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

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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 more

Product details

  • Paperback | 352 pages
  • 152.4 x 231.1 x 22.9mm | 521.64g
  • Princeton University Press
  • New Jersey, United States
  • English
  • 0691123721
  • 9780691123721
  • 1,178,178

Review quote

"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 "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 "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) "[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 Winner of the 2003 Award for Best Professional/Scholarly Book in Religion, Association of American PublishersOne of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 2004show more

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 Islamshow more

About Mr. F. E. Peters

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).show more

Table of contents

Preface xvIntroduction xix1. THE COVENANT: FROM ISRAELITE TO JEW 1A Prologue on Earth 1The Quran's Account of Early Humanity 1History Begins 2Faith and Act 3A Holy Land 4Hagar and Ishmael 5Ishmaelites and Arabs 6Abraham in Mecca 8Hebron 8Isaac and the Covenant 9Claims and Counterclaims 10Jacob's Dream at Bethel 11The Name(s) and Nature of God 12The Builder Kings 14The Temple as Haram 15The Sanctity of Jerusalem 17A Troubled Legacy 22The Samaritan Schism 23The Voice of the Prophets 23A Harsh Theodicy and an Uncertain Future 24Judaea and Ioudaioi 26The Passage of Power and Prestige 27Second Temple Sectarianism 29Words and the Word of Wisdom 33A Cure for Transcendence? 34The Harvest of Hellenism 35Jews in Diaspora 37The Word of God 39Personification and Hypostatization 40Satan from Prince of Darkness to Desert Demon 41Apocalypticism: Unveiling the End 42A Message of Hope 43Second Temple Messianism 44The Son of Man 442. THE GOOD NEWS OF JESUS 47The Dossier on Jesus 47The Historical Jesus and the Christ of History 48The Gospels 49Luke and History 50Jesus: A Life 52Born Again 53The Ministry 53The Last Days 55The End and the Beginning 57Jesus the Messiah 58Jesus in the Quran 58The Jewish and the Muslim Jesus 61The Kingdom 63After the Crucifixion 63Saul/Paul 64Paul's Jesus 65The Resurrection 66Christology 68Ebionites and Docetists 68The Apostle of the Gentiles 7Paul and Judaism 72Jewish Christianity 73Judaizers 75Paul: Jerusalem to Rome 76The Great War and Its Aftermath 77Earthly Messiahs 79Later Jewish Messiahs 8Sabbatai Zvi 813. MUHAMMAD THE PROPHET OF GOD 83The Muhammad of History 84When God Speaks 84Hagiography and History 85Mecca and Its Gods 85The Meccan Haram 86The Kaaba 88Muhammad: A Life 89The Message of Islam 9Sacred History 91The Bible and the Quran 92The Opposition 93The "Satanic Verses" 94Muhammad's Night Journey and Ascension 95Boycott 96The Hegira 97Medina 98The Medina Accords 99Muhammad and the Jews 100The Religion of Abraham 102The Master of Medina (624-628) 103The Practice of Islam 105Muhammad and the Jews (continued) 106The Lord of Arabia (628-632) 107Muhammad and the Jews (concluded) 108The Wives and Children of the Prophet 109The Opening of Mecca 111Problems before and after Tabuk 113The Last Years (631-632) 114Muhammad and Jesus: Some Points of Comparison 116The Career of Mecca 1184. A KINGDOM OF PRIESTS 120Identity Markers 121In and Out 122Kinship and Covenant 122"Be You Holy As I Am Holy" 123What Is a Jew? 124Conversion and Clientage 125Becoming a Christian 126"Jew and Greek" 127Religious Tolerance: The Romans on Jews and Christians 128The World Turns Christian 130Religious Tolerance: Christians on Pagans and Jews 131The Need of Baptism, and of the Church 132Augustine and the Donatists 133Consensual and Coerced Conversion 135The Jews of Western Christendom 137The Talmud on Trial 139Christians, Muslims, and Jews in Spain 140The Christian War on Islam: Peter the Venerable and Ramon Lull 142What of the Infidels? 145Muslims, Christians . . . and Other Christians in the Balkans 147Naming the Others 150The Making of a Muslim 151An Arab, and Arabic, Islam 152Islam and the Associators: The Hindu Case 1545. ORTHODOXY AND HERESY 157In Search of Jewish Orthodoxy 157Exclusion and Banishment 158The Separation of the Christians 160Easter 162Defining the Truth 163Reaching for Orthodoxy: The Fundamental Principles of Jewish and Muslim Belief 165Heresy in the Early Churches 167Gnosticism 169The Rule of Faith 171Heresy, Witchcraft, and Reform 172The Church of the Saints: The Cathars 175The Albigensian Crusade 176The Holy War against Heresy 177The Secular Tribunal 178Sleeping with the Enemy 179The Spanish Inquisition 181Who Possesses the Truth? 183Papal Heresy 185The Umma Divided: Sects and Sectarianism in Early Islam 186Heresiography and Comparative Religion 187Innovation and Heresy 188Taking the Measure of Early Islamic Sectarians 189Defining the Umma: The Sunni View of Islam 191Sunnis and Shiites 192The Zindiq Inquisition 194The Enemy Within: Ibn Taymiyya 194Fundamentalists as the Faithful Remnant 196Catholic Judaism 197Shades of Black: Orthodox Judaism 1986. COMMUNITY AND AUTHORITY 202A People Called Israel 202A Kingdom Called Israel 203After the Exile 204Zionism 205A New Political Order 206Patriarch and Exilarch 207The Geonim 208Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews 209The Christian Ekklesia 210Bishops and Priests 211Hierarchy and Structure 213Councils of Bishops, Local and Ecumenical 215The Laity 215The Primacy of Rome 217Western and Eastern Christianity and Christendom 219The Competition for Souls 220Pope, Patriarch, and the Bulgarian Church 221The Parting of the Ways, East and West 223A Misbegotten Crusade 224Church Reunion 225A Papal Crisis: Celestine and Boniface 226The Popes without Rome: Avignon 228The Great Western Schism 229Pisa and Constance 230Conciliarism 231The Papacy under Attack: Marsiglio of Padua and William of Ockham 232The Voice of the Council: Haec sancta and Frequens 233The Emperor and the Pope 234"Better the Turban of the Turk . . ." 235Moscow, the Third Rome 236Reformation and Counter-Reformation 237The Radical Reformation: The Anabaptists 238The Confessional Churches 2397. CHURCH AND STATE: POPES, PATRIARCHS, AND EMPERORS 240The Jewish Experience: From State to Church 240"Render to Caesar . . ." 243The Christians and the Empire 245The Persecutions 245Constantine 247The Contest Begins: Ambrose and the Emperor 248The City of God and the City of Man 249"Two There Are . . ." 251How the Pope Became a Prince 252The College of Cardinals and the Roman Curia 254How the Prince Became a Priest 255Rome Redivivus: The Holy Roman Empire 257The Two Swords: Gregory VII and Henry IV 258The Papacy versus Frederick II 259The Reformation as Political Event 261Luther and the Princes 263Calvin's Two Kingdoms 264Church and State in the Counter-Reformation 265The Papal States 2658. THE CHURCH AS THE STATE: THE ISLAMIC COMMUNITY 268The Umma 268Holy War: The Islamic Case 269War and Religion: The Jewish and Christian Cases 272Dhimma and Dhimmis 273Muslim Dhimmis in Christian Spain 275Conversion by Levy: The Devshirme 276The Millet System 277The Caliphate 278The Powers of the Caliph (and Others) 279Tensions in the Community 280Ali ibn Abi Talib (601-661) 281The Succession 282The Umayyads (r.661-750) 283The Holy Family: Ahl al-Bayt 284The Abbasids (r.750-1258) 285From Alidism to Shiism 287The Shiite Imamate 287Sunnis and Shiites 289The Hidden Imam 290Political Ismailism: The Fatimids 291Apocalyptic Ismailism--The Qarmatians 294The Sultanate 295The Ottomans and a Universal Caliphate 296The End of the Caliphate 298Iran as a Shiite State 299The Shiite Ulama and the State 301The Islamic Republic of Iran 302An Early Modern Christian Theocracy: Reform Geneva 303END THOUGHTS 307Civics and Civility 308Capital and Other Crimes 309Making Jews 310Making Christians 310Making Muslims 311A Crucial Difference 312Index 313show more

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