ABRAHAM’S CHILDREN

Co-edited:
Abraham’s Children: Jews, Christians and Muslims in Conversation, eds. Norman Solomon, Richard Harries, Tim Winter. Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 2006. ISBN 0-567-08171-0

Abrahams Children In December 1992 Richard Harries (now Baron Harries of Pentregarth), then Bishop of Oxford, initiated the Abrahamic Group. This comprised some fifteen to twenty Jews, Christians and Muslims, mostly scholars and theologians, who met regularly in his home about twice a year, and additionally once a year at a two-day retreat, to discuss topics of mutual interest in a free and open manner; I was invited to join in 1995.

Over the years we got to know and trust each other well enough to tackle even the most contentious topics amicably. Papers were prepared for each meeting – usually one each by a Jew, a Christian and a Muslim – and we were indeed fortunate to enjoy such a wide range of scholarship and spiritual sensitivity among our members. We learned that none of our religions was monolithic; the divisions within religions were often as acute as those between them. Each faith encompassed a wide range of interpretations, evolving through history, and each in its own way had responded to the same changes in moral and intellectual perspectives in the surrounding world.

The book is an edited collection of papers presented, together with summaries of the discussions. The first part (‘Foundations of Faith’) has chapters devoted to Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhummad, each of whom is treated from the perspective of each of the three religions. Topics covered in the second part (‘Resources for the Modern World’) include The Image of God in Humanity, Pluralism, Gender, the Environment, and Life after Death.

This record of real-life exchanges is not an exercise in conventional apologetics or in ‘being nice to each other’, but a serious attempt to engage with major issues of our time.