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

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Overview

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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Editorial Reviews

Los Angeles Times - Jack Miles
[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.
America - Daniel J. Harrington
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.
Los Angeles Times
[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
America
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
Choice
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.
Los Angeles Times
[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
Publishers Weekly
Historian Peters (The Children of Abraham) 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 devotes Volume 1 to an historical overview of the Abrahamic faiths, tracing each religion from its earliest expressions to the 17th century. Although he devotes separate chapters to each religion, Peters often points out the similarities and differences among them. For example, Islam honors Jesus, Ishmael and Isaac as prophets, but does not accord them the same status as either Christianity or Judaism. The greatest similarity, he points out, is the drive in both Christianity and Islam to gain new members though conversion. In his second volume, Peters focuses on the various beliefs and practices of each religion, examining the canonization and interpretation of scripture, scripture and tradition, God's law and its observance, worship, ethics and eschatology. In this volume, he also investigates the traditions of mysticism and monasticism that arose in each religion. Throughout the book, he includes boxed notes for historical asides or to explain terminology. Peters's magnificent book is the new place to turn for a first-rate historical introduction to these three religions. (Nov.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
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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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691123721
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 7/25/2005
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 7.10 (w) x 9.22 (h) x 0.86 (d)

Meet 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).
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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

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