The Great Transformation: The Beginning of our Religious Traditions

The Great Transformation The Great Transformation Alfred A. Knopf

Karen Armstrong

Knopf, 2006

The earliest beginnings of religion in the ninth century BCE is the subject.  Armstrong, Bestselling author and world-renowned religious historian unveils for the reader this fascinatingly unique period of religious ferment known as the Axial Age. 

At this time, Confuciansim and Daoism grew in China, the birth of monotheism was in Israel, philosophical rationalism began in Greece, and Buddhism and Hinduism blossomed in India. The foundation of these religions was compassion, not doctrine, and Armstrong asks us to consider that in view of our social climate today which is similar to that which laid the foundation for the Axial Age.  The book has a big scope, but it's a magnificent accomplishment that shines light on a new perspective of the impact and implications that religion and faith have on human culture and history. 

"...Armstrong's main thesis [is] that the "simultaneous" development of the world's religions during what  [C]arl Jung called the axial age, is a direct result of the violence and chaos, both physical and spiritual, of past civilizations.... Her voice is straightforward yet wrought with palpable concern. This reinforces the book's goals of creating a clear understanding of where religious developments have come from and explaining how today's "violence of an unprecedented scale" parallels the activities that created the "axial age" in the first place." - Publishers Weekly

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