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Inheriting Abraham: The Legacy of the Patriarch in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
     

Inheriting Abraham: The Legacy of the Patriarch in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam

by Jon D. Levenson
 

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Jews, Christians, and Muslims supposedly share a common religious heritage in the patriarch Abraham, and the idea that he should serve only as a source of unity among the three traditions has become widespread in both scholarly and popular circles. But in Inheriting Abraham, Jon Levenson reveals how the increasingly conventional notion of the three equally

Overview

Jews, Christians, and Muslims supposedly share a common religious heritage in the patriarch Abraham, and the idea that he should serve only as a source of unity among the three traditions has become widespread in both scholarly and popular circles. But in Inheriting Abraham, Jon Levenson reveals how the increasingly conventional notion of the three equally "Abrahamic" religions derives from a dangerous misunderstanding of key biblical and Qur’anic texts, fails to do full justice to any of the traditions, and is often biased against Judaism in subtle and pernicious ways.

Editorial Reviews

Christian Century
Levenson's book will be acutely sobering for those who favor easy accommodation between traditions. . . . And no one has been more effective than Levenson in calling Christian interpreters to a more honest self-awareness.
Jerusalem Post
[A] learned, lucid and luminous examination of the distinctive character of Abraham.
— Glenn C. Altschuler
Commentary
[E]xcellent. . . . Inheriting Abraham is informed throughout by Levenson's characteristically great learning. . . . [G]raceful and clear . . .
— Hillel Fradkin
Jewish Review of Books
Levenson's literary skill and encyclopedic grasp of the exegetical traditions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam makes this volume a valuable exercise in comparison. But the book also makes a strong and controversial argument about what that comparison actually reveals about the role of Abraham in the relationship between the three 'Abrahamic' religions. . . . [Levenson's] study encourages us to look unflinchingly at the limits of difference and commonality within and across religious traditions.
— Martin S. Jaffee
Jerusalem Post - Glenn C. Altschuler
[A] learned, lucid and luminous examination of the distinctive character of Abraham.
Commentary - Hillel Fradkin
[E]xcellent. . . . Inheriting Abraham is informed throughout by Levenson's characteristically great learning. . . . [G]raceful and clear . . .
Jewish Review of Books - Martin S. Jaffee
Levenson's literary skill and encyclopedic grasp of the exegetical traditions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam makes this volume a valuable exercise in comparison. But the book also makes a strong and controversial argument about what that comparison actually reveals about the role of Abraham in the relationship between the three 'Abrahamic' religions. . . . [Levenson's] study encourages us to look unflinchingly at the limits of difference and commonality within and across religious traditions.
Jewish Ideas Daily - D.G. Myers
The best Jewish book in each category this past year? Inheriting Abraham is the most impressive work of Jewish scholarship published during 2012. For more than three decades, Jon Levenson has been quietly developing a biblical theology that would revolutionize Jewish understanding and worship, if only more Jews were to learn of it. Inheriting Abraham is his most accessible book yet—a model of how exacting scholarship can be written for the well-educated layman.
Islam and Muslim Societies - Tauseef Ahmad Parray
Written very well, argued delightfully, with deep insights, . . . Inheriting Abraham makes a superb contribution to our understanding and perception, opinion and insight, of the figure of Prophet Abraham.
Commonweal - Donald Senior
Jon Levenson's superb book demonstrates that despite some simplistic and ill-conceived attempts to harmonize the three Abrahamic faiths, and some lingering supersessionist antagonisms, we live in a period remarkable for serious and thoughtful dialogue among these cousin religions. It is a dialogue grounded in responsible awareness of the complexity, beauty, and defining commitments of each one. Working from this awareness is our best hope of developing the vital mutual respect and harmony our divided world requires.
Choice
This well-conceived, elegantly written book traces how the figure of Abraham known from Genesis came to be understood in unique ways by the later Jewish, Christian, and Muslim traditions. While many speak of Abraham as a figure shared by these three traditions, Levenson shows how each tradition's image of Abraham reflects its own distinct theological assumptions. . . . Rather than grounding interreligious dialogue in various conceptual false cognates in hopes of finding the lowest common denominator, Levenson has led the way in showing how true interreligious understanding can be achieved only if one grasps the nuanced theological grammar of each religious tradition.
Moment Magazine - Allan Nadler
[E]asily accessible to a wide readership. . . . [Levenson's] book is a masterful corrective to the ever more popular, pat and misleading myths that have emerged under the 'Abrahamic' banner.
New York Review of Books - Adam Kirsch
[T]he figure of Abraham has more often been a battleground than a meeting place. This is the brilliantly elaborated theme of Levenson's book, which retells the Abraham story while examining the use made of Abraham in later Jewish, Christian, and (to a lesser extent) Muslim thought.
From the Publisher
Best Nonfiction Jewish Book of 2012, Jewish Ideas Daily.com

One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 2013

"[T]he figure of Abraham has more often been a battleground than a meeting place. This is the brilliantly elaborated theme of Levenson's book, which retells the Abraham story while examining the use made of Abraham in later Jewish, Christian, and (to a lesser extent) Muslim thought."—Adam Kirsch, New York Review of Books

"Levenson, a well-known biblical studies scholar and professor of Jewish studies at Harvard, makes a contrarian argument against those who would oversimplify the differences between the three religions that claim Abraham as a seminal figure. . . . Educated general readers interested in biblical studies may be awed by how closely Levenson reads the text."Publishers Weekly

"Levenson's book will be acutely sobering for those who favor easy accommodation between traditions. . . . And no one has been more effective than Levenson in calling Christian interpreters to a more honest self-awareness."Christian Century

"[A] learned, lucid and luminous examination of the distinctive character of Abraham."—Glenn C. Altschuler, Jerusalem Post

"Written very well, argued delightfully, with deep insights, . . . Inheriting Abraham makes a superb contribution to our understanding and perception, opinion and insight, of the figure of Prophet Abraham."—Tauseef Ahmad Parray, Islam and Muslim Societies

"Levenson's literary skill and encyclopedic grasp of the exegetical traditions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam makes this volume a valuable exercise in comparison. But the book also makes a strong and controversial argument about what that comparison actually reveals about the role of Abraham in the relationship between the three 'Abrahamic' religions. . . . [Levenson's] study encourages us to look unflinchingly at the limits of difference and commonality within and across religious traditions."—Martin S. Jaffee, Jewish Review of Books

"The best Jewish book in each category this past year? Inheriting Abraham is the most impressive work of Jewish scholarship published during 2012. For more than three decades, Jon Levenson has been quietly developing a biblical theology that would revolutionize Jewish understanding and worship, if only more Jews were to learn of it. Inheriting Abraham is his most accessible book yet—a model of how exacting scholarship can be written for the well-educated layman."—D.G. Myers, Jewish Ideas Daily

"[E]xcellent. . . . Inheriting Abraham is informed throughout by Levenson's characteristically great learning. . . . [G]raceful and clear."—Hillel Fradkin, Commentary

"Jon Levenson's superb book demonstrates that despite some simplistic and ill-conceived attempts to harmonize the three Abrahamic faiths, and some lingering supersessionist antagonisms, we live in a period remarkable for serious and thoughtful dialogue among these cousin religions. It is a dialogue grounded in responsible awareness of the complexity, beauty, and defining commitments of each one. Working from this awareness is our best hope of developing the vital mutual respect and harmony our divided world requires."—Donald Senior, Commonweal

"This well-conceived, elegantly written book traces how the figure of Abraham known from Genesis came to be understood in unique ways by the later Jewish, Christian, and Muslim traditions. While many speak of Abraham as a figure shared by these three traditions, Levenson shows how each tradition's image of Abraham reflects its own distinct theological assumptions. . . . Rather than grounding interreligious dialogue in various conceptual false cognates in hopes of finding the lowest common denominator, Levenson has led the way in showing how true interreligious understanding can be achieved only if one grasps the nuanced theological grammar of each religious tradition."Choice

"[E]asily accessible to a wide readership. . . . [Levenson's] book is a masterful corrective to the ever more popular, pat and misleading myths that have emerged under the 'Abrahamic' banner."—Allan Nadler, Moment Magazine

"[E]rudite and readable. . . . His book will indubitably be valuable for undergraduate courses in scriptural exegesis, interreligious dialogue, and comparative religion."—Mara Benjamin, Religious Studies Review

"Simply put, Jon D. Levenson is one of those rare scholars whose every word repays careful reading. Inheriting Abraham is no exception."—Matthew Thiessen, Anabaptist Witness

"While Levenson displays expertise in all three religions, his particular strength lies in his treatment of the numerous, varied and even contradictory Jewish traditions on Abraham and in showing the contrasts between Jewish, Christian and Islamic views of Abraham, thereby questioning the validity of the existence of an authentic, unified supra-Abraham."—Rivkah Fishman-Duker, Jewish Political Studies Review

"Levenson is a seasoned scholar of this material and his learning, here lightly presented, shines through."—H.G.M. Williamson, Journal of Jewish Studies

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781400844616
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
09/30/2012
Series:
Library of Jewish Ideas
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
264
Sales rank:
1,124,765
File size:
932 KB

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Meet the Author

Jon D. Levenson is the Albert A. List Professor of Jewish Studies at Harvard University. His many books include Resurrection and the Restoration of Israel: The Ultimate Victory of the God of Life, which won the National Jewish Book Award, and Creation and the Persistence of Evil (Princeton).

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