"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).

Saturday, June 11, 2016

The Oxford Handbook of Abrahamic Religions

Oxford University Press's series of "Handbooks" on various topics have been emerging for years now, and I have been pleased to be asked to contribute chapters to several, including one in print, and two more in press. The hardback versions are often not inexpensive, but more than worth it considering their size and the fact that they have amassed first-rate contemporary scholarship; but OUP very often brings out a much more affordable paperback version some months later.

In any event, a recent such collection has several chapters of interest to Eastern Christians, including those by John Tolan, Sidney Griffith, and Uriel Simonshon, all of whom are (as I have noted on here) specialists in the area of Eastern Christian-Muslim encounters. Edited by Moshe Blidstein, Adam Silverstein, and  Guy G. Stroumsa is The Oxford Handbook of the Abrahamic Religions (Oxford, 2015), 568pp.

About this book the publisher tells us:
The Oxford Handbook of the Abrahamic Religions includes authoritative yet accessible studies on a wide variety of topics dealing comparatively with Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, as well as with the interactions between the adherents of these religions throughout history. The comparative study of the Abrahamic Religions has been undertaken for many centuries. More often than not, these studies reflected a polemical rather than an ecumenical approach to the topic. Since the nineteenth century, the comparative study of the Abrahamic Religions has not been pursued either intensively or systematically, and it is only recently that the comparative study of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam has received more serious attention. This volume contributes to the emergence and development of the comparative study of the Abrahamic religions, a discipline which is now in its formative stages.
 This Handbook includes both critical and supportive perspectives on the very concept of the Abrahamic religions and discussions on the role of the figure of Abraham in these religions. It features 32 essays, by the foremost scholars in the field, on the historical interactions between Abrahamic communities; on Holy Scriptures and their interpretation; on conceptions of religious history; on various topics and strands of religious thought, such as monotheism and mysticism; on rituals of prayer, purity, and sainthood, on love in the three religions and on fundamentalism. The volume concludes with three epilogues written by three influential figures in the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim communities, to provide a broader perspective on the comparative study of the Abrahamic religions. This ground-breaking work introduces readers to the challenges and rewards of studying these three religions together.

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