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.
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

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.
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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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