Institut für Historische Theologie

Laufende Projekte

Interactive Histories, Co-Produced Communities: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam

Direct Link to the project-website.

To say that Islam, Christianity, and Judaism are inter-related, inter-twined, or inter-connected is hardly news. Among both scholars and believers, many are aware that these three traditions, in all of their diversity, have often laid claim to a shared reservoir of prophetic authority, that their scriptural traditions are entangled and their histories often intersect. But the extent and importance of this inter-dependence has proven remarkably difficult to perceive let alone to analyze.

Whether as scholars, religious leaders, believers or secular citizens, we tend to think of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam as if each were largely independent of the others—at least after some initial moment of sectarian fission or “parting of the ways.” But these communities of faith have always been and still are in a continuous process of co-production, one that has shaped not only these religious traditions (their rituals, laws, narratives and teachings), but also some of our most basic ideals, our most enduring prejudices, and our most critical conceptual tools.

We need to be able to perceive and interrogate these dynamics of co-production both to understand the past, and because these religions and their secular heirs continue to profoundly shape worldviews and influence behavior in countless communities across the globe. We therefore propose to approach the past, present, and future of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam as inextricably entwined and fundamentally interdependent. It is by thinking with and about one another that Jews, Christians, and Muslims have shaped and continue to re-shape their broad faith traditions over their roughly two-thousand-year history. Moreover, the myriad interpretations, re-interpretations, and retellings of their conjoined histories have repeatedly transformed the possibilities for relations between these communities, ranging from the apocalyptic to the irenic – including tolerance, admiration, co-existence, symbiosis, and conflict, stigmatization, segregation, destruction. And yet our histories of these religions are almost always singular rather than plural, as if each were autonomous from the other.

Our goal is to provide the foundations of a new history of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam as co-produced communities, a history that makes clear the many different ideas and ideals that each of these communities has formed, and continues to form, by interacting with or imagining the others. We seek to produce our own scholarship on particularly significant moments in this history. But we seek as well to provide archives of materials that others, whether teachers or students, skeptics or believers, parents or policy makers, can draw on to produce their own visions of the past, present, and future possibilities of existence and interaction of these three faiths.

The project is coordinated by Katharina Heyden, Professor for Ancient History of Christianity and Interreligious Encounters at the University of Bern (Switzerland), and David Nirenberg, Director and Leon Levy Professor at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton (U.S.), and includes a network of collaborators across North America, Europe, and the Middle East.