This timely work explores two influential religious traditions that might seem to have little in common: Twelver Shi'i Islam and Roman Catholicism. With the worldwide rise of religious fundamentalism, it is imperative that religious movements such as Christianity and Islam begin working harder to understand one another's history and beliefs. Myths and misunderstandings continue to prevail, and observers tend to focus on the differences between the two faith systems.
Without denying these differences, the authors of this book reveal a number of interesting linkages between Roman Catholicism and Twelver Shi'ism. They compare the histories of the two faiths, consider parallels between important figures in each, and highlight the doctrinal, structural, and sociopolitical similarities they share. Balanced in tone and carefully researched, the book helps explain the essence of both traditions while enriching our understanding of each.
There are an estimated 140 million Twelver Shi'is in the world today. The highest percentages live in Persian Gulf countries, including Iran and Iraq, and in Azerbaijan, Lebanon, and Afghanistan. Sizable numbers also inhabit Pakistan, India, and Turkey. The largest Christian denomination, Roman Catholicism is present across the globe, though its population of more than one billion people is concentrated in North and South America and in Europe.
"At once probing, sympathetic, learned, and insightful. . . . A trustworthy and timely work that will reward frequent use by anyone interested in the shape and future of religion in the modern world.—Middle East Insight
"Such a timely perspective could save the zealots on both sides, at least from themselves.—Times Literary Supplement
"A book that should be widely read and discussed. . . . [A] fascinating study. May it be granted the reception in popular as well as international academic circles that it richly deserves.—Middle East Policy
"Each chapter is loaded with stimulating gems.—Publishers Weekly
This comparative look at Roman Catholicism and Twelver Shi'i Islam focuses on the linkages between these two religions rather than on the seemingly intractable differences between them. The authors compare the histories of the two faiths, consider parallels between important figures in each, and highlight the doctrinal, structural, and sociopolitical similarities they share. Balanced in tone and carefully researched, the book helps explain the essence of both traditions while enriching our understanding of each.
- The University of North Carolina Press
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James A. Bill (Author)
James A. Bill is Reves Professor of International Studies and Government at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. His books include the award-winning The Eagle and the Lion: The Tragedy of American-Iranian Relations.