Studying Religion Interreligiously

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (24 June 2023) | Viewed by 1062

Special Issue Editors

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Guest Editor
The Cohn Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Ideas, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv 6997801, Israel
Interests: philosophy of self; philosophy of language; philosophy of science; normativity; agency; rationality; criticism and self-criticism; emotion; religious dialogue; interreligious dynamics; rabbinic literature

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Guest Editor
Department Ev. theology, Goethe-University Frankfurt, 60323 Frankfurt, Germany
Interests: Jewish philosophy of religion; Jewish-German, European, and American history of ideas and culture; Jewish-Christian dialogue; research in antisemitism
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

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Guest Editor
The Cohn Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Ideas, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv 6997801, Israel
Interests: medieval philosophy and theology; interreligious studies; translation studies

Special Issue Information

Building on and away from the well-honed methods of comparative religion, the innovative approach to religious studies we wish to promote in this Special Issue of Religions views the rich and varied histories of each of the three 'Abrahamic' faith traditions as unfolding in keen awareness and constant interaction with each other—in part wittingly, and in part unwittingly. So much so—and this is our main methodological contention—that they cannot be properly understood without paying close attention to the crucially formative role played by their interreligious engagement. Dealing with them comparatively is of no avail, as Lena Salaymeh’s The Beginnings of Islamic Law: Late Antique Islamicate Legal Traditions, Cambridge University Press, 2016, and Rina Drori’s Models and Contacts. Arabic Literature and its impact on Medieval Jewish Culture, Brill, 2000 argue with respect to the development of early Islamic law, and that of medieval Islamicate rabbinic and Qaraite Judaism, respectively, calling, as the latter insists, for a methodology more akin to Itamar Even-Zohar's "Polysystem Theory" of literary translation (Polysystem Studies (Special Issue of Poetics Today, Duke University Press, 1990).

The dynamics of historical interreligious engagement were seldom a matter of face-to-face dialogue, however. When explicit, much of it was conducted intrareligiously. Unlike Maimonides's direct acquaintance with Arab philosophy, early rabbinic Judaism and early Christianity knowingly were largely imagined versions of one another, honed and further elaborated in the course of their in-house discourses. These too have a history that needs to be studied carefully—one for which, again, comparative religion per se has little to offer. 

Much of the time interreligious engagement, though no less complex, can be far less explicit, as when ideas and practices are smuggled intentionally or unintentionally across interreligious divides facilitated intentionally, by converts or knowledgeable neutral go-betweens, or less wittingly by virtue of a shared terminology or language. A good example of the latter is the joint TAU-FU Biblia Arabica project ( that tracks the bilateral transformative migration of tacit religious content by virtue of medieval Arabic translations of the Hebrew and Christian Bibles. Here, too, as in the more explicit and intentional forms of interreligious engagement, such subtle exchanges facilitated by a shared lingua franca, calls for a methodology very different from mere comparison.

The mutual interaction between the three Abrahamic religions constitutes a dynamic that accounts equally for the acute differences between them as much as for what they ended up having in common. Developing with each other firmly, if not always knowingly, in mind, the three faith traditions have interacted with one another constantly on every level of religious life. Additionally, they still do. So much so—and this is the master idea of interreligious studies—that it is impossible to properly study any significant moment in their development without taking this essentially interreligious interactive dynamic seriously into account.

Their constant interaction, even when tacit, owed to much more than their mere proximity. Christianity developed out of pre-rabbinic, biblical and temple Judaism. It broke radically with late antique rabbinic theology and practice, but remained committed to the Hebrew Bible. Islam did not grant scriptural status to the Hebrew or Christian Bibles within its own scriptural canon, but the Quran preserves much of their narrative and normative content and acknowledges the prophetic status of their major prophets. Christians and Muslims blamed their monotheistic predecessors for failing to acknowledge the divine authority of their own later revelations, yet all three viewed themselves as worshipping the same God. Judaism inherited nothing officially from Christianity or from Islam's scriptural canons, just as Christianity inherited nothing officially from Islam. However, they engage their successor religions insistently in the face of the challenge they pose to their own religious self-identity. This is especially true of minority religious communities tolerated within societies controlled by another religion. The three religions inherent intertwining, and constant engagement with their surrounding cultures, gave rise to varying levels of defensive animosity, but also to significant levels of religious attentiveness to each other's theologies, religious anthropologies, legal systems, hermeneutical practices, ideas of divine retribution, liturgy, artistic expressions and more.

Dear Colleagues,

We are writing to invite you to contribute a paper to a Special Issue of Religions devoted to exploring and explaining why and how religions must be studied interreligiously. We welcome contributions related to any aspect of the theory—philosophical, historiographical, narratological—and/or the practice of studying religion interreligiously, focusing either on the facilitators of interreligious exchange—translators, shared linguistic matrixes, converts and other go-betweens—or a specific area of religious interaction—liturgy, law, ritual, hermeneutics, social hierarchies eschatology and so forth.

Prof. Dr. Menachem Fisch
Prof. Dr. Christian Wiese
Prof. Dr. Yossef Schwartz
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Religions is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • interreligious interaction
  • dialogue
  • linguistic mediation
  • inter-languages
  • religious go-betweens
  • converts
  • translators

Published Papers (1 paper)

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30 pages, 499 KiB  
An Erasmian Jewish Convert in 16th Century Vienna? Christian Concord and Jewish Sources in the Work of Paulus Weidner
by Clarisse Roche
Religions 2023, 14(9), 1141; - 6 Sep 2023
Viewed by 743
This article aims to shed new light on the work of the humanist and Jewish convert Paulus Weidner (1522–1585) by focusing on his use of postbiblical Jewish sources to defend, illustrate, and spread a non-confessional Christian faith both among Jews and among the [...] Read more.
This article aims to shed new light on the work of the humanist and Jewish convert Paulus Weidner (1522–1585) by focusing on his use of postbiblical Jewish sources to defend, illustrate, and spread a non-confessional Christian faith both among Jews and among the divided Christians of the Habsburg Monarchy. As such, Weidner was a major figure of the Christian via media promoted at the Habsburg court in Vienna around the mid-16th century. Yet, he retained, at the same time, a profound originality, for his contribution was largely based on the Mishnah. Indeed, Weidner not only proposed Christian interpretations of the Talmud, which he argued could lead to Christian faith but also claimed that the Pirkei Avot could serve as a source of Christian ethics and, as such, ought be added to the Biblical and classical heritage promoted and revered by scholars of his time. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Studying Religion Interreligiously)
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