Relations between Christians and Muslims go back nearly 1,400 years and have been troubled on many levels through nearly that entire span of time. The twenty-eight contributions to this substantial tome do not offer an overview of these complex interactions but constitute a miscellany of journal-type articles -- interesting in themselves but too scattered to provide a coherent picture. Some authors deal with theological issues ("What say ye of Muhammad"?) while others concern themselves with the issues on the ground (communal relations between Muslims, Christians, and Hindus in the Indian state of Kerala). We learn about such arcana as the impressions of early modern French travelers of Muslim death practices and the attitude of John Calvin on Islamic theology; but nothing about the Crusades or the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II.
Even so, the scholarship does point to some major themes: (1) the Christian-Muslim experience on every level has been primarily one of confrontation, from military to theological; (2) bright spots have appeared increasingly over the centuries, as believers of liberal spirit on both sides have sought to go beyond hostility; and (3) even as the masses continue the antagonistic relations of old, some religious leaders are trying to reach out and find common ground. So far, however, these efforts are more notable for the goodwill that animates them than for their actual accomplishments.