The Bible: A Biography (Books That Changed the World)

By Karen Armstrong

As the only paintings on the center of Christianity, the world’s biggest geared up faith, the Bible is the non secular advisor for one out of each 3 humans on this planet. it's also the world’s most generally allotted publication and its best-selling, with an expected six billion copies bought within the final 200 years. however the Bible is a posh paintings with a sophisticated and imprecise background. Its contents have replaced over the centuries, it's been reworked through translation and, via interpretation, has built manifold meanings to numerous religions, denominations, and sects.

In this seminal account, acclaimed historian Karen Armstrong discusses the notion, gestation, existence, and afterlife of history’s strongest publication. Armstrong analyzes the social and political scenario within which oral background changed into written scripture, how this all-pervasive scripture was once accumulated into one paintings, and the way it grew to become accredited as Christianity’s sacred textual content, and the way its interpretation replaced through the years. Armstrong’s historical past of the Bible is a superb, fascinating e-book, an important in an age of declining religion and emerging fundamentalism.

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However the different rabbis weren't inspired by way of this exhibit of supernatural strength. In desperation, R. Eliezer requested for a bat qol (‘voice from heaven’) to adjudicate and the divine voice obligingly declared: ‘What have you ever opposed to R. Eliezer? The Halakah is often as he says. ’ yet Rabbi Joshua quoted a verse from Deuteronomy: ‘It isn't in heaven’. 25 The Torah was once not limited to the celestial international; as soon as it were promulgated on Mount Sinai, it now not belonged to God yet was once the inalienable ownership of each unmarried Jew. So, commented a later rabbi, ‘We pay no recognition to a heavenly voice. ’ And additionally, it have been decreed at Sinai: ‘By a majority you're to decide’,26 so R. Eliezer, a minority of 1, couldn't override the preferred vote. whilst God heard that his opinion were overruled, he laughed and acknowledged: ‘My childrens have conquered me. ’27 Any obstacles in a midrash have been as a result of weak point of the exegete, who lacked the power to make experience of a textual content in a given scenario or to discover clean that means. 28 The Golden Rule additionally intended any midrash that unfold hatred was once illegitimate. A mean-spirited interpretation that poured scorn on different sages and sought to discredit them needs to be shunned. 29 the aim of midrash used to be to serve the neighborhood, to not inflate the ego of the exegete, who may still, R. Meir defined, research the Torah for ‘its personal sake’, now not for his personal gain. an outstanding midrash, the rabbi endured, sowed affection instead of discord, simply because an individual who studied scripture accurately used to be choked with love and taken pleasure to others: he ‘loves the Divine Presence and all creatures, makes the Divine Presence happy and makes joyful all creatures’. Torah research reworked the exegete, robing him with humility and worry, making him upright, pious, righteous and trustworthy, in order that every body round him benefited. ‘The mysteries of the Torah are published to him,’ R. Meir concluded, ‘he turns into like an overflowing fountain and ceaseless torrent . . . And it makes him nice and lifts him above the full production. ’30 ‘Does no longer my be aware burn like fireplace? ’ Yahweh had requested Jeremiah. 31 Midrash published the divine spark that lay dormant within the written phrases of the Torah. in the future, R. Akiba heard that his scholar Ben Azzai was once stuck in a nimbus of flame that flashed round him whereas he was once expounding the Torah. He moved quickly off to enquire and Ben Azzai instructed him that he had easily been training horoz: i used to be merely linking up the phrases of the Torah with each other after which with the phrases of the Prophets, and the Prophets with the Writings, and the phrases had fun, as once they have been brought at Sinai, they usually have been candy, as at their unique utterance. 32 The Sinai revelation was once renewed each time a Jew faced the textual content, opened himself to it, and utilized it to his personal state of affairs. Like Ezekiel, the midrashist discovered that once he had absorbed it and made it uniquely his personal, the note of God tasted candy as honey and set the area aflame. like any of the early rabbis, Ben Azzai was once a mystic.

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