The Lost Art of Scripture

July 24, 2019 - Comment

Penguin presents the audio edition of The Lost Art of Scripture, written and read by Karen Armstrong. In our increasingly secular world, holy texts are at best seen as irrelevant, and at worst as an excuse to incite violence, hatred and division. So what value, if any, can scripture hold for us today? And if

Penguin presents the audio edition of The Lost Art of Scripture, written and read by Karen Armstrong.

In our increasingly secular world, holy texts are at best seen as irrelevant, and at worst as an excuse to incite violence, hatred and division. So what value, if any, can scripture hold for us today? And if our world no longer seems compatible with scripture, is it perhaps because its original purpose has become lost?

Today we see the Quran being used by some to justify war and terrorism, the Torah to deny Palestinians the right to live in the Land of Israel, and the Bible to condemn homosexuality and contraception. The holy texts at the centre of all religious traditions are often employed selectively to underwrite arbitrary and subjective views. They are believed to be divinely ordained; they are claimed to contain eternal truths.

But as Karen Armstrong, a world authority on religious affairs, shows in this fascinating journey through millennia of history, this narrow reading of scripture is a relatively recent phenomenon. For hundreds of years these texts were instead viewed as spiritual tools: scripture was a means for the individual to connect with the divine, to transcend their physical existence, and to experience a higher level of consciousness. Holy texts were seen as fluid and adaptable, rather than a set of binding archaic rules or a ‘truth’ that has to be ‘believed’.

Armstrong argues that only by rediscovering an open engagement with their holy texts will the world’s religions be able to curtail arrogance, intolerance and violence. And if scripture is used to engage with the world in more meaningful and compassionate ways, we will find that it still has a great deal to teach us.

Comments

Anonymous says:

Excellent I have read most of Karen’s books and this one is as good as anything she has ever written. So many peoples lives are marred by the ignorance of how scripture should be read. They should be taken seriously but not literally and that is what Karen does. Well researched and beautifully written. It is not an easy read nor could it be bearing in mind the subject matter, but don’t be daunted.

Anonymous says:

What the Scriptures Were Meant To Be. This excellent book is organised in three parts : cosmos and society, mythos and logos. There are notes, a glossary and a short bibliography. The author is a renowned commentator on religious affairs. After seven years as a Catholic Nun, she left in 1969 to read for an English degree at Oxford. She has written 16 books. Karen is a passionate campaigner for religious liberty.In her latest book she traces the chronological development of major scriptural canons in…

Anonymous says:

Thoughtful reflection – highly recommended Armstrong’s work is always worth reading so I was looking forward to getting stuck into this study of religious texts. I was not disappointed.The joy of The Lost Art of Scripture is that it provides a potent tonic for a world obsessed by literal and wholly unimaginative interpretation (of everything) and increasingly unable to approach documents in the spirit/context in which they were written. The Lost Art is a call to look at the bigger picture, rather than being lost in the…

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