Behind the Masks of God develops an abstract concept of creation ex nihilo to compare and contextualize many of the symbols and more concrete ideas of divinity in world religions. The first focus is Christianity, and the book is put forward as an essay in Christian theology. In addition, the essay asks how creation ex nihilo serves to relate Christianity to other religions, particularly those of China. Neville addresses both Buddhism and Christianity, and to a lesser extent Taoism, as test cases for the applicability of creation ex nihilo as a fundamental comparative category for connecting theistic religions with non-theistic ones.
Robert Cummings Neville is Dean of the School of Theology and Professor of Religion, Philosophy, and Theology at Boston University. He is the author of The Puritan Smile: A Look Toward Moral Reflection; Reconstruction of Thinking; Recovery of the Measure: Interpretation and Nature; and The Tao and the Daimon; he is the editor of New Essays in Metaphysics, all published by SUNY Press.
"I especially like Neville's courage in confronting the fundamental issues in comparative philosophy of religion. This book sets an agenda for comparative work that invites philosophical discussion and that makes a contribution to a more systematic approach to the comparative study of religion. The illuminating comparisons between Buddhism, Confucianism, and Christianity reveal the fruitfulness of his method of integrating theological with historical and philosophical studies of religion. " — John M. Koller
"It will receive some rough reviews, I suspect, from purists in theology, philosophy of religion, and history of religions. In other words, the intellectual fundamentalists will take pleasure in denouncing it. Not being a fundamentalist, I rather like the openness of the book, its honest attempt to raise comparative issues and its serious effort to reach out to another tradition (in this case, the Chinese) in thoughtful and engaging ways. " — Gerald James Larson