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Extended Audio Sample The Great Transformation: The Beginning of Our Religious Traditions, by Karen Armstrong Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (1,405 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Karen Armstrong Narrator: Karen Armstrong Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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From one of the world’s leading writers on religion and the highly acclaimed author of the bestselling A History of God, The Battle for God and The Spiral Staircase, comes a major new work: a chronicle of one of the most important intellectual revolutions in world history and its relevance to our own time.

In one astonishing, short period—the ninth century BCE—the peoples of four distinct regions of the civilized world created the religious and philosophical traditions that have continued to nourish humanity into the present day: Confucianism and Daoism in China; Hinduism and Buddhism in India; monotheism in Israel; and philosophical rationalism in Greece. Historians call this the Axial Age because of its central importance to humanity’s spiritual development. Now, Karen Armstrong traces the rise and development of this transformative moment in history, examining the brilliant contributions to these traditions made by such figures as the Buddha, Socrates, Confucius and Ezekiel.

Armstrong makes clear that despite some differences of emphasis, there was remarkable consensus among these religions and philosophies: each insisted on the primacy of compassion over hatred and violence. She illuminates what this “family” resemblance reveals about the religious impulse and quest of humankind. And she goes beyond spiritual archaeology, delving into the ways in which these Axial Age beliefs can present an instructive and thought-provoking challenge to the ways we think about and practice religion today.

A revelation of humankind’s early shared imperatives, yearnings and inspired solutions—as salutary as it is fascinating.

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Quotes & Awards

  • The Great Transformation can serve the needs of new readers interested in a popular work that synthesizes scholarship. . . . [U]seful to anyone seeking an integral sense of world religions. The Globe and Mail
  • Karen Armstrong is a genius. A. N. Wilson, author of Jesus: A Life
  • Armstrong is a lucid writer with a knack for synthesizing vast quantities of research. The Globe and Mail
  • Armstrong’s writing continues to offer a religious mirror and a cultural vision. Amazon.com
  • Armstrong has a dazzling ability: she can take a long and complex subject and reduce it to the fundamentals, without oversimplifying. The Sunday Times

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Matana | 2/10/2014

    " To understand the origins of many religions. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Tom & Beverly | 12/10/2013

    " interesting with great ideas but slow going for me. ended up skipping a lot as there was way more information than I was able to consume. All in all it gives a great perspective on the era of the Buddha and give one a sense of the atmosphere in which he was teaching. Certainly worthy of reading "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Maureen Clark | 11/30/2013

    " Once again, Karen Armstrong is able to look at the really big picture and pull from history lessons we need today. This was an amazing book. The Axial Age religions bring us two very important insights: the golden rule is absolutely relevant to our situation today, and, in a violent world like the one in which we live, we must look into our own hearts first to overcome bias and hatred. There are violent factions in almost every religion, and America is not exempt. If it's not the preaching of hate and violence, it's the philosophy that each religion represents a "chosen" people. Both philosophies contribute to the increasing violence in our world. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Steve Clason | 11/25/2013

    " The Great Transformation: the Beginning of Our Religious Traditions by Karen Armstrong (1980) "

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