Ms Armstrong is a former nun whose first memoir, Through the Narrow Gate, I’ve enjoyed reading (twice). I’ve been rather wary of reading her other books as she no longer identifies herself as a Christian and I know my weaknesses. I’m easily led, especially by a persuasive piece of writing. Curiosity won on this occasion and I’m very glad it did.
The Bible is not an easy read. I read the Kindle version and was very glad to have the integrated dictionary to help me. Even so, I had to re-read some parts, look words up more than once, and still accept there were bits and pieces flying over my head. I don’t see this as a failing on the author’s part, however – she’s writing for a scholarly audience and pitches her vocabulary and argument to suit.
Ms Armstrong traces the development of what we know as ‘The Bible’ right through history, piggy-backing her narrative on the history of Islam, Judaism and Christianity. Throughout the book, she shows how the Bible has shaped these faith and, indeed, how they have shaped it. She finishes with a stinging criticism of modern-day fundamentalism to which she offers a sane-sounding alternative: The Bible should be read with those of other faiths and, most importantly, with charity.