The Monotheists: Jews, Christians, and Muslims in Conflict and Competition, Volume I

The Monotheists: Jews, Christians, and Muslims in Conflict and Competition, Volume I: The Peoples of God

F. E. Peters
Copyright Date: 2003
Edition: STU - Student edition
Pages: 352
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    The Monotheists: Jews, Christians, and Muslims in Conflict and Competition, Volume I
    Book Description:

    The world's three great monotheistic religions have spent most of their historical careers in conflict or competition with each other. And yet in fact they sprung from the same spiritual roots and have been nurtured in the same historical soil. This book--an extraordinarily comprehensive and approachable comparative introduction to these religions--seeks not so much to demonstrate the truth of this thesis as toillustrateit. Frank Peters, one of the world's foremost experts on the monotheistic faiths, takes Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and after briefly tracing the roots of each, places them side by side to show both their similarities and their differences.

    Volume I,The Peoples of God, tells the story of the foundation and formation of the three monotheistic communities, of their visible, historical presence. Volume II,The Words and Will of God, is devoted to their inner life, the spirit that animates and regulates them.

    Peters takes us to where these religions live: their scriptures, laws, institutions, and intentions; how each seeks to worship God and achieve salvation; and how they deal with their own (orthodox and heterodox) and with others (the goyim, the pagans, the infidels). Throughout, he measures--but never judges--one religion against the other. The prose is supple, the method rigorous. This is a remarkably cohesive, informative, and accessible narrative reflecting a lifetime of study by a single recognized authority in all three fields.

    The Monotheistsis a magisterial comparison, for students and general readers as well as scholars, of the parties to one of the most troubling issues of today--the fierce, sometimes productive and often destructive, competition among the world's monotheists, the siblings called Jews, Christians, and Muslims.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-2570-7
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-xiv)
  3. Preface
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. xix-xxiv)

    FROM WHAT WE READ in the recorded history of his devotees, the god who created the universe had shown some earlier, generally benevolent interest in what he had brought into being. Then, at a given moment in historical time, he addressed himself to one Abram, the sheikh of an extended family of Near Eastern sheep nomads who were camping in what is today called the Negev. Worship me, the god said, and I will make you and yours a great people. It was not a unique or a solitary voice: we know from plentiful evidence that there were other, many...

  5. 1 The Covenant: From Israelite to Jew
    (pp. 1-46)

    The Bible starts not with the Covenant but with Creation, the absolute beginning of time. It is a complex account that fills the first chapter of the Bible’s first book, appositely called Genesis, and spills over into the succeeding chapter, where the narrative picks up and follows the story of the first man and woman, Adam and Eve. The Christians read the same Bible, of course, though they called it the Old Testament, and they often interpret it quite differently from the Jews who wrote it. But the third set of monotheists, the Muslims, have their own separate version of...

  6. 2 The Good News of Jesus
    (pp. 47-82)

    THE CHRISTIANS’ HOPE OF SALVATION is based, as Paul put it, on “faith in Christ Jesus,” and, more precisely, on the conviction that this same Jesus of Nazareth was raised by God from the dead, since, “without the resurrection, our faith is nothing” (1 Cor. 15:14). The Christian debate over the nature, source, and effects of that saving grace has been long and often acrimonious—so acrimonious that it created a major schism in Western Christianity that separated Catholics and Protestants in the sixteenth-century (see I/6) and keeps them apart until the present. But all agree that, however they are...

  7. 3 Muhammad the Prophet of God
    (pp. 83-119)

    FROM THE CHRISTIAN PERSPECTIVE, Jesus is God’s revelation, and the meaning of that revelation unfolds in the events of his life as described in the Gospels. His followers accept only the Gospels that the Church as a whole had received as authentic and believed were inspired: the four canonical Gospels are consequently regarded as veridical accounts of the great work of redemption. That work unfolded in early first-century Palestine, in temple Judaism, and under Roman sovereignty. The Christian, then, is committed to history, in particular to the historicity of the life of Jesus of Nazareth and the authenticity, both historical...

  8. 4 A Kingdom of Priests
    (pp. 120-156)

    IT IS SOMETIMES pointed out that there is no such thing as “Judaism,” or “Christianity,” or “Islam” save what we construct as such in our own minds: there are, in truth, only Jews, Christians, and Muslims. To put it somewhat more accurately, however, those names are what the believers constructed in their own minds. The three group designators were devised not by modern social scientists but by members of the groups themselves, early on. The conceptualized “Judaism” first appears, in Greek, in 2 Maccabees 2:21; in 14:38 the phrase “practicing Judaism” is used. It is echoed by Paul (Gal. 1:...

  9. 5 Orthodoxy and Heresy
    (pp. 157-201)

    The word “Judaism” (Gk.ioudaismos) first appears as a religious characterization in the Greek literature by and about Jews of the post-Exilic era. It is not defined there, but its use indicates there was something everyone, Jews and non-Jews, could identify and describe by that term. It is not “orthodoxy” in the strictest sense of the word in that it was not normative or prescriptive, as later rabbinic Judaism would come to be; rather, it is a phenomenological description. “Judaism” was constituted of what all, or better, most Jews of the period held and acted on. Most attempts at describing...

  10. 6 Community and Authority
    (pp. 202-239)

    IF ALL THE PROCEDURES described in the preceding chapters were directed to defining and wardening the community, the question of who was to govern the society of believers, and how, had also to be addressed. Prophetic or charismatic leadership, as given by Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad, for example, is unique and temporary, and can scarcely be replicated by later generations. God had sent the Guide; the community itself had to find or choose its leader.

    The Hebrews (which appears to be a designation rather than a name) were “ruled,” if that is the word, by their tribal sheikh Abraham and...

  11. 7 Church and State: Popes, Patriarchs, and Emperors
    (pp. 240-267)

    THE BIBLE is inexorably history-minded. After a mythic prologue and a kind of tribal prose epic of the patriarchal age, its narrative settles into the form of a continuous history focused on the kingdom of Israel. There are prayerful asides, long legal interpolations, moralizing stories, and prophetic glosses on past events and predictions of future ones, but the chief players are God, Israel’s royal house—with the prophets ranged round them like a Greek chorus—and Israel’s enemies, from the Canaanites and Philistines of old to the Greeks of the most recent era. The latest book of the Bible, Daniel,...

  12. 8 The Church As the State: The Islamic Community
    (pp. 268-306)

    THE HEBREWS were a “polity” from the outset, albeit on the modest scale of an extended family or clan that led an apparently autonomous existence among the scattered tribes on the margins of the Middle Eastern agrarian societies of the Stone Age. Eventually they grew into something more substantial—as God himself had promised—and the kingdom of Israel survived politically in its exposed Palestinian home for more than three hundred years. In the end, however, there were too few Israelites for their “state” to be politically viable in the Fertile Crescent of the seventh century B.C.E., and in Babylonia...

  13. End Thoughts
    (pp. 307-312)

    MONOTHEISTS ARE BRED-IN-the-bone fanatics, an attitude they learned at the (allegorical) knee of the Creator, who was, as he himself noted, “a jealous God” who would brook no competitors or rivals and who required absolute fidelity of his followers. Little wonder, then, that when circumstances have permitted, Jews, Christians, and Muslims have shown zero tolerance of the variousgoyim,ethne, pagani,orkafirunwho have surrounded them. The latter had to recognize the One True God or else be remitted to death or enslavement.

    This does not seem familiar, or even true, to us. In the twenty-first century “circumstances” do...

  14. Index
    (pp. 313-328)