The book is basically a historical look at the evolution of God. It follows the formation of god stories across the world and places them in the context of history, religion and politics.
I find it so very interesting to see the Bible in the context of other religious writings at the time. I can see how much of the Biblical writers were influenced by their contemporaries, often pagan and non-monotheistic. This is a very different perspective than the one I was raised with as a Jehovah's Witness. The Watchtower (the organization that oversees the JW's) severely dumbed down their translation of the Bible, not to mention their sadly myopic interpretation of Biblical texts. Of course, I have no interest in debating the merit of one translation over another, or getting into an argument around Biblical interpretation, but even a cursory study of religious history and language is enough to show that religions, in general, are adept at using the written word for their own political and personal agendas.
Another point I find interesting is the perspective towards god concepts over time. In speaking of early mythology, Armstrong writes:
"These myths were not intended to be taken literally, but were metaphorical attempts to describe a reality that was too complex and elusive to express in any other way. These dramatic and evocative stories of gods and goddesses helped people to articulate their sense of the powerful but unseen forces that surrounded them." (p. 5, trade paperback edition)
So, when did this shift? When did certain religious adherents decide to take their gods so literally? And so very seriously. When did fiction shift into fact? And how do we shift it back? Can it be shifted back? I hope I can glean some perspective as I read along.
Two years ago, reading a book like A History of God would have made me sink into a dark depression, feeling duped by my religious upbringing and the time I lost within it. Now, it makes me laugh. I find humanity and our stories fascinating, entertaining even. We are the greatest show on earth.