Jesus and Muhammad: Parallel Tracks, Parallel Lives

Jesus and Muhammad: Parallel Tracks, Parallel Lives

Jesus and Muhammad: Parallel Tracks, Parallel Lives

Jesus and Muhammad: Parallel Tracks, Parallel Lives

Synopsis

Jesus and Muhammad are two of the best known and revered figures in history, each with a billion or more global followers. Now, in this intriguing volume, F.E. Peters offers a clear and compelling analysis of the parallel lives of Jesus and Muhammad, the first such in-depth comparison in print.
Like a detective, Peters compiles "dossiers" of what we do and do not know about the lives and portraits of these towering figures, drawing on the views of modern historians and the evidence of the Gospels and the Quran. With erudition and wit, the author nimbly leads the reader through drama and dogma to reveal surprising similarities between the two leaders and their messages. Each had a public career as a semi-successful preacher. Both encountered opposition that threatened their lives and those of their followers. Each left a body of teaching purported to be their very words, with an urgent imperative that all must become believers in the face of the approaching apocalypse. Both are symbols of hope on the one hand and of God's terrible judgment on the other. They are bringers of peace--and the sword. There is, however, a fundamental difference. Muslims revere Muhammad ibn Abdullah of Mecca as a mortal prophet. Although known as a prophet in his day, the Galilean Jew Jesus was and is believed by his followers to have been the promised Messiah, indeed the son of God. The Quran records revelations received by Muhammad as the messenger of God, whereas the revelations of the Gospels focus on Jesus and the events of his life and death.
A lasting contribution to interfaith understanding, Jesus and Muhammad offers lucid, intelligent answers to questions that underlie some of the world's most intractable conflicts.

Excerpt

“CHRISTIANITY” and “ISLAM” are notions of enormous complexity, complex enough to give considerable pause to anyone tempted to define, or even merely to describe, either of them. and yet they are apparently embraced in their totality by the millions of believers who solemnly assert, “I am a Christian” or “I am a Muslim.” the average Christian or Muslim probably does not much advert to all the details of those constructs, and, indeed, when presented with this or that particular feature of Christianity or Islam, might well say, “No, that’s not what I believe. I do not believe that hell will last for eternity” or “No, I do not believe that our every act is determined by God.”

This rejection of parts of what has been held to be an integral tradition is not new nor has it been confined to the ill-instructed or casual believer. Christianity and Islam have been evolving from their very inception, and not merely in incidentals but in their core components. What are called “heresy” by Christians and “innovation” by Muslims are in effect divergent opinions on this or another content of the faith. If they fail to attract support, they are consigned to the believers’ popular catalogs of failed ideas and their adherents may even linger on at the margins of the community. But when and if these novel points of view eventually prevail, the earlier offensive labeling is removed and Christianity itself, or Islam, is quietly altered—the notion of immutability must be preserved—as when Christians began to hold that Mary was conceived without sin or Muslims that Muhammad was incapable of sin.

Though both religious systems are deeply committed to the proposition that God’s will and God’s revelation are eternal and immutable or, to put it in historical terms, that what the Christian or the Muslim now believes is what Jesus or Muhammad originally preached, and intended, the content, shape, and concerns of both Christianity and Islam have in fact changed over the centuries. Not essentially, the believer may insist. We set that issue aside; its resolution is the burden of the believer, not the historian. Here it is rather the . . .

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