Comparing Religions through Law: Judaism and Islam

By Jacob Neusner; Tamara Sonn | Go to book overview
Save to active project

1

COMPARING ISLAM AND JUDAISM IN PARTICULAR

A


Why compare religions and why compare their laws?

“Who knows only one religion knows no religion,” so Müller’s familiar dictum maintains, and the learned consensus generally concurs. To understand a given religion, most people agree, requires comparison and contrast with some other(s). Only then do we gain perspective, a sense of proportion and balance, an account of the choices a religion makes: for example, why one makes choices the contrasting religion may well reject. To compare, moreover, requires seeing two things as whole and complete, then brought into juxtaposition and relationship. And the very exercise of seeing a religious system in its entirety, carried out with contrast in view, requires making judgments about structure and proportion that comparison with another whole makes possible. So we study religion in comparison or not at all. And we compare religions because we seek a perspective on each and on all of them all together; that is, for the same reason that natural historians compare and contrast beetles, to see how they are alike and how they are distinct and to find out what difference that distinction makes—and to explain it all. But in the study of religion we are not yet able to explain very much. Indeed, we discern little agreement on just what, at this time, we ought to want to explain. So for the moment we compare religions that sustain comparison in order better to understand each one.

But what does it mean to know more than a single religion, and (more to the point) what does it take to draw into juxtaposition, for purposes of comparison and contrast, two or more religions? To know a given religion means to form a conception of the whole of that religion, meaning to grasp how it is cogent and proportionate, what matters and what does not, its architectonics and its hermeneutics and animating logic. All of this may be expressed in one word, “rationality,” meaning the cogency that imparts structure, the logic that propels the system. So to know a given religion means to grasp its principles of self-evidence and rationality, its category formation, its modes of thought and inquiry—to see the whole all at once

-1-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Comparing Religions through Law: Judaism and Islam
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 264

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?