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Asimov's Guide to the Bible: The Old and New Testaments (2 Vol.)

4.08 of 5 stars 4.08  ·  rating details  ·  731 ratings  ·  46 reviews
In "Asimov's Guide to the Bible" the noted author Isaac Asimov explores the historical, geographical, and biographical aspects of the events described in the Old and New Testaments. In doing so Asimov illuminates the Bible's many obscure and mysterious passages, producing a valuable text for anyone interested in religion and history.
Hardcover, 1295 pages
Published December 12th 1981 by Wings (first published 1968)
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Community Reviews

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G. Branden
What I gained from this book was a level of Biblical literacy that I had been sorely lacking.

As a lifelong atheist with a wholly secular upbringing, I feel I have enjoyed much good fortune relative to those indoctrinated by religion from a young age; on the other hand, many literary and cultural references, and even a few jokes, have passed me by. Since elementary school I have been better versed in Greek, Norse, and Egyptian mythology than I have been in modern religion. Even in a secular socie
Quick and fun, chatty, non-academic--displays unnecessary erudition at times (e.g., at the first mention of any place name, Asimov typically notes anyone and anything of world historical importance connected therewith)--this text is basically the learned scientist's book report after reading seven translations of the Bible, plus a few commentaries & treatises on same.

The primary object of criticism is the geography, history, and linguistics of the biblical text--he does not get involved in d
While Asimov purported to just be dealing with the factual background of the Bible--and he does provide many interesting, if trivial facts--his point of view is plainly that the Bible (and assumedly all books of faith) are fiction. Given that orientation, it's still a useful resource.
I have a sentimental attachment to the book. I found a copy in a city library while living in the Bible Belt. I mentioned it to some heavily christian friends and the book tragically ended up being destroyed in a book burning. It took me over 14 years to find a replacement copy.

It is not anti-religious, even though it was written by Asimov, an atheist. Instead, the book describes the world at the time when the books of the bible were written. It also gives possible scientific or cultural explana
Michael Coats
A great book that helps to explain the historical context in which the events of the Bible play out. When my son and I read the Bible together, we read through this at the same time. Many otherwise confusing passages came clear, and we also learned of some details that are still debated by scholars and theologians. This is worth reading front to back, but is probably most useful as a reference; when questions come up regarding a specific chapter or verse, take the time to see what Asimov has to ...more
Michael Fishman
If I had to pick books that forever changed the way I look at history, this one would seem like a dark horse. But believe it or not, Yitzchak Izaak Azimov (yes, the sci-fi author) managed to alter the way I look at both history and the bible.

The history is slightly dated--hey, it was written in the 1960s. And Asimov was not an historian by profession. But little do people realize that the author of the Foundation trilogy also wrote many other books; in fact, he has covered in his books just abou
Asimov goes through the entire Bible and provides the best current analysis of where all the material came from and points out inconsitencies and problems with the texts. I found it very enlightening.
The Fza
Isaac Asimov was one of the most prolific writers of his time. Having written, or edited, more than 500 books and an estimated 9,000 published letters and postcards. He has published in nine of the ten major categories of the Dewey Decimal System.

While a professor of biochemistry at Boston University he is primarily remembered for his Science Fiction works, several of which had been adapted for film in recent years.

In 1967 he decided to put the Old and New Testament of the bible into historical
Steven Jacke
This book was not what I wanted it to be, and is one of the more disappointing books I've encountered. (It is a 2 volume complete Bible commentary, so it is more of a reference book).

This is an extremely traditional walk through the Bible from a historical-critical perspective. As I've heard books like this described before, it could be titled, "Introduction to Biblical Contradictions and Inconsistencies."

So, if you have never encountered the historical-critical Bible, and you want at 1960's pe
Excellent. Highly recommend. Describes the world at the time when the books of the bible were written. It also gives possible scientific or cultural explanations for some of the miracles described in those books.

In 1967 he decided to put the Old and New Testament of the bible into historical context. This edition is the two volumes in one for a whopping 1296-pages and includes maps by the artist Rafael Palacios.

This guide goes through the books of the Bible in King James Version order, explainin
This is an indespensable reference book for people who want a more complete and less emotional driven interpretation of the writings of the bible. I use it often both when I am writing and to check out propositions made by those I am discussing the Christian religion with. Asimov applies his scientific organization and ability to clarify to the bible and the results are very helpful to those who are interested in more than just a dogmatic and/or feel-good approach to what they believe or disbeli ...more
Asimov, best known as a science fiction master, took a long and hard look at the Christian Bible and came up with observations that never seemed to occur to the many Bible teachers I had as a boy. Asimov is a much better Bible teacher than they are. Having said that, this book would almost certainly be unwelcome in most Bible study sessions. I won't elaborate - but be sure to find a place for it on your reference shelf.
this book does a great job of breaking the bible down, nearly book-for-book, and showing where the nacent christian religion fit in with history. However, this isn't to say that it is a christian book. Rather, it goes through the books and matches what the bible says with what is known from other, more reliable, sources (assyrian, chinese, roman records, etc). You might say it is a secular look at the books of the bible.
• When considering the scope of this book one really has to be amazed at the genius that is Isaac Asimov. He literally read the entire Bible, and then discussed each book in his guide. He also did so in a way as to not try and prove or disprove anything, but simply to put things in a greater historical context. It is a long read, however, but overall worth it ...more
A very good analysis of one of the most famous books in history from a rational, secular perspective, taking the time to correct events and fit the ones that existed within a more accurate historical chronology. Some information is slightly out of date due to recent archaeological discoveries, but there is still very much to be learned from here.
Elijah Spector
A very good resource for one interested in the Judeo-Christian religion. This is, of course, from a very, very secular perspective, but I think that's a good thing. As a somewhat religious person myself, it's nice to have that counterpoint, to have those explanations (and possible explanations) for why this or that in The Bible is the way it is.
Corbin Routier
"Most people who read the Bible do so in order to get the benefit of its ethical and spiritual teachings, but the Bible has a secular side, too. It is a history book covering the first four thousand years of human civilization."
-Issac Asimov

"People whose very existence is doubtful... are household word because they are mentioned in the Bible, while figures who were colossal in their day are sunk in oblivion because they are not."
-Isaac Asimov

This book is a massive read. But the writing isn't the
A very interesting look at how the bible was written, and the various texts and cultures which came together to create the religion of Christianity. It's very interesting - as a non-Christian - to read and gain more of an understanding of how this religion started.
This is a large tome, and certainly more a reference book than a novel. It can be quite a dry read at times, but in small doses, it is really fascinating. I keep it in my bathroom and randomly read entries a few hundred words at a time.
Lorna Collins
This is a wonderful reference text. Asimov compares the biblical accounts with other historical references of the time. Over the years, we have found it provides a different perspective to the events, often including a frame of reference.
The Good Doctor employs his usual insight and erudition to describe the secular history behind each of the books of the Bible and put them into the appropriate context; this single-volume edition covers both the Old & New Testaments.
Asimov goes through the Bible and interprets the stories written by the uninformed ancients based on what we now know what was going on at the time. I found it very interesting.
Jul 23, 2009 Richard is currently reading it
Man this book is dense. Like reading a text book. Have been cross referencing with the bible so it takes forever! Very interesting read though.
Dec 08, 2007 Daniel rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: ?
I've never read an Isaac Azimov book I didn't like.

If you are ready, then this one will certainly teach you a few things.
This is an amazing read! His analysis also includes books not included in the King James version of the Bible.
May 19, 2010 Amit is currently reading it
Just a few pages into this riveting book. Will already recommend to anyone and everyone.
Brandon Clark
Aug 19, 2008 Brandon Clark is currently reading it
The Bible explained by way of historic relevance.
G.M. Lupo
I read this as a two-volume text some years ago, and purchased the combined edition later. Asimov presents a well-rounded look at the books of the old and new testament, without taking sides on the truth or fiction of each story. This should definitely be in the library of anyone with an interest in biblical analysis.
Fascinating historical read of the Bible... with ideas such as Where did the idea of the great flood come from? Possibly when the land under the Mediterranean Sea filled in with water.
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Who knew? 1 5 Aug 11, 2014 11:24PM  
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  • The Unauthorized Version: Truth and Fiction in the Bible
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  • Incredible Shrinking Son of Man: How Reliable Is the Gospel Tradition?
  • Whose Bible Is It? A History of the Scriptures Through the Ages
  • American Indian Trickster Tales
  • Don't Know Much About the Bible: Everything You Need to Know About the Good Book but Never Learned
  • When Religion Becomes Evil
  • The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross
  • Atheism: The Case Against God
  • The Brother: The Untold Story of Atomic Spy David Greenglass and How He Sent His Sister, Ethel Rosenberg, to the Electric Chair
  • In Search of Paul
  • The Last Week: What the Gospels Really Teach About Jesus's Final Days in Jerusalem
  • Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science
Isaac Asimov was a Russian-born, American author, a professor of biochemistry, and a highly successful writer, best known for his works of science fiction and for his popular science books.

Professor Asimov is generally considered the most prolific writer of all time, having written or edited more than 500 books and an estimated 90,000 letters and postcards. He has works published in nine of the te
More about Isaac Asimov...
Foundation (Foundation, #1) I, Robot (Robot, #0.1) Foundation and Empire (Foundation, #2) Second Foundation (Foundation, #3) The Foundation Trilogy (Foundation, #1-3)

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