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  • A Little History of Religion

  • Written by: Richard Holloway
  • Narrated by: James Bryce
  • Length: 9 hrs and 9 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (97 ratings)

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A Little History of Religion

Written by: Richard Holloway
Narrated by: James Bryce
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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 listeners say about A Little History of Religion

Average Customer Ratings
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amazing

Eye opening. it answers some of the core issues that all of try to come to terms with. I wish everyone in the world will listen to this.

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simple overview of religion

a good read(listening).. informative.. but more focus on abhrahimic religions and very superficial overview of other religions

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Evolution of Religions

The content is unbiased & the reading is fluid with propler emphasis for a reader to make sense. The author walks us through the evolution of major religions in a very connected zig zag manner, ensuring to cover points like start of the religion, propagation of religion, the catalysts that lead to its propagation, ironing of beliefs for scalability & to favour the propagators, split within religion driven by split of power, the philosophy of each religion about life after death, the underlying intent of the religion in relation to the over all ecosystem (control or cooperation & coexistence), religions impact on other aspects like politics, economics, culture, family structures etc. The best part of the book is it bring out the underlying abstract that is common across religions in their evolution. The book has the power to transform your perspective about religion & can make you more open & accepting. All the best!

1 person found this helpful

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Concise Guide of All Religions

A brief history of all religions, very well researched and covers the essential details and differences which everybody should know and understand.

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Good to know

Even though most of the histories of the religions are already known through various sources it was good to read them in an order in which they make sense. It was easier to compare and contrast the religions and theirs histories in this way. Many of the information furnished here where in fact new especially about the numerous sects in christianity.

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The title is exactly what it says

The book is a true short and concise history of Religion without any bias, opinions and thoughts. It's an academic, presented in a simple way, for people to understand the rise of religion

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A Concise History of Religion

Loved it.It is brief but comprehensive. very objective and very well read too.Highly recommended.

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excellent coverage of multitude of religions

Richard has produced a well researched book covering a large number of religions and sects, their genesis, the good and bad aspects, the fanatical aspects etc. and concluded with the latest spread of humanism which practices the learnings as understood by humanity and less dependence on historicity of any religion or sect. A book worth reading/listening to align one's mind to the good of the world rather than genocidial tendencies and preachings of some religions much to the alarm of general public across the globe. James Bryce is equally effective in bringing the subject alive. Great show Richard and James.

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Great read !

Good overview of history and fundamental tenets of major religions across world without getting too much technical . Sort of helps comprehend some of the factional world views, divides present in the word today . Excellent narration !

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great book

very nice narration..very well explained in a very simple language,.................must for those who wants to understand religion in simple and quick way

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  • Derek
  • 30-08-16

Great book, and I'm an atheist.

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

30 people found this helpful

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  • Rachel H.
  • 04-12-18

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.

19 people found this helpful

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  • Andre
  • 11-10-16

excellent

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

12 people found this helpful

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  • Destini
  • 29-09-20

Narration

The narration made the book better. The content was great. A ton of knowledge within a short period. But the narrator carried it home.

Wish they would've included the original religion of the slaves that were taken from Africa (ex. Yoruba) and the practices created from it (ex. Santeria)

10 people found this helpful

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  • lkising
  • 20-09-16

essential study

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

9 people found this helpful

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  • Gabriel Canuteson
  • 08-09-19

Good but biased

The author explains all the religions but brings a lot of personal baggage. He spends the last two chapters basically ripping on religion which would be fine if he endeavored to show its pros and cons as well.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Nik Blach
  • 01-12-18

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.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Aimee
  • 23-02-21

Good Perspective

I learned a lot in this book and always appreciate learning about other religions. The most important thing i learned is how to answer the question of why there are so many sects of christianity, or religions in general. Groups of people join together to fight against a percieved injustice and then become their own tribe/culture who has their own way of understanding the world. The book ended with secular humanism. The book neither promoted religion or non religion but rather stated a history of comparison and patterns of human thinking/behavior inside religious worldviews and how the enlightenment and science affected religious thinkers and non religious thinkers alike.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Larry
  • 27-08-16

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.

5 people found this helpful

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  • David Carter
  • 18-01-21

Excellent Religion History

I enjoyed this audio book as much as any of my 150 audiobooks. The author exposes many interesting aspects, many of which I have never considered. Every chapter is filled with new considerations with regards to old and new religions. The narrator does and excellent job and encourages deep thinking.
I would recommend this audiobook to anyone interested in the field of religion and philosophy. Hats off to a masterpiece!!

3 people found this helpful

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  • P Quirk
  • 05-01-17

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.

43 people found this helpful

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  • Tony Burton
  • 26-02-18

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.

34 people found this helpful

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  • Kirstine
  • 11-01-17

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.

29 people found this helpful

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  • David J. Carpenter
  • 12-09-16

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

20 people found this helpful

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  • Diana
  • 07-10-16

The known from a different angle.

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

yes - fascinating details of known history from a different perspective

What was one of the most memorable moments of A Little History of Religion?

all of it

What about James Bryce’s performance did you like?

easily listenable

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

made me think

Any additional comments?

worth it.

15 people found this helpful

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  • Grace
  • 01-01-17

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!

11 people found this helpful

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  • caroline
  • 25-12-16

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.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Rachel
  • 10-04-17

Euro-centric

The first half of the book begins as an incredibly promising explosion of multicultural, multilingual exploration in to the distant past of far-off and fascinating religions. However, the narrative eventually settles down into traipsing meanderingly after Christianity's many failings in the Western world. Beautifully written and delivered, but unfortunately Euro-centric.

8 people found this helpful

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  • MS F
  • 02-01-17

Really enjoyable

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

6 people found this helpful

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  • Sue Rourke
  • 10-01-17

Absolutely awesome

This book answered so many questions I had about religion. It answered questions I didn't actually realise I had too.
Brilliantly expressed, brilliantly read and completely engaging.
I've listened to literally hundreds of books on audible and this is one of about 3 that I've reviewed.
5 stars, because I can't give it 10!

5 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-06-19

interesting but depressing read

A well written book however it left a bad taste in my mouth about religion and how humans have treated it over history. definitely not a mood booster so look the other way if you're only after some fun facts because this was not fun. A difficult read for religious people but probably a good one for atheists.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Cat
  • 09-10-17

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 person found this helpful

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  • Adam
  • 27-01-21

Not really what I was looking for but still good

I was looking for the history of religion as in its roots from pre history, the Stone Age onwards but this was still enjoyable enough

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  • Ariane Rutherford
  • 28-04-20

Excellent

A fascinating journey through religious history. Perfect to give a good birdseye view of how everything fits together. Brilliantly narrated
Thank you so much

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  • lorryn Ault
  • 27-01-20

Brilliant

How religion should be taught, no fluffing over the bad or over stating the good. Highly recommend

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  • Anonymous User
  • 16-01-20

Well organised overview

Pretty good / factual overview of key religions. Well organised and structured. Good for a high level overview (doesn’t go too deep on any given religion). Found it a bit light on some in particular (eg very little on Judaism) but a good intro book across the board.

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  • JOHN W
  • 15-01-19

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.