The Voice, the Word, the Books

The Voice, the Word, the Books : The Sacred Scripture of the Jews, Christians, and Muslims

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Jews, Christians, and Muslims all believe that their Scriptures preserve God's words to humanity, and that those words were spoken uniquely to them. In The Voice, the Word, the Books, F. E. Peters leads readers on an extraordinary journey through centuries of written tradition to uncover the human fingerprints on the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament, and the Quran, sacred texts that have enriched millions of lives. Bringing the latest Biblical and Quranic scholarship to a general audience, Peters explains how these three powerfully influential books passed from God's mouth, so to speak, to become the Scriptures that we possess today. He reveals new insights into their origins, contents, canonization, and the important roles they have played in the lives of their communities. He explores how they evolved through time from oral to written texts, who composed them and who wrote them, as well as the theological commonalities and points of disagreement among their adherents. Writing in the comparative style for which he is renowned, Peters charts the transmission of faith from the spoken word to the printed page, from the revelations on Sinai and Mount Hira to Mamluk ateliers in Cairo and Gutenberg's press in Mainz. Peters is an acknowledged expert who has written extensively on these three great world religions, each of them an inheritor of the faith of Abraham. Published in conjunction with an exhibit at the British Library, this illustrated book includes beautiful images of the rare editions on exhibit and constitutes Peters's most ambitious and illuminating examination yet of the sacred texts that so inform civilization both East and West.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 320 pages
  • 160 x 236.2 x 27.9mm | 589.68g
  • Princeton University Press
  • New Jersey, United States
  • English
  • 16 color plates.
  • 0691131120
  • 9780691131122
  • 1,179,326

Review quote

"Peters has made an important contribution to the comparative study of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam."--Barry Dov Walfish, Journal of Religion "In these days it is especially a pleasure to encounter a gentle, intelligent work, written for the educated general public, that promotes understanding, even empathy, for the other. Peters . . . offers new information and insights for practitioners of these faiths as well as for the inquiring and the curious."--Robert W. Lebling, Saudi Aramco World "F. E. Peters offers here a remarkably well-informed, thoughtfully conceived, and elegantly written comparative. . . . The scholarship is, in my opinion, an example of the comparative study of religion at its finest. The author's argument is grounded in first-hand, extensive knowledge of each tradition he handles, nourished by wide and incisive readings of secondary scholarly studies, and shaped overall by a clearly envisioned comparative. . . . In my opinion, Peters has not only delivered fully on this promise to mark the histories of the Abrahamic scriptural traditions as a passage from spoken word to text and back to spoken utterance, but also presented the field of religious studies with a model for comparative studies beyond the Abrahamic traditions as well."--Martin S. Jaffee, Journal of the American Academy of Religion "The open critique, dialogue and reworking of a tradition, which has been essential to the relevance of Judaism and Christianity to the modern world, awaits its day in Islam. In Peters' work you will find clues as to how big that task will be."--Rachael Kohn, Australian Review of Public Affairs "Readers who have some knowledge of biblical history and scholarship will already be familiar with much of the territory Peters surveys. But here that familiar territory borders on a detailed discussion of the Qur'an, and the frontier between these two traditions makes for an illuminating and often surprising adventure of ideas...The depth of the author's scholarship is...evident on every page."--Lawrence S. Cunningham, Commonweal "Highly readable...The Voice, the Word, the Books, with its lavish illustrations and adequate index, will prove very valuable for those teaching an introduction to the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament, or the Koran."--Patrick J. Ryan, The American "In today's culture of interfaith outreach, this book, agreeably approachable, offers insights into the parallel and intersecting paths the sacred books of the three great Abrahamic religions followed."--Suzi Brozman, Atlanta Jewish Times "Many readers will appreciate this probing interfaith investigation for the insight it offers into sacred books that both link and divide the world of faith."--Booklist "This is undoubtedly one of the best single volumes on the history of sacred text in the Abrahamic faiths."--Publishers Weekly (starred review) Winner of the 2007 Best Professional/Scholarly Book in Theology and Religious Studies, Association of American Publishersshow more

Back cover copy

"The Voice, the Word, the Books is an important new work on the authoritative texts of the Abrahamic religious traditions. It amounts to a comparative study of the three major Western faiths by looking through a window--in this case the window of scripture. Frank Peters is preeminently qualified to write such a work."--Richard C. Martin, Emory University "This is a thorough and rich book, the remarkable work by one of the great authorities of our time on the three Abrahamic monotheistic religions. It examines scripture--Jewish, Christian, and Muslim--from every conceivable angle. It is written in Peters's engaging prose and accessible to any intelligent reader."--Mark R. Cohen, Princeton Universityshow more

Table of contents

Introduction. The Voice from Sinai 1Chapter 1: Sacred Words, Sacred Book 5"Thus Spake Yahweh": What Is the Bible? 7"Then the Lord Said": What Is the New Testament? 17"Recite! in the Name of God": What Is the Quran? 28Chapter 2: Book Shaping: The Making of a Canon 38From Biblia to Book: The Making of the Bible 41The Making of a "New" Testament 51The "Old" and the "New" in the Covenant 61The Collection of the Quran 67Chapter 3: Reciters, Rhapsodes, and Scribes: How the Bible Reached Us 80The Matter of Authorship 81The Higher Criticism of the Bible 83Composing and Performing 85The Scribes 87From Recitation to Writing 88Authors behind the Authors 90Enter J, E, and Company 92The Writing Begins 94Jeremiah 95Who "Wrote" the Books? 96Writing in Scripture 98The Levites 100The Masoretes 101Chapter 4: The Reporters: The Good News and How We Got It 105Jesus: The Setting 105The Gospels 106Extracting Q 107Dating the Gospels 108John 109The Gospels as Documents 109From Aramaic to Greek 110New Approaches 111Community Authorship 113Paul and the Rest 114The Apocryphal Gospels 115Thomas and His Twin 117Chapter 5: The Poet in Performance: The Composition of the Quran 120The Revelations 120Biography and the Quran 122Approaching the Quran 126The Cultural Environment 127Writing and the Quran 128Writing in Arabia 130Oral Poetry and the Quran 132Muhammad, Poet and Performer 133The Bible in the Quran 135The Mantic Seer 137The Oral Performance 139A Change in Style 140The Writing Down of the Quran 141Other Possibilities 143Uthman or Later? 147In Sum 150Chapter 6: The Book in Mortal Hands 152The Word Made Flesh: Books and Bookmaking in the Ancient World 152Scrolls and Books 153Searching the Scriptures 155From Notebooks to Books 157The Christians Adopt the Codex 159Toward a Standard Edition? 160The Shape of the Page: Chapter and Verse 164Dividing the Text 164Marking the Text 167Suras and Ayas 169The Sacramental Text 172Sefer Torah: Torahs and Their Arks 174Washing Their Hands of the Christians 180A Matter of Etiquette: The Book in Our Hands 182Chapter 7: In Other Words 189The Loss of God's Tongue 190Targums and Methurgemans 192Scripture for the Hellenized: The Septuagint 195Origen: Multitasking the Bible 198From Old Latin to the Vulgate 200Hebraica Veritas and the Latin West 203The Polyglot 208Enter the Humanists 210Translating the Untranslatable Quran 214Chapter 8: Picturing the Word 219The Rabbis and the Second Commandment 219Adorning and Illustrating the Hebrew Bible 223Christian Images 228Icons and Iconoclasm 229The Bible with Pictures 233Printing with Pictures 238The Reformation and Images 240The Word Unpictured: Islam and Images 242Drawing in the Book 243Chapter 9: Giving Voice to the Word 247Talking Back to God 248Reading through the Torah 249The Scripture in Church 251Praying the Quran 256The Scripture as Libretto 258The Cantorial Scripture 259The Divine Office 260The Art of Qira 263Epilogue. Three Books, Side by Side 271Glossary 277List of Illustrations 281Index 283show more

About Mr. F. E. Peters

F. E. Peters is Professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at New York University. His books include The Children of Abraham: Judaism, Christianity, Islam: A New Edition and the forthcoming The Creation of the Quran: The Making of Muslim Scripture (both Princeton).show more

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