Category Archives: Christianity

Spain as a Christian-Muslim Frontier

Let me begin rather abruptly with a paradox. One of the remarkable differences between Christians and Muslims in medieval Spain has to do with conversion. While the Muslims made no special efforts in that direction, they did manage to convert large numbers of Christians; the Christians, on the other hand who did try to proselytize […]

Habent sua fata libelli: The Gospels and the Quran in Mortal Hands

The Gospels and the Quran are the emblematic books of two of the world’s most widespread and influential religions, past, present and future. They have been read and heard by billions of people who have regarded their contents as a manifestation of God’s will, expressed in the Quran in God’s own words and in the […]

Echoes from Sinai: Looking Inside the Gospels and the Qur’an

In the capacious byways of Amazon.com you can probably discover–and perchance even purchase–everything I had to say on the subject of the Scriptures of the Jews, Christians and Muslims. Or almost.  Authors do not normally hold back on their readers unless they are planning a sequel, a Son of Sinai, which I am not.  But […]

Religion, Tolerance and Violence

Religion we think we know and violence we know very well indeed, so let us turn directly to the troublemaker of the trio, tolerance, and save the easier notions for later. Literary critics are extremely fond of the figure of “unpacking” when it comes to explaining a word or a notion or a concept. I […]

Sufis and Jesuits: Religious Orders in Islam and Christianity

There are numerous scholastic tracts in Arabic on the theory and practice of Sufism (tasawwuf) or what would be called in Christian terms, Muslim ascetical and mystical theology, For most Muslims the reality  of Islam was, however, the tarîqa or brotherhood into which Islam’s ascetics, the Sufis, began to assemble themselves. As in Christianity, the […]

Bishops and Imams: The Magisterium in Catholic Christianity and Shi’ite Islam

God’s words to His Chosen Peoples are typically double-edged. On the one hand, the believer knows exactly where he or she stands. Give me a place to stand, a Greek once famously said, and I can move the world. Archimedes was talking lever and fulcrum, but God was talking prescription: stand right there, the Bible […]

Where Three Roads Meet: Jewish, Christian and Muslim Pilgrimage to Jerusalem

“Where three roads meet” is an ominous phrase. It was the telltale detail that gave Oedipus to understand that the traveler he had killed at such an intersection was none other than his own father, as the oracle had predicted. There is another such intersection, It is called Jerusalem, and it is the place where […]

The Late Harvest of Hellenism: Muslim Baghdad and Christian Toledo

Introduction Almost four decades ago I wrote a book called The Harvest of Hellenism. I am still very fond of the title, though I must confess that it is only half mine. The first half I stole from Heiko Oberman, the celebrated Reformation historian.  His work was called The Harvest of Medieval Theology, and I […]

The Holy Places of Jerusalem

When Jerusalem first appears in biblical history it is a town without a past, a newly conquered Jebusite settlement that David had made the capital of his still insecure Israelite kingdom. Today it is once again the capital of a Jewish state, but in the three millennia that separate the modern city from David’s cramped […]

“And on the third day…” The Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth 2-12

The life of Jesus of Nazareth ended on a Friday afternoon in the springtime of what was probably 30 A.D. Born not long before the death of Herod the Great in 4 B.C., he would have been in his early thirties at his own death. Present at his end were a few of his followers, […]