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The Monotheists: Jews, Christians, and Muslims in Conflict and Competition,: The Words and Will of God


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Table of Contents

Preface xvii Introduction xxi 1. THE SCRIPTURES: BIBLE, NEW TESTAMENT, AND QURAN Three Sacred Books 2 People of the Book 3 The Bible 4 Sacred Tongues 5 On Translations 7 Scriptural Criticism 8 Who Wrote the Bible? 10 Explaining Revelation 11 High Prophetology 14 Heavenly Books 15 The New Testament: Notion, Text, and Canon 16 The Biblical Canon 18 The Inspiration of Scripture 20 Contingency and the Constraints of History 21 Humanist Critics of Scripture 23 The Old Testament and the New 24 The Arrangement of the Quran 25 The Composition of the Quran 27 The Editing of the Quran 29 The Collection of the Quran 30 Qere and Ketib 32 Interpolation and Abrogation 33 Closure 34 2. UNDERSTANDING THE WORD OF GOD The Seal and the Silence 35 Biblical Exegesis 36 Midrash 37 An Unfolding Tradition 38 Philo Rereads Scripture 40 Evangelical Exegesis 41 The Senses of Scripture 42 Marcion Reads the Scripture 43 Why Don't We Understand?44 Fathers and Other Authorities 45 The Glossa Ordinaria, Christian and Jewish 46 The Quran Reads the Bible 46 Quranic Ambiguities 48 The "Occasions of Revelation" 49 Tabari Enthroned 50 Plain and Allegorical Exegesis in Islam 51 The Muslims Struggle with Revelation and Reason 52 Shiite Tafsir 54 Learning from the Muslims 55 Two Medieval Jewish Commentators: Ibn Ezra and Rashi 56 The Great Debates 57 The Reform of Christian Exegesis 60 Control of the Book 61 A Closer, and Different, Look at Scripture 62 Exegesis and Hermeneutics 63 3. SCRIPTURE AND TRADITION The Great Tradition 65 Rabbinic Judaism 66 "How Many Torahs Do You Have?" 68 Making the Mishnah 69 Mishnah and Gemara 70 Validating the Rabbis 71 Attacking the Tradition: Sadducees and Karaites 71 Jewish Reform 73 The Beginnings of a Christian Tradition 74 The Deposit of Faith 74 Apostolic Tradition and Apostolic Succession 75 Sola Scriptura 76 The Tradition Debate 78 The War of the Historians 79 The Sunna of the Prophet 80 Hadith Criticism 82 The Canonical Collections 83 Quran and Sunna 84 The Shiite Hadith 85 4. GOD'S LAW AND ITS OBSERVANCE Purity and Defilement 87 Biblical Law 88 The Lesson of Qumran 89 The Tradition from the Fathers 90 The Mishnah and the Two Talmuds 91 Two Jewish Codes: Mishneh Torah and Shulkhan Aruk 92 The Purpose of the Law 94 The Administration of Jewish Law 94 The Rabbis 95 The Instruments of God's Justice 96 Jesus and the Law 96 Christians and the Law 97 A Law for Christians 98 The Sources of Christian Law 99 The Codification of Church Law 101 The Beginnings of Western Canon Law 101 Gratian 102 Catechesis and Catechism 103 An Islamic Catechism: The Pillars of Islam 105 Sharia, the Muslim Way 106 From Prophetic Tradition to Law 108 The Administration of Justice in Islam 109 The Qadi 110 The Qadi's Justice 111 Responsa and Fatwas: The Mufti 112 The Qadi and the Mufti 113 The Schools 114 Shiite Law 115 Ijtihad 116 The Closing of the Gate 117 The Hierarchization of the Ulama 118 Ijtihad Unchained 120 Customary Law and Governance in Islam 121 Qanun: The Sultan's Law 122 Jewish Rabbis and Islamic Ulama 123 5. GOD'S COMMANDMENTS AND HUMAN MORALITY Values and Value Systems 127 Whence Evil?129 The Diabolic, the Demonic 130 The Jinn, Shaytan, and Iblis 132 Sin and Atonement in Israel 133 Acquittal 134 Jesus' Moral Teaching 135 Pauline Morality 136 Original Sin 137 Manichaeism 138 Augustine as Moralist 139 Augustine and Pelagius 140 Penance and the Sacramental System 141 Purgatory and Indulgences 143 Who Will Be Saved? 145 The Absolute Will of God 146 The Disputed Question of Nature and Grace 147 Justification 148 Doubly Saved and Doubly Damned 149 The Council of Trent on Justification 150 The Magisterium Restored 151 A Conference on "Aids" 152 The Crisis in Catholic Morality 153 Jansenism 155 From Pascal to Alfonso di Ligouri 157 Muhammad as Moral Exemplar 158 Islamic Morality 160 Free Will and Predestination in Islam 162 A Rationalist Solution 163 Acquiring Responsibility 164 Consensus on Matters Moral 165 6. DIVINE WORSHIP Shekinah/Sakina 168 Sacrifice 169 The Jesus Sacrifice 170 The Jewish Priesthood 171 The Synagogue 172 The Eucharist 174 Liturgies Eastern and Western 175 Eucharistic Issues: Who, When, and How? 177 The Reform Liturgy 178 Christmas 178 Muslim Prayer 179 Friday Prayer and the Mosque 180 The Hajj 180 Intercalation Prohibited 183 The Enshrinement of Jerusalem 184 Christian Pilgrimage 185 The Western Wall 187 Popular Devotions in Christianity 188 The Cult of Mary 189 From Piety to Dogma: An Immaculate Conception and Prophetic Impeccability 190 The Veneration of the Saints 192 Canonization 193 Eucharistic Devotions 194 Popular Devotions in Islam 195 The Friends of God 197 Three Dramatic Narratives: Passover, Passion, and the Death of Husayn 198 Idols and Images 200 Emperor Portrayal, Christian Style 202 Christian Images 203 Christian Iconoclasm 204 Stripping the Altars: Images and the Reform 206 Islam and the Graven Image 207 The Word as Decoration 208 7. THINKING ABOUT GOD Mythos and Logos 211 The Theology of Philo of Alexandria 213 Athens and Jerusalem 215 Theology and Creeds: Nicaea to Chalcedon 217 The Muslims Encounter Aristotle 219 Falsafa 220 Talking about God: The Muslim Beginnings 222 Learning to Speak Dialectically 223 An Islamic Inquisition 225 Kalam Matured 226 Muslim Creeds 228 Reason and Revelation in Islam 230 God Supreme: Islamic Occasionalism 232 Ibn Rushd 233 The Voice of Conservative Islamic Orthodoxy 235 Jewish Kalam 236 A Guide for the Perplexed 237 Falsafa and Kalam 238 Received Wisdom 238 Sacred Theology, Western Style 240 Thomas Aquinas 241 Scholasticism 242 Latin Averroism 244 The Two Faces of Truth 244 The Reformation and Christian Systematic Theology 246 The Wisdom of Illumination 247 The School of Isfahan 249 8. FROM DESERT SAINTS TO MUSLIM SUFIS The Way of the World 251 The Issue of Jewish Asceticism 252 The Desert a City 254 Obedience of the Spirit 255 The Saints in the City 256 The Rule of St. Basil 257 Benedict and the Benedictines 258 Benedictine Experiments: Carthusians and Cistercians 260 Canons Regular and Other 261 The Mendicant Friars: Franciscans and Dominicans 262 Is Perfection Possible? The Franciscan Controversy 265 Military Orders, Christian and Muslim 267 The Rise and Fall of the Society of Jesus 270 The Holy Mountain 273 The Personal Life of Muhammad 274 This World and the Next 275 The Beginnings of Muslim Asceticism 276 Sufi Convents: Khanqah, Ribat, Zawiya 278 The Sufi Orders 279 Sufis in the Service of Islam: Chishtis and Bektashis 282 The Chinese Rites 284 Christian and Muslim Religious Orders 285 Suppression 286 Jewish Brotherhoods in Galilee 287 Saints without Rules: The Hasidim 288 The Apostolic Succession in Eastern Europe 290 The Habad 291 9. LEAPING FROM THE DARK INTO THE LIGHT: MYSTICISM Face to Face with God 293 The Beginnings 294 The Adepts of Qumran 295 The Celestial Chariot 295 "Four Who Attempted to Enter Paradise" 296 God's Love, God's Body 297 The Palaces 297 The Book of Creation 298 From Christian Asceticism to Mysticism 299 Approaching the Unknowable 301 The Jesus Prayer 302 Hesychasm 303 God's Energies and God's Essence 305 Spirituality, Eastern and Western 306 The Spiritual Exercises 306 Muhammad Cleansed, and Rapt 308 Did Muhammad See God? 309 The Sufi as Mystic 310 The Growth of Sufi Theory 311 Sufism and Gnosticism 313 Sufis and Shiites 314 Al-Hallaj 315 The Sufi Way 317 Practical Sufism 318 Spiritual Hierarchies 320 The Apotheosis of Ali: The Alawis 320 The Fathers of Islamic Theosophy: Ibn Sina and Suhrawardi 321 Defender of the Faith 324 Making Sufism Safe for Islam 326 Spiritual Resurrection 327 On the Edge: Ibn Arabi 327 The Seal of the Saints 329 The Teaching and Its Opponents 330 The Beginnings of Kabbalah 333 The Zohar 334 The World of the Sefiroth 335 Isaac Luria 336 Kabbalah for Everyone: Hasidism 337 10. THE LAST THINGS End Time Scenarios 339 After Death, What? 341 Death and Judgment 342 The Particular Judgment 343 The Resurrection of the Body 343 The Seed, the Statue, and the Conjunction of Materia and Forma 345 In the Meantime ... 346 The Cosmology of the Other World 347 Mapping Paradise and Hell 349 A Heavenly Journey 350 Living High: The Angels 351 Angels in Arabia 353 The Vision of God 354 With a Little Help from the Creator 355 Paradise Lost: Maimonides (and Others) on the World to Come 356 Salvation 358 Religious Zionism: Hurrying the End 359 Political Zionism and Eretz Israel 360 The Birth Pangs of the Messiah 362 Realized and Futurist Eschatology in Christianity 363 A Christian Apocalypse 364 Millennialism/Chilianism 365 The Reign of the Spirit: Joachim de Fiore 366 Abraham the Intercessor 368 The Muslim Dead 369 The Quranic Eschaton 371 Intercession in Islam 371 A Savior Returns 372 The Mahdi 375 END THOUGHTS People of the Book, and of the Covenant 377 Odium Theologicum 377 The Religion of Abraham 378 Who Is the Heir? 379 The True Israel 380 A Fractious Family 381 The Rivals' Charms 383 Faith and History 384 Index 387

Promotional Information

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"

About the Author

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).


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

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