The Great Transformation: The Beginning of Our Religious Traditions Hardcover – Import 28 Mar 2006
Product Description From Booklist *Starred Review* The foremost English-language historian of religion today whose A History of God (1993) has become the standard popular work on the great monotheisms expands upon German philosopher Karl Jaspers' characterization of the long period preceding the rise of Rome--900 to 200 B.C.E.--as the Axial Age. That at first puzzling geometric metaphor crystallizes Jaspers' sense which Armstrong clearly shares of that immense era as pivotal in human consciousness. During it the major religious traditions began and refined the moral attitudes they manifest to this day. Commencing as tribal and aristocratic the pre-Christian religions became personal and democratic as the realm of divinity came to be perceived as transcendent. Most important was the development of nonviolence as a holy ideal not least because the early religions initially employed violence in their rituals and justified violence by their adherents. The Aryans of northern India and the Chinese both initially violent attempted to constrain belligerence and avert chaos by fashioning what became Hinduism and Buddhism and Confucianism and Taoism respectively. Meanwhile the smaller civilizational formations of the Jews and the Greeks responded to experiences of respectively periodic near-obliteration and social collapse with monotheism and philosophical rationalism respectively. Armstrong tells this huge story in 10 chapters that each relate historically parallel developments among the Indians Chinese Greeks and Jews. Magisterially but companionably she unfolds the successive movements that molded religious consciousness in each nation explaining them with such clarity that this book ranks with A History of God as one of her finest achievements and an utterly enthralling reading experience. Ray Olson Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved Review Praise for Karen Armstrong : “Armstrong at her best–translating and distilling complex history into lucid prose that will delight scholars and armchair historians alike.” –Lauren F. Winner The Washington Post Book World “Her conviction passion and intelligence radiate throughout the book making us feel the urgency of the ideas it seeks to convey.” –Charles Matthews Baltimore Sun “A tour de force. . . . She has dedicated herself to understanding the most prominent world faiths and explaining them to a secular/postsecular society." –Jane Lampman The Christian Science Monitor “Perhaps her most ambitious work. . . . Without overlooking the differences between religions Armstrong emphasizes their common call for compassion.” –Lisa Montanarelli San Francisco Chronicle “A lucid highly readable account of complex developments occurring over many centuries. . . . A splendid book.” —William Grimes The New York Times “An utterly enthralling reading experience. . . . This book ranks with A History of God as one of her finest achievements.” — Booklist “In her typical magisterial fashion she chronicles these tales in dazzling prose with remarkable depth and judicious breadth.” — Publishers Weekly "The Great Transformation can serve the needs of new readers interested in a popular work that synthesizes scholarship. . . . [U]seful to anyone seeking an integral sense of world religions." — The Globe and Mail "Karen Armstrong is a genius." —A. N. Wilson author of Jesus: A Life "Armstrong is a lucid writer with a knack for synthesizing vast quantities of research." — The Globe and Mail "Armstrong’s writing continues to offer a religious mirror and a cultural vision." —Amazon.com "Armstrong has a dazzling ability: she can take a long and complex subject and reduce it to the fundamentals without oversimplifying." — The Sunday Times “Armstrong’s erudition is truly impressive. . . . Few people are better qualified to explain that what so often divides us ought to unite us instead.” —Cleveland Plain Dealer “Broad eloquent storytelling.” — The Wall Street Journal “Her conviction passion and intelligence radiate throughout the book making us feel the urgency of the ideas it seeks to convey.” —New York Sun “This could very possibly be one of the greatest intellectual histories ever written.” — Library Journal (starred review) “A book of the magnitude of The Great Transformation can only be considered authoritative.” — Charleston Post & Courier “On prominent display in this book are Armstrong’s usual virtues–wide knowledge meticulous research a superb appreciation for the beauty and power of religious and philosophical ideasls and general readability.” — Shambhala Sun “This magisterial work continuing Karen Armstrong’s mission to explore the place and purposes of religions in the modern world follows in the stream of her books on Christianity Judaism Islam and Buddaism.” — Spirituality & Health See all Product Description
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