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Foreigners and Their Food

Foreigners and their Food: Constructing Otherness in Jewish, Christian, and Islamic Law explores how Jews, Christians, and Muslims conceptualize “us” and “them” through rules about the preparation of food by adherents of other religions and the act of eating with such outsiders. David M. Freidenreich analyzes the significance of food to religious formation, elucidating the ways ancient and medieval scholars use food restrictions to think about the “other.” Freidenreich illuminates the subtly different ways Jews, Christians, and Muslims perceive themselves, and he demonstrates how these distinctive self-conceptions shape ideas about religious foreigners and communal boundaries. This work, the first to analyze change over time across the legal literatures of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, makes pathbreaking contributions to the history of interreligious intolerance and to the comparative study of religion.

WINNER of the 2012 Award for Excellence in the Study of Religion (in the Textual Studies category) from the American Academy of Religion.

“Written in lucid prose, Freidenreich displays a masterful command of a variety of sources and scholarship. He enviably manages an arduous task: to write an accessible book that is, at the same time, a major contribution to several academic disciplines.” —Jordan D. Rosenblum, author of Food and Identity in Early Rabbinic Judaism

“Can a Muslim eat meat from a Christian butcher? Can a Jew drink wine that has been handled by a Christian? Breaking through disciplinary, linguistic, and religious boundaries that often dominate scholarship, David Freidenreich offers a fascinating synthesis of these and countless other issues. This is a rich feast.” —John Tolan, author of Saint Francis and the Sultan: The Curious History of a Christian-Muslim Encounter

University of California Press; purchase from Amazon or other retailers (in print or electronic format)

A chapter of this book, with several scholarly responses, appears on the Religion and Culture Web Forum (March 2012) of the University of Chicago Divinity School’s Martin Marty Center.  A two-minute summary of the book was featured on The Academic Minute, broadcast on public radio stations.  I delivered a talk based on this book at the 2014 Greenfield Summer Institute of the Mosse-Weinstein Center for Jewish Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison; the podcast will be available shortly on UW’s iTunesU channel.

Related Articles

“The Food of the Damned,” in Between Heaven and Hell: Islam, Salvation, and the Fate of Others, ed. Mohammad Hasan Khalil (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013), 253–72 [link to pdf]

“Food-Related Interaction among Christians, Muslims, and Jews in High and Late Medieval Latin Christendom,” History Compass 11.11 (2013): 957–66

“Contextualizing Bread: An Analysis of Talmudic Discourse in Light of Christian and Islamic Counterparts,” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 80 (2012): 411–33 [link to pdf]

“Five Questions about Non-Muslim Meat: Toward a New Appreciation of Ibn Qayyim al-Ǧawziyyah’s Contribution to Islamic Law,” in Re-evaluating Ibn Qayyim al-Ǧawziyyah’s Literary Stature: Religious and Historical Issues, ed. Caterina Bori and Livnat Holtzman, Oriente Moderno 90 (2010): 85–104 [link to pdf]

“Food and Table Fellowship,” The Jewish Annotated New Testament, ed. Amy-Jill Levine and Marc Zvi Brettler (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), 521–24 [link to pdf]

“The Food of the Damned,” in Between Heaven and Hell: Islam, Salvation, and the Fate of Others, ed. Mohammad Hasan Khalil (Oxford University Press, 2013), 253–72 [link to pdf]

“Holiness and Impurity in the Torah and the Quran: Differences within a Common Typology,” Comparative Islamic Studies 6 (2010): 5–22 [link to pdf]

“The Implications of Unbelief: Tracing the Emergence of Distinctively Shiʿi Notions Regarding the Food and Impurity of Non-Muslims,” Islamic Law and Society, 18 (2011): 53–84 [link to pdf]

“Sharing Meals with Non-Christians in Canon Law Commentaries, ca. 1160–1260: A Case Study in Legal Development,” Medieval Encounters 14: 41–77 [link to pdf]