The Monotheists: Jews, Christians, and Muslims in Conflict and Competition: The Peoples of God Volume 1

The Monotheists: Jews, Christians, and Muslims in Conflict and Competition: The Peoples of God Volume 1

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By (author) F. E. Peters

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  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Format: Paperback | 352 pages
  • Dimensions: 152mm x 231mm x 23mm | 522g
  • Publication date: 11 April 2009
  • Publication City/Country: New Jersey
  • ISBN 10: 0691123721
  • ISBN 13: 9780691123721
  • Sales rank: 1,307,039

Product 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 to illustrate it. 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 Monotheists is 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.

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Author information

F. E. Peters is Professor of Middle Eastern Studies, Hebrew and Judaic Studies, and History at New York University. His books include "Islam: A Guide for Jews and Christians"; "Judaism, Christianity, and Islam"; and "The Children of Abraham" (all Princeton).

Review quote

Winner of the 2003 Award for Best Professional/Scholarly Book in Religion, Association of American Publishers One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 2004 "[A] titanic undertaking... The Monotheists is not exceptional for [its] detachment alone, or for its erudition, or even for its originality. It is exceptional because Peters has created a new genre for it."--Jack Miles, Los Angeles Times "Historian Peters has long been an astute and objective chronicler of the history and beliefs of the three great monotheistic religions--Judaism, Christianity and Islam. In this sprawling, majestic and elegant narrative, he offers the best study we presently have of the ways, words and wisdom of these religions [with] straightforward prose and evenhanded examination... Peters's magnificent book is the new place to turn for a first-rate historical introduction to these three religions."--Publishers Weekly (starred review) "There is no more informative, accessible and comprehensive guide to the beliefs and practices of the three great monotheistic religions than these two volumes... Peters has a great story to tell, and he tells it very well. He writes with extraordinary clarity and evenhandedness... He treats thousands of complex and sensitive topics with meticulous learning without offending or proselytizing. Moreover, he manages to keep the three narratives--Judaism, Christianity and Islam--going at once, and allows readers both to appreciate the distinctive character of each and to see how their stories have very frequently intertwined."--Daniel J. Harrington, America "Peters has done it again. With these two volumes he has created an excellent and timely resource for understanding the similarities and differences between the three monotheistic traditions of the West."--Choice

Back cover copy

"Goethe said: 'As students of nature we are pantheists, as poets polytheists, as moral beings monotheists.' F. E. Peters's "The Monotheists" gives a keener edge to Goethe's irony, and he teaches us again the 'conflict and competition' between Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Throughout his career, Peters has been our most comprehensive scholar of the agon waged by the three camps with one another. In "The Monotheists" he achieves the apotheosis of his enterprise, defining precisely this 'fractious family' in all its contours. The perpetual relevance of Peters's lifelong subject is heightened at our moment in history."--Harold Bloom, author of "The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages" "A work of breathtaking scope! Many scholars write about Judaism and Christianity, or Judaism and Islam, or Islam and Christianity, but only F. E. Peters has the learning, adventurousness, and historical imagination to take on all three religions in relation to one another within the scope of one book. Written in a clear expository prose, these volumes will be an invaluable resource for students and teachers, diplomats and statesmen, journalists and pundits on the vexing religious topics that today seem an inevitable part of political life and social discourse."--Robert Louis Wilken, author of "The Spirit of Early Christian Thought" "F. E. Peters has written a magisterial account of the family similarities and quarrels through the centuries of the three biblical religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. In these two volumes, he is at once, as always, vastly learned and at the top of his form as an entertaining and persuasive writer. This work will immediately take its place as the standard account of the Hebrew Bible and its reflection in the Talmud, the New Testament, and the Koran."--Arthur Hertzberg, author of "Jews: The Essence and Character of a People" "An authoritative introduction to the study of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, "The Monothesists" will be especially useful for students in religious studies courses. To the initiates it offers an impressive original synthesis of the material and a challenging reading of important chapters in religious history. Written in clear, fluent prose, the book is never verbose, and its underlying structure is easy to follow."--Sarah Stroumsa, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, author of "Freethinkers of Medieval Islam" ""The Monotheists" is a splendid work. It will be valuable as a classroom text on the three 'Western' monotheistic religious traditions, and it will also appeal to more general readers who seek to investigate the historical background to the present events in the Middle East. Previous such comparative studies are flawed by comparison."--Richard C. Martin, Emory University, author of "Defenders of Reason in Islam"

Table of contents

Preface xv Introduction xix 1. THE COVENANT: FROM ISRAELITE TO JEW 1 A Prologue on Earth 1 The Quran's Account of Early Humanity 1 History Begins 2 Faith and Act 3 A Holy Land 4 Hagar and Ishmael 5 Ishmaelites and Arabs 6 Abraham in Mecca 8 Hebron 8 Isaac and the Covenant 9 Claims and Counterclaims 10 Jacob's Dream at Bethel 11 The Name(s) and Nature of God 12 The Builder Kings 14 The Temple as Haram 15 The Sanctity of Jerusalem 17 A Troubled Legacy 22 The Samaritan Schism 23 The Voice of the Prophets 23 A Harsh Theodicy and an Uncertain Future 24 Judaea and Ioudaioi 26 The Passage of Power and Prestige 27 Second Temple Sectarianism 29 Words and the Word of Wisdom 33 A Cure for Transcendence? 34 The Harvest of Hellenism 35 Jews in Diaspora 37 The Word of God 39 Personification and Hypostatization 40 Satan from Prince of Darkness to Desert Demon 41 Apocalypticism: Unveiling the End 42 A Message of Hope 43 Second Temple Messianism 44 The Son of Man 44 2. THE GOOD NEWS OF JESUS 47 The Dossier on Jesus 47 The Historical Jesus and the Christ of History 48 The Gospels 49 Luke and History 50 Jesus: A Life 52 Born Again 53 The Ministry 53 The Last Days 55 The End and the Beginning 57 Jesus the Messiah 58 Jesus in the Quran 58 The Jewish and the Muslim Jesus 61 The Kingdom 63 After the Crucifixion 63 Saul/Paul 64 Paul's Jesus 65 The Resurrection 66 Christology 68 Ebionites and Docetists 68 The Apostle of the Gentiles 7 Paul and Judaism 72 Jewish Christianity 73 Judaizers 75 Paul: Jerusalem to Rome 76 The Great War and Its Aftermath 77 Earthly Messiahs 79 Later Jewish Messiahs 8 Sabbatai Zvi 81 3. MUHAMMAD THE PROPHET OF GOD 83 The Muhammad of History 84 When God Speaks 84 Hagiography and History 85 Mecca and Its Gods 85 The Meccan Haram 86 The Kaaba 88 Muhammad: A Life 89 The Message of Islam 9 Sacred History 91 The Bible and the Quran 92 The Opposition 93 The "Satanic Verses" 94 Muhammad's Night Journey and Ascension 95 Boycott 96 The Hegira 97 Medina 98 The Medina Accords 99 Muhammad and the Jews 100 The Religion of Abraham 102 The Master of Medina (624-628) 103 The Practice of Islam 105 Muhammad and the Jews (continued) 106 The Lord of Arabia (628-632) 107 Muhammad and the Jews (concluded) 108 The Wives and Children of the Prophet 109 The Opening of Mecca 111 Problems before and after Tabuk 113 The Last Years (631-632) 114 Muhammad and Jesus: Some Points of Comparison 116 The Career of Mecca 118 4. A KINGDOM OF PRIESTS 120 Identity Markers 121 In and Out 122 Kinship and Covenant 122 "Be You Holy As I Am Holy" 123 What Is a Jew? 124 Conversion and Clientage 125 Becoming a Christian 126 "Jew and Greek" 127 Religious Tolerance: The Romans on Jews and Christians 128 The World Turns Christian 130 Religious Tolerance: Christians on Pagans and Jews 131 The Need of Baptism, and of the Church 132 Augustine and the Donatists 133 Consensual and Coerced Conversion 135 The Jews of Western Christendom 137 The Talmud on Trial 139 Christians, Muslims, and Jews in Spain 140 The Christian War on Islam: Peter the Venerable and Ramon Lull 142 What of the Infidels? 145 Muslims, Christians ... and Other Christians in the Balkans 147 Naming the Others 150 The Making of a Muslim 151 An Arab, and Arabic, Islam 152 Islam and the Associators: The Hindu Case 154 5. ORTHODOXY AND HERESY 157 In Search of Jewish Orthodoxy 157 Exclusion and Banishment 158 The Separation of the Christians 160 Easter 162 Defining the Truth 163 Reaching for Orthodoxy: The Fundamental Principles of Jewish and Muslim Belief 165 Heresy in the Early Churches 167 Gnosticism 169 The Rule of Faith 171 Heresy, Witchcraft, and Reform 172 The Church of the Saints: The Cathars 175 The Albigensian Crusade 176 The Holy War against Heresy 177 The Secular Tribunal 178 Sleeping with the Enemy 179 The Spanish Inquisition 181 Who Possesses the Truth? 183 Papal Heresy 185 The Umma Divided: Sects and Sectarianism in Early Islam 186 Heresiography and Comparative Religion 187 Innovation and Heresy 188 Taking the Measure of Early Islamic Sectarians 189 Defining the Umma: The Sunni View of Islam 191 Sunnis and Shiites 192 The Zindiq Inquisition 194 The Enemy Within: Ibn Taymiyya 194 Fundamentalists as the Faithful Remnant 196 Catholic Judaism 197 Shades of Black: Orthodox Judaism 198 6. COMMUNITY AND AUTHORITY 202 A People Called Israel 202 A Kingdom Called Israel 203 After the Exile 204 Zionism 205 A New Political Order 206 Patriarch and Exilarch 207 The Geonim 208 Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews 209 The Christian Ekklesia 210 Bishops and Priests 211 Hierarchy and Structure 213 Councils of Bishops, Local and Ecumenical 215 The Laity 215 The Primacy of Rome 217 Western and Eastern Christianity and Christendom 219 The Competition for Souls 220 Pope, Patriarch, and the Bulgarian Church 221 The Parting of the Ways, East and West 223 A Misbegotten Crusade 224 Church Reunion 225 A Papal Crisis: Celestine and Boniface 226 The Popes without Rome: Avignon 228 The Great Western Schism 229 Pisa and Constance 230 Conciliarism 231 The Papacy under Attack: Marsiglio of Padua and William of Ockham 232 The Voice of the Council: Haec sancta and Frequens 233 The Emperor and the Pope 234 "Better the Turban of the Turk ..." 235 Moscow, the Third Rome 236 Reformation and Counter-Reformation 237 The Radical Reformation: The Anabaptists 238 The Confessional Churches 239 7. CHURCH AND STATE: POPES, PATRIARCHS, AND EMPERORS 240 The Jewish Experience: From State to Church 240 "Render to Caesar ..." 243 The Christians and the Empire 245 The Persecutions 245 Constantine 247 The Contest Begins: Ambrose and the Emperor 248 The City of God and the City of Man 249 "Two There Are ..." 251 How the Pope Became a Prince 252 The College of Cardinals and the Roman Curia 254 How the Prince Became a Priest 255 Rome Redivivus: The Holy Roman Empire 257 The Two Swords: Gregory VII and Henry IV 258 The Papacy versus Frederick II 259 The Reformation as Political Event 261 Luther and the Princes 263 Calvin's Two Kingdoms 264 Church and State in the Counter-Reformation 265 The Papal States 265 8. THE CHURCH AS THE STATE: THE ISLAMIC COMMUNITY 268 The Umma 268 Holy War: The Islamic Case 269 War and Religion: The Jewish and Christian Cases 272 Dhimma and Dhimmis 273 Muslim Dhimmis in Christian Spain 275 Conversion by Levy: The Devshirme 276 The Millet System 277 The Caliphate 278 The Powers of the Caliph (and Others) 279 Tensions in the Community 280 Ali ibn Abi Talib (601-661) 281 The Succession 282 The Umayyads (r.661-750) 283 The Holy Family: Ahl al-Bayt 284 The Abbasids (r.750-1258) 285 From Alidism to Shiism 287 The Shiite Imamate 287 Sunnis and Shiites 289 The Hidden Imam 290 Political Ismailism: The Fatimids 291 Apocalyptic Ismailism--The Qarmatians 294 The Sultanate 295 The Ottomans and a Universal Caliphate 296 The End of the Caliphate 298 Iran as a Shiite State 299 The Shiite Ulama and the State 301 The Islamic Republic of Iran 302 An Early Modern Christian Theocracy: Reform Geneva 303 END THOUGHTS 307 Civics and Civility 308 Capital and Other Crimes 309 Making Jews 310 Making Christians 310 Making Muslims 311 A Crucial Difference 312 Index 313