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In the Beginning

A New Interpretation of Genesis

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Paperback published by Ballantine Books (Random House Publishing Group)

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About This Book
"KAREN ARMSTRONG IS A GENIUS."
--A. N. Wilson

As the foundation stone of the Jewish and Christian scriptures, The Book of Genesis unfolds some of the most arresting stories of world literature--the Creation; Adam and Eve; Cain and Abel; the sacrifice of Isaac. Yet the meaning of Genesis remains enigmatic. In this fascinating volume, Karen Armstrong, author of the highly acclaimed bestseller A History of God, brilliantly illuminates the mysteries and profundities of this mystifying work.

"A lyrical chronicle of one woman's wrestling with Genesis that can serve as a guide to others . . . As notable for its scholarship as it is for its honesty and vulnerability."
--Publishers Weekly

"Armstrong can simplify complex ideas, but she is never simplistic."
--The New York Times Book Review
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"KAREN ARMSTRONG IS A GENIUS."
--A. N. Wilson

As the foundation stone of the Jewish and Christian scriptures, The Book of Genesis unfolds some of the most arresting stories of world literature--the Creation; Adam and Eve; Cain and Abel; the sacrifice of Isaac. Yet the meaning of Genesis remains enigmatic. In this fascinating volume, Karen Armstrong, author of the highly acclaimed bestseller A History of God, brilliantly illuminates the mysteries and profundities of this mystifying work.

"A lyrical chronicle of one woman's wrestling with Genesis that can serve as a guide to others . . . As notable for its scholarship as it is for its honesty and vulnerability."
--Publishers Weekly

"Armstrong can simplify complex ideas, but she is never simplistic."
--The New York Times Book Review
Product Details
Paperback (208 pages)
Published: October 7, 1997
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Imprint: Ballantine Books
ISBN: 9780345406040
Other books byKaren Armstrong
  • Islam

    Islam
    A Short History
    No religion in the modern world is as feared and misunderstood as Islam. It haunts the popular imagination as an extreme faith that promotes terrorism, authoritarian government, female oppression, and civil war. In a vital revision of this narrow view of Islam and a distillation of years of thinking and writing about the subject, Karen Armstrong’s short history demonstrates that the world’s fastest-growing faith is a much more complex phenomenon than its modern fundamentalist strain might suggest.

    The Case for God

    The Case for God
    A nuanced exploration of the part that religion plays in human life, drawing on the insights of the past in order to build a faith that speaks to the needs of our dangerously polarized age.   Moving from the Paleolithic age to the present, Karen Armstrong details the great lengths to which humankind has gone in order to experience a sacred reality that it called by many names, such as God, Brahman, Nirvana, Allah, or Dao. Focusing especially on Christianity but including Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Chinese spiritualities, Armstrong examines the diminished impulse toward religion in our own time, when a significant number of people either want nothing to do with God or question the efficacy of faith. Why has God become unbelievable? Why is it that atheists and theists alike now think and speak about God in a way that veers so profoundly from the thinking of our ancestors? Answering these questions with the same depth of knowledge and profound insight that have marked all her acclaimed books, Armstrong makes clear how the changing face of the world has necessarily changed the importance of religion at both the societal and the individual level.  Yet she cautions us that religion was never supposed to provide answers that lie within the competence of human reason; that, she says, is the role of logos. The task of religion is “to help us live creatively, peacefully, and even joyously with realities for which there are no easy explanations.” She emphasizes, too, that religion will not work automatically. It is, she says, a practical discipline: its insights are derived not from abstract speculation but from “dedicated intellectual endeavor” and a “compassionate lifestyle that enables us to break out of the prism of selfhood.”

    A Short History of Myth

    A Short History of Myth
    What are myths? How have they evolved? And why do we still so desperately need them?The history of myth is the history of humanity; our stories and beliefs, our curiosity and attempts to understand the world, link us to our ancestors and each other. Myths help us make sense of the universe. Armstrong takes us from the Palaeolithic period and the myths of the hunters right up to the "Great Western Transformation" of the last five hundred years and the discrediting of myth by science.Heralding a major series of retellings of international myths by authors from around the world, Armstrong's characteristically insightful and eloquent book serves as a brilliant and thought-provoking introduction to myth in the broadest sense - and why we dismiss it only at our peril.Witty, informative and contemplative: Ms. Armstrong can simplify complex ideas, but she is never simplistic. - New York Times Book ReviewArmstrong writes with sensitivity and wisdom. She employs a breadth of learning that reflects the scintillating, shifting light and shade of human experience. - The Times

    The Spiral Staircase

    The Spiral Staircase
    My Climb Out of Darkness
    In 1962, at age seventeen, Karen Armstrong entered a convent, eager to meet God. After seven brutally unhappy years as a nun, she left her order to pursue English literature at Oxford. But convent life had profoundly altered her, and coping with the outside world and her expiring faith proved to be excruciating. Her deep solitude and a terrifying illness–diagnosed only years later as epilepsy–marked her forever as an outsider. In her own mind she was a complete failure: as a nun, as an academic, and as a normal woman capable of intimacy. Her future seemed very much in question until she stumbled into comparative theology. What she found, in learning, thinking, and writing about other religions, was the ecstasy and transcendence she had never felt as a nun. Gripping, revelatory, and inspirational, The Spiral Staircase is an extraordinary account of an astonishing spiritual journey.

Favorite QuotesFROM THIS BOOK
  • One of the most haunting scenes in Genesis is surely the occasion when Jacob wrestled all night long with a mysterious stranger and discovered that he had in reality been struggling with...

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  • And Joseph died, being one hundred ten years old; he was embalmed and placed in a coffin in Egypt.

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