David Nirenberg is the Deborah R. and Edgar D. Jannotta Distinguished Service Professor of Social Thought and History at the University of Chicago, where he has also served as Dean of the Divinity School and of the Social Sciences Division. His books include Anti-Judaismus: Eine andere Geschichte des westlichen Denkens (C.H. Beck, 2015).
“Islam and Judaism: The Past as Archive for the Future”
Judaism, Islam, and Christianity are “historical religions,” in the sense that in each of them the ongoing study of texts and figures from the past provides believers with a basis for the constant reinterpretation of revelation over time. History therefore becomes not only a potent instrument of sectarian formation for communities within these traditions, but also a powerful discourse in polemic and apologetics across and between them. What is the historian’s role in this process? As we write our own histories of Christian-Muslim-Jewish encounters, how do we think about what this means for our practice as historians?