A fascinating bridge text between Islam and Christianity.



Intriguing exploration of the Muslim understanding of Jesus.

Akyol (Islam Without Extremes: A Muslim Case for Liberty, 2011) provides an open-minded and historically driven look at the Quran’s treatment of Jesus, with an emphasis on how the person of Jesus may have come into the worldview of Muhammad and his followers. Displaying a keen comprehension for the background behind all three Abrahamic religions and a deep understanding of Middle Eastern history, Akyol reviews the place of Jesus in the scope of Islam in a way that few modern writers have, especially outside of purely academic works. After a short discussion on the concept of the “historical Jesus,” he explores the divide between the theology developed by Paul, which became Christianity, broadly understood, and that developed by James and the church in Jerusalem, which became “Jewish Christianity,” a sect that eventually died out. The author goes on to share the intriguing similarities between the theology of Jewish Christians and the Quran’s theological concept of Jesus. In a pivotal chapter, the author provides a variety of recognized theories (and some archaeological evidence) for a real, historical connection between the vanishing Jewish Christians and the first followers of Islam. Nowhere does Akyol suggest that any one theory is definitive, but he certainly leaves readers with food for thought. He continues by exploring the role Jesus plays in the Quran, especially in contrast to his role in Christianity. In reviewing Quranic verses on Jesus, the author reveals that in many cases, parallel or at least related statements are made in apocryphal Christian literature. Among many other examples, the Quran claims that Jesus breathed life into clay birds, a statement highly reminiscent of a similar tale in a work of Christian Apocrypha, The Infancy Gospel of Thomas. Ultimately, Akyol finds that Jesus provides Muslims with a worthy exemplar of piety and holiness and that the overtones of history and geopolitics need not dampen that fact.

A fascinating bridge text between Islam and Christianity.

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-08869-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Dec. 7, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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This a book of earlier, philosophical essays concerned with the essential "absurdity" of life and the concept that- to overcome the strong tendency to suicide in every thoughtful man-one must accept life on its own terms with its values of revolt, liberty and passion. A dreary thesis- derived from and distorting the beliefs of the founders of existentialism, Jaspers, Heldegger and Kierkegaard, etc., the point of view seems peculiarly outmoded. It is based on the experience of war and the resistance, liberally laced with Andre Gide's excessive intellectualism. The younger existentialists such as Sartre and Camus, with their gift for the terse novel or intense drama, seem to have omitted from their philosophy all the deep religiosity which permeates the work of the great existentialist thinkers. This contributes to a basic lack of vitality in themselves, in these essays, and ten years after the war Camus seems unaware that the life force has healed old wounds... Largely for avant garde aesthetes and his special coterie.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 1955

ISBN: 0679733736

Page Count: 228

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1955

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