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

ISBN : 9780190231491

Robert C. Gregg
752 Pages
171 x 241 mm
Pub date
Oct 2015
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While existing scholarship informs us about early contact between Christians, Muslims, and Jews, the nature of that interaction, and how it developed over time, is still often misunderstood. Robert Gregg emphasizes that there was both mutual curiosity, since all three religions had ancestral traditions and a commanding God in common, and also wary competitiveness, as each group was compelled to sharpen its identity against the other two. Faced with the overlap of many scriptural stories, they were eager to defend the claim that they alone were God's preferred people. In Shared Stories, Rival Tellings, Gregg performs a comparative investigation of how Jewish, Christian, and Muslim interpreters-both writers and artists-developed their distinctive and exclusionary understandings of narratives common to their three Holy Books: Cain and Abel, Sara and Hagar, Joseph and Potiphar's Wife, Jonah and the Whale, and Mary the Mother of Jesus. Exposed in the process are the major issues under contention and the social-intellectual forces that contributed to spirited, creative, and sometimes combative exchanges between Muslims, Christians and Jews. In illuminating these historical moments, and their implications for contemporary relations between these three religions, Gregg argues that scripture interpreters played an often underappreciated role in each religion's individual development of thought, spirituality, and worship, and in the three religions' debates with one another-and the cultural results of those debates.


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

About the author: 

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

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