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1 Beaverton Religion Western- General and Comparative Religion
1 Burnside Religion Comparative- General

The Great Transformation: The Beginning of Our Religious Traditions

by

The Great Transformation: The Beginning of Our Religious Traditions Cover

ISBN13: 9780375413179
ISBN10: 0375413170
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Only 2 left in stock at $8.50!

 

Staff Pick

During the Axial Age — 900 to 200 B.C.E. — the world's major religious traditions responded to their surrounding cultural influences and developed the philosophical attitudes they exhibit to this day. In lucid and reasoned prose Karen Armstrong details the impact violence and other worldly forces had in determining the developmental process of religion. The Great Transformation is an absorbing read, sure to stand out amongst works of religious history.
Recommended by Chandler, Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In the ninth century BCE, the peoples of four distinct regions of the civilized world created the religious and philosophical traditions that have continued to nourish humanity to the present day: Confucianism and Daoism in China, Hinduism and Buddhism in India, monotheism in Israel, and philosophical rationalism in Greece. Later generations further developed these initial insights, but we have never grown beyond them. Rabbinic Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, for example, were all secondary flowerings of the original Israelite vision. Now, in The Great Transformation, Karen Armstrong reveals how the sages of this pivotal "Axial Age" can speak clearly and helpfully to the violence and desperation that we experience in our own times.

Armstrong traces the development of the Axial Age chronologically, examining the contributions of such figures as the Buddha, Socrates, Confucius, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, the mystics of the Upanishads, Mencius, and Euripides. All of the Axial Age faiths began in principled and visceral recoil from the unprecedented violence of their time. Despite some differences of emphasis, there was a remarkable consensus in their call for an abandonment of selfishness and a spirituality of compassion. With regard to dealing with fear, despair, hatred, rage, and violence, the Axial sages gave their people and give us, Armstrong says, two important pieces of advice: first there must be personal responsibility and self-criticism, and it must be followed by practical, effective action.

In her introduction and concluding chapter, Armstrong urges us to consider how these spiritualities challenge the way we are religious today. In our various institutions, we sometimes seem to be attempting to create exactly the kind of religion that Axial sages and prophets had hoped to eliminate. We often equate faith with doctrinal conformity, but the traditions of the Axial Age were not about dogma. All insisted on the primacy of compassion even in the midst of suffering. In each Axial Age case, a disciplined revulsion from violence and hatred proved to be the major catalyst of spiritual change.

Review:

"Having already recounted 'a history of God,' the redoubtable Armstrong here narrates the evolution of the religious traditions of the world from their births to their maturity. In her typical magisterial fashion, she chronicles these tales in dazzling prose with remarkable depth and judicious breadth. Taking the Axial Age, which spans roughly 900 B.C.E. to 200 B.C.E., as her focal point, Armstrong examines the ways that specific religious traditions from Buddhism and Confucianism to Taoism and Judaism responded to the various cultural forces they faced during this period. Overall, Armstrong observes, violence, political disruption and religious intolerance dominated Axial Age societies, so Axial religions responded by exalting compassion, love and justice over selfishness and hatred. Thus, the central Buddhist and Jain practice of ahimsa, doing no harm, developed in India in reaction to the self-centeredness of Hindu ritual, and Hebrew prophets such as Amos proclaimed that justice and mercy toward neighbors offered the only correct way of walking with God. Accounts of the world's religions often present them as discrete entities developing apart from each other in a vacuum. Armstrong's magnificent accomplishment offers us an account of a violent time much like ours, when religious impulses in various locations developed practices of justice and love." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"Having already recounted 'a history of God,' the redoubtable Armstrong here narrates the evolution of the religious traditions of the world from their births to their maturity. In her typical magisterial fashion, she chronicles these tales in dazzling prose with remarkable depth and judicious breadth. Taking the Axial Age, which spans roughly 900 B.C.E. to 200 B.C.E., as her focal point, Armstrong examines the ways that specific religious traditions from Buddhism and Confucianism to Taoism and Judaism responded to the various cultural forces they faced during this period. Overall, Armstrong observes, violence, political disruption and religious intolerance dominated Axial Age societies, so Axial religions responded by exalting compassion, love and justice over selfishness and hatred. Thus, the central Buddhist and Jain practice of ahimsa, doing no harm, developed in India in reaction to the self-centeredness of Hindu ritual, and Hebrew prophets such as Amos proclaimed that justice and mercy toward neighbors offered the only correct way of walking with God. Accounts of the world's religions often present them as discrete entities developing apart from each other in a vacuum. Armstrong's magnificent accomplishment offers us an account of a violent time much like ours, when religious impulses in various locations developed practices of justice and love." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"In 1948, the German philosopher Karl Jaspers coined the term 'Axial Age' to denote an astonishing era, from roughly 900 B.C. to 200 B.C., in which the foundations of the world's great religions were laid. This was the time of Socrates, Elijah, Siddhartha, Confucius. In her magisterial new exploration of the era, Karen Armstrong argues that all Axial Age traditions emphasized justice and were committed... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Review:

"Both liberals and conservatives in all the world's religious and political camps could benefit from the historical insights gathered in this eminently significant volume." Library Journal

Review:

"[A]n utterly enthralling reading experience." Booklist

Review:

"A useful text for an intolerant and uncompassionate time." Kirkus Reviwes

Review:

"Karen Armstrong is a genius." A. N. Wilson, author of Jesus: A Life

Review:

"Armstrong is a lucid writer with a knack for synthesizing vast quantities of research." The Globe and Mail

Review:

"Armstrong has a dazzling ability: she can take a long and complex subject and reduce it to the fundamentals, without oversimplifying." The Sunday Times

Synopsis:

From one of the world's leading writers on religion and the highly acclaimed author of the bestselling "A History of God" comes a major new work: a chronicle of the ninth century BCE, when the peoples of four distinct regions of the civilized world created the religious and philosophical traditions that have continued to nourish humanity into the present day. 25 maps.

About the Author

Karen Armstrong is the author of numerous other books on religious affairs, including A History of God, The Battle for God, Holy War, Islam, and Buddha. Her work has been translated into forty languages, and she is the author of three television documentaries. Since September 11, 2001, she has been a frequent contributor to conferences, panels, newspapers, periodicals, and other media on both sides of the Atlantic on the subject of Islam. She lives in London.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

fzalatimo, April 6, 2006 (view all comments by fzalatimo)
Karen is an authority in her field,she wrote abook about the Profet Mohamad the Alazhar Alsherief canot match.
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(12 of 26 readers found this comment helpful)

Product Details

ISBN:
9780375413179
Subtitle:
The Beginning of Our Religious Traditions
Author:
Armstrong, Karen
Publisher:
Knopf
Subject:
History
Subject:
Religion
Subject:
Ancient - General
Subject:
Sociology of Religion
Copyright:
Publication Date:
20060328
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
25 MAPS AND PLANS
Pages:
496
Dimensions:
9.48x6.60x1.60 in. 1.84 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Religion » Comparative Religion » General
Religion » Western Religions » General and Comparative Religion

The Great Transformation: The Beginning of Our Religious Traditions Used Hardcover
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Product details 496 pages Alfred A. Knopf - English 9780375413179 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

During the Axial Age — 900 to 200 B.C.E. — the world's major religious traditions responded to their surrounding cultural influences and developed the philosophical attitudes they exhibit to this day. In lucid and reasoned prose Karen Armstrong details the impact violence and other worldly forces had in determining the developmental process of religion. The Great Transformation is an absorbing read, sure to stand out amongst works of religious history.

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Having already recounted 'a history of God,' the redoubtable Armstrong here narrates the evolution of the religious traditions of the world from their births to their maturity. In her typical magisterial fashion, she chronicles these tales in dazzling prose with remarkable depth and judicious breadth. Taking the Axial Age, which spans roughly 900 B.C.E. to 200 B.C.E., as her focal point, Armstrong examines the ways that specific religious traditions from Buddhism and Confucianism to Taoism and Judaism responded to the various cultural forces they faced during this period. Overall, Armstrong observes, violence, political disruption and religious intolerance dominated Axial Age societies, so Axial religions responded by exalting compassion, love and justice over selfishness and hatred. Thus, the central Buddhist and Jain practice of ahimsa, doing no harm, developed in India in reaction to the self-centeredness of Hindu ritual, and Hebrew prophets such as Amos proclaimed that justice and mercy toward neighbors offered the only correct way of walking with God. Accounts of the world's religions often present them as discrete entities developing apart from each other in a vacuum. Armstrong's magnificent accomplishment offers us an account of a violent time much like ours, when religious impulses in various locations developed practices of justice and love." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Having already recounted 'a history of God,' the redoubtable Armstrong here narrates the evolution of the religious traditions of the world from their births to their maturity. In her typical magisterial fashion, she chronicles these tales in dazzling prose with remarkable depth and judicious breadth. Taking the Axial Age, which spans roughly 900 B.C.E. to 200 B.C.E., as her focal point, Armstrong examines the ways that specific religious traditions from Buddhism and Confucianism to Taoism and Judaism responded to the various cultural forces they faced during this period. Overall, Armstrong observes, violence, political disruption and religious intolerance dominated Axial Age societies, so Axial religions responded by exalting compassion, love and justice over selfishness and hatred. Thus, the central Buddhist and Jain practice of ahimsa, doing no harm, developed in India in reaction to the self-centeredness of Hindu ritual, and Hebrew prophets such as Amos proclaimed that justice and mercy toward neighbors offered the only correct way of walking with God. Accounts of the world's religions often present them as discrete entities developing apart from each other in a vacuum. Armstrong's magnificent accomplishment offers us an account of a violent time much like ours, when religious impulses in various locations developed practices of justice and love." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "Both liberals and conservatives in all the world's religious and political camps could benefit from the historical insights gathered in this eminently significant volume."
"Review" by , "[A]n utterly enthralling reading experience."
"Review" by , "A useful text for an intolerant and uncompassionate time."
"Review" by , "Karen Armstrong is a genius."
"Review" by , "Armstrong is a lucid writer with a knack for synthesizing vast quantities of research."
"Review" by , "Armstrong has a dazzling ability: she can take a long and complex subject and reduce it to the fundamentals, without oversimplifying."
"Synopsis" by , From one of the world's leading writers on religion and the highly acclaimed author of the bestselling "A History of God" comes a major new work: a chronicle of the ninth century BCE, when the peoples of four distinct regions of the civilized world created the religious and philosophical traditions that have continued to nourish humanity into the present day. 25 maps.
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