lucid, and with wonderful British wit (easily missed at times) she methodically lays out ...more
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2637
British author of numerous works on comparative religion.

Elsewhere:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karen_Ar...
http://www.islamfortoday.com/karenarm...
http://www.guardian.co.uk/profile/kar...

Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.
More about Karen Armstrong...
Islam: A Short History The Spiral Staircase: My Climb Out of Darkness The Case for God The Battle for God: A History of Fundamentalism Muhammad: A Biography of the Prophet

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“The only way to show a true respect for God is to act morally while ignoring God’s existence.” 35 likes
“Respect only has meaning as respect for those with whom I do not agree.” 34 likes
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