"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

The Complexities of Monotheism

Often my students, including many self-identified Christian ones, have to admit, at least grudgingly, that they do not really understand Trinitarian theology and therefore find certain Islamic criticisms of the same to be unduly compelling--invariably based on a superficial reading of both. These are not, of course, new issues; but a new book, released last week, is giving them fresh and welcome attention:  Monotheism and Its Complexities: Christian and Muslim Perspectives, eds. Lucinda Mosher and David Marshall (Georgetown University Press, 2018), 208pp.

About this collection we are told:
Conventional wisdom would have it that believing in one God is straightforward; that Muslims are expert at monotheism, but that Christians complicate it, weaken it, or perhaps even abandon it altogether by speaking of the Trinity. In this book, Muslim and Christian scholars challenge that opinion. Examining together scripture texts and theological reflections from both traditions, they show that the oneness of God is taken as axiomatic in both, and also that affirming God's unity has raised complex theological questions for both. The two faiths are not identical, but what divides them is not the number of gods they believe in.
The latest volume of proceedings of The Building Bridges Seminar ― a gathering of scholar-practitioners of Islam and Christianity that meets annually for the purpose of deep study of scripture and other texts carefully selected for their pertinence to the year's chosen theme ― this book begins with a retrospective on the seminar's first fifteen years and concludes with an account of deliberations and discussions among participants, thereby providing insight into the model of vigorous and respectful dialogue that characterizes this initiative.
Contributors include Richard Bauckham, Sidney Griffith, Christoph Schwöbel, Janet Soskice, Asma Afsaruddin, Maria Dakake, Martin Nguyen, and Sajjad Rizvi. To encourage further dialogical study, the volume includes those scripture passages and other texts on which their essays comment. A unique resource for scholars, students, and professors of Christianity and Islam.

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