Communicating the Word

Revelation, Translation, and Interpretation in Christianity and Islam

David Marshall, Editor
Afterword by Archbishop Rowan Williams

"Holy writings, received as revealed, are central to both Islam and Christianity. This welcome collection will open the debate."
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Communicating the Word is a record of the 2008 Building Bridges seminar, an annual dialogue between leading Christian and Muslim scholars convened by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Featuring the insights of internationally known Christian and Muslim scholars, the essays collected here focus attention on key scriptural texts but also engage with both classical and contemporary Islamic and Christian thought. Issues addressed include, among others, the different ways in which Christians and Muslims think of their scriptures as the “Word of God,” the possibilities and challenges of translating scripture, and the methods—and conflicts—involved in interpreting scripture in the past and today.

In his concluding reflections, Archbishop Rowan Williams draws attention to a fundamental point emerging from these fascinating contributions: “Islam and Christianity alike give a high valuation to the conviction that God speaks to us. Grasping what that does and does not mean . . . is challenging theological work.”

Table of Contents


David Marshall

Part 1: Particularity, Universality, and Finality in Revelation

1.1 Particularity and Universality in the Qur’ān
Seyed Amir Akrami

1.2 Particularity, Universality, and Finality: Insights from the Gospel of John
Daniel A. Madigan

1.3 Revelation in Israel: Deuteronomy 7:1-11; Isaiah 49:1-6
Ellen F. Davis

1.4 Revelation in Israel: Qur’ān 2:47-57; 5:44-48
Osman Bakar

1.5 Revelation in Christ: 1 John 1:1-4; Matthew 28:16-20; John 16:12-15
John Langan

1.6 Revelation in the Qur’ān: Qur’ān 6:91-92; 25:32; 21:107; 38:87; 33:40
Asma Afsaruddin

Part 2: Translating the Word?

2.1 Translating the Qur’ān
Muhammad Abdel Haleem

2.2 Translation and the Incarnate Word: Scripture and the Frontier of Languages
Lamin Sanneh

2.3 The Body of Christ: 1 Corinthians 11:23-27 and 12:12-13, 27
Daniel Madigan

2.4 An Arabic Qur’ān: Qur’ān 12:1-2; 14:4; 16:103; 26:192-99; 46:12
Muhammad Abdel Haleem

2.5 The Divine and Human Origins of the Bible: Exodus 32:15-16; Jeremiah 1:9; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; Luke 1:1-4; 1 Corinthians 7:10-13; Mark 5:41
John Azumah

2.6 The Self-Perception and the Originality of the Qur’ān: Qur’ān 2:23-24; 3:44; 10:15; 69:38-47
Abdullah Saeed

Part 3: Methods and Authority in Interpretation

3.1 Authority in Interpretation: a Survey of the History of Christianity
John Langan

3.2 Authority in Qur’ānic Interpretation and Interpretive Communities
Abdullah Saeed

3.3 Reading Scripture in the Light of Christ: Matthew 12:1-8; Luke 24:44-49
Susan Eastman

3.4 Interpreting the Qur’ān: Qur’ān 3:7; 2:106; 16:101; 31:20
Muhammad Abdel Haleem

3.5 The Use of Scripture in Generous Love
Michael Ipgrave

3.6 The Use of Scripture in A Common Word
Reza Shah-Kazemi

Conversations in Rome
David Marshall

Rowan Williams


"There are very few people, specialist or otherwise, who will not learn much from this rich and varied volume. It is rare for interreligious exchange to take place at such a sustained level of quality, and much of the authors' contributions manage to feel both erudite and direct."—Caner K. Dagli, assistant professor, Department of Religious Studies, College of the Holy Cross

"Holy writings, received as revealed, are central to both Islam and Christianity. This welcome collection will open the debate."—Janet Soskice, professor of philosophical theology, Cambridge University


Muhammad Abdel Haleem Asma Afsaruddin Seyed Amir Akrami John Azumah Osman Bakar Ellen F. Davis Susan Eastman Michael Ipgrave John Langan Daniel A. Madigan David Marshall Abdullah Saeed Lamin Sanneh Reza Shah-Kazemi Rowan Williams

Supplemental Materials


About the Author

The Reverend Dr. David Marshall is the academic director of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Building Bridges seminar and a research fellow at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs at Georgetown University.

208 pp., 6 x 9
1 table
Nov 2011

208 pp., 6 x 9
1 table
ISBN: 978-1-58901-784-9
Nov 2011

208 pp.
1 table
ISBN: 978-1-58901-803-7
Nov 2011

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