cover image Common Ground: A Priest and a Rabbi Read Scripture Together

Common Ground: A Priest and a Rabbi Read Scripture Together

Andrew M. Greeley. Pilgrim Press, $16.95 (360pp) ISBN 978-0-8298-1120-9

What happens when two of the most prolific religion scholars in America sit down and, together, read sacred texts (some of which they have in common) of their different religions? Will they engage in a genuine dialogue? Or will their readings devolve into a kind of one-upsmanship in which each scholar shows off his own intellectual capacities in defending his traditions? In Common Ground, a revised and updated edition of their The Bible And Us (Warner, 1990), Catholic sociologist and novelist Greeley and Jewish rabbinical scholar Neusner do a little of both. The book is structured like a conversation in which one scholar introduces a topic and the other responds to the former's reading. Thus, Greeley explores the life of Jesus through a reflection on His words, deeds, historicity, etc. Neusner then responds by demonstrating the traditional Christian misreadings of Jesus' Jewishness that have fostered anti-Semitism. Greeley's readings, as in his Harold Robbins-like novels, are preoccupied with sexuality, while Neusner's are more balanced and reflect a more sophisticated interpretative mind. While there are moments of significant dialogue here, the overall impression is one of two showmen barking their wares at a religion sideshow. (Mar.)