In Hebrew and Arabic, the words Amen and Amin—the most frequent conclusions of prayers—derive from cognate consonantal roots. The Greek and other versions of the Hebrew Bible continue to use the word Amen; the New Testament follows suit. The basic meaning of Amen or Amin in all three scriptures is the same, a passionate address to God: ‘I entrust myself to You; I put my faith in You, I keep faith with You.’ It is the cry of a person struggling to grasp and be grasped by God.
Amen: Jews, Christians, and Muslims Keep Faith with God examines faith as it is understood by Jews, Christians and Muslims; it does not aim to be a work of systematic theology or a lengthy explication of the contents of different faith traditions. It offers Jews, Christians and Muslims several approaches to faith as a category of human experience open to God: a faithful God who reaches out to grasp the faithful human being at the same time that the faithful human being reaches out to grasp a faithful God. This two-sided faith, divine and human, lies at the center of each faith tradition. The book examines faith as one might examine a gem, gazing at different facets in turn.
In this process, Patrick Ryan, a Jesuit who has lived for decades in Africa as well as in the United States, shares the personal reflections of one who has tried to live a life of faith not only in the company of fellow Christians but also in the company of Jews and Muslims, friends for many years. The work as a whole, and each chapter within it, begins and ends with reflections shared with an anonymous but real person who has struggled with faith for all that time and who continues the struggle with faith even today.
"Brings together many different strands of these religious traditions in a distinctive way by focusing on particular practices such as honoring Abraham, repenting, going on pilgrimage, or naming God. I am not aware of any other work that has configured the relationship among these religions in just this way, and I view Fr. Ryan's focus on the practice of each of these traditions as a significant contribution indeed."~Leo D. Lefebure, Georgetown University
"Fr. Pat Ryan is one of the finest Catholic scholars of Islam. His erudition, as well as his extraordinary abilities as a writer, sparkle and shine through this collection. In our time, his words are more important than ever to deepen our understanding of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim traditions, as well as the faith that we all share"~Amir Hussain, Loyloa Marymount University
"What a beautiful, insightful book! Laced with wit, literary references, and personal anecdote, its exploration into the meaning of faith in God is positively eye opening. Conveying profound knowledge of the three major monotheistic religions, Ryan suffuses the discussion with unusual warmth owing to his lifelong friendships with Muslims and Jews. Honest about non-belief, teasing, persuasive, and above all humbly committed, the book’s writing style is accessible and engaging. There is simply nothing else like it."~Elizabeth A. Johnson, CSJ, Fordham University
"It was my privilege and pleasure to hear Father Ryan present versions of many of these chapters as lectures. Only now seeing them revised and expanded in print do I see his project whole. He has created a deeply (dizzyingly) learned and at the same time very personal exploration of the idea of faith and an engagement with what it means to be a person of faith. Written from an acknowledgedly Christian perspective it reflects a great-hearted understanding of what faith can mean and what being a person of faith can mean for Jews and Christians. Father Ryan has created a remarkable and richly rewarding exploration of one of the central religious questions that confronts us all alike."~Rabbi Daniel Polish, Ph.D., Talking about God: Exploring the Meaning of Religious Life with Kierkegaard, Buber, Tillich, and Heschel
"Represents an important comparative theological exploration of interfaith engagement among the three Abrahamic traditions; it is a scrupulous attempt to converge on faith not only as a human disposition but also and especially as a relationship that originates with God. This theological focus illuminates the variety and diversity of language and idiom in which faith rises in response to God’s solicitude. With a deep devotional and personal intimacy, the book is at the same time a moving testament to the power and mystery of what the Jesuit Richard Crawshaw called caritas nimia, "love’s burden." I hope the pastoral, solicitous impulse that animates the book will commend it to all sincere pilgrims of the way."~Lamin Sanneh, Yale Divinity School