Get Your Free Audiobook

A Little History of Religion

Narrated by: James Bryce
Length: 9 hrs and 9 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (12 ratings)
Non-member price: $29.65
After 30 days, Audible is $16.45/mo. Cancel anytime.

Publisher's Summary

In an era of hardening religious attitudes and explosive religious violence, this book offers a welcome antidote. Richard Holloway retells the entire history of religion - from the dawn of religious belief to the 21st century - with deepest respect and a keen commitment to accuracy.

Writing for those with faith and those without, and especially for young listeners, he encourages curiosity and tolerance, accentuates nuance and mystery and calmly restores a sense of the value of faith.

Ranging far beyond the major world religions of Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, and Hinduism, Holloway also examines where religious belief comes from, the search for meaning throughout history, today's fascinations with Scientology and creationism, religiously motivated violence, hostilities between religious people and secularists and more.

Holloway proves an empathic yet discerning guide to the enduring significance of faith and its power from ancient times to our own.

©2016 Richard Holloway (P)2016 Audible, Ltd

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    8
  • 4 Stars
    2
  • 3 Stars
    2
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0

Performance

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    10
  • 4 Stars
    1
  • 3 Stars
    1
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0

Story

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    7
  • 4 Stars
    2
  • 3 Stars
    1
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    1
Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

This is how 'Religion' should be taught

A Little History of Religion is a really great listen and should be the way that religion is taught in schools. It doesn't focus on one specific religion and decry all others as we so often see in society. It gives equal weight to many religions and discusses how those religions came about and why they are the way that they are today. If this was how more people were exposed to religion early on it would create a lot more tolerance in today's world.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Cat
  • 09-10-2017

A book for atheists

I would not recommend this book if you are wanting a real understanding of different religions. The author is obviously not religious and views the different religions as fairy tales.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Derek
  • 30-08-2016

Great book, and I'm an atheist.

there was little-to-no apologetics. It really broke down how all the religions came to be.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Andre
  • 11-10-2016

excellent

loved it....understood the origin of religion. ..both author and reader was excellent...i loved it...thanks much

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • lkising
  • 20-09-2016

essential study

A must for anyone who has ever wondered about the many different religions and why.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Larry
  • 27-08-2016

Excellent "in a nutshell" book!

This is a great book for all ages and gives you a well rounded view of religions of the world, views of God and where we started all the thinking from. Great narration, great info, great book.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • SK, Chicago, IL
  • 22-02-2019

Excellent narration

Wonderful narrator and a story that weaves its subject matter together seamlessly makes for a perfect overview.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Rachel H.
  • 04-12-2018

The Story vs the Approach

I appreciated the targeted, chronological approach of this book. It consumes a huge topic and produces a concise and informative narrative. The author’s approach to religion’s history and study leaves something to be desired though. Holloway seems to operate with the assumption that religious people cannot engage in the objective study of religion. (And in consequence, read his book.) He tells the story of religion through his own biases, without distinguishing them as such.
While there is a place for criticism, just like devotion, in religious study, it is separate from objectivity. He disregards this distinction treating his own viewpoints as being the same thing.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Nik Blach
  • 01-12-2018

Easy to follow, very interesting

I find religion interesting in general and wanted an unbiased history of religion that would let me learn about multiple religions. While completely unbiased is kind of impossible, this book did a pretty good job. It definitely follows the religions of Abraham more than others, but after completing the book I feel that this made sense.I left feeling like I learned a lot and I've recommended this book to many people.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Tom Jobie John
  • 03-05-2018

Right amount of information on the history of religion

Couldn’t recommend a better book for a brief history of most of the religions. This book is as straightforward as it can be with no inclination to a particular extreme view. It lays information before you and allows you to ponder about it, makes you comprehend your own views. As a reader, this book probably liberated my mind regarding my thoughts on the subject and inspired me to know more and for that I would give it 5 stars.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Melle
  • 22-02-2018

A Perfect Primer

This book is perfect for adults and older kids who are interested in the facts behind world religions and not just the dogma. The text is very well written in a narrative fashion, so you feel like you are listening to a story, and the narrator is absolute perfection. Highly recommend.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • TK
  • 17-02-2018

Perfectly consice and detailed overview

I had long been looking for a book to fill the gaps in my knowledge about where religions come from and how did they intertwine in history.
This book gives a great and very objective overview of the origins, similarities, differences and human mixups in the stories of all the main religions. It does not prefer one to another nor glorify subscribing to religious denominations in general. And yet it manages to not be too academic or repetitive as some very objective books tend to be.

Recommend to anyone who wants a short but solid overview of religion(s) in an objective way. Very good from a storytelling perspective too and an awesome performance by James Bryce.

Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Mr. Paul M. Quirk
  • 05-01-2017

Fascinating book

I very much enjoyed listening to this book but was concerned about the way Richard Holloway chose to interpret parts of the Bible. (But then, according to Richard, I would.)

He takes us on a journey through the development of the idea of "God", why this would have been important and how the idea was maintained and changed through time. He addresses the big questions of life such as what happens after we die and why there is evil in the world.

His approach to various holy writings is that the authors of each had some sort of revelation which they believed to come from God and then wrote for there. However their understanding was probably muddled or incomplete, hence the various religions. These revelations may or may not have come from an external source. In any case they could have no knowledge of the future so all apparent prophetic writings must have been written after the event. Thus the biblical book of Daniel must have been written during the second century BCE despite evidence to the contrary.

I have the impression the book was written by someone who used to be a Christian but has now transferred his faith to humanity. A kindly soul nonetheless.

The walk through of the many faiths of the world and their origins was very helpful and, I can only hope, fairly accurate.

Overall I found this a fascinating listen even where I disagreed with the author and would recommend it to anyone seeking such an overview.

17 of 17 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Grace
  • 01-01-2017

Really enjoyable!

I loved this book. An excellent summary of world religion throughout the ages. Also a thought-provoking snapshot into understanding our own human mind! The tone of the book was perfectly pitched as well. A very entertaining listen!

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Kirstine
  • 11-01-2017

Unbiased, educational and interesting

I was attracted to this book when I saw who had written it. I’ve heard Richard Holloway speak and am impressed by his open-minded attitude to religion and humane approach to those that the more bigoted denigrate such as gays, lesbians and transgender people and applaud his criticism of how most religions exclude women from any important role. Views all the more courageous as he was the Bishop of the Episcopal Church in Scotland.

I found this book very interesting and learned a lot about the different religions as he explains the tenets of various faiths so clearly. He enumerates the similarities among them and describes how small differences in beliefs have led to so much conflict, persecution and bloodshed throughout history.

I started the book with the opinion that the world would be a better place without religions and leave with that opinion reinforced. I don’t know if it was the intention of the author but for me he provides convincing arguments that religions are created out of the human mind and are an understandable attempt to make sense of the vagaries of life and a world that is difficult to comprehend. That would be fine if this comforts people, but, although most religions start with good intentions, the majority get corrupted over time by the men in power. It’s sad that even in our modern world religion is causing so much suffering and in some cases tries to stifle scientific progress and personal freedom.

The final chapter gives a hint to a shift in the author's own beliefs as he describes non-secular humanism, which certainly seems benign compared with much of the history of religions!

The writing style is well suited to being read as it feels as if the author is speaking to the listener: helped by the narrator’s warm and friendly voice.

14 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • MS F
  • 02-01-2017

Really enjoyable

This is a warm, and accessing romp through the different religions which can be enjoyed be people of all ages and faiths.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • caroline
  • 25-12-2016

Informative and entertaining wry humour

easy to finish and great narrator. Brillisnt without an agenda and lots of informations providing a broad history and pleasurable journey through time. Narration fabukous and brought it to life with a sprinkle of humour.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Tony Burton
  • 26-02-2018

A light history of religion (but mostly christian)

if you want a very broadbrush sweep through the world's religions this will just about do the job. But only if you want to look at it from the Christian point of view. There were chapters and chapters on Judaism and Christian stories but only the briefest encounter with the schism in Islam, and nothing at all about the development of the different traditions in that Faith! all the biblical stories are basicly presented as fact. No effort is made to establish if any of the Jewish history could be myths. There is also no critical analysis of any part of the bible. the author also seeks to patronize frequently by stating that 'the technical term for that is ____ e.g. agnostic. most Christian sects are briefly covered but if you wanted an insight on Greek, Roman or Mesopotamian religions and how their gods and ways weave into other religions you will need a more detailed text. I have tried to be fair in my review and there are some careful thoughts on how Christianity has changed over the past 100 years.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • David J. Carpenter
  • 12-09-2016

Highly Recommended.

Well written and narrated. A panoramic, but a little more than a whistle stop tour of the world's religions. Highly recommended for the enquirer, also a good refresher

19 of 23 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Neira
  • 01-08-2018

Essentially biased

at first I thought I'd enjoy it but half the book is about Christianity and focused on the negatives of it. Islam is only painted as bad and for such a major religion mentioned very little. It's a little more forgiving towards some other religions but essentially the book's aim is to show that religions are silly and bad. As a student of religions and a religious person I found this book unbalanced. Author's bias and dislike of religion, and one in particular, showed clearly. I learned very little and got very annoyed as the book went on.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Amazon Customer
  • 24-02-2017

Not Sure What Religion You Are? Read This!

A must read for everyone. If I was an 'unsure atheist' before reading this book, then I certainly am one now!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Anthony
  • 22-01-2017

Philosophical and informative

Excellent short book contemplating the nature and purpose of religion in human societies.

The book covers the history of major world religions but also offers, en passant, interesting insights into how and why particular religions operate in particular ways, how fear and other powerful forces were co-opted as the means to recruit or retain followers, and the role and purpose of religious leaders. Packed usefully with historical insights and interesting anecdotes it is surprisingly engaging and informative.

Nicely read and philosophical in its approach encouraging listeners to keep questioning their own beliefs and their origins and bases.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful