Saturday, June 26, 2010

Book: The Bible: A Biography Last Post

Well, I finished it. I don't have all that much to say about it, to be honest.

Armstrong is a popular author. She's not a historian. What she does is take historians work and repackage it. In her previous works I could see why she was so popular. Her work is easily readable, and not in depth at all. She gives you an overview and makes you feel like you've learned something. She gets her facts right, in so far as they are currently known by the people who actually study these things, I'll give her that. Her interpretations can be outside of the main stream, certainly, and are not in line with what a Christian or a Jewish scholar would say of the events.

I think most of her cachet, though, comes from her personal history. We're in love with getting the 'inside scoop'. The 'real truth'. Just look at the popularity of books like the DaVinci Code. Utter fiction, and yet it makes good reading, so people eat it up. It has a quasi-historical feel to parts of it, and so people think that it's true. The same thing happened years back when another fictional book came out called Pope Joan. It was based on age-old stories about the 'woman who was pope'. None of which were true, but there you go. It was sensational and scandalous and so people believed it.

Ms. Armstrong is popular because she's an ex-nun, an ex-Catholic, and an ex-Christian. She can write at a level that most people find comfortable, and she's opened up this whole 'secret' world to people. That's it.

If you're really that interested in history, in religious history, Biblical history, theological history, I'd recommend going to the historians that Ms. Armstrong repackages.

Susanne, the book she referenced the most was How the Bible Became a Book: The Textualization of Ancient Israel by William M. Schniedewind.

And now I'm on to my next book, The Orthodox Way by Bishop Kallistos Ware. Which I know that I will love, because this is my third or fourth reading of it. And the timing of me pulling The Orthodox Way out of the hat is funny, since tomorrow will be my first visit back to the Greek Orthodox Church.


  1. Thanks for this! I enjoyed your review/critique of the book and author. And for sharing the book where she got much of her info.

    I was wondering if you were visiting the Orthodox church yet, but I figured one nosy question was enough for now. How cool! I hope you enjoy it. Don't forget your allergy pill!

    (And enjoy your new edger...hahahahaha!)

  2. I remember seeing Pope Joan in a bookstore and being interested, but I never heard of it or saw it after that. I didn't realize it became popular. Hm. I never did get around to reading it, either, maybe I'll have to do that. I didn't think it was true, though, and I'm surprised people would. I guess I shouldn't be, after Da Vinci Code. :D

    Thanks for sharing the book she references, I'll check that out too. Hope you enjoy going back to the Orthodox Church!

  3. Susanne,

    The edger may not even work. Or so I fervently pray. ;)

  4. Sanil,

    I read it. It was a good book, or at least, I remember being entertained. But yeah, apparently it was based on centuries old myth, and some people seized on it and thought it was real. I'm telling you, people are so ready to believe *anything*, it's kind of scary.


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