These are the thorny issues to which the authors intend to redirect attention, conceiving of their text as a genuine dictionary of the doctrinal difficulties of dialogue. The book concentrates on 42 topics that are both ancient and modern but always treated in a present-day perspective. These range from the figure of Abraham to that of Christ and from the classic topics of love, forgiveness and salvation to those that have only recently emerged, such as modernity or the confusion between Christianity and the West or, again, aspects linked to the new methods of enquiry, such as the objectivity criteria or the idea of intertextuality. A useful and interesting picture emerges, even if the fact that no solutions are proposed (which is certainly consistent with the book’s declared aim of simply wanting “to allow some open questions to be lucidly re-considered” (p. 26) doubtlessly risks generating a certain disorientation in the reader, giving him/her to understand that, in many cases, there is no way out of the doctrinal impasse. Thus, for example, it would be impossible for Muslims and Christians to feel united by the figure of Abraham without reducing him to a purely symbolic function. Or by love for one’s neighbour, without “desacralizing the [Christian] commandment” (p. 71) and transforming it into a generic, mutual respect having a purely secular flavour.
Despite this, the general premise guiding the authors’ critical journey remains a valid and important one, namely, the invitation not to smooth away the constituent differences of one’s own faith simply in order to open oneself to the other. This conviction nevertheless seems to generate an overly severe view of the parties engaged in dialogue. Indeed, the Christians would be too inclined to self-criticism and compromise, at the expense of their dogmatics, and the Muslims would profit from this position in order to absolve themselves and send fresh criticisms over the net. In this sense, a careful, meditative reading of the text that sees it as a challenge to overcome the difficulties is certainly the best way to profit from it.