Karen Armstrong discusses her latest book "The Bible: a Biography" with Andrew Marr on Start The Week BBC R4 1/10/07
She denies that the Torah is literal history and makes the interesting point that the early books of the OT represent a sort of polytheism, shading to "monolatory" before monotheism proper takes over. She goes on to say that nobody would have dreamed of taking Genesis literally until the 19th Century - people such as Calvin included.
She also says that the Koran was never read literally, each verse being described as a (Arabic word for) parable. This state of affairs, she says, came to an end and literalism took over because of Richard Dawkins et al. (Must post this on the RDF site too!)
Can be downloaded from http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/podcasts/stw/
20MB mp3, starts about 20mins in. (My copy seems to be broken at about 13mins on Zinf, but plays ok on Windows Media Player, if rather quietly.)