New Book by Rhodes Faculty and Florida Rabbi Answers Questions on Judaism, Christianity, and Islam


Publication Date: 2/13/2007

Soon after September 11, 2001, native New Yorker and Rhodes religious studies professor Dr. John Kaltner began receiving invitations from Memphis congregations to speak about Islam. His interest in Islam began in the 1980s while living in the Middle East under the auspices of the Catholic Foreign Mission Society of America. After returning to the United States and beginning an academic career, the issue of interfaith dialogue among Jews, Christians, and Muslims became a part of his teaching and writing.

Kaltner along with Rabbi Howard Greenstein and Dr. Kendra Hotz have written What Do Our Neighbors Believe? Questions and Answers on Judaism, Christianity and Islam released January 2007 by Westminster John Knox Press. According to the publisher, “Our knowledge of what our neighbors believe can enhance our own beliefs. It can also open us to new insights that can deepen our perceptions and tolerance in a world where peace among the religions is the prerequisite for peace among the nations.”

What Do Our Neighbors Believe? is a result of the authors’ knowledge and research of faith traditions and is dedicated to the memory of Greenstein who died prior to the book’s publication. He served as rabbi of the Jewish Congregation of Marco Island, Fla., and his son Rabbi Micah Greenstein is the senior rabbi at Temple Israel in Memphis.

Hotz is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and coauthor of Shaping the Christian Life: Worship and the Religious Affections and Transforming Care: A Christian Vision of Nursing Practice. She teaches at Rhodes College and Memphis Theological Seminary. At Rhodes, Kaltner teaches courses on the Bible, Islam, and Arabic. Among his books are Islam: What Non-Muslims Should Know and Inquiring of Joseph: Getting to Know a Biblical Character Through the Qu’ran.

What Do Our Neighbors Believe? is designed for personal use as well as group study and is intended for lay persons and church groups as well as academic and religious professionals and students. The authors have organized the book in such a way that readers can compare and contrast the three world religions on each question presented. Questions explored include:

• When, where and how did the religion begin?
• Who have been the key people in the development of the religion?
• What is the religion’s sacred text?
• How are the roles of leadership and authority exercised?
• How is the nature of God understood in the religion?
• Where is the main place of worship?
• What are the primary rituals and practices of the religion?
• What are the important holidays and celebrations throughout the year?
• What does the religion teach about people who follow other faiths?
• What does the religion teach about how men and women should relate to each other?
• What issues are the most hotly debated by followers of the religion?

At the end of the book, the authors have provided a list of important dates, key terms, internet sites, and further reading sources for each religion.

What Do Our Neighbors Believe? is available at the Rhodes Bookstore and can be ordered through Cokesbury Bookstore in Memphis (6150 Poplar Avenue). Those with specific inquiries about the book can contact Dr. John Kaltner at 901-843-3407 or  or Dr. Kendra Hotz at