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VINE VOICEon 3 November 2008
This is the first collection of references to Jesus in Islamic literature outside of the Qur'an published since 1919. This up to date collection includes some newly collated references, bringing the total up to 303.

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.
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on 21 January 2002
Tarif Khalidi has written a book that won't be given the acclaim it deserves; it won't be read by the people who should read it and it won't (barring a miracle) have the impact on the World that it should. His book turns the light on in the no man's land between Islam and Christianity. It shows how the two religions are closely connected and how our long gone ancestors treated the other with respect, dignity and even friendship. It's not for me to promote the content of this book, it's just there and it should be read by as many people as possible. It really could have a colossal impact on the world if this, the truth, were widely known...
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