Fascinating. For the follower of any or all of the three so-called biblical religions, Judaism, Christianity & Islam vol. 1, by F.E. Peters, is a fascinating comparison of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Peters, a professor of Near Eastern languages and literatures, history, Hebrew and Judaic studies at New York University, has compiled the writings of scholars, lawyers and writers from each religion into a parallel format to highlight some of the similarities between the three religions.
Peters believes that there are some crucially important issues which adherents of all three religions have thought and written about. Some of the issues are: the Law of God; how God ought to be worshipped; authority and the authorities; angels, heaven and hell; stated beliefs and conformity to them; the "invincible conviction that God's revelation to them was not confined to that revered and well-guarded Book we call Scripture." Therefore he has chosen standard or well-known documents about each issue. While this book is not a history of any of the three religions, it is an insightful look at how the history of each religion has been impacted by the others.
Peters follows a chronological approach, beginning with the history of Israel. All three religions claim to trace their histories back to the covenant between Abraham and God, but Christianity and Islam, however grudgingly, do admit that the Jews received the covenant first. Peters looks at how the exile impacted Israel (the move from Hebrew to Jew), and Israel's efforts to reconstruct a society after the exile. Then Peters moves on to the history of Christianity and Islam, focusing on the lives and teachings of their respective founders. Major concepts include: the kingdom of priests and the holy nation; religious oversight of various groups; the church and the state; the church as the state.
For the student of religion, this is a book you can't afford not to have. If you are adherent of Judaism, Christianity or Islam, you will find valuable insight into your own religion, and how it has interacted with the other biblical religions. Ecumenical in the best way, Peters has succeeded in presenting a balanced and fair picture of the history of the covenantal religions.