Muslim Views of the Bible: Past and Present

MUSLIM VIEWS OF THE BIBLE: PAST AND PRESENT

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This coming Saturday, December 7th, the Centre is holding a one-day symposium entitled Muslim Views of the Bible: Past and Present’. But why hold a symposium on this topic? What can be gained?

It is one of those issues that runs like a thread through the history of Muslim-Christian and Muslim-Jewish relations, but does not get the attention it deserves. It is not an area so commonly studied compared with Christian or other non-Muslim views of the Qur’an, but has lots of implications for interreligious relations today. As an academic study centre, one of our roles is to put the data on the table, so to speak, so that more people can think about issues known to a few specialists. Often this uncovers half-examined assumptions which are very influential, but do not always stand up to scrutiny.

How the past shapes the thinking of people today always needs examining, for the past and the present are rarely wholly separate.

The Qur’an itself mentions the scriptures of the Jews and Christians, and I am looking forward to hearing an analysis of what some early Muslim writers understood by those references. Moving from the beginnings of Islam to the immediate present, one of our speakers is a current example of the theme. Dr Shabbir Akhtar is in the midst of writing a commentary, from a Muslim perspective, on Paul’s Letter to the Galatians – to my knowledge, a unique enterprise in modern times. So I am looking forward to hearing his real live, work-in-progress views. These will provide a good ingredient to add to the presentations of figures from the past, although these historical examples will also have lessons and implications for today. That is why the subtitle ‘past and present’ applies to each of the presentations, not just Shabbir’s. How the past shapes the thinking of people today always needs examining, for the past and the present are rarely wholly separate.

Whether you consider yourself something of a specialist, or are someone with a general interest in the theme, there should be something here for you. And you can contribute too.  The final session of the day will be a panel discussion with questions for speakers, and each presentation will also include time for questions. So join us and take part, as we seek some answers, and no doubt, provoke further questions.

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