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The Death of Jesus: Comparing Christian, Jewish, and Muslim Accounts
All three religions’ representations of how Jesus/Yeshu/`Isa died, developed over centuries, promoted very different understandings and valuations of the event itself, its aftermath, and its significance. At stake in these competing narratives were claims about messiahship, prophethood, divine sonship—and God’s favored people. A close weighing side-by-side of (a) select Christian interpretations of the meaning of Jesus’s death in Gospels, creeds, and art, (b) two Jewish writings—a parody of the life of Yeshu/Jesus and a 7th century apocalypse announcing the imminent appearance of the messiah, Menahem, and (c) alternative treatments of `Isa’s/Jesus’s death in the Qur’an, among its interpreters, and in Muslim paintings, lays bare numerous elaborations of viewpoint and argument. A sharp case of the kind of story or teaching that contributed to the divergence and independent existence of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam as religions, this exploration at the same time underlines a shared, and core eschatological mentality: a day of judgment approaches.
Robert Gregg came to Stanford in 1987 from the faculty of Duke University. Prior to becoming in 1999 the Teresa Moore Professor of Religious Studies, he served as Dean of Stanford Memorial Church, while also holding a professorship in Religious Studies and Classics (1987-1999). Gregg’s scholarship includes a book on philosophies about grieving the dead in ancient Greek, Roman, and Christian communities; two volumes concerning struggles over orthodoxy and heresy in 4th century Christianity; a translation of Athanasius’ famous Greek life of the desert monk, Saint Anthony; and a book treating the interactions between Jews, “pagans,” and Christians in the Golan Heights and Syria, 1st-7th centuries CE. Professor Gregg recently published (Oxford, 2015) Shared Stories, Rival Tellings—Early Encounters of Jews, Christians, and Muslims, which treats project several “scriptural” narratives appearing in the two Bibles and in the Qur’an. This is a comparative study of the ways five of these stories were differently interpreted by Jewish, Christian, and Muslim writers and painters between the 1st and the 13th centuries.