Dismayed by the recent outbreak of religious fundamentalism in different corners of the globe citizens through out the world have become more curious about origins of religions and their respective Gods. In ‘A History of God’
an ex-nun Karen Armstrong provides an intelligent and lucid account of 4,000 years of religious history to gratify the readers’ inquisitiveness. Published by Vintage Books this 500+ page book on the quest for God presents different phases of human search for higher spirits in 11 chapters. She starts from the backdrop of creation of gods by ancient tribes but soon moves to describe emergence of ‘one god’ religions in the Arabian Peninsula. First providing a brief introduction to her personal journey through religious beliefs Karen jumps on the main theme and presents an intellectually challenging perspective of evolution of religions and ideas of god.
Interestingly, she writes three chapters on philosophers, mystics, and reformers and their gods and distinguishes their contribution in the evolution of belief. Her account concentrates on Judaism-Christian-Islam’s single god and this explanation model probably cannot embrace other religions like Hinduism or Buddhism and hence there is no detail discussion on these religions in this book, but this intentional deletion does not dent the quality of the discussion.
Surprisingly, anyone interested to search more about present dilemma of faiths can start reading the book from the last chapter, ‘Has God a Future’. ‘The Death of God’ is another aspect she covers coherently in a separate chapter. A ten page suggestions for further reading is also an excellent bibliography for inquisitive readers.
We will probably know it already that the idea of God has evolved with time and different religions addressed the issue in accordance with their problem under consideration and knowledge available during the time of approaching that. But the subtle connections between monotheistic religions and shadowy transitional phases are the key to comprehend the bigger picture of faith, religions and God. Karen Armstrong knows more than enough about Judaism, Christianity and Islam and her book ‘A History of God’ undoubtedly offers valuable insights for both the scholars and lay-people.