New Muslim-Christian Commentaries on the Bible with Ida Glaser

The Stone Chapel Podcasts

To hear the podcast click here.

Dr. Ida Glaser, Director of the Oxford Center for Muslim-Christian Studies in Houston, joins David Capes to talk about a new commentary she has just co-authored with her colleague, Anwarul Azad. 

It is entitled Genesis 1-11: Bible Commentaries from Muslim Contexts (Langham Publishing).

Dr. Glaser is series editor for the entire project.  It is a unique series.  It has been 1000 years since serious Christians have attempted to write Bible commentaries alongside and for Muslim culture. 

The goal is to put the Bible into conversation with the Qur’an.  Many of the stories in Genesis 1-11 are found in the Qur’an and Muslim tradition, although they often also differ. 

So one goal of the series, and of this commentary is to put the Christian Scriptures alongside the holy book of Islam. 

Because Muslim-background believers will certainly have these accounts in mind when they read them in the Christian Bible.

Ida’s co-editor for the series is Martin Accad, a Lebanese scholar.  Tragically, Ida’s co-author for this book Anwarul Azad died with Covid not long after he completed his portion of the manuscript.

Most Bible commentaries written in the west do not help Muslim-believers because they are written against a background and for people who come from very different backgrounds.  And western commentaries do not fit their contexts. 

Here is what one Old Testament scholar from Canada says of the book:

“This commentary on Genesis represents the fruit of deep conversation between the Abrahamic faiths. Accessible to the reader without avoiding challenging issues, it provides a fresh encounter with this foundational biblical text. An engaging read for all.”

MARK J. BODA, PhD. McMaster Divinity College, Canada

Be sure to stay for a nugget of wisdom from Ida at the end.

For a transcript of today’s podcast, click here.

Dr. Glaser joined David Capes on an earlier podcast to discuss the mission and history of the Centre for Muslim-Christian Studies at Oxford.  To hear that podcast click here.

To learn about the Center for Muslim-Christian Studies, Houston, click here.

To read about the Center for Muslim-Christian Studies, Oxford, click here.

For more books by Ida Glaser, click here.

Click here for videos by Ida Glaser.

Tom Holland

Tom Holland is a wonderful historian and writer who you need to know. He cut his teeth on Greek and Roman culture, which of course intersects with the origins of Christianity.

Here is a link to a good article and series of podcast videos that give a bit more information about him. One of those videos features N. T. Wright.

Is It Possible to be a Christian and a Scholar?

Recently my friend and colleague, Larry Hurtado (Univ of Edinburgh), addressed the question whether it is possible to be a Christian and a scholar in a brief video sponsored by the University of Edinburgh.  It is only 3 minutes in length and worth watching.  Here is a link:

No one comes to a discipline from no perspective at all.  Everyone, whether Jew, Christian, Muslim, or “none” approaches a set of data or texts with assumptions which some scholars refer to as “pre-understanding.”  It is important to recognize what our pre-understandings are and to recognize when and how our pre-understandings enter into disciplines.  If they cause us to mis-read the texts or over-read the data, then we need to recognize or rethink those positions.

There are no points of neutrality.  Objectivity is a myth. Anyone who claims to be operating from some mythical, neutral spot or complete objectivity should not be taken more seriously than one who recognizes their biases.  You can clearly see my bias here.  A bias is not necessarily wrong.


The date of Easter

Many people never think about the date of Easter.  This year (2016) most Christians in North America will celebrate Easter early, March 27th.  Orthodox Christians will celebrate Easter over a month later on May 1, 2016.  The reason why goes back to the early centuries of the church.  easter image

So first, how is the date of Easter decided?  Well, there is a formula.  In the west Catholics and Protestants schedule Easter on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox (the first day of Spring).  That formula was decided in the early centuries AD as Christian leaders felt a need to distinguish themselves from their Jewish neighbors and co-religionists.

Scholars today disagree on”the parting of the ways,” that is, the period when the religions we know today at Judaism and Christianity went their separate ways.  Some think the divide was complete in the first century AD, others the second, still  others the fourth.  The point is there is good  evidence of close collaboration for centuries between Jews, Jewish Jesus followers and non-Jewish Jesus followers.

It is important to remember that at first all the followers of Jesus were Jews.  They kept kosher, observed the Sabbath, circumcised their male sons on the 8th day; in other words they lived Jewishly.  But as the Jesus movement grew, it became primarily a  non-Jewish phenomenon. There were stresses and strains and ultimately fissures and cracks.  It became clear to practitioners of the two religions–if these movements can be classified by the modern term “religion”–that they had different destinies.

The Church Councils in Nicaea (AD 325) and Constantinople (AD 381) set out to define creeds, practices, Christology,  and the date of Easter among other things. The first generations of Christians related the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus to the Jewish Passover, the season when these terrible, wonderful events occurred.  The Passover is itself a feast that moves around on our calendar (this year, April 22-30, 2016), though it is stable in the Jewish calendar (Nissan 15-22).  Eventually Church leaders decided to sever Easter  from anything having to do with the Jewish Passover.  By then, it seems, the parting of the ways is complete.

All religions or groups define themselves over against others.  This is a natural and normal feature of all groups.  Eventually these differences take on the form of a “checklist.”  Christians are those who believe X, Y, Z and practice 1, 2, 3.  Jews, on the other hand, do not believe X, Y, Z and have a different set of practices.  These boundary markers were unclear at first; it was possible in the first century to be a Jesus follower and a Jew at the same time.  Over time the differences become clear and stark; now a Jew who becomes a follower of Jesus is  no longer a Jew but a Christian.