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. The Quran, the Torah and the Bible 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. Armstrong argues that only by rediscovering an open engagement with their holy texts will the world’s religions be able to curtail arrogance and intolerance. 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.