Text Patterns - by Alan Jacobs

Thursday, June 11, 2009

the religion of the book

Here’s a fascinatng interview with Remi Brague, author of the recently released history The Legend of the Middle Ages: Philosophical Explorations of Medieval Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. The interviewer begins by asking Brague, “How do you view the relationship between the three religions of the book and philosophical activity?” Brague answers the question, but pauses to say that there really aren't “three religions of the book”:

But at that point we see that the expression conceals a . . . trap: it implies that in these three religions, which do, in fact, have a book — as do other religions — the contents of revelation would be that book. As it happens, however, in Judaism that content is the history of God with his people, whom he liberates and guides by giving them his Teaching (torah); In Christianity, it is the person of Christ, who, for Christians, is a concentrate of the previous experience of Israel. The written texts record that history, or, in the case of the Talmud, gather together the discussions of the scholars regarding the interpretation and application of the divine commandments. But in no way do those books constitute the actual message of God to humankind. It is only in Islam that the revealed object is the Book. In the final analysis, the only religion of the book is Islam!

The whole interview is very much worth reading, as, I suspect, is the book, which I have just added to my wishlist. (That’s a long list, though.)


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