Jesus and Muhammad are larger-than life figures---but they were also flesh-and-blood people who lived in known places at specific times. Now Peters offers the first in-depth comparison, tracing the paths each followed, analyzing skeptical and worshipful studies on both men, and examining their unique legacies---Muhammad as the messenger, and Jesus as the message. 304 pages, hardcover from Oxford University.
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 is Professor Emeritus of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies and Religion at New York University and a scholar and teacher of classics, philosophy, urbanism, Middle Eastern history, and Islamic Studies. The author of pioneering comparative studies of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, Peters remains a leader in this field.
Peters, New York University professor emeritus, adds this short book juxtaposing the lives of the central figures of Christianity and Islam to his already prolific offerings on comparative religion. Most chapters address one aspect of each prophet's life: the setting for Jesus' life and then Muhammad's in chapter one, a brief biographical background on Jesus and then Muhammad in chapter two, and so on. Natural similarities and potentially enlightening differences appear (such as Muhammad's becoming the sovereign of his own Islamic nation while Jesus, who never held a governance position as Muhammad did, was a "man-God, a human voice with the gravity of the Divine"), but not much more is done with them. Peters seems particularly and inexplicably dismissive of certain commonly held beliefs among Muslims and Muhammad biographers, among them Muhammad's age (Muslim tradition says he was 40); the circumstances of his marriage to his first wife, Khadija (most sources say it resulted from Khadija's own proposal); and Peters's stubborn habit of describing the Qur'an as poetry and Muhammad as a poet, although such a view is anathema in Islam or Islamic studies. Besides being somewhat dull, the book is short on useful conclusions. (Nov.) Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.
"Frank Peters has courage! In his latest book, this seasoned and knowledgeable scholar unravels the multiple layers of the interpretations surrounding the lives, contributions, and significance of no less than Christ and Muhammad. In a lucid and clear style, he manages to explain the enormity and variety of the debates that have flourished around every aspect of the reality and legends surrounding Christ and Muhammad, and to do so while retaining the depth of interpretation and of analysis that such a complex topic requires. It takes decades of reflection and of study to reach the level of sophistication yet clarity that this book achieves."
--Leila Fawaz, Issam M. Fares Professor of Lebanese and Eastern Mediterranean Studies and Founding Director of the Fares Center for Eastern Mediterranean Studies, Tufts University
"This comparative work shows how faith can forge bonds even when the faiths are quite different. Frank Peters's extensive familiarity with these two faiths bears exceptional fruit in this extended comparison."
--David Burrell, C.S.C., Professor of Ethics and Development, Uganda Martyrs University and Hesburgh Professor Emeritus in Philosophy and Theology, University of Notre Dame
"Peters' work is both clearly structured and written, showing considerable knowledge of both faiths."--Journal for the Study of the New Testament
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