Introduction: The Medieval Underpinnings of an Enlightened Idea
Chapter 1: The Earliest versions of the Three Rings Parable
1.1 Patriarch's Timothy's eighth-century 'Allegory of the Pearl'1.2 Religious skepticism and toleration in early Islamic Thought
1.3 An inverted story: the legend of the Three Impostors
1.4 The parable and interreligious encounter in Medieval Spain
Chapter 2: The Rings Parable in Latin Europe
2.1 The Exemplum of Etienne de Bourbon
2.2 Catholics encounter the religions of the East
2.2.1 Interreligious discourse in the Mongol Court
2.3 Western European reflections on religious truth
Chapter 3: The Evolution of the parable in the thirteenth to the sixteenth centuries
3.1 The parable at the end of the thirteenth century
3.1.1 Li dis dou vrai aniel and
3.1.2 The Gesta Romanorum
3.2 The early Renaissance versions of the parable in Italy as an expression of religious relativism3.2.1 The Novellino
3.2.2 Bosone da Gubbio's Fortunatus Siculus
3.2.3 Boccaccio's Decameron: inspiration and influence
3.3 After Decameron: between conformity and tolerance
3.4 Religious discussion between the Byzantine emperor and a Muslim, 1391
Conclusion: Religious Encounter and religious openness
This book examines the premodern encounter between the three monotheistic religions through the unique prism of a premodern literary work—The Parable of the Three Rings—a poignant and charming tale of a father who had three sons and one precious ring. By tradition he was to bequeath the ring to his heir, but he loved his three sons equally — so he had two new rings made, crafted to be indistinguishable from the original, and on his deathbed gave a ring to each son. The narrator explains that the father is God, and his sons are the Jews, the Christians, and the Muslims, each believing themselves to be the sole upholders of the true religion.
A historical and literary study, the book offers a comprehensive discussion of the various guises of the Parable, from the early Middle Ages onwards, and highlights its capacity to reflect openness and pluralism in the interfaith encounter.
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