Sunday, March 07, 2010

Abrahamica manuscript

My book-length work A b r a h a m i c a addresses the three major faiths of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Collectively these are known as the Abrahamic religions. This endeavor necessarily focuses on the canonical scriptures honored by the three: the Hebrew Bible (or Tanakh, known to Christians as the Old Testament); the New Testament; and the Qur’an. In addition, there is attention to noncanonical texts, such as the so-called Intertestamental writings; Mishnah and Talmud; noncanonical gospels; and the Muslim Hadith collections. The study highlights motifs (precepts, doctrines, personalities, and legends) connecting the scriptures of all three traditions (intertextuality).

Deployment of the principles of the critical-historical approach is indispensable. This method, which has gone from strength to strength over the last 150 years, has demonstrated that many truisms religionists cherish about their faiths are in error. Perhaps the most disturbing finding is the nexus linking monotheism, intolerance, and violence. Unfortunately, optimistic schemes for reconciling the three, such as Henry Corbin’s Harmonia Abrahamica, are naive and ill-founded.

An overarching theme is the question of the historicity of the three major source collections. The short answer must be blunt: there is very little real history in any of them. They are basicly a series of "just-so" stories.

Still, one cannot simply throw the Abrahamic heritage out, bag and baggage, as the New Atheists would have us do. Abrahamic motifs have been--and still are--pervasive in Western civilization--as they are in every part of the world, with the significant exceptions of East Asia and the Hindu-Buddhist realms of South and Southeast Asia.

For many years I emphasized the positive deposit of this religious heritage in my college classes in art history, where its themes have inspired countless works of art--not to mention literature and music. Yet further research, conducted during my retirement, has revealed how problematic the role of the Abrahamic faiths has been. A b r a h a m i c a delineates this downside in necessary, though astringent detail.

Many segments of the work appeared on this blog, before being integrated into their present, fuller context. I thank readers for their helpful comments. I am pleased that, while I work on perfecting the final version, the draft of Abrahamica (a very rough draft) is now avallable through the Internet.

The introductory page as well as chapters 1, 2, 3, 4. 5, and 6 have been posted at

http://williamapercy.com/wiki/index.php?title=Abrahamica

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2 Comments:

Blogger Burk Braun said...

"Perhaps the most disturbing finding is the nexus linking monotheism, intolerance, and violence. "

Jeez- color us surprised!

No need to throw out the art of scripture while we throw out belief and obeisance. No one worships Shakespeare, yet we love him all the same.

Good luck with your book, and congratulations!

5:01 PM  
Blogger Dyneslines said...

I thank Mr. Braun for his good wishes.

However, the comparison of the Bible with Shakespeare does not work very well. Most, perhaps all of Shakespeare is literature. By comparison, only a small portion of the Bible is worth reading, even in the original languages, as a product of literary art. The Bible is a vast amalgam of didactic material of all sorts, an assemblage not governed by aesthetic considerations. Of course there are a few rewards along the way, including some of the myths in Genesis, some of the Psalms, John's Gospel and so forth. But this material amounts only to a few oases in the whole. These respites are rare pauses in a dreary wasteland of almost measureless extent. Most of Scripture offers no aesthetic rewards at all.

6:38 AM  

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