> Skip to content
Play sample
  • Published: 15 August 2019
  • ISBN: 9781473574762
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: Audio Download
  • Length: 24 hr 27 min
  • Narrator: Karen Armstrong
  • RRP: $32.99

The Lost Art of Scripture

An urgent review of the use and abuse of holy texts in today's world - and a call for understanding and compassion at a time when religion is viewed as a source of conflict.

Brought to you by Penguin.

'One of our best living writers on religion' Financial Times
'Karen Armstrong is a genius' A.N. Wilson
'Karen Armstrong is one of the handful of wise and supremely intelligent commentators on religion' Alain De Botton

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.

  • Published: 15 August 2019
  • ISBN: 9781473574762
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: Audio Download
  • Length: 24 hr 27 min
  • Narrator: Karen Armstrong
  • RRP: $32.99

About the author

Karen Armstrong

Karen Armstrong is one of the world's leading commentators on religious affairs. She spent seven years as a Roman Catholic nun, but left her teaching order in 1969 to read English at St Anne's College, Oxford. In 1982, she became a full time writer and broadcaster. She is a best-selling author of over 16 books. A passionate campaigner for religious liberty, Armstrong has addressed members of the United States Congress and participated in the World Economic Forum. In 2013 she recieved the British Academy's inaugural Nayef Al-Rodhan Prize for improving transcultural understanding.

Also by Karen Armstrong

See all

Praise for The Lost Art of Scripture

One of our best living writers on religion

Financial Times

'Karen Armstrong has written an amazingly wide-ranging book, showing that the world's religious texts can be a force for good today, rather than a cause of conflict. The scale of her knowledge never ceases to astonish'

John Barton, author of A History of the Bible

Karen Armstrong is one of the handful of wise and supremely intelligent commentators on religion

Alain De Botton

Karen Armstrong is a genius

A.N. Wilson

A triumph... Karen Armstrong is one of our great commentators on the sacred. In this book she explores the sacred texts with a scholar's eye and an illuminating clarity suggesting how much their wisdom and lasting power are still needed today

Salley Vickers

A remarkable book by a remarkable writer. the author's mission is urgent in the light of the uses to which the world's scriptures are sometimes put

Rev Dr Neil Richardson, Methodist Recorder

The Lost Art of Scripture. exhibits [Armstrong's] well-known and admired characteristics as a writer: an ability to be both authoritative on all the major faiths.a reasoned insistence that religion today is misunderstood, as much by the religious as by their critics; and a passionate appeal to our fractious and fractured world to embrace religion's core message.compassion and respect for others

Peter Stanford, Sunday Times

Exhilarating, challenging and curiously comforting. [The Lost Art of Scripture has] been written not only with intellectual rigour and an accessible turn of phrase, but also with love

Lucy Winkett, Prospect

Rich and wide-ranging. [The Lost Art of Scripture] makes a fascinating read. a treasure chest of social and religious history. Armstrong's lucid prose makes her many-stranded story remarkably straightforward to follow. a learned and stimulating book

Teresa Morgan, Tablet

[The Lost Art of Scripture] takes us on a glorious journey. Armstrong is the most articulate and generous-hearted exegete of religion writing in English at the present time

AN Wilson, New Statesman

A fascinating excursion into neo-Gnosticism. Armstrong.has clearly done an enormous amount of reading and research to handle so skilfully the mass of material she surveys

Jack Carrigan, Catholic Herald

[Armstrong] weaves.[a] truly vast history into a coherent and fascinating narrative. an interesting and very well-written book

Gavin Flood, Church Times

Magisterial ... a dazzling accomplishment, a reflection of an encyclopaedic knowledge of comparative religion and of a wisdom about spirituality in the human species

New York Times Book Review

An epic story with a polemical edge. [a] lucid account of the evolution of sacred text. The Lost Art of Scripture is an impressive achievement, presenting a wide sweep of global religious history in little more than five hundred pages. Armstrong is.an accomplished and fluent writer

Literary Review

Related titles