The Monotheists: Jews, Christians, and Muslims in Conflict and Competition, Volume II: The Words and Will of God, Volume 2

Princeton University Press
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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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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).
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Apr 11, 2009
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Pages
432
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ISBN
9781400825714
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Language
English
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Genres
Religion / Christianity / History
Religion / History
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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To enable the reader to shape, or perhaps reshape, an understanding of the Islamic tradition, F. E. Peters skillfully combines extensive passages from Islamic texts with a fascinating commentary of his own. In so doing, he presents a substantial body of literary evidence that will enable the reader to grasp the bases of Muslim faith and, more, to get some sense of the breadth and depth of Islamic religious culture as a whole. The voices recorded here are those of Muslims engaged in discourse with their God and with each other--historians, lawyers, mystics, and theologians, from the earliest Companions of the Prophet Muhammad down to Ibn Rushd or "Averroes" (d. 1198), al-Nawawi (d. 1278), and Ibn Khaldun (d. 1406). These religious seekers lived in what has been called the "classical" period in the development of Islam, the era when the exemplary works of law and spirituality were written, texts of such universally acknowledged importance that subsequent generations of Muslims gratefully understood themselves as heirs to an enormously broad and rich legacy of meditation on God's Word.

"Islam" is a word that seems simple to understand. It means "submission," and, more specifically in the context where it first and most familiarly appears, "submission to the will of God." That context is the Quran, the Sacred Book of the Muslims, from which flow the patterns of belief and practice that today claim the spiritual allegiance of hundreds of millions around the globe. By drawing on the works of the great masters--Islam in its own words--Peters enriches our understanding of the community of "those who have submitted" and their imposing religious and political culture, which is becoming ever more important to the West.

The Quran is a sacred book with profound, and familiar, Old and New Testament resonances. And the message it promulgated, Islam, came of age during an extraordinarily rich era of interaction among monotheists. Jews, Christians, and Muslims not only worshipped the same God, but shared aspirations, operated in the same social and economic environment, and sometimes lived side by side, indistinguishable by language, costume, or manners. Today, of course, little of this commonality is apparent, and Islam is poorly understood by most non-Muslims. Entering Islam through the same biblical door Muhammad did, this book introduces readers with Christian or Jewish backgrounds to one of the world's largest, most active, and--in the West--least understood religions.

Frank Peters, one of the world's leading authorities on the monotheistic religions, starts with the central feature of Muslim faith and life: the Quran. Across its pages move Adam, Noah, Abraham, David, Solomon, John the Baptist, Jesus, and the Virgin Mary. The Quran contains remarkably familiar accounts of Genesis, the Flood, Exodus, the Virgin Birth, and other biblical events. But Peters also highlights Muhammad's very different use of Scripture and explains those elements of the Quran most alien to Western readers, from its didactic passages to its remarkable poetry.


Peters goes on to cogently explain Islam's defining features--including the significance of Mecca, the manner of Muhammad's revelations, and the creation of the unique community of Muslims, all in relation to the Judeo-Christian tradition. He compares Jesus and Muhammad, describes Islamic commandments and rituals, details the structures of Sunni and Shi'ite communities, and lays out central Islamic beliefs on war, women, mysticism, and martyrdom.


The result is a crucial and extremely accomplished book that offers Western readers a professional yet highly accessible understanding of Islam, and at a time when we need it most.

A fascinating, accessible introduction to Islam from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Zealot and host of Believer

FINALIST FOR THE GUARDIAN FIRST BOOK AWARD 

In No god but God, internationally acclaimed scholar Reza Aslan explains Islam—the origins and evolution of the faith—in all its beauty and complexity. This updated edition addresses the events of the past decade, analyzing how they have influenced Islam’s position in modern culture. Aslan explores what the popular demonstrations pushing for democracy in the Middle East mean for the future of Islam in the region, how the Internet and social media have affected Islam’s evolution, and how the war on terror has altered the geopolitical balance of power in the Middle East. He also provides an update on the contemporary Muslim women’s movement, a discussion of the controversy over veiling in Europe, an in-depth history of Jihadism, and a look at how Muslims living in North America and Europe are changing the face of Islam. Timely and persuasive, No god but God is an elegantly written account that explains this magnificent yet misunderstood faith.

Praise for No god but God
 
“Grippingly narrated and thoughtfully examined . . . a literate, accessible introduction to Islam.”—The New York Times
 
“[Reza] Aslan offers an invaluable introduction to the forces that have shaped Islam [in this] eloquent, erudite paean to Islam in all of its complicated glory.”—Los Angeles Times Book Review
 
“Wise and passionate . . . an incisive, scholarly primer in Muslim history and an engaging personal exploration.”—The New York Times Book Review
 
“Acutely perceptive . . . For many troubled Muslims, this book will feel like a revelation, an opening up of knowledge too long buried.”—The Independent (U.K.)
 
“Thoroughly engaging and excellently written . . . While [Aslan] might claim to be a mere scholar of the Islamic Reformation, he is also one of its most articulate advocates.”—The Oregonian
Jesus and Muhammad are two of the best known and revered figures in history, each with a billion or more global followers. Now, in this intriguing volume, F.E. Peters offers a clear and compelling analysis of the parallel lives of Jesus and Muhammad, the first such in-depth comparison in print. Like a detective, Peters compiles "dossiers" of what we do and do not know about the lives and portraits of these towering figures, drawing on the views of modern historians and the evidence of the Gospels and the Quran. With erudition and wit, the author nimbly leads the reader through drama and dogma to reveal surprising similarities between the two leaders and their messages. Each had a public career as a semi-successful preacher. Both encountered opposition that threatened their lives and those of their followers. Each left a body of teaching purported to be their very words, with an urgent imperative that all must become believers in the face of the approaching apocalypse. Both are symbols of hope on the one hand and of God's terrible judgment on the other. They are bringers of peace--and the sword. There is, however, a fundamental difference. Muslims revere Muhammad ibn Abdullah of Mecca as a mortal prophet. Although known as a prophet in his day, the Galilean Jew Jesus was and is believed by his followers to have been the promised Messiah, indeed the son of God. The Quran records revelations received by Muhammad as the messenger of God, whereas the revelations of the Gospels focus on Jesus and the events of his life and death. A lasting contribution to interfaith understanding, Jesus and Muhammad offers lucid, intelligent answers to questions that underlie some of the world's most intractable conflicts.
F.E. Peters, a scholar without peer in the comparative study of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, revisits his pioneering work. Peters has rethought and thoroughly rewritten his classic The Children of Abraham for a new generation of readers-at a time when the understanding of these three religious traditions has taken on a new and critical urgency.

He began writing about all three faiths in the 1970s, long before it was fashionable to treat Islam in the context of Judaism and Christianity, or to align all three for a family portrait. In this updated edition, he lays out the similarities and differences of the three religious siblings with great clarity and succinctness and with that same remarkable objectivity that is the hallmark of all the author's work.


Peters traces the three faiths from the sixth century B.C., when the Jews returned to Palestine from exile in Babylonia, to the time in the Middle Ages when they approached their present form. He points out that all three faith groups, whom the Muslims themselves refer to as "People of the Book," share much common ground. Most notably, each embraces the practice of worshipping a God who intervenes in history on behalf of His people.


The book's text is direct and accessible with thorough and nuanced discussions of each of the three religions. Footnotes provide the reader with expert guidance into the highly complex issues that lie between every line of this stunning edition of The Children of Abraham. Complete with a new preface by the author, this Princeton Classics edition presents this landmark study to a new generation of readers.

Jesus and Muhammad are two of the best known and revered figures in history, each with a billion or more global followers. Now, in this intriguing volume, F.E. Peters offers a clear and compelling analysis of the parallel lives of Jesus and Muhammad, the first such in-depth comparison in print. Like a detective, Peters compiles "dossiers" of what we do and do not know about the lives and portraits of these towering figures, drawing on the views of modern historians and the evidence of the Gospels and the Quran. With erudition and wit, the author nimbly leads the reader through drama and dogma to reveal surprising similarities between the two leaders and their messages. Each had a public career as a semi-successful preacher. Both encountered opposition that threatened their lives and those of their followers. Each left a body of teaching purported to be their very words, with an urgent imperative that all must become believers in the face of the approaching apocalypse. Both are symbols of hope on the one hand and of God's terrible judgment on the other. They are bringers of peace--and the sword. There is, however, a fundamental difference. Muslims revere Muhammad ibn Abdullah of Mecca as a mortal prophet. Although known as a prophet in his day, the Galilean Jew Jesus was and is believed by his followers to have been the promised Messiah, indeed the son of God. The Quran records revelations received by Muhammad as the messenger of God, whereas the revelations of the Gospels focus on Jesus and the events of his life and death. A lasting contribution to interfaith understanding, Jesus and Muhammad offers lucid, intelligent answers to questions that underlie some of the world's most intractable conflicts.
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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