A book-length work authored by Wayne R. Dynes, Abrahamica addresses the nature and interaction of 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 some 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).
Recourse to 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 retain about their faiths are in error. Perhaps the most disturbing finding is the nexus linking monotheism, intolerance, and violence. Optimistic schemes for reconciling the three, such as Henry Corbin’s Harmonia Abrahamica project, are unfortunately naive and ill-founded.
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--too important to Western civilization--as they are to every part of the world, except for East Asia and the Hindu-Buddhist realms of South and Southeast Asia.
For many years I emphasized the positive contributions of this religious heritage in my college classes in art history, where its themes have inspired countless works of art. Yet further research, conducted during my retirement, has revealed how problematic the role of the Abrahamic faiths has been. Abrahamica shows this in detail.
Wayne R. Dynes March 2010
An overview of a re-write or complete recasting of Abrahamica in progress