- Bibliothekseinband: 460 Seiten
- Verlag: San Val (Juli 2003)
- Sprache: Englisch
- ISBN-10: 0613647270
- ISBN-13: 978-0613647274
- Größe und/oder Gewicht: 20,6 x 14,2 x 3,3 cm
- Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 53 Kundenrezensionen
- Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 2.229.892 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)
A History of God: The 4,000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam (Englisch) Bibliothekseinband – Juli 2003
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Armstrong, a British journalist and former nun, guides us along one of the most elusive and fascinating quests of all time--the search for God. Like all beloved historians, Armstrong entertains us with deft storytelling, astounding research, and makes us feel a greater appreciation for the present because we better understand our past. Be warned: A History of God is not a tidy linear history. Rather, we learn that the definition of God is constantly being repeated, altered, discarded, and resurrected through the ages, responding to its followers' practical concerns rather than to mystical mandates. Armstrong also shows us how Judaism, Christianity, and Islam have overlapped and influenced one another, gently challenging the secularist history of each of these religions. --Gail Hudson -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine andere Ausgabe: Taschenbuch.
"This is the most fascinating and learned survey of the biggest wild-goose chase in history - the quest for God. Karen Armstrong is a genius" (A.N. Wilson)
"A splendidly readable book...the stage is set for the question: has God a future?" (Sister Wendy Beckett Sunday Times)
"We are all watching a daily fight between the darkness and light. What we want, but may never get, is assurance that the light will prevail. Armstrong is too tough a thinker to offer us comfort there" (Anthony Burgess Observer)
"Armstrong shows a reverent curiosity and a generosity of spirit, refreshing the understanding of what one knows and providing a clear introduction to the unfamiliar" (Rt Revd Robert Runcie Daily Telegraph)
"Witty, informative and contemplative: Ms Armstrong can simplify complex ideas, but she is never simplistic" (New York Times Book Review) -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine andere Ausgabe: Taschenbuch.
Despite her initial misgivings, she believed that humankind was a spiritual race; she thought that God was merely a construct, and she found much more. God is in many ways a construct, done by rabbis, priests, sufis, wise people of all faiths. There is a real sense in which God is new for each new person, and yet there are commonalities, particularly between and among the three great monotheistic religions born of the Abrahamic tradition. This book represents not a history of God per se, but rather a history of humanity's perceptions of God over the past 4000 years, from the earliest days of Abraham to the present in its grand and often dangerous diversity.
Armstrong takes a look at different constructions of God. The first chapter looks specifically at the world at the time of Abraham, not specifically any set of years during which the figure Abraham might have lived (we do not know this date with any degree of certainty), but rather prehistory to the Axial Age, a time of reinterpretation of prehistoric carry-forwards into a time of greater civilisation. The beginnings of many concepts of God began here; later chapters develop these more fully. The second chapter develops a 'typical' view of early Jewish doctrines of God; the third and fourth introduce Christian doctrines, including the often-problematic trinitarian doctrine; the fifth chapter looks at the Muslim perception of God as overarching unity. These chapters look at liturgical, scriptural and historical developments.
The succeeding chapters look at different ideas of God that influence all three religions (albeit in different ways) as well as non-believer images of God. Philosophy has always played a pivotal role in theology, with an uneasy relationship sometimes in support of and sometimes opposed to dominant views of God. God viewed through the rational lens of philosophy is very different from the ecstatic experience of God by the mystics - kabbalism, sufism, monasticism, solitary mystics and divines all have left writings that sound remarkably similar, and look past the surface trappings of religions to get to what is held to be a deeper unity and truth.
The period of the Reformation marked significant changes in the perception of God in the West, but it also had serious changes for the Orthodox, the Muslims and the Jews of the same period. The long-impregnable city of Constantinople was captured by the Turks, who made political strides against the Christians in the East only to be turned back by them in the West. The Muslim culture was in fact more powerful than the Christian culture of the time, and far more unified, but failed to capitalise upon this position, or foresee the shifting situation in Europe, which seemed to be fragmenting rather than moving forward. During this time also, it seemed a dark age for Jews, who were regularly expelled or subjected to inquisitions in Christendom; and Jews desired a need for more direct experience of God - mystical practices, particularly among Sephardic Jews, arose to fill a very present need.
The Enlightenment touched Judaism, Christianity and Islam in important ways also. The beginnings of secularlism are to be found in the Enlightenment, a doctrine that continues to exist in diverse ways with each of the three major religions. The immutability of law and order, the ideas of divine rights of rulers and cultures and destinies ordained (or preordained) by God gave way to ideas of change, progress, and egalitarianism in societies where each of the three religions was dominant. The changes were more pronounced in Christianity and Judaism than Islam, but changes did occur everywhere, and as new forms of government were founded (the American Revolution, the French Revolution, etc.), the role of religion ceased to have the central place in civic life that it had; this, however, sometimes only served to emphasise its importance in other directions, not always productive toward the rest of society. The extremists of all three religions can be traced back to influences from and reactions to situations and ideas formed in the Enlightenment.
The nineteenth and twentieth centuries are intensely problematic for organised religion in the world of all varieties. Again the idea of philosophy came into play, this time teamed with an ever-growing dominance of science and technology as 'objective' ways of perceiving and judging the world. Science had sometimes been the handmaiden of religion - for example, astronomy had flourished in Muslim cultures as being practical and useful for determining the direction to Mecca, among other uses. However, without state sanctioning power and overall intellectual support from academies, it became more possible for people to question not only the perceptions of God and practices appropriate toward God, but the very existence of God. Nietzsche was not the only one to declare God dead, but merely the most dramatic of such declarers.
In her chapter on the future, Armstrong paints a conflicted picture of what is to come. Will we have faith? Will we remember the past? Ultimately, she does not know any more than any of us, the readers. Doing a quick survey of modern theological and philosophical trends (mostly Western), the future is left wide open.
I think some of the criticisms levied at this book are misplaced. There seems to be a theme in these reviews that the author tends to slam Western Christianity and goes easy on Islam. This seems true to a certain extent, yet deliberate. The book is obviously aimed at Western readers; Christianity is so deeply imbued in so much of our culture that it bears a fearless scrutiny. While no doubt painful for some (Christian) readers, it's illuminating and honest. The author is obviously learned in Muslim history, yet she may have covered it in more depth than many Western readers might want. Also as one reviewer noted, "by failing to extend to Islam the razor of her sarcasm, she invites distrust". True, yet again there is so little positive perception of Islam in the West, that this appears intentional. This is the most notable flaw in the book, but not a fatal one.
What she did explain *very* well:
1. How pagan idol worship evolved into Jewish monotheism.
2. How the Trinity concept came about and grew.
3. The intellectual rift between and differences in Western and Eastern Orthodox Christianity.
4. Mysticism and it's ramifications. One reviewer called this a modern "dead end". I couldn't disagree more.
Overall, quite excellent and probably the best starting point for someone who wants to explore this fascinating topic. She has struck the best balance I've seen so far between depth, complexity and readability. Highly recommended.
On a personal level, the book changed my life. By learning about the multitude of beliefs monothiests have held, I was able to recognize (what I hold to be) the Truth, and jetison baggage (that I held from my religious upbringing) which prevented me (due to my personal experience) from believing in God.
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