A Little History of Religion Richard Holloway

Little Histories
Publication date:
04 Jul 2017
Yale University Press
256 pages: 216 x 140mm
40 b-w illus.
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For curious readers young and old, a rich and colorful history of religion from humanity’s earliest days to our own contentious times

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 twenty-first century—with deepest respect and a keen commitment to accuracy. Writing for those with faith and those without, and especially for young readers, 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.

Richard Holloway, former Bishop of Edinburgh and Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, is an internationally popular writer and broadcaster. His more than twenty books include the best-selling Leaving Alexandria: A Memoir of Faith and Doubt. He lives in Edinburgh, UK.

"This is a well-written book, from which most of us will come away knowing more about the religions of the world than we knew before. . . . In its own way this engaging book might be seen as a period piece."—John Charmley, Times

"Holloway’s account is brimful of arresting facts."—Ian Thomson, Financial Times

"As an informed reflection on the state of faith in the western world in the 21st century, written by someone who has plenty of experience, it is insightful and intelligent."—Tim Whitmarsh, The Guardian

“Holloway’s narrative is made up of many different threads and details carefully woven together to make a satisfying read. The pace is leisurely despite the amount of ground covered, and he manages to include memorable details.”—Carol Palfrey, Sofia

"In an age of religious tension, this is an important contribution to understanding different beliefs. . . . A straightforward, well-written introduction to religion and its various manifestations."—Library Journal

"Thank God – if I can use that phrase in a neutral way – for Richard Holloway and his carefully weighted, beautifully written and strangely compelling brief history of world religions. . . . There can be no better place to learn about [religion] than in the pages of this enlightening book."—Peter Stanford, The Observer

"Holloway is a uniquely qualified and respectful guide. He neither preaches nor mocks . . . it’s a timely reminder that that, despite our differences, we have more in common than we think."—Catherine Small, East Anglian Daily Times

"This lovable book is clearly modelled on a best-seller from the same publisher, Gombrich’s A Little History of the World. . . . It takes you from the assertion that religion is something which 'comes from the mind of the human animal,' and romps through the whole story, from the revelation on Sinai to the composition of the Vedas and the chronology of Hinduism and Buddhism, with short-summaries of their better known texts."—A.N. Wilson, The Tablet

"Retells the entire history of religion with deepest respect and keen commitment to accuracy. . . . An empathetic yet discerning guide to the enduring significance and power of faith."—Edinburgh Life

"For clarity and accessibility, in the minefield of tomes dealing with the fervours and fevers of 'accepted' religions, I recommend, with pleasure, Richard Holloway’s A Little History of Religion."—Hayden Murphy, The Glasgow Herald

"As always, Holloway writes clearly and freshly, with good analogies and comparisons. He describes the basic terms and ideas in the simplest possible way without being patronising."—Richard Harries, Church Times

"Richard Holloway’s deep affection for religious tradition, coupled with intellectual honesty and clarity of expression, has won him a host of avid readers among the faithful and the faith-less . . ."—David Boulton, The Friend

“Fulfills exactly what its title promises, but with more depth and elegance than the title might imply. Holloway offers an engaging canter through almost four millennia of religious history, zigzagging both chronologically and geographically into a comprehensive range of sources, contexts and stories.”—Julie Grove, RE Today

"It is difficult to name anyone more qualified to write on this topic than Richard Holloway. His own journey of faith has encompassed so many experiences that he writes with an admirable combination of detachment, knowledge and affectionate engagement."—Diarmaid MacCulloch, author of A History of Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years