world council of churches

Some recent books on Christian-Muslim relations
reviewed by Tarek Mitri

Oddbjørn Leirvik, a Norwegian theologian committed to, and experienced in, Christian-Muslim Dialogue, added a valuable work to a number of studies on the images of Jesus Christ in Islam and related issues of theological dialogue. His Images of Jesus Christ in Islam (studies Missionalia Upsaliensia LXXVI, Uppsala, 1999, 269 pp.), rely on some primary and many secondary sources in surveying Islamic Christologies through exegesis, story telling, Sufism, Shiite tradition, and in the context of polemics. He also looks carefully at the most significant expressions, literary and otherwise, of contemporary tendencies in Muslim thought on Christ.

His approach is marked, to be sure, by his experience and commitment to Christian-Muslim dialogue. This is reflected in his attempt to identify issues of dialogue beyond inherited apologetics of Christians and Muslims. His main preoccupation is to explore possibilities of a genuine dialogue between Christians and Muslims on Christology, not as an independent subject but as it raises a number of inescapable anthropological and ethical questions. In other words, he does not surrender to the temptation of treating Islam and Christianity as fundamentally different and mutually exclusive religious universes. In emphasizing the plurality of Muslim interpretations on the one hand, and inviting Christians to a rethinking of Christology in dialogue with Islam, the author hopes to ease the reluctance of both parties to deal with the sensitive theological questions.

As an editor of "Louis Massignon au coer de notre temps, Paris (Kartala, 1999, 375 pp.), Jacques Keyrell continues the effort of exploring the wealth of relations cultivated and interests embraced by the great French Islamicist, Christian spiritual figure, and man of dialogue.

Unsurprisingly, the diversity expressed through the contributions to the book reflects the complex and rich personality of Massignon. While his book could not exhaust the many dimensions of the Massignon story and its relevance for our time, it offers new approaches to some of its insufficiently known aspects.

Musulmans et chrétiens -- politiques d'accueil dans les terres d'origine ou d'immigration (Bayard Editions - Centurion, 1999) (Muslim and Christians, policies of reception in the land of origin or of immigration) has been written and compiled by the Islamic-Christian Friendship Group (Groupe d'amitié islamo-chrétienne (GAIC)) as a result of an international consultation on the theme "Christians in countries of Muslim tradition, Muslims in countries of Christian tradition, our responsibilities as believers." The consultation was conceived to reflect upon the different issues raised today in countries faced with the fear of the others' religious tradition, to find mutual enrichment rather than conflict in a joint approach to these questions.

Return to Current Dialogue (33), July 1999
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