Most Jews, Muslims, and Christians are devoted and faithful. Still, on any given day, its difficult to avoid the vigorous and heated disputes between them, whether over the "Ground Zero" mosque, lobbying state legislatures against Sharia law, sharing worship space, dissecting the fallout of the Arab Spring, protecting civil rights, or challenging the authority of sacred texts. With so much rancor, can there be any common ground? Do they even worship the same God? And can religion, which often is so divisive, be any help at all?
Four internationally known scholars set out to tackle these deceptively simple questions in an accessible way. Some scholars argue that while beliefs about God may differ, the object of worship is ultimately the same. However, these authors take a more pragmatic view. While they may disagree, they nevertheless assert that whatever they answers to these questions, the three faiths must find the will (politically, socially, and personally) to tolerate differences.
Perhaps what can help us move forward as pluralistic people is ia focus on the goal peace with justice for all.
Vincent J. Cornell is Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Middle East and Islamic Studies at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.
Jacob Neusner is Distinguished Service Professor of the History and Theology of Judaism; Senior Fellow, Institute of Advanced Theology, Bard College, in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York.
Bruce D. Chilton is the Bernard Iddings Bell Professor of Religion; Chaplain of the College; Executive Director of the Institute of Advanced Theology at Bard College, in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York.
Baruch A. Levine is the Skirball Professor Emeritus of Bible and Ancient Near Eastern Studies at New York University.