A Certain Sympathy of Scriptures
How can there be any "sympathy" between the Bible and the Qur'an? Have not their communities been at odds over their "Books" for centuries, disputing their contents and despising their credentials? Despite such antagonisms, it is still possible to have amicable comparison, for example, over the narratives about Abraham or Joseph or Moses, as an exercise in literary criticism. And indeed scholars from both faiths have done so. A Certain Sympathy of Scriptures attempts something more venturesome - far more central to both Scriptures and more cogent in the 21st Western century and 15th Muslim century. The crucial sequence of the Scriptures - alike in the Bible and the Qur'an - is through a cosmos created, for a creaturehood entrusted, by virtue of revelatory direction, mediated by prophet-hoods. These three "directions" are the supreme theme of both Scriptures: they affirm, in the idiom their reading faithful have discerned, a sure divine Lordship via human delegacy. This "dominion" or "caliphate" of humankind is shared territory in a now global scene as the abiding reality of Semitic humanism. We are not "on our own" but rather trustees in a sacramental order. To this end we are informed and enabled by what God's other envoys mediated in their coming which - as communal Books hold - was His divine sending. To venture into print at a time of extraordinary inter-religious complexity is to invite skepticism, but despite the deep issues that persist the mutual grounding - a certain sympathy - provides a measure of hope toward better understanding and recognition of divine purpose.
Publication Date: 6/1/2004
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