Abraham Divided: An LDS Perspective on the Middle East by Dr. Daniel C. Peterson
The Holy Lands of the Middle East have long held a particular
fascination for Latter-Day Saints from Joseph Smiths time to the
present, numerous LDS tourists, scholars, and church officials
have visited biblical sites in Palestine (present day Israel. the West
Bank and the Gaza Strip), Jordan, Egypt and Turkey. Several of
these LDS Pilgrims have written about their experiences and
expressed their views on the relationship between the restored
Gospel and contemporary events in the modern Middle East. Since 1948, when the state of Israel was created, the amount of LDS writing about the middle east has increased significantly. Such writing received an additional impetus in 1969, when the first BYU study-abroad program in Jerusalem was established.
Most of the LDS literature about political and religious issues
in the middle east is narrow in scope and superficial in analysis. The majority of authors since 1948 have sought to show (primarily on the basis of their interpretation of LDS scriptures) that Israels emergence as a nation and her military victories against neighboring Arab countries are the modern fulfillment of ancient prophecies about the gathering of the Jews. A major leitmotif has been that the creation of Israel is a modern replay of the Old Testament epic: God sustaining his covenant people against their enemies in a miraculous and successful bid to build a home in the promised land. Such reasoning leads to the conclusion that Israelis are good guys, Gods people; Arabs and Muslims are bad guys, Gods enemies; and the LDS church and its doctrine provide unwavering support for the former in their struggle against the latter.
the paucity of careful well informed writing by LDS authors about the modern Middle East makes Dr. Daniel Petersons book Abraham Divided a welcome addition to the corpus of LDS
literature on the subject. it is an ambitious groundbreaking effort to place the Arab-Israeli conflict in its historical, political, and religious context and to provide a comprehensive and balanced analysis from an LDS point of view. Because Peterson brings to his task a rare combination of academic training, linguistic skills, Gospel knowledge, and in country experience that few previous LDS writers have possessed, the book succeeds overall in presenting a timely provocative and convincing message.
Petersons main point is that Latter-Day Saints, if they are to
fulfill their destiny as peacemakers in the region, must understand
and respect all the peoples of the Holy Land, i.e Jews Christians and Muslims. He develops this theme by analyzing the historical political, and religious factors that lie at the root of the Middle East conflict. Two key arguments emerge from this analysis: (1) a proper understanding of Middle Eastern history and of the Islamic religion and civilization in particular will help us develop the same kind of respect and admiration for Muslims we traditionally accord the Jews; and (2) LDS doctrine does not advocate taking sides in the Arab-Israeli struggle but encourages a compassionate, impartial approach in our dealings with both Jews and Muslims.
Abraham Divided has something to offer any reader interested
in Middle Eastern issues and comparative religion. its comprehensive examination of religion, philosophy, and politics will
enlighten the novice. Its in-depth discussion of Islamic history
and doctrine will yield insights for the informed observer. And
its methodology, which emphasizes comparison and contrast,
will help readers LDS and non-LDS who want some basic knowledge of similarities and differences between Judaism Islam and LDS-Christianity.
This book is available online at Amazon.com