MixedIrish Times (UK)in this wide-ranging and passionately argued work Armstrong not only insists that the sacred texts of religious traditions need to be rescued, but she embeds this argument in an account of religion as myth, suggesting that if the mythological character of religion was properly understood then it would indeed be possible to restore the lost art of scripture ... Throughout her expansive work Armstrong analyses many of the world’s religions, at different periods in their evolution, and in a range of geographical contexts. The breadth of this book is in many respects overwhelming. No doubt scholars of specific religions will criticise the broad brushstrokes with which she engages the specifics of the texts, doctrines, ethics and rituals of these traditions, and there are inaccuracies ... Armstrong has long been a voice of challenge to the violence and intolerance that has marred the politics of religion, and here her prescription is the recovery of the lost art of scripture. She may have an overly optimistic belief that imaginative, figurative and creative readings of the sacred texts can be a sufficient counterweight to literal, singular and ideological readings of these same texts. Nonetheless one hopes that her confidence is well-founded.
RaveThe Irish Times (IRELAND)Barton set himself a formidable task, but the result is remarkable. It is a multi-layered work in which he considers the Bible both as a cultural artefact and as a text of religious significance for both Judaism and Christianity. His analysis of the cultural significance of the Bible is certainly engaging. However it is his analysis of the relationship between the text(s) of the Bible and the religious worlds of Christians and Jews through the centuries that provides the greatest illumination ... Barton’s articulation and communication of this point is important and needs to be widely disseminated, especially in contexts where biblical fundamentalists hold significant political power and use the Bible to advance unethical social and political agendas ... The depth of Barton’s scholarship, the erudition of his analysis and the historical range of his inquiry makes this a work of exceptional merit. He captures the scholarly consensus on the complex issues of the composition, transmission, dissemination and interpretation of this extraordinary range of texts, and makes it accessible to a wider audience ... a joy to read. Generations of students have been formed by his earlier influential works, and with this compelling new work Barton deserves to garner many new readers.
RaveThe Irish TimesBest-known for the acclaimed History of the World in 100 Objects, MacGregor is a highly original and effective communicator who brings to Living with the Gods the same intellectual ambition and cultural insight as was on display with earlier comparable projects ... many of the objects are extraordinary and allow one to connect with the multiple and diverse ways in which human beings have given expression to their collective ideas about human beings and their place in the world, particularly through material culture. One cannot but be captivated ... The analysis of...objects is quite general, and likely to frustrate some readers. However, the strength of the book is not in its detailed analysis of each object, but rather in its thoughtful and sometimes provocative reflections on religion and religiosity through this exceptional range of artifacts ... it provides a different kind of insight into these enduring and important themes.