ABOUT THE PROJECT

Whilst there are some Muslims who read the Bible for various reasons, and many Christians who read the Bible in Islamic contexts, there is as yet little explicit reflection on the process of so doing and there are few publications presenting biblical interpretations affected by Islamic contexts.

A Routledge series on this theme, edited by Dr. Ida Glaser and Dr. Shabbir Akhtar will form part of the project.

Read about the project conference we held in September 2015 More-Arrow

SOMETHING TO CONTRIBUTE?

Research grants will be open to both doctoral students and post-doctoral scholars.

The research group will have regular meetings for discussion and offer occasional seminars/seminar series to extend the discussion more widely.

If after reading the details of the project you feel qualified to contribute to this research project, then feel free to contact us.

MORE PROJECT DETAILS

THE NEED

What is the Need?

From a Christian perspective, the venture is important. Christians do, in fact, read the Bible in the context of the world in which they live, and that world includes many Muslims. There is, at present, much disagreement about how Christians should regard Islam, and how they should respond to Muslim actions which they deem to be wrong. For the majority, the Bible is cited as their major authority, but there appears to be as yet little specific reflection on how the Bible should be read and applied in relation to Muslims. The venture is important for faithful Christian living.

From a socio-political perspective, the venture is urgent. Bible-believing Christians have a great deal of political influence in, for example, the USA and Nigeria: serious engagement with the Bible should enable deeper reflection on ways in which they are responding to Muslims.

From an Islamic perspective, the venture is also important. Without serious engagement with the Bible, and Christian views of it, Muslims cannot understand how Christians think. A biblical worldview has also deeply affected the development of Western thought as well as of Christian thought in Muslim lands; and the history of Muslim engagement with the Bible can indicate some of the roots of Christian negativity about Islam and as well as of Muslim negativity about Christianity.

THE SCOPE

What is the Scope?

Reading the Bible in the context of Islam is a complex activity. It is not just a matter of explicit reflection on the contextual side of the hermeneutical spiral between text and context: it also needs to inscribe into that spiral the Qur’an, as a second text that is part of the context. The Qur’an effectively offers its own reading of the Bible, and reading between Bible and Qur’an can develop as a hermeneutical spiral in its own right. To these two spirals must be added to the dimension of the history of interaction with the Bible in the context of the interactions between Jews, Christians and Muslims, as well as the ways in which the respective communities handle and have handled their own Scriptures. In sum, the venture is not only contextual but also inter-textual, historical and sociological.

From an academic perspective, the complexity is so great that it is unlikely that any individual will be able to handle it satisfactorily. Bold individuals work in the simpler overlaps — between Bible and Qur’an, between Bible and community, between Qur’an and community, and between Muslim and Christian readers within the community. They have to take account of the fact that both Bible and Qur’an are read from particular perspectives, that Muslims as well as Christians read the Bible, and that Christians as well as Muslims read the Qur’an: it is a long journey to such expertise.

Difficult though it may be, then, the academic venture must be attempted.

The overall focus will be on Biblical interpretation. Factors that can be taken into account might include:

  • Muslim readings of the Bible;
  • The interface between the Bible and the Qur’an;
  • The history of biblical interpretation in Islamic contexts;
  • Questions that arise for Christians in Islamic contexts – for example, relating to ethics, politics, theology, anthropology, law, purity, family and worship;
  • Cultural insights;
  • Christian-Muslim communication – including dialogue, evangelism and da’wah; and
  • Translation issues.

THE AIMS

What are the Aims?

The aim is to provide the following output:

  • A range of publications on the reading of the Bible in Islamic context;
  • The inception of a series of biblical commentaries that take Islam into account from various perspectives;
  • 4-6 graduate seminars per year;
  • A major conference on ‘Reading the Bible in the Context of Islam’ at the end of the third year of the project; and
  • In 5-7 years, the discipline of reading the Bible in the context of Islam will be established within the University and beyond, and that there will be a pool of scholars equipped to continue to develop it.

THE TEAM

The Academic Team

Project Director

Dr Ida Glaser

Dr Ida Glaser

Working on hermeneutics and on Genesis

View publications

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Dr Danny Crowther

Dr Danny Crowther

Working on the Psalms and the Qur’an

Danny is a postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Centre for Muslim-Christian Studies Oxford and an Associate Member of the Faculty of Theology and Religion at the University of Oxford. He is currently writing a book on the Psalms and the Qur’an to be published in the Routledge ‘Reading the Bible in the Context of Islam’ series (Series Editors Ida Glaser and Shabbir Akhtar). His research considers how two very different kinds of scripture can have so similar functions in personal prayer, contain so many similar themes and take such similar forms.

Danny has also been our lead editor in the forthcoming edited collection which will launch the ‘Reading the Bible in the Context of Islam’ series and most probably bear this name as its title. Danny’s paper in that collection is entitled ‘The Culture Shock of the Bible.’ This paper considers the many different ways in which the text, contexts and collection(s) of the Bible (Jewish, Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox etc.) differ from Qur’anic norms of what scripture is (and what it is not) and how it functions. As a Christian scholar, Danny suggests that Christians can learn much about the nature of their own scriptures by considering how they differ from Qur’anic norms.

Danny is an active member of the Psalms Network in TORCH (The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities) where he can be found at torch.ox.ac.uk/psalms. He is also an active member of the Old Testament Faculty Seminar where he can be found most Monday afternoons of term time. In November 2016, he co-ordinated an academic conference on the Masora conference with Professors Jan Joosten (Hebrew, Oxford) and Joanna Weinberg (Rabbinic Studies, Oxford). He is currently working with them to produce a book from the papers given (including his) to be published in the new Brill series ‘Supplements to the Textual History of the Bible.’ Danny also has an article entitled ‘Qumran and Qur’an: David Livingstone and Zaid ibn Thabit amongst the Masoretes’ forthcoming in the Journal of Old Testament Study. The article compares the textual history of the Hebrew Bible and that of the Qur’an in the light of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

In his spare time, Danny enjoys life with his wife (Suzanne) and family and is writing a book entitled ‘Introduction to the Te’amim: understanding and enjoying the squiggles in the Hebrew Bible’ in the shed at the end of the garden. His wife cannot believe that anyone could be so enthusiastic about something so boring, let alone write a book.

Senior Research Scholar

SA---Team-Pic

Dr Shabbir Akhtar

Working on an Islamic view of Galatians

View publications

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Dr Shirin Shafaie

Dr Shirin Shafaie

Working on Qur’anic and Biblical narratives of Joseph

Shirin is a post-doctoral researcher and a member of the ‘Reading the Bible in the Context of Islam’ project at CMCS Oxford. She is one of the editors of the volume on ‘Reading the Bible in Islamic Contexts’ (Routledge, 2017) where she also has a chapter on an intertextual reading of the Joseph Stories in Genesis and the Qur’an. She is currently writing a monograph on ‘Reading Genesis 37-50 in the Context of Islam’.

Shirin studied Philosophy and Philosophy of Art in Tehran; and Middle East Politics, and Film and TV in London. She completed her doctoral research on ‘Contemporary Iranian War Narratives: A Dialectical Discourse Analysis’ at SOAS, University of London, where she currently teaches a module in Middle East Politics.

Her research interests are narrative theory, critical war studies, and faith-based diplomacy. She has worked with victims of chemical weapons and war-related mental illness and has been involved in a number of projects and civil-society movements for inter-religious peace and understanding.

In addition to her research activities, Shirin is the Director of Visual Academics Ltd. that provides professional filmmaking services to universities.