Children of Abraham
Today as never before our world is confronted by the reality of religious and cultural pluralism. Many of us have had the luxury of living in a society where there was little necessary contact with those of other faith communities, but the world grows increasingly smaller. It is absolutely essential that we all begin to seek a fuller understanding of each other and begin to look at the spiritual health of the whole world. Such a search deepens our own faith even as it increases our understanding of others. It is in response to that mission that St. George’s College Jerusalem offers its first explicitly interfaith course: Children of Abraham, perhaps unique in receiving the blessings of both the Grand Mufti and the Chief Rabbi. Lecturers from both Islam and Judaism will join our own faculty in leading us. The course focuses on the theology, history and common heritage in the Holy Land of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam (the three Abrahamic faiths). In each tradition it will address the themes of Covenant, Election, Promise, Law, and Faith. It will discuss the importance of Land and the cultural implications as each faith develops. Abraham, the towering figure of the Genesis narratives, is the original model of faith and fidelity in all three religions. It is Abraham who stands at the center of this course, providing hope in our search for a common spiritual experience that may transcend historical conflicts. Convergences and divergences in relations between the three traditions are traced through a study of texts relating to Abraham in the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Scriptures. Jerusalem provides an ideal setting for such a discussion since the dialogue can be heightened by excursions to places holy to the three faiths, visits to synagogues, churches, and mosques, and even to private homes of each faith for conversation. The lecturers will challenge us to open discussion and debate on interpretation and will hopefully send us to St. George’s College Library for research and study. As with every St. George’s College course, participants are invited to make connections with their own faith commitments and to link their experiences in the Holy Land with their lives back home. Children of Abraham is a course with a particular focus, and will NOT take participants to all of the famous holy sites and tourist spots in Israel and Palestine. Places of relevance to the theme of interfaith dialogue and the life of Abraham will be visited in Jerusalem, the Galilee and the Negev Desert. This course is ideal for those who have already visited the Holy Land and now wish to focus their attention. Course members are encouraged to have some background knowledge of the texts and traditions of each faith tradition before they arrive. A recommended reading list is provided.
For a sample of the itinerary, please click here