• The Lost Art of Scripture

  • Rescuing the Sacred Texts
  • By: Karen Armstrong
  • Narrated by: Karen Armstrong
  • Length: 24 hrs and 26 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (74 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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 may not be immediately obvious in our secular world, but its misunderstanding is perhaps the root cause of many of today's controversies.

In this timely and important audiobook, one of the most trusted and admired writers on the world of faith examines the meaning of Scripture. The sacred texts have been co-opted by fundamentalists, who insist that they must be taken literally, and by others who interpret Scripture to bolster their own prejudices. These texts are seen to prescribe ethical norms and codes of behavior that are divinely ordained: They are believed to contain eternal truths. But as Karen Armstrong shows in this chronicle of the development and significance of major religions, such a narrow, peculiar reading of Scripture is a relatively recent, modern phenomenon. For most of their history, the world's religious traditions have regarded these texts as tools that enable the individual to connect with the divine, to experience a different level of consciousness, and to help them engage with the world in more meaningful and compassionate ways.

At a time of intolerance and mutual incomprehension, The Lost Art of Scripture shines fresh light on the world's major religions to help us build bridges between faiths and rediscover a creative and spiritual engagement with holy texts.

©2019 Karen Armstrong (P)2019 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"In her most profound, important book to date.... Both nonbelievers and believers will find her diagnosis - that most people now read scripture to confirm their own views, rather than to achieve transformation - on the mark.... This is an instant classic of accessible and relevant religious history." (Publishers Weekly starred review)

"In her latest, esteemed religion writer Armstrong...once again demonstrates her encyclopedic knowledge of the world’s religions.... Armstrong’s grasp of global religious history and thought is beyond impressive.... For those willing to travel this road with the author, the journey is expansive and worthwhile and will make them reconsider what scripture means to those who admire it. Excellent reading for religious scholars and students." (Kirkus Reviews)

"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)

What listeners say about The Lost Art of Scripture

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Good religious history; complete recording

I posted a previous review reporting an omission of a large section. I reloaded again this morning and so far the part of the recording that was omitted is complete. I like to have Armstrong read the book to me as I follow along with the text in the hardcover so I have purchased both the audiobook and the hard copy. That way I can underline and comment in the margins. I have read most of Armstrong's books and she shines again in this rendition both audibly and as written. Her voice is pleasing and I appreciate hearing her properly enunciate the names and words that I would not know how to pronounce.

9 people found this helpful

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Karen Armstrong does it again

Builds slowly to a beautiful and terrifying crescendo. There were some phrases and descriptions that were recognizable from her other work, but that made the book none-the-less entertaining because, frankly, they were worth repeating. 5/5 stars

7 people found this helpful

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SERIOUSLY FLAWED RECORDING

This audiobook is badly flawed. The narration jumps from the middle of chapter five to the middle of chapter 10, leaving out more than twenty percent of the book. Where is quality control!

6 people found this helpful

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A beautiful argument for the importance of scriptu

it was a beautiful argument for the importance of scripture. As a secular person I felt the desire to go back and look, to feel along with some of these important texts. It was an argument for an inclusive understanding of spirituality in conversation with both the past and the present. Her sense of awe at the unknowable is an important voice, both as a response to the secular and the dogmatic. what a beautiful book.

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Audibility issue

Although I find the author's work important, well researched and written, I have difficulty understanding her reading unless the volume is turned up to a high level. I listen to audible books regularly but regrettably find this reading indistinct.

2 people found this helpful

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Important Incite to understanding scripture.

I am not a religious scolar or student of the worlds faiths, but am a seiker of meaning and truth. This book does not answer those questions, but provides context for inspiration throughout the world from the very begining of oral traditions until today. Connects a lot of dots. Took lots of notes and bookmarks that I will look fot as this wealth of information digests.

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Almost 5

I give this only 4 stars with great hesitancy because I love Karen Armstrong's work so much and because she contributes so greatly here to a more nuanced understanding of what scripture is and can be. I only dock a star because she has a few blind spots, in my view, that keep this from being an unreservedly excellent work. The primary issue for me is her very brusque and dismissive treatment of really the entire Protestant Reformation, which is treated perfunctorily like a straightforward pipeline to 20th century fundamentalism and little more. In fact, although the Reformers may well deserve a fair amount of criticism personally for their divisiveness and lack of charity, as Armstrong points out, their new emphasis on the role of scripture and push for its general accessibility arguably played a major role in several subsequent social movements of note. Armstrong wants to say that the focus became increasingly individualistic and overly focused on personal salvation alone. That is a very non-nuanced view of even the perspectives of the Reformers themselves, but more than that, it completely ignores Protestant pushes for greater social equality, later abolition and civil rights movements, etc., based at least in part on scriptural readings and reinterpretations. There are a few additional issues in my view, but the very crabbed interpretation of the Reformation and its outcomes is easily the most egregious. Armstrong's assertions in these sections seem to hint strongly at bias and are, frankly, unworthy of a respected scholar of her distinction. I rush to say that the book was otherwise almost uniformly excellent, and despite my reservations in this one particular, I highly recommend it overall.

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mind blown... again

as always Karen explains the unexplainable that feeds body, mind and soul... felt like a continuation of history of god.

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Exemplary book

I confess my love for Karen Armstrong a light and guide for our times, her scholarship is excellent and regrettably lost to those without an open mind and earnestness to learn and understand our spiritual divinity.
Compassion, love, kindness and care for each other is the underlying message of our God by whatever name we give them.

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Rich Experience

Deep and wide. I bought the book in order to delve more deeply. Highly recommended.