BOOKS: "History of God" by Karen Armstrong

Is there anything in this book that contradicts Catholic teaching? If so, is there a “rebuttal” book out there?

I do not know about Karen, she was a former nun. But she writes from a open theist perspective, not a Catholic one so it will not be a orthodox catholioc reading.

Her treatment of orthodox Christianity (particularly figures such as Augustine and Aquinas) is both contemptuous and unfair. I was most impressed by the parts of the book covering things I knew less about, which is often a bad sign. She is a brilliant writer and is definitely worth reading, but with great caution, because she has an axe to grind and is not a professional scholar (I mention these two things as separate points counting against her–I’m quite aware that there are many professional scholars with axes to grind, and I’m willing to defend my concept of “having an axe to grind,” which goes beyond the biases that we all necessarily have).


This book is based on extremely outdated research and is not taken seriously in the field any longer, but it is an interesting slice of modernist history if you have plenty of empty bookshelves you want to fill up. It’s kind of like having a copy of Das Kapital just to document and try to understand how someone could believe such things in another era.

Hi Str…
Someone I know read it and thinks it great. Could you point me to resources that show it as outdated research, that I could share with this person?

I wish I still had all those books I used to have and all I’ve read about me. I don’t. But it’s easy to find sources online to direct you to more recent scholarship showing that there is absolutely no evidence at all to suggest polytheism predated monotheism (the Jungian view) and indeed the evidence points the other way. Armstrong posits an amorphous nature-personification as the beginning of religion. This theory has been put to bed. The earliest conceptions of God vary between cultures but the earliest traceable proto-Semitic conception has been established as a monotheistic, personal, transcendent God for a long time now.

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