Judaism and Islam developed with only marginal reference to Christianity, but Christianity’s evolution has been entangled with the two other monotheisms — as essential foils. That has nowhere been more evident than in the Middle East. European Christendom came into existence in tension with an imagined “Holy Land’’ to which both Jews and Muslims had competing claims. That competition continues — sometimes dangerously, as on the Israeli-Lebanese border last week. If the current Obama push toward a revitalized peace process succeeds, with Palestinian and Israeli negotiators re-convening, ghosts in the room will have Christian origins. The way to render those ghosts harmless is to identify them.

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