(RNS) Ostensibly, the horrific attack against Charlie Hebdo in Paris was because of the publication’s satirical images of the Prophet Muhammad.
But to view the assault as simply about images of Muhammad is to accept a long-standing narrative about Muslim sensitivity to portrayals of Muhammad, which plays into conceptions of Muslims as superstitious savages.
The “Jewish question” was long a topic of concern in post-Enlightenment political thought. Jews were the unassimilated other that called into question the impartiality, universal rationality and secularism of modern political theory and practice.
As a Vatican delegation prepared in October to leave for war-torn Syria, the Catholic Church’s fraught relationship with Islam emerged as one of the main themes at a major gathering of the world’s bishops in Rome.
As long ago as 1996, Jon Levenson wrote an important article, “The Universal Horizon of Biblical Particularism.” In that piece he reflected on the way in which the Hebrew Bible adjudicated the particularity of Israel and a reach beyond Israel to the nations.