Shared Stories, Rival Tellings Early Encounters of Jews, Christians, and Muslims

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 9/3/2015
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press

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Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are considered kindred religions-holding ancestral heritages and monotheistic belief in common-but there are definitive distinctions between these "Abrahamic" peoples. Shared Stories, Rival Tellings explores the early exchanges of Jews, Christians, and Muslims, and argues that their interactions were dominated by debates over the meanings of certain stories sacred to all three communities.

Robert C. Gregg shows how Jewish, Christian, and Muslim interpreters--artists as well as authors--developed their unique and particular understandings of narratives present in the two Bibles and the Qur'an. Gregg focuses on five stories: Cain and Abel, Sarah and Hagar, Joseph and Potiphar's Wife, Jonah and the Whale, and Mary the Mother of Jesus. As he guides us through the often intentional variations introduced into these shared stories, Gregg exposes major issues under contention and the social-intellectual forces that contributed to spirited, and sometimes combative, exchanges among Jews, Christians, and Muslims.

Offering deeper insight into these historical moments and their implications for contemporary relations among the three religions, Shared Stories, Rival Tellings will inspire readers to consider--and reconsider--the dynamics of traditional and current social-religious competition.

Author Biography

Robert C. Gregg is Professor in Religious Studies, Emeritus, at Stanford University.

Table of Contents


Part I: Cain and Abel/Qabil and Habil
Preview: Chapters 1-3 The first murder
Chapter 1: Cain's fratricide: rabbis and other early Jewish writers judge the case
Chapter 2: Cain and Abel in Early Christian Writings and Art
Chapter 3: Muslims on "...the story of the two sons of Adam"
Comparative Summary: Cain and Abel/Qabil and Habil

Part II: Sarah and Hagar: Mothers to Three Families
Preview: Chapters 4-6 Abraham's rival wives
Chapter 4: Sarah and Hagar: Jewish portrayals
Chapter 5: Sarah and Hagar in Christian interpretations
Chapter 6: Hagar and Ishmael, Ibrahim's family in Mecca
Comparative Summary: Sarah and Hagar: Mothers to three families

Part III: Joseph's Temptation by his Egyptian Master's Wife
Preview: Chapters 7-9 Joseph/Yusuf and the Temptress
Chapter 7: Joseph and Potiphar's wife--Jewish interpretations
Chapter 8: Joseph put to the test--Christian sermons and art
Chapter 9: Yusuf with Zulaykha
Comparative Summary: Joseph's temptation by his Egyptian master's wife

Part IV: Jonah the Angry Prophet
Preview: Chapters 10-12 "The one of the fish"
Chapter 10: Jonah, Nineveh, the Great Fish, and God: Jews ponder the story
Chapter 11: Jonah and Jesus: In One Story, Two.
Chapter 12: Islam's Yunus: from anger to praise
Comparative Summary: Jonah the angry prophet

Part V: Mary, Miriam, Maryam
Preview: Chapters 13-15 Mary through three religions' eyes
Chapter 13: Mary's Story in Christian imagination: from Jewish maiden to ever-Virgin to Heavenly Advocate
Chapter 14: Miriam, mother of Yeshu the false messiah: Jewish counter-stories
Chapter 15: Islam's Maryam: "chosen...above the women of the worlds"
Comparative Summary: Mary, Miriam, Maryam

Works Cited/Bibliography

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