Luke Clossey

Published On


Page Range

pp. 103–128


  • English

Print Length

26 pages

6. Internal Frontiers between Jews, Christians, Muslims

  • Luke Clossey (author)
This chapter looks at two “internal” frontiers of the Jesus cult. The first is the border between the Muslim and Christian subcults in the growing Ottoman Empire. Christians converted to Islam, even as both traditions fused together at a level beneath formal identity, as in Bektashism and Hurufism. Muslims used Christian baptism as a deodorant, or recognized the Persian mystic Fazlallah Astarabadi as Jesus, or claimed Jesus as a prophet equal to Mohammad. The second frontier divided Jews and Christians in Iberia—a border within a Christian society. In the Disputation at Tortosa, Christians seeking to convert Jews stressed the Bible's identification of Jesus as the messiah as well as the rational necessity of his incarnation. The Jewish leaders' counterarguments were often oriented towards the plain ken: Christians used an err-riddled translation of the Hebrew Bible, ignored historical context, and too quickly abandoned the literal meaning for the figurative. Taking the plain ken to history, the defenders of Judaism argued that material success, the kind the Jews lacked, was no guarantee of truth. Both frontiers witnessed social unrest and personal tragedy.


Luke Clossey

Associate Professor of Global History at Simon Fraser University

Luke Clossey is an associate professor of global history at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada. His first book, Salvation and Globalization in the Early Jesuit Missions (Cambridge UP, 2008), won the Canadian Historical Association's Ferguson Prize for best work of non-Canadian history; a chapter from it won a paper prize from the World History Association. His writings on global religion, the history of ideas, and history methodology have appeared in the Journal of World History, the Journal of Global History, the Journal of Early Modern History, the Sixteenth Century Journal, Global History Review 全球史评 论 , History Compass, the Wiley-Blackwell Companion to World Literature, and The Cambridge World History.