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The Lost Art of Scripture: Rescuing the Sacred Texts

Category: Book
By (author): Armstrong, Karen
Subject:  NON-FICTION / General
  RELIGION / Biblical Criticism & Interpretation / General
  RELIGION / Comparative Religion
  RELIGION / Ethics
Publisher: Knopf Random Vintage Canada
Published: November 2019
Format: Book-hardcover
Pages: 624
Size: 9.25in x 6.25in x 1.12in
Our Price:
$ 39.95
In stock

Additional Notes

From The Publisher*In this timely and important book, one of the world's leading commentators on religious affairs examines the lost art of Scripture as a medium to lift humanity and change our perception of reality while evading logical explanation.

Today the Quran is used by some to justify war and acts of terrorism, the Torah to deny Palestinians the right to live in the Land of Israel, and the Bible to condemn homosexuality and contraception.
     The significance of Scripture--the holy texts at the centre of all religious traditions--may not be immediately obvious in our secular world but its misunderstanding is perhaps the root cause of most of today's controversies over religion. In this timely and important book, one of the world's leading commentators on religious affairs examines the meaning of Scripture.
     Today holy texts are not only used selectively to underwrite sometimes arbitrary and subjective views: they are seen to prescribe ethical norms and codes of behaviour that are divinely ordained--they are believed to contain eternal truths. But as Karen Armstrong shows in this fascinating trawl through millennia of religious history, this peculiar reading of Scripture is a relatively recent, modern phenomenon--and in many ways, a reaction to a hostile secular world. For most of their history, the world's religious traditions have regarded these texts as tools for the individual to connect with the divine, to transcend their physical existence, and to experience a higher level of consciousness that helped them to engage with the world in more meaningful and compassionate ways.
     Scripture was not a "truth" that had to be "believed." Armstrong argues that only if the world's religious faiths rediscover such an open and spiritual engagement with their holy texts can they curtail the arrogance, intolerance and violence that flows from a narrow reading of Scripture as truth.

"A triumph . . . Karen Armstrong is one of our great commentators on the sacred. In this book she explores the sacred texts with a scholar's eye and an illuminating clarity suggesting how much their wisdom and lasting power are still needed today." -Salley Vickers, author of The Enchanted April

"Karen Armstrong has written an amazingly wide-ranging book, showing that the world's religious texts can be a force for good today, rather than a cause of conflict. The scale of her knowledge never ceases to astonish." -John Barton, author of A History of the Bible

"The Lost Art of Scripture . . . exhibits [Armstrong's] well-known and admired characteristics as a writer: an ability to be both authoritative on all the major faiths . . . a reasoned insistence that religion today is misunderstood, as much by the religious as by their critics; and a passionate appeal to our fractious and fractured world to embrace religion's core message [of] . . . compassion and respect for others." -Sunday Times

"[The Lost Art of Scripture] takes us on a glorious journey . . . Armstrong is the most articulate and generous-hearted exegete of religion writing in English at the present time." -New Statesman (America)

"Rich and wide-ranging . . . a fascinating read . . . a treasure chest of social and religious history. Armstrong's lucid prose makes her many-stranded story remarkably straightforward to follow. . . . A learned and stimulating book." -Tablet

"Formidable . . . serious and inspiring . . . exhilarating, challenging and curiously comforting . . . Written not only with intellectual rigor and an accessible turn of phrase, but also with love." -Prospect Magazine

"[Armstrong's] discussion of the movement from oral to written scriptures is compelling." -Prospect (UK)


"Epic in scale . . . a comprehensive and erudite study of the history of violence in relation to religion . . . Armstrong leads readers patiently through history. . . . Her writing is clear and descriptive, her approach balanced and scholarly. . . . An intriguing read, useful resource and definitive voice in defense of the divine in human culture." -Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Armstrong again impresses with the breadth of her knowledge and the skill with which she conveys it to us." -Booklist (starred review)

Biographical NoteKAREN ARMSTRONG is one of the world's leading commentators on religious affairs. She spent seven years as a Roman Catholic nun, but left her teaching order in 1969 to read English at St Anne's College, Oxford. In 1982, she became a full time writer and broadcaster. She is a bestselling author of over 16 books on religious affairs, including A History of God, Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life, The Case for God, and The Great Transformation, as well as a memoir, The Spiral Staircase. Her work has been translated into 45 languages. A passionate campaigner for religious liberty, Armstrong has addressed members of the United States Congress and the Senate and has participated in the World Economic Forum.