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Learn more about Amazon Prime. Explores the development of the three Abrahamic traditions, brilliantly showing the way in which they have struggled with similar issues over the centuries Shows how the approach of each tradition can be used comparatively by the other traditions to illuminate and develop their own thinking Written by a renowned writer in philosophical theology, widely acclaimed for his comparative thinking on Jewish and Islamic theology A very timely book which moves forward the discussion at a period of intense inter-religious dialogue.

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Towards a Jewish-Christian-Muslim Theology by David B. Burrell

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Write a customer review. There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later. The book was more from a Jewish point of view, not bad but not a Jewish-Christian-Muslim perspective. Something important is gained by reading the greatest journeys of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim reflection within this space of the possible rather than of the necessary.


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What if the assumptions of timelessness and the immutability of God are dropped, allowing for a God-in-process in the sense of Whitehead and the process theologians? What if the stress on divine separateness is dropped, and we maximize the immanence of the divine, as for example Mayra Rivera has done in The Touch of Transcendence: A Postcolonial Theology of God?

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To heed the call of these and other possibles is not simply to negate what Burrell has done. It is to recognize that his disciplined contribution—the careful correlation of specific problems and multi-religious answers—can be extended to other ways of construing God and world, far outside the temporal and conceptual arena in which he has staged this masterful encounter.

As one turns the knobs and adjusts the parameters and core assumptions, it is all too easy for the picture to become blurry, such that all progress becomes impossible. We can learn to recognize shared problems across diverse thinkers and schools; we can reinterpret allegedly incompatible answers as in fact analogous responses to common problems; and as a result we can begin to learn from those around us who, our differences notwithstanding, are in fact fellow journeyers.

Wiley-Blackwell, , All further references are to this work. Mayra Rivera, The Touch of Transcendence: A Postcolonial Theology of God Louisville: Westminster John Knox, Philip Clayton catches the spirit and extent of this inquiry when he genially states: Interestingly, that is exactly where I have been moving myself. What if the incessant drive to maximize the unity of the Divine is replaced with God understood as irreducible multiplicity? You must live this, not just as religious rhetoric, but daily in social life, in the relations between families, in friendship and in love.

You Christians, prove that you are one with the Druze in this region, and also with the Muslims. If you do not do this, I do not recognize you. May the Lord help us all to remain one people.

Symposium Introduction

This slender volume contains a journey, each chapter stopping at a station further along the way, towards a destination that is not yet entirely visible but whose contours nevertheless gradually emerge along the horizon. As Burrell himself has shown in his previous work, 3 this was long a common endeavor among Jews, Muslims and Christians, who might all be seen as sharing in the work, begun in the sixth century by John Philoponus, of rationally articulating the Abrahamic concept of creation in the language of Greek philosophy.

In turn, free creation leads to discussion of human freedom, and this in turn arrives at a discussion of the relationship between human initiative and divine grace. At each point, Burrell demonstrates how thinkers of the three traditions—some of whom, such as Ghazali, Maimonides and Aquinas, were historically in dialogue, and some, like the eighteenth-century French Jesuit Jean-Pierre de Caussade, appear as a surprise—can be profitably read side by side.

As the book progresses, the scope of what theology is steadily expands and it becomes clear that what may at first sound like abstract propositions soon entail imperatives for how we should live and relate to God. Nevertheless, I will use the rest of this response to delineate exactly where I think the limits are of this approach. It is very telling that these issues all stem from the centrality in Christianity of the doctrine of the incarnation, with all its implications.

It may be that to some degree this sort of interreligious theological project depends, in its Christian dimension, on a particular ordering of theological manuals that goes back at least to John of Damascus which begin with de deo uno and from there proceeds to more particular dogmas, such as the Trinity and the Incarnation.

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Outside such manuals, however, Christianity does not so much set out to build on this narrative of creation as to completely subvert it by proclaiming a shocking and paradoxical union between Creator and created. The incarnation, crucifixion and resurrection cannot be treated simply as items on a list of neuralgic issues to be resolved.

This is to say that even if chronologically, or in the order of revelation, creation took place before the incarnation, crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, for Christians standing subsequent to all those events, it is impossible not to understand the very act of creation itself in light of the cross. John Behr eloquently articulates the centrality of the cross to the proper order of Christian theology:.

Towards a Jewish-Christian-Muslim Theology

We cannot look anywhere else to understand who and what God is; there is no other means to come to know God. Those who stand in this tradition must follow the apostle Paul in refusing to know anything else apart from Christ and him crucified. I do not think that such a position, properly understood, unnecessarily distances Christian theology from Jewish and Islamic theology.

The points in common remain in common, but their limits become clearer. Nevertheless, this does create particular difficulties between Christianity and Islam and it should come as no surprise that in Arabic the characteristic Christian vocabulary of communion and participation musharaka and its derivatives coming out of reflection on the incarnation shares the same root as the Islamic term shirk , the most basic sin of associating creature with Creator, because Christianity does indeed teach a type of communion between the uncreated and the created that is impossible to reconcile with the fundamental theological claims of Islam.


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While both may eternally exist with God, the former is a hypostasis or person existing in an eternal relationship with two other divine hypostases, while the latter is an eternal message, existing as a message even before it is written by human hands or uttered by human lips. Neither begetting nor begotten, And none can be His peer. My purpose here is not to doubt the value—repeatedly demonstrated over the centuries—of shared theological conversation between Jews, Christians and Muslims, nor to deny that they have a great deal more in common than they may realize.

Nevertheless, the path that Burrell shows us must inevitably fork, and fork a good piece earlier than he anticipates. But there is no reason that a theological parting of ways should not lead to a salutary longing for the absent beloved. This longing must necessarily be rooted in something deeper than one degree or another of theological commonality. Reported in the Lebanese newspaper an-Nahar of May 27, , accessible in Arabic at http: University of Notre Dame Press, Cistercian, , John Behr, The Mystery of Christ: Life in Death Crestwood, NY: Sebastian Brock, The Luminous Eye: Which—nota bene—explicitly ties the crucifixion to creation!

Harvard University Press, , — Routledge, 6, esp. Nahj al-Balagha , Letter 53 to al-Malik al-Ashtar.