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Rev. David Marshall: Building Bridges — Developing Better Christian-Muslim Relations

 by JULIE POUCHER HARBIN, EDITOR, ISLAMiCommentary, on APRIL 30, 2013: 

Rev. Dr. David Marshall

For more than 10 years the annual Building Bridges Seminar has brought together a range of internationally recognized Christian and Muslim scholars for intensive study. Texts from the Christian and Islamic traditions are used as the basis for discussion in an annual program that includes public lectures and private sessions.

The theme for this year’s seminar, to be held at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar, May 27-29, is The Community of Believers: Christian and Muslim Perspectives.

Daniel Madigan, S.J. — Ruesch Family Associate Professor in Georgetown’s Department of Theology, a distinguished scholar of the Qur’an and leading Catholic expert in Christian-Muslim dialogue — is the new 2013 Chair of Building Bridges.

Madigan works closely with the Academic Director of Building Bridges, the Rev. Dr. David Marshall – who’s been involved in the seminars since they began in January 2002 at the initiative of then-Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. George Carey. Begun not long after September 11, 2001 Carey saw the need for sustained efforts in developing better Christian-Muslim relations.

Rev. Marshall, who is also a research fellow at Georgetown’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace & World Affairs, joined the Duke Divinity School this Spring where he is Associate Professor of the Practice of Christian-Muslim Relations and Director of the Anglican Episcopal House of Studies.

I recently sat down with Marshall to learn more about the Building Bridges project and navigate some resources for students and scholars.

“Building Bridges flourished for 10 years under the guidance of Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, exploring a wide range of themes in the interface between Islam and Christianity and on the way generating a community of scholars committed to continuing this dialogue in a context of respect, open enquiry and growing friendship, and with a particular emphasis on the study of scriptural texts,” explained Marshall. “Before Archbishop Williams stood down in 2012, he invited Georgetown University to take on stewardship of Building Bridges, believing that Georgetown had the vision and the expertise to develop this project further.”

Here’s a list and links to key publications to come out of the seminars: Science and Religion: Christian and Muslim PerspectivesCommunicating the Word: Revelation, Translation, and Interpretation in Christianity and IslamHumanity: Texts and ContextsJustice and Rights: Christian and Muslim PerspectivesBuilding a Better Bridge: Muslims, Christians, and the Common GoodBearing the Word: Prophecy in Biblical and Qur’anic PerspectiveScriptures in Dialogue: Christians and Muslims studying the Bible and the Qur’an togetherThe Road Ahead: A Christian-Muslim Dialogue.

Videos from the seminars

Here below is Rev. Marshall’s written summary of the most recent publication to come out of the Building Bridges seminar — Science and Religion: Christian and Muslim perspectives. (Excerpts are available here for download):

Science and Religion: Christian and Muslim Perspectives provides a record of the eighth annual Building Bridges seminar, a process of theological dialogue between leading Christian and Muslim scholars convened by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, who contributes a preface and an afterword to this volume. Essays in the first part of the volume survey some of the key issues in the relationship to science of Christianity and Islam, past and present. The second part of the volume presents a selection of texts relevant to the interface between religion and science, together with illuminating commentary. Along with discussion of some key religious thinkers, the legacy of Charles Darwin is also considered. In his preface, Rowan Williams speaks of the “challenging and intriguing conversation” about the relationship between religion and science, noting that it “has great significance for the whole of our global civilization.” This volume gives a fascinating record of some of the highlights of this particular conversation between Muslim and Christian scholars, held in Istanbul in 2009. Excerpts from this book are available in the PDF, provided by Georgetown University Press. See the book’s table of contents here. 

Last year’s seminar — the  11th annual— was on Death, Resurrection and Human Destiny: Christian and Muslim Perspectives. It was held from April 23-25, 2012 in London and Canterbury, and convened by the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams. Summary here.

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