The Muslim Jesus: Sayings and Stories in Islamic Literature (Convergences: Inventories of the Present) Hardcover – 8 Jun 2001
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"a fascinating and instructive book...Professor Khalidi has brought together, from a vast range of sources..." -- The Daily Telegraph, 19 December 2001
...the Jesus of Muslim penitential and sententious literature assembled by Khalidi is particularly salutary today. -- Aziz Al-Azmeh, author of Muslim Kingship
A remarkable, eye-opening work of deep scholarship, profound religious understanding, and unprecedentedly rich cross-cultural exchange. -- Edward W. Said, author of Reflections on Exile and Other Essays
The combination of sublime moralist and magician is striking, and so is the virtual exclusion of reference to the Crucifixion. -- Frank Kermode, author of Shakespeare's Language
This scholarly book will help all those who seek to resume a fruitful dialogue between Christianity and Islam... -- Church Times, 2001
[The Muslim Jesus] will enrich the present lively dialogue between the two fraternal faiths. -- Harvey Cox, author of The Secular City and Fire From Heaven
About the Author
Tarif Khalidi is Sir Thomas Adams's Professor of Arabic, Director of the Centre of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, and Fellow of King's College, Cambridge. He is the author of numerous books, most recently Classical Arab Islam: The Culture and Heritage of the Golden Age and Arabic Historical Thought in the Classical Period.
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The references are arranged in chronological order of when they were written down, from the 8th to 18th century. Each saying or story is accompanied by source references plus a generally rather too brief explanatory comment where necessary. Anyone expecting a collection of parables and wisdom sayings is likely to be sorely disappointed. The content is very mixed indeed. Some come, directly or with modification, from gospel or apocryphal gospel accounts (infuriatingly, though in some cases the author lists chapter and verse of the original gospel source, in many cases he does not do so); there are one or two distinctly gnostic entries; most however have no obvious traceable source.
They begin with a very austere and ascetic Jesus who very much keeps himself apart from the sinners, in contradistinction to the Jesus of the gospels. Later on the portrayal of Jesus softens somewhat.
Whatever the individual content or general picture, overall the Jesus presented here is thoroughly Islamicised. He even prays in mosques, goes on pilgramage to Mecca and condemns the drinking of wine as evil. Some of the entries are in the form of hadith qudsi, where God speaks to Jesus who then responds; these are usually formed with the intention of pointing out the errors of Christians (for example, God asks Jesus if he ever claimed to be the son of God; Jesus responds that he would never have done such a thing). Many of the pieces sourced from gospels have also been Islamicised to show the truth of Islam and the falsehood of Christianity.
Because of this Islamicisation, it's frankly hard to see where any common denominator might exist, as some people might suppose. Pace another reviewer here, this book is hardly going to bring about Muslims and Christians happily dancing together in the streets and going in and out of each others' houses bearing gifts of flowers.
Probably of most interest to students of comparative religion, but really deserves a more thorough treatment, welcome though this volume is.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Though the author describes this as the "Muslim Gospel" we might call it the hadith (traditions) of the Prophet Jesus (and more than 300 of them), for the very same scholars who collected and authenticated this collection, had already set about authenticating the hadith of the Prophet Muhammad. The isnad (line of transmitters) is included as much as is known, considering these were collected in the ninth century for the most part. The line of transmitters for the sayings (hadith) of the Prophet Muhammad are more detailed as the work was done just two hundred years after his death. With the line of transmitters (isnad) one is able to consult volumes on the biographies of these transmitters. . . a not uncommon practice for ordinary Muslims reading the teachings and sayings of Muhammad.
Some samples of the 300 hadith of Jesus included in this work:
#46 Christ said: "Whoever has learned, acted, and imparted knowledge. . .is the one who is called great in the kingdom of heaven."
#49 Jesus used to prepare food for his followers, then call them to eat and wait upon them, saying: "This is what you must do for the poor."
#91 Jesus met a man and asked him, "What are you doing?" "I am devoting myself to God," the man replied. Jesus asked, "Who is caring for you?" "My brother," replied the man. Jesus said, "Your brother is more devoted to God than you are."
#94 "At the end of time, there will be religious scholars who preach abstinence but do not themselves abstain,, who encourage yearning for the afterlife but do not themselves yearn, who forbid visits to rulers but do not themselves desist, who draw near to the rich and distance themselves from the poor, who recoil from the lowly and fawn upon the mighty. they are the tyrants and the enemies of the Merciful God."
This reviewer would also recommend Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time by Marcus Borg, a Lutheran and member of the Jesus Seminar. His scholarly yet highly readable understanding of the gospels of the New Testament lead to a clearer understanding of both the Jesus of history and the Christ of faith. Muslims would no doubt find that their understanding of Jesus squares very well with Borg's.
Teachers/Librarians: 6th grade to adult - social studies/humanities
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