Book launch video for Maimonides: Life and Thought

Moshe Halbertal, Gruss Professor of Law at NYU School of Law, and Noah Feldman, Bemis Professor of International Law at Harvard Law School, discuss Halbertal’s new book, Maimonides: Life and Thought.

Peter Brown Wins 2013 Philip Schaff Prize

Peter Brown – Through the Eye of a Needle: Wealth, the Fall of Rome, and the Making of Christianity in the West, 350-550 AD
Winner of the 2013 Philip Schaff Prize, American Society of Church History

The Philip Schaff Prize is an award in the amount of $2,000 to the author of the best book published in the two previous calendar years, originating in the North American scholarly community, which presents original research on any period in the history of Christianity, or makes a significant synthesizing scholarly contribution.  According to Dr. Keith Francis, Executive Secretary of ASCH, “The members of the committee described Through the Eye of a Needle as a ‘tour de force,’ a ‘magisterial study,’ and a ‘work of astonishing erudition.’  High praise indeed!  I was even more impressed by the comment that you had written ‘a brilliant synthesis of other scholars’ work as well as the harvest of your own five-decade career.” The prize will be awarded at ASCH’s next business meeting in Washington DC on January 4, 2014. For more information, click here.

k9807Jesus taught his followers that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven. Yet by the fall of Rome, the church was becoming rich beyond measure. Through the Eye of a Needle is a sweeping intellectual and social history of the vexing problem of wealth in Christianity in the waning days of the Roman Empire, written by the world’s foremost scholar of late antiquity.

Peter Brown, the world’s foremost scholar of late antiquity, examines the rise of the church through the lens of money and the challenges it posed to an institution that espoused the virtue of poverty and called avarice the root of all evil. Drawing on the writings of major Christian thinkers such as Augustine, Ambrose, and Jerome, Brown examines the controversies and changing attitudes toward money caused by the influx of new wealth into church coffers, and describes the spectacular acts of divestment by rich donors and their growing influence in an empire beset with crisis. He shows how the use of wealth for the care of the poor competed with older forms of philanthropy deeply rooted in the Roman world, and sheds light on the ordinary people who gave away their money in hopes of treasure in heaven.

Through the Eye of a Needle challenges the widely held notion that Christianity’s growing wealth sapped Rome of its ability to resist the barbarian invasions, and offers a fresh perspective on the social history of the church in late antiquity.

Peter Brown is the Philip and Beulah Rollins Professor of History Emeritus at Princeton University. His many books include The World of Late Antiquity, The Rise of Western Christendom, and Augustine of Hippo.

 

It’s Time To Re-Center Your Round-Up

A lot of people look at the holidays as a time to decompress, re-center themselves, and re-energize for the new year. Plus with New Year’s Resolutions flying  around, it’s the perfect time to read some books about how to better yourself both inside and out. No, I’m not saying you need to read a self-help book and cry into a pint of ice cream over your failures, but maybe you could get in touch with your spiritual, creative, mellow side with some poetry, yoga, and a bottle of Chardonnay.

Listed below we have six of our titles that we think will be perfect for helping you relax amongst the crazy and find a little inner peace . Plus, depending on how much of that wine you’ve had, you might even learn some interesting things to apply to your everyday life. Enjoy!

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Yoga in Practice

Edited by David Gordon White
Yoga is a body of practice that spans two millennia and transcends the boundaries of any single religion, geographic region, or teaching lineage. Yoga in Practice is an anthology of primary texts drawn from the diverse yoga traditions of India, greater Asia, and the West. Emphasizing the lived experiences to be found in the many worlds of yoga, Yoga in Practice includes David Gordon White’s informative general introduction as well as concise introductions to each reading by the book’s contributors.

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The Undiscovered Self: With Symbols and the Interpretation of Dreams

By: C. G. Jung, Translated by R.F.C. Hull
“The Undiscovered Self” is a plea for Jung’s generation–and those to come–to continue the individual work of self-discovery and not abandon needed psychological reflection for the easy ephemera of mass culture. Only individual awareness of both the conscious and unconscious aspects of the human psyche will allow the great work of human culture to continue and thrive. Jung’s reflections on self-knowledge and the exploration of the unconscious carry over into the second essay, “Symbols and the Interpretation of Dreams,”. Describing dreams as communications from the unconscious, Jung explains how the symbols that occur in dreams compensate for repressed emotions and intuitions.

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Self-Fulfillment

By: Alan Gewirth
Cultures around the world have regarded self-fulfillment as the ultimate goal of human striving and as the fundamental test of the goodness of a human life. The ideal has also been criticized, however, as egotistical or as so value-neutral that it fails to distinguish between, for example, self-fulfilled sinners and self-fulfilled saints. Alan Gewirth presents here a systematic and highly original study of self-fulfillment that seeks to overcome these and other arguments and to justify the high place that the ideal has been accorded by developing an ethical theory that ultimately grounds the value of self-fulfillment in the idea of the dignity of human beings.

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The Brain and the Meaning of Life

By: Paul Thagard
Why is life worth living? What makes actions right or wrong? What is reality and how do we know it? This book draws on research in philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience to answer some of the most pressing questions about life’s nature and value. Paul Thagard argues that evidence requires the abandonment of many traditional ideas about the soul, free will, and immortality, and shows how brain science matters for fundamental issues about reality, morality, and the meaning of life. The ongoing Brain Revolution reveals how love, work, and play provide good reasons for living. Thagard shows how brain science helps to answer questions about the nature of mind and reality, while alleviating anxiety about the difficulty of life in a vast universe.

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The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking

By: Edward B. Burger & Michael Starbird
This book presents practical, lively, and inspiring ways for you to become more successful through better thinking. The idea is simple: You can learn how to think far better by adopting specific strategies. Brilliant people aren’t a special breed–they just use their minds differently. By using these straightforward and thought-provoking techniques, you will regularly find imaginative solutions to difficult challenges, and you will discover new ways of looking at your world and yourself–revealing previously hidden opportunities. Whenever you are stuck, need a new idea, or want to learn and grow, this book will inspire and guide you on your way.

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The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics: Fourth Edition

Roland Greene, editor in chief
Over more than four decades, The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics has built an unrivaled reputation as the most comprehensive and authoritative reference for students, scholars, and poets on all aspects of its subject: history, movements, genres, prosody, rhetorical devices, critical terms, and more. Now the book has been thoroughly revised and updated for the twenty-first century. Compiled by an entirely new team of editors, the fourth edition reflects recent changes in literary and cultural studies, providing up-to-date coverage and giving greater attention to the international aspects of poetry, all while preserving the best of the previous volumes.

What happens at AAR/SBL doesn’t stay at AAR/SBL…

Prompted by this great meeting overview in Publishers Weekly, I asked our religion editor Fred Appel what his experience was like at the American Academy of Religion and Society of Biblical Literature conference. Here’s how he describes the meeting:

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Princeton University Press religion editor Fred Appel with Sharmila Sen and Jennifer Banks, religion editors of Harvard University Press and Yale University Press, respectively.

The joint meeting of the American Academy of Religion and Society of Biblical Literature is one of North America’s biggest academic conferences. Almost 11,000 scholars attended last month’s meeting at the Baltimore Convention Center. The meetings are noted for their diversity. All manner of religion scholars attend, from specialists of the Hebrew Bible and Qur’an, to experts in Zen Buddhism, Christian monasticism and Hinduism, to historians of American religion. The exhibit hall is filled with all sorts of publishers, including many with avowedly religious/confessional commitments. Publishers from the world of scholarly book publishing were also there in force.

Among PUP’s strong sellers at this meeting were recent volumes in the “Lives of Great Religious Books” series, especially Mark Larrimore’s book on Job and John Collins on the Dead Sea Scrolls. Also quite popular was The Bible in Arabic, a scholarly book tracing this history of early translations of the Bible in the Arab world by Sidney Griffith of Catholic University. Our two big religion reference books (The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism and A History of Jewish-Muslim Relations) this season also attracted considerable attention, and we had one social science title that performed very well too: Mark Chaves’ American Religion.

New Religion Catalog

Be among the first to browse and download our new religion catalog!

Of particular interest are the new additions to the Lives of Great Religious Books series including The Book of Common Prayer by Alan Jacobs, Thomas Aquinas’s Summa theologiae by Bernard McGinn, The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali by David Gordon White, and more. The new series is comprised of short volumes that recount the complex and fascinating histories of important religious texts from around the world. Written for general readers by leading authors and experts, these books examine the historical origins of texts from the great religious traditions, and trace how their reception, interpretation, and influence have changed—often radically—over time. As these stories of translation, adaptation, appropriation, and inspiration dramatically remind us, all great religious books are living things whose careers in the world can take the most unexpected turns.

Even more foremost titles in religion can be found in the catalog. You may also sign up with ease to be notified of forthcoming titles at http://press.princeton.edu/subscribe/. Your e-mail address will remain confidential!

If you’re heading to the annual meeting hosted by the American Academy of Religion and Society of Biblical Literature in Baltimore, MD November 23rd through the 26th, come visit us at booth 345, and follow us on Twitter @PrincetonUPress for updates and information on our new and forthcoming titles throughout the meeting. See you there!

Daniel B. Schwartz Named Co-Winner of 2012 Salo Wittmayer Baron Prize

Daniel B. Schwartz – The First Modern Jew: Spinoza and the History of an Image
Co-Winner of the 2012 Salo Wittmayer Baron Prize, American Academy for Jewish Research

The American Academy for Jewish Research is pleased to announce the winners of its annual Salo Baron Prize for the best first book in Jewish studies published in 2012…The First Modern Jew: Spinoza and the History of an Image [is a] commanding piece of intellectual history that traces the image of Spinoza in a number of different geo-cultural contexts. The prize committee found Schwartz’s authoritative grasp of each of them, from Spinoza’s own time, to eighteenth-century Germany, nineteenth-century East Central Europe, and twentieth-century Palestine, truly remarkable for a scholar for whom this is a first book. The book rests on careful and precise terminological apparatus, as well as on a graceful and compelling writing style.

The Baron Prize honors the memory of the distinguished historian Salo W. Baron, a long-time president of the AAJR, who taught at Columbia University for many decades. It is…one of the signal honors that can be bestowed on a young scholar in Jewish studies and a sign of the excellence, vitality, and creativity in the field.

The First Modern JewPioneering biblical critic, theorist of democracy, and legendary conflater of God and nature, Jewish philosopher Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677) was excommunicated by the Sephardic Jews of Amsterdam in 1656 for his “horrible heresies” and “monstrous deeds.” Yet, over the past three centuries, Spinoza’s rupture with traditional Jewish beliefs and practices has elevated him to a prominent place in genealogies of Jewish modernity. The First Modern Jew provides a riveting look at how Spinoza went from being one of Judaism’s most notorious outcasts to one of its most celebrated, if still highly controversial, cultural icons, and a powerful and protean symbol of the first modern secular Jew.

Ranging from Amsterdam to Palestine and back again to Europe, the book chronicles Spinoza’s posthumous odyssey from marginalized heretic to hero, the exemplar of a whole host of Jewish identities, including cosmopolitan, nationalist, reformist, and rejectionist. Daniel Schwartz shows that in fashioning Spinoza into “the first modern Jew,” generations of Jewish intellectuals–German liberals, East European maskilim, secular Zionists, and Yiddishists–have projected their own dilemmas of identity onto him, reshaping the Amsterdam thinker in their own image. The many afterlives of Spinoza are a kind of looking glass into the struggles of Jewish writers over where to draw the boundaries of Jewishness and whether a secular Jewish identity is indeed possible. Cumulatively, these afterlives offer a kaleidoscopic view of modern Jewish cultureand a vivid history of an obsession with Spinoza that continues to this day.

Daniel B. Schwartz is assistant professor of history at George Washington University.

Two for Tuesday – The Book of Common Prayer and The Book of Job

The Lives of Great Religious Books is a series offering fascinating histories of important religious texts from around the world.  These short volumes are written for general readers and examine the historical origins of texts from the great religious traditions, and trace how their reception, interpretation, and influence have changed–often radically–over time. For “Two for Tuesday” we highlight two new books published in the series and invite you to read their introductions online.

commonThe Book of Common Prayer: A Biography
by Alan Jacobs

While many of us are familiar with such famous words as, “Dearly beloved, we are gathered together here. . .” or “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust,” we may not know that they originated with The Book of Common Prayer, which first appeared in 1549. Like the words of the King James Bible and Shakespeare, the language of this prayer book has saturated English culture and letters. Here Alan Jacobs tells its story. Jacobs shows how The Book of Common Prayer–from its beginnings as a means of social and political control in the England of Henry VIII to its worldwide presence today–became a venerable work whose cadences express the heart of religious life for many.

Alan Jacobs is Distinguished Professor of the Humanities in the Honors Program at Baylor University.

Read the introduction online: http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/i10076.pdf

 

jobThe Book of Job: A Biography
by Mark Larrimore

The book of Job raises stark questions about the nature and meaning of innocent suffering and the relationship of the human to the divine, yet it is also one of the Bible’s most obscure and paradoxical books, one that defies interpretation even today. Mark Larrimore provides a panoramic history of this remarkable book, traversing centuries and traditions to examine how Job’s trials and his challenge to God have been used and understood in diverse contexts, from commentary and liturgy to philosophy and art. Offering rare insights into this iconic and enduring book, Larrimore reveals how Job has come to be viewed as the Bible’s answer to the problem of evil and the perennial question of why a God who supposedly loves justice permits bad things to happen to good people.

Mark Larrimore directs the Religious Studies Program at Eugene Lang College The New School for Liberal Arts.

Read the introduction online: http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/i10075.pdf

For more books in the Lives of Great Religious Books series, visit:
http://press.princeton.edu/catalogs/series/lgrb.html

Peter Brown Receives Honorable Mention for the 2013 Cundill Prize

Peter Brown – Through the Eye of a Needle: Wealth, the Fall of Rome, and the Making of Christianity in the West, 350-550 AD
Honorable Mention for the 2013 Cundill Prize in Historical Literature, McGill University

“The Cundill Prize in Historical Literature at McGill is the world’s most important international nonfiction historical literature prize.”

Six books have moved on to the shortlist; the winner will be announced on November 20th in Toronto. Peter Brown’s book did not make the shortlist, but was recognized by the jury with an honorable mention (one of only two books so honored).

For more information about this award and event, click here.

Through the Eye of the Needle

 Through the Eye of a Needle is a sweeping intellectual and social history of the vexing problem of wealth in Christianity in the waning days of the Roman Empire, written by the world’s foremost scholar of late antiquity.

Peter Brown examines the rise of the church through the lens of money and the challenges it posed to an institution that espoused the virtue of poverty and called avarice the root of all evil. Drawing on the writings of major Christian thinkers such as Augustine, Ambrose, and Jerome, Brown examines the controversies and changing attitudes toward money caused by the influx of new wealth into church coffers, and describes the spectacular acts of divestment by rich donors and their growing influence in an empire beset with crisis. He shows how the use of wealth for the care of the poor competed with older forms of philanthropy deeply rooted in the Roman world, and sheds light on the ordinary people who gave away their money in hopes of treasure in heaven.

Through the Eye of a Needle challenges the widely held notion that Christianity’s growing wealth sapped Rome of its ability to resist the barbarian invasions, and offers a fresh perspective on the social history of the church in late antiquity.

Peter Brown is the Philip and Beulah Rollins Professor of History Emeritus at Princeton University. His many books include The World of Late Antiquity, The Rise of Western Christendom, and Augustine of Hippo.

Q&A with Abdelwahab Meddeb and Benjamin Stora, Editors of “A History of Jewish-Muslim Relations”

A History of Jewish-Muslim RelationsIn an exclusive interview, Abdelwahab Meddeb and Benjamin Stora, editors of A History of Jewish-Muslim Relations: From the Origins to the Present Day, spoke about their experiences with Jewish-Muslim relations, their inspiration for the book, and what they believe will happen in the future.

At its release in November of this year, the book will be the first encyclopedic guide to the history of relations between Jews and Muslims around the world from the birth of Islam to today. It features more than 150 authoritative and accessible articles by an international team of leading experts in history, politics, literature, anthropology, and philosophy. Organized thematically and chronologically, this indispensable reference provides critical facts and balanced context for greater historical understanding and a more informed dialogue between Jews and Muslims.

Abdelwahab Meddeb is professor of comparative literature at the University of Paris-X (Nanterre). His books include Islam and Its Discontents.

Benjamin Stora is University Professor at the University of Paris-XIII (Villetaneuse), where he teaches the history of nineteenth- and twentieth-century North Africa and the history of North African immigrants in Europe. His many books include Algeria, 1830-2000: A Short History.

1. Both of you grew up in places where Jewish and Muslim communities lived side by side but, for the most part, kept to themselves. How did your early experiences affect the way you developed this book?

Benjamin Stora: I grew up in Constantine, in the Jewish Quarter. At that time the Jews in Algeria mostly felt French, but their ties to the Muslim communities were real; we shared the same language of everyday life, the Arabic language. Then came the departure of the Jews from Algeria: another exile after the fracture introduced by the Cremieux Decree. I have worked extensively on the history of the Maghreb and on Algeria in particular, and more recently I have become interested in the question of memory among the Jews of Algeria: it is an essential part of my memory and of Algeria’s history. And to inform these memories, the work of the historian is necessary because it puts events in context, it connects them to one another. This project made sense to me because it would bring together European and American historians, but also Muslims and Jews. And it is only in this collective dimension that the history of Jewish-Muslim relations can be written.

Abdelwahab Meddeb: During my childhood in Tunis, in the 1950s, the presence of Jews was part of my story. During my schooling I had many Jewish teachers in nearly all subjects—history, geography, French literature, English, mathematics, physics, the natural sciences. They were our fellow citizens, our elders. They helped us into the modern world as Tunisians. So, with this background, I decided to join this project. Because Jews have virtually disappeared from Arab reality, from the Maghreb, from Tunisia, it was important to revisit the past, to recall the peaceful coexistence with Jews, sharing the same city. It is necessary to remember, to replace imagination with memory, and from that point, history can be written.

2. This project took more than five years to complete–years that coincided with major changes and conflicts in the Middle East. Did current events affect your decisions about the essays and topics the book would include?

Benjamin Stora and Abdelwahab Meddeb: The history of relations between Jews and Muslims is complex. But the editorial committee tried to focus on the long term, not on issues tied solely to current events.
At a time when the relationship is in bad shape, very bad, we cannot ignore these religious conflicts nor their manifestations in political and social history.
Even in medieval times, when the two civilizations coexisted more peacefully, the “protected” legal status (dhimmi) of Jews did not prevent anti-Judaism among Muslims that led to forced conversions or destruction by the sword. This enmity mutated with the rise of Western hegemony that eventually subjugated the Islamic territories. Other forms of ambivalence developed under colonialism and imperialism.
We have situated A History of Jewish-Muslim Relations at the heart of this tragic scene. We wanted to make this an objective, balanced history, which at first seemed impossible. The history contains not only conflicts, but also times of fertile intellectual, cultural, and artistic exchange.

3. The book traces the history of a long and complicated relationship from a global perspective. Why is this shared history important for contemporary readers to understand?

Benjamin Stora:  Making a book today on the history of relations between Jews and Muslims is a true challenge. Despite all the differences, all the apprehension, all the fears that exist between these two communities, one must maintain the link between them.  They have experienced common histories, and despite the clashes, they belong to the same shared universe.
It is a fundamental undertaking, not simply to remember but to engage readers at the civic level, at the political level. Because if you have this deep knowledge of the recent past, then you can envision working together. But if you do not have this conception of a shared past, how can you find common ground on which to build?

4. What are some of the cultural assumptions this book hopes to challenge?

Benjamin Stora: The first articles in the book challenge the idea that Muslims were hostile toward Jews from the outset. Specialists such as Mark Cohen have shown that the attitude of the Prophet of Islam toward the Jews was shaped by pragmatism, not ideology.
In contrast, the idea of an Andalusian golden age in which the two communities lived in perfect harmony has prevailed for a long time: but again, the historian must have the courage to reflect critically on its sources. This book, which ignores neither the bad nor the good, has the humble ambition to provide the results of contemporary research and to offer a common memory, a tool that will facilitate dialogue.

5. What do you think the future holds for Jewish-Muslim relations?

Abdelwahab Meddeb: I agreed to edit this project because I believe in the possibility of future reconciliation, but always also in the irreconcilable. For there is no reconciliation that does not preserve an irreconcilable part. It is a long history that contains the irreconcilable, on both sides, and for compromise to happen we must recognize that the two entities will maintain irreconcilable elements.
I believe in a future reconciliation and I agreed to do this work because I believe its effect remains to be seen:  to work toward a better time in which everyone will regain reason. Without ignoring the negativities and the abominations, this book tells a complex story. The relationship between Jews and Muslims is complex: it has seen the best, it has seen the worst. But I think it is important at least to remember this ambiguity and to show that it does not move in only one direction.  And to hope that, despite the hatred that currently exists between the two communities, a different vision is possible.

Stuart Mitchner on Princeton University Press: “The University Publisher”

Stuart Mitchner has a very nice piece on Princeton University Press in the most recent issue of Princeton Magazine, which includes mention of several recent books and authors. To give you a feel, here is the introductory paragraph:

Princeton University Press celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2005 with the publication of A Century in Books, which showcased 100 volumes that “best typify what has been most lasting, most defining, and most distinctive about our publishing,” according to the introduction by outgoing director Walter Lippincott, who was succeeded in March of that year by the current director Peter J. Dougherty. The co- chair of the search committee at the time was University Provost Christopher Eisgruber, the University’s newly installed twentieth president and the subject of this issue’s cover story. What the provost said about the new director eight years ago could be said by the president today, that he’s looking forward to working with Dougherty “to sustain the healthy relationship between the Press and the University.”

To illustrate the depth of the rest of Mitchner’s piece, here is a slideshow of the important books featured in the article:

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To read Mitchner’s full article in Princeton Magazine, click here.

The Muslim Brotherhood

j9948Our fundamental mission at PUP is to disseminate scholarship both within academia and to society at large. Sometimes the most illuminating background research for breaking news events is available in scholarly books from presses committed to the public interest. For better understanding of world events, we present this new book by Carrie Rosefsky Wickham:

The Muslim Brotherhood:
Evolution of an Islamist Movement

We invite you to read chapter one online:
http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/s9948.pdf

The Muslim Brotherhood has achieved a level of influence nearly unimaginable before the Arab Spring. The Brotherhood was the resounding victor in Egypt’s 2011-2012 parliamentary elections, and six months later, a leader of the group was elected president. Yet the implications of the Brotherhood’s rising power for the future of democratic governance, peace, and stability in the region is open to dispute. Drawing on more than one hundred in-depth interviews as well as Arabic language sources not previously accessed by Western researchers, Carrie Rosefsky Wickham traces the evolution of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt from its founding in 1928 to the fall of Mubarak and the watershed elections of 2011-2012. Further, she compares the Brotherhood’s trajectory with those of mainstream Islamist groups in Jordan, Kuwait, and Morocco, revealing a wider pattern of change. Wickham highlights the internal divisions of such groups and explores the shifting balance of power among them. She shows that they are not proceeding along a linear path toward greater moderation. Rather, their course has been marked by profound tensions and contradictions, yielding hybrid agendas in which newly embraced themes of freedom and democracy coexist uneasily with illiberal concepts of Shari’a carried over from the past. Highlighting elements of movement continuity and change, and demonstrating that shifts in Islamist worldviews, goals, and strategies are not the result of a single strand of cause and effect, Wickham provides a systematic, fine-grained account of Islamist group evolution in Egypt and the wider Arab world.

Carrie Rosefsky Wickham is associate professor of political science at Emory University. She is the author of Mobilizing Islam: Religion, Activism, and Political Change in Egypt.

SNEAK PEAK (October release date!): A History of Jewish-Muslim Relations

A History of Jewish-Muslim Relations: From the Origins to the Present Day -- Edited by Abdelwahab Meddeb & Benjamin StoraSet to be released in October 2013, A History of Jewish-Muslim Relations is the first encyclopedic guide to the history of relations between Jews and Muslims around the world from the birth of Islam to today. Richly illustrated (more than 250 images) and beautifully produced, the book features more than 150 authoritative and accessible articles by an international team of leading experts in history, politics, literature, anthropology, and philosophy. Organized thematically and chronologically, this indispensable reference provides critical facts and balanced context for greater historical understanding and a more informed dialogue between Jews and Muslims.

The main articles address major topics such as the Jews of Arabia at the origin of Islam; special profiles cover important individuals and places; and excerpts from primary sources provide contemporary views on historical events.

Contributors include Mark R. Cohen, Alain Dieckhoff, Michael Laskier, Vera Moreen, Gordon D. Newby, Marina Rustow, Daniel Schroeter, Kirsten Schulze, Mark Tessler, John Tolan, Gilles Veinstein, and many more.

  • Covers the history of relations between Jews and Muslims around the world from the birth of Islam to today
  • Written by an international team of leading scholars
  • Features in-depth articles on social, political, and cultural history
  • Includes profiles of important people (Eliyahu Capsali, Joseph Nasi, Mohammed V, Martin Buber, Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin, Edward Said, Messali Hadj, Mahmoud Darwish) and places (Jerusalem, Alexandria, Baghdad)
  • Presents passages from essential documents of each historical period, such as the Cairo Geniza, Al-Sira, and Judeo-Persian illuminated manuscripts
  • Richly illustrated with more than 250 images, including maps and color photographs
  • Includes extensive cross-references, bibliographies, and an index

Each week, Princeton University Press wants to share a new excerpt from this groundbreaking account of a challenging yet remarkable meeting of two religions. This week’s selection is written by Gordon D. Newby, a professor of Middle Eastern and South Asian Studies at Emory University. His research specialties include early Islam, Muslim relations with Jews and Christians, and comparative sacred texts:

The Prophet Muhammad and the Jews

The question of where Muhammad learned about Judaism can be answered through a combination of conjecture and evidence.  According to the Islamic tradition, Arabia at that time was pagan, though seeds of monotheistic belief seem to have been planted there even before Muhammad entered the scene.  Mecca, where Muhammad was born, was home of a great pagan shrine, the Ka‘ba, later to become the focal point of the Islamic pilgrimage.  Those isolated Jews residing in Mecca during his youth—Jewish wives of members of his tribe, the Quraysh, and their offspring—would not have served as a significant source of knowledge about Judaism.[1]  Muhammad was more likely to have come in contact with Jewish merchants trading in the town or during his own commercial travels to the north.  From these people he would have been exposed to some Jewish beliefs and practices.  He doubtless met Christians, too, whether merchants trading in Mecca, hermits living in the desert, or Christian members of other Arabian tribes.  From them he would have absorbed ideas of Christianity as well as of Judaism filtered through Christian eyes. 

            In Medina, by contrast, he encountered no Christians, only a large settlement of Jewish tribes, most of them affiliated with local Arabs, including three large, wealthy, and powerful Jewish tribes with typical Arab tribal names: the Banû Naḍîr, the Banû Qaynuqâ‘, and the Banû Qurayẓa.  From them he would have learned much more about Judaism, though it is uncertain how much their Judaism was informed by rabbinic law, since the Babylonian Talmud was still in the process of reaching its final form, which was not concluded until after his death.  While attitudes toward the Jews expressed in the Qur’an were doubtless formed already in Muhammad’s Meccan period, his Jewish policies were a product of his experience in Medina.


[1] On the Jewish wives of Qurashī pagans see Michael Lecker, “A Note on Early Marriage Links between Qurashīs and Jewish Women,” Jerusalem Studies in Arabic and Islam, 10 (1987): 17-39.


MOROCCO WORLD NEWS:
15 Facts about the prophet Muhammad

1. He was a descendant of the Prophet Ismail the son of Prophet Ibrahim. -PBUT-

2. Prophet Muhammad PBUH was born in Mecca.

3. The year was 570 A.D.

4. Shortly after his birth his mother died.

5. His father was already dead before his birth. So he became orphan.

6. During this time his uncle Aboo Talib and his grand father Abdul-mutlib took care of him.

7. At the age of nine he started going on trade trips along with his uncle.

8. He met with people of different nations and religions during those trips.

9. His character was respected by all. People throughout Medina including the Jews gave him the name of “The Trustworthy.”

10. In one of his trip he met a Christian scholar, the scholar said to his uncle that he will one day do something great and I can see it because all the trees, mountains and sea are in the bow in front of him.

11. When he got 25, he got a proposal from Khadija for marriage which he accepted and thus they got married. Khadija was 40 years of age at the time of marriage.

12. For the first 54 years of his life he had only one wife. His only wife till 50th year of his life was Sayyida Khadija.

13. They had sons but they died in their childhood.

14. Prophet Muhammed married Sayyida Aicha when she was 9 years old. 1400 years ago it was something very common to marry young girls, in fact they were not considered young girls, and rather they were considered young women back then. It is a historic fact that girls from the ages of 9 to 14 were being married in Europe, Asia, and Africa, in fact even in the United States girls at the age of 10 were also being married just more than a century ago. Yet with these facts no historian claims that all these people were sick perverts, historians would call anyone who made such a claim to be arrogant and very stupid who has no grasp or understanding of history.

15. He never ate alone. He invited others and then ate with them.

For a complete list of 30 facts about the prophet Muhammad, please refer to the link below:
http://www.moroccoworldnews.com/2013/01/75149/30-facts-about-prophet-muhammad-pbuh/