What is a religion? How do we discern the boundaries between religions, or religious communities? When does Judaism become Judaism, Christianity become Christianity, Islam become Islam? Scholars have increasingly called into question the standard narratives created by the various orthodoxies, narratives of steadfastness and consistency, of long and courageous maintenance of true doctrine and right practice over the centuries, in the face of opposition (and at times persecution) at the hands of infidels or heretics.
The eleven chapters in this book, written by an international group of specialists the languages, religion, law and culture of early Judaism, Christianity and Islam, tackle these questions through a comparative study of these narratives: their formation over time, and their use today. It explores three key aspects of the field: the construction (and scholarly deconstruction) of the narratives of triumph (and defeat) of religions; the ways in which legal imperatives are constructed from religious narratives and sacred texts; and finally, contemporary ramifications of these issues. In doing so, it taps into the significant body of research over the last thirty years which has shown the fluidity and malleability of these religious traditions in relation to each other, and to more traditional "pagan" and Zoroastrian religions and philosophical traditions.
Geneses: A Comparative Study of the Historiographies of the Rise of Christianity, Rabbinic Judaism, and Islam represents an important contribution and a valuable resource to the burgeoning field of comparative history of the Abrahamic religions.
Introduction (John Tolan)
I. Narratives of Triumph and defeat
II. Forging legal paradigms
III. Contemporary Echoes