Academic Programs 

Building Abrahamic Partnerships   (CM-650)
January Intersession 2005

This course will build on Hartford Seminary’s strengths as an interfaith, dialogical school of practical theology. It will provide resources for Jews, Christians and Muslims who seek a solid foundation in interfaith ministry. The course will educate participants about the beliefs and practices of all three faith traditions and help them acquire pastoral skills for interfaith ministry. (Program made possible by grants from the William and Mary Greve Foundation and the Alan B. Slifka Foundation.) This session of Building Abrahamic Partnerships is designed primarily for seminarians and others with limited experience in interfaith ministry. It will be an intensive experience beginning with dinner at 6 p.m. on January 9th and end with dinner on January 16th. 


Meeting Day, Time and Dates: 
Sunday, January 9-Sunday, January 16 (Lectures and Activities will be held in morning, afternoon and evening sessions.)
Yehezkel Landau
Faculty Associate in Interfaith Relations 

Contact Information:
(860) 509-9538


Course Syllabus

Visit the BAP web site

Course Faculty:  Prof. Yehezkel Landau, Prof. Kelton Cobb, Prof. Ingrid Mattson, Prof. David Roozen, Rev. Alan McLean, Imam Yahya Hendi, and Rabbi David Mivasair

Area of Curriculum:  Interfaith Relations

Course Overview:   Hartford Seminary, building on its strengths as an interfaith, dialogical school of practical theology, has designed this innovative program to be a practical resource for Jews, Christians, and Muslims who seek a solid foundation in interfaith ministry.   The format is an 8-day intensive training program, beginning with an informal dinner on January 9 and ending with a closing dinner on January 16.

Course Rationale and Objectives:   Our society needs a new kind of religious leadership, grounded in a particular tradition and, at the same time, able to interact effectively with other faith communities.   This is especially true given the prevalence of fear and mutual suspicion, exacerbated by violence committed by religious extremists.

We need to develop educational strategies to overcome the ignorance that leads to prejudice, which in turn leads to dehumanizing contempt, which in turn breeds violence.

The goals of the course are fourfold:

*Educating participants about the beliefs and practices of the three Abrahamic traditions

*Creating a supportive learning community in which clergy, lay ministers, religious educators, and chaplains can forge mutually beneficial relationships across communal boundaries

*Helping participants acquire pastoral skills useful in interfaith ministry

*Developing leadership strategies for promoting interfaith relations in our pluralistic society     


Course Content:  Topics for discussion and shared experiences will include:

- Introduction to the tenets and practices of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
- Historical overviews of the three traditions and how they have interacted in history
- Shared text study using source material from all three traditions, including prayers
- Demographic and sociological data on Jewish, Christian, and Muslim communities in America
- Skills and sensitivities needed to establish and sustain effective interfaith partnerships
- The role of the media in creating images of one another, and strategies to counter
  negative media stereotypes
- Developing ideas for joint interfaith projects in local communities
- Shared worship experiences in a mosque, synagogue, and church, followed by group
discussion of those experiences

Methods of Delivery:   Lectures, panel discussions, text study, videotapes, facilitated conversations, visits to houses of worship, shared meals


Methods of Assessment:   For those taking the course for credit, class participation will count for 20% of the course grade; a daily journal of one’s reflections on the experience will count for an additional 30% of the grade; and a final paper approximating 15 double-spaced pages will count for 50% of the grade.  The paper and the journal reflections are due by April 1, 2005.  The final paper should relate to one of the two broad themes addressed by the course:  theoretical approaches to improving interfaith relations, and practical strategies or initiatives aimed at promoting Abrahamic partnerships.  It is recommended that a student consult with one or more of the course faculty before writing the final paper, to get input on how to approach the intended topic and what resources to use in researching it.


Course Schedule and Readings:

Sunday, January 9:   Informal opening dinner, 7 p.m., in the Meeting Room.  “Before”   questionnaires will be handed out for completion by the following morning.

Monday, January 10:   Morning session, 9 a.m. to 12 noon

   Welcome by course faculty; explanation of course objectives and requirements

   Self-introductions through interfaith exercise  (facilitated by Prof. Yehezkel Landau)

   Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Congregations in America:  A Survey of Current Trends     (presentation and discussion facilitated by Prof. David Roozen)

READING:  Meet Your Neighbors: Interfaith Facts” booklet, Faith Communities       Today/Hartford Institute for Religion Research, 2003



Afternoon session, 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.

   Challenges confronting interfaith activists today (course staff):

   Ideational obstacles to mutual affirmation (exclusivism, dualism, apocalypticism)

   Fears (of being wrong, of being viewed as inferior, of leaving one’s comfort zone, of    looking ignorant, of making social mistakes, of having one’s identity undermined,      of losing an adversarial Other and discovering a new partner, of going against the    consensus and being ostracized by one’s own community, of losing a job or   
promotion, even of physical harm)

   Social and economic disincentives, especially in congregations that do not reward        interfaith commitments

   Lack of partners, especially in one’s own community; feeling isolated; finding allies     and spiritual companions “outside” rather than inside

   Rewards and benefits from interfaith relationships:

   Spiritual enrichment, intellectual stimulation, emotional bonds with new friends and     colleagues, a broader sense of community and identification

   Vocational gratification, opportunities to heal historic wounds, rectify 
misunderstandings and grievances, build a better society

   General principles and guidelines for conducting interreligious conversation


SUGGESTED READING:  The Dialogue Decalogue:  Ground Rules for Interreligious, Interideological Dialogue” by Leonard Swidler, Journal of Ecumenical Studies, 20:1,

Winter 1983 (September, 1984, revision); NOT WITHOUT MY NEIGHBOUR: ISSUES IN INTERFAITH RELATIONS by S. Wesley Ariarajah, Geneva: WCC Publications, 1999, chapters 1, 2, and 3


Tuesday, January 11:  Morning session, 9 a.m. to 12 noon

Interfaith text study (course staff):  understanding the ambivalence of sacred texts, the  exclusive as well as inclusive dimensions, the peaceful and the intolerant/violent   messages, using selected passages from the Hebrew Scriptures, New Testament, and  Qur’an and from the oral/post-scriptural traditions  (texts to be distributed)

SUGGESTED READINGS:  THE AMBIVALENCE OF THE SACRED: RELIGION, VIOLENCE, AND RECONCILIATION by R. Scott Appleby, Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers; “Violent Faith,” by Kelton Cobb, in SEPTEMBER 11: RELIGIOUS PERSPECTIVES ON THE CAUSES AND CONSEQUENCES, edited by Ian Markham and Ibrahim M. Abu-Rabi’, Oxford: Oneworld Publications, 2002, pp.136-163; THE DEATH AND RESURRECTION OF THE BELOVED SON:  THE TRANSFORMATION OF CHILD SACRIFICE IN JUDAISM AND CHRISTIANITY by Jon D. Levenson, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993; THE SACRIFICE OF ISAAC IN THE THREE MONOTHEISTIC TRADITIONS, edited by Frederic Manns, Jerusalem: Franciscan Printing Press, 1995; VIOLENCE AND THE SACRED by Rene Girard, Baltimore/London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1979; THE BIBLE, VIOLENCE, AND THE SACRED: LIBERATION FROM THE MYTH OF SANCTIONED VIOLENCE by James G. Williams, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1991; CONSTANTINE’S SWORD: THE CHURCH AND THE JEWS by James Carroll, Boston/New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2001;


Lunch break (sandwiches to be provided), 12 noon to 1:30 p.m.:   PowerPoint presentation on “Scriptural Commonalities in the Hebrew Bible, New Testament, and Qur’an” by Imam Yahya Hendi


Afternoon session, 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.

Continuation of interfaith text study, positive and negative passages from each tradition

Evening session, 7 to 9:30 p.m.

A panel discussion on “What Do We Mean by Spirituality?” co-led by Rabbi David      Mivasair, Rev. Alan McLean, and Yahya Hendi.  Topics to be addressed include:

*language as a medium of spiritual devotion; silence, meditation, chanting, and body    movement as alternative modes; commonalities and differences in styles of prayer;

*how prayers in one tradition are heard/experienced by adherents of another, especially prayers that refer to the Other(s)

SUGGESTED READINGS:  A GUIDE TO JEWISH PRAYER by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, New York:  Schocken Books, 2000; MAN’S QUEST FOR GOD by Abraham Joshua Heschel, New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1954; JEWISH PRAYER:  THE ORIGINS OF THE CHRISTIAN LITURGY by Carmine Di Sante, Mahwah, NJ:  Paulist Press, 1991; PRAYING THE PSALMS by Walter Brueggemann, Winona, MN:  Saint Mary’s Press, 1986; PRAYING WITH ICONS by Jim Forest, Maryknoll, NY:  Orbis Books, 1997; MUSLIM DEVOTIONS by Constance E. Padwick, Oxford:  Oneworld Publications, 1996; MUSLIM PREACHER IN THE MODERN WORLD by Richard T. Antoun, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989.


Wednesday, January 12:  Morning Session, 9 a.m. to 12 noon

Introduction to Jewish beliefs and practices, Biblical/Rabbinic tradition, and    contemporary Judaism in its different forms (Prof. Yehezkel Landau and Rabbi David  Mivasair).

READING:  BASIC JUDAISM by Rabbi Milton Steinberg, San Diego and New York:   Harcourt, Inc., 1975.  

SUGGESTED READINGS:  JEWISH LITERACY by Joseph Telushkin, New York: William Morrow and Company, 2001; JUDAISM: REVELATION AND TRADITIONS by Michael A. Fishbane, New York: HaperCollins Publishers, 1987; THE JEWISH WAY:  LIVING THE HOLIDAYS by Rabbi Irving Greenberg, New York:  Simon & Schuster, 1988; LIVING JUDAISM by Rabbi Wayne Dosick, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1998; FINDING OUR WAY: JEWISH TEXTS AND THE LIVES WE LEAD TODAY by Barry W. Holtz, New York:  Schocken Books, 1990; THE JEWISH APPROACH TO GOD: A BRIEF INTRODUCTION FOR CHRISTIANS by Rabbi Neil Gillman, Woodstock, VT:  Jewish Lights Publishing, 2003; JEWISH SPIRITUALITY: A BRIEF INTRODUCTION FOR CHRISTIANS by Rabbi Lawrence Kushner, Woodstock, VT: Jewish Lights Publishing, 2001; TALKING TO THE OTHER: JEWISH INTERFAITH DIALOGUE WITH CHRISTIANS AND MUSLIMS by Rabbi Jonathan Magonet, London/New York:  I. B. Taurus, 2003.


Afternoon session, 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.

Stereotypes and misunderstood aspects of Judaism, including:  election/chosenness,

Torah as “sacred teaching” rather than legalistic rules; the land and state of Israel, the connection between Zionism and Judaism.

Video:  two reports (from CNN and Israel television) on the Open House Center for Jewish-Arab Coexistence in Ramle, Israel, with commentary by co-founder Prof.    Yehezkel Landau

SUGGESTED READINGS:  ISRAEL: AN ECHO OF ETERNITY by Abraham Joshua Heschel, New York:  Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1969; A LAND OF TWO PEOPLES: MARTIN BUBER ON JEWS AND ARABS, edited with commentary by Paul Mendes-Flohr, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1983; IN THE LAND OF ISRAEL by Amos Oz, London: Flamingo/Fontana Paperbacks, 1983; VOICES FROM JERUSALEM: JEWS AND CHRISTIANS REFLECT ON THE HOLY LAND, edited by David Burrell and Yehezkel Landau, New York/Mahwah, NJ:  Paulist Press, 1992; AT THE ENTRANCE TO THE GARDEN OF EDEN:  A JEW’S SEARCH FOR HOPE WITH CHRISTIANS AND MUSLIMS IN THE HOLY LAND by Yossi Klein Halevi, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2002; THE END OF DAYS: FUNDAMENTAL- ISM AND THE STRUGGLE FOR THE TEMPLE MOUNT by Gershom Gorenberg, New York: The Free Press, 2000; HOLY WAR, HOLY PEACE: HOW RELIGION CAN BRING PEACE TO THE MIDDLE EAST by Rabbi Dr. Marc Gopin, New York: Oxford University Press, 2002; HEALING THE HOLY LAND: INTERRELIGIOUS PEACE-BUILDING IN ISRAEL/PALESTINE by Yehezkel Landau, PEACEWORKS No. 51, Washington, D.C.: United States Institute of Peace, September, 2003; “Jews, Muslims, and Peace,” by Yehezkel Landau and Yahya Hendi, CURRENT DIALOGUE, No. 41, June-July, 2003, Geneva: World Council of Churches, pp. 12-13;  HEALING ISRAEL/PALESTINE by Rabbi Michael Lerner, San Francisco: Tikkun Books, 2003.


Evening Panel Discussion, 7 to 9:30 p.m.

A conversation on “Religion and the Media” with guest resource people:  Anisa Mehdi, TV documentary producer; Frances Grandy Taylor, religion writer for the HARTFORD COURANT; and Rabbi Stanley Kessler, Rabbi Emeritus of Beth El Temple, West Hartford.  


Thursday, January 13:  Morning session, 9 a.m. to 12 noon  

Introduction to Christian beliefs and practices, including an overview of different Christian churches and rites  (Prof. Kelton Cobb and Rev. Alan McLean)

READING:  TO BEGIN AT THE BEGINNING:  AN INTRODUCTION TO THE CHRISTIAN FAITH by Martin B. Copenhaver, Cleveland: United Church Press, 1994. 

SUGGESTED READINGS: CHRISTIANITY: A WAY OF SALVATION by Sandra S. Frankiel, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1985; “Dietrich Bonhoeffer,” and “Psalm Eight” from THE DEATH OF ADAM: ESSAYS ON MODERN THOUGHT by Marilynne Robinson, Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1998, pp. 108-125 and 227-244; CREDO by William Sloane Coffin, Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2004; MY STRUGGLE FOR FREEDOM, MEMOIRS by Hans Kung, Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2003THE INTERIOR CASTLE or THE MANSIONS by St. Teresa of Avila, Rockford, Illinois:  TAN Books and Publishers, 1997;  PRACTICING OUR FAITH: A WAY OF LIFE FOR A SEARCHING PEOPLE, edited by Dorothy C. Bass, San Francisco:  Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1997; MANY MANSIONS:  A CHRISTIAN’S ENCOUNTER WITH OTHER FAITHS by Harvey Cox, London:  William Collins Sons & Co., 1988; COMMON PRAYERS:  FAITH, FAMILY, AND A CHRISTIAN’S JOURNEY THROUGH THE JEWISH YEAR by Harvey Cox, Boston/New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2001; MUHAMMAD AND THE CHRISTIAN: A QUESTION OF RESPONSE by Kenneth Cragg, London: Darton, Longman and Todd, 1984.


Afternoon session, 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.

Stereotypes and misunderstood aspects of Christianity, including: the doctrine of the Trinity; the Passion and Crucifixion of Jesus; and the meaning of evangelism (mission or witness?)  (Prof. Kelton Cobb and Rev. Alan McLean)

SUGGESTED READINGS:  THE MEANING OF JESUS: TWO VISIONS by Marcus J. Borg and N. T. Wright, New York:  HarperCollins Publishers, 1999; PAIN AND POLEMIC: ANTI-JUDAISM IN THE GOSPELS by George M. Smiga, New York/Mahwah, NJ:  Paulist Press, 1992; “The Rehabilitation of Mission,” presentation by Prof. Dale Bishop delivered at Hartford Seminary, February 12, 2004.


Evening session:  Sensitivities and Skills Needed for Building Interfaith Partnerships

What kinds of communications skills are required for establishing and sustaining interfaith relationships?   How can we listen more compassionately, suspend judgment, give empathy, and speak with sensitivity to the Other’s situation?  To what should we give attention in reaching out to, or hosting, someone from another faith community?-- e.g., language that honors the Other, sacred calendars, prayer times, dietary restrictions, etc.  How do we find common ground, or at least agree to disagree respectfully, on controversial issues such as proselytizing, shared worship, and intermarriage?  (Facilitated by Rabbi David Mivasair, Imam Yahya Hendi, and Rev. Alan McLean)


Friday, January 14:  Morning session, 9 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.  

Introduction to Muslim beliefs and practices (Sunni and Shi’a), with attention given to cultural variety within the Islamic umma (community)  (Prof. Ingrid Mattson and Imam Yahya Hendi)

READING:  THE HEART OF ISLAM: ENDURING VALUES FOR HUMANITY by  Seyyed Hossein Nasr, New York:  HarperCollins Publishers, 2002.

SUGGESTED READING:  ISLAM AND THE MUSLIM COMMUNITY by Frederick M. Denny, Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press, 1998; WHAT EVERYONE SHOULD KNOW ABOUT ISLAM AND MUSLIMS by Suzanne Haneef, Chicago:  Kazi Publications/Library of Islam, 1996; READING THE MUSLIM MIND by Hassan Hathout, Burr Ridge, IL: American Trust Publications, 1995; THE COMPLETE IDIOT’S GUIDE TO UNDERSTANDING ISLAM by Yahiya Emerick, Indiana: Alpha Books, 2002; UNDERSTANDING ISLAM: A GUIDE FOR THE JUDAEO-CHRISTIAN READER by Jerald Dirks, Maryland: Amana Publications, 2003; THE FAITH AND PRACTICE OF AL-GHAZALI by W. Montgomery Watt, Chicago: Kazi Publications, 1982;  THE STORY OF A MOSQUE IN AMERICA by Dr. Faroque Khan, Westbury, NY: Islamic Center of Long Island, 2001; DAUGHTERS OF ANOTHER PATH: EXPERIENCES OF AMERICAN WOMEN CHOOSING ISLAM, by Carol L. Anway, Lee’s Summit, MO: Yawna Publications, 1996; TO BE A EUROPEAN MUSLIM by Tariq Ramadan, Leicester, UK: The Islamic Foundation, 1999; MUSLIMS AND JEWS: BUILDING A HOPEFUL FUTURE, edited by Norman Hosansky and Mazhar Jalil, Columbus, OH: The Islamic Foundation of Central Ohio, 2003.


Mid-day:  Visit to Mosque in Berlin, CT (hosted by Imam Prof. Ali Antar), followed by lunch and discussion


Afternoon session, 3 to 5 p.m.

Stereotypes and misunderstood aspects of Islam, including:  rights and opportunities for women, Greater and Lesser Jihad, attitudes towards non-Muslims, and concepts of the afterlife.  (Prof. Ingrid Mattson and Imam Yahya Hendi)

SUGGESTED READINGS:  QUR’AN AND WOMAN: REREADING THE SACRED TEXT FROM A WOMAN’S PERSPECTIVE by Amina Wadud, New York/Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999; “BELIEVING WOMEN” IN ISLAM: UNREADING PATRIARCHAL INTER-PRETATIONS OF THE QUR’AN by Asma Barlas, Austin: University of Texas Press, 2002; WINDOWS OF FAITH: MUSLIM WOMEN SCHOLAR-ACTIVISTS IN NORTH AMERICA edited by Gisela Webb, Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2000; “Islamic Ethics of Killing and Saving Life,” special issue of THE MUSLIM WORLD, guest editor Jonathan E. Brockopp, Vol. LXXXIX, No. 2, April 1999; REBELLION AND VIOLENCE IN ISLAMIC LAW by Khaled Abou El Fadl, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press; NONVIOLENCE AND PEACE BUILDING IN ISLAM: THEORY AND PRACTICE by Mohammed Abu-Nimer, Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida, 2003; “Stopping Oppression: An Islamic Obligation,” by Ingrid Mattson, in SEPTEMBER 11: RELIGIOUS PERSPECTIVES ON THE CAUSES AND CONSEQUENCES, edited by Ian Markham and Ibrahim M. Abu-Rabi’, Oxford: Oneworld Publications, 2002, pp. 101-110; QUR’AN, LIBERATION & PLURALISM by Farid Esack, Oxford:  Oneworld Publications, 1997; “Islam” in THE DEATH AND AFTERLIFE BOOK by James R. Lewis, Canton, MI: Visible Ink Press, 2001, pp. 200-203.


Saturday, January 15:  Visit to Beth David Synagogue (Modern Orthodox, Rabbi     Yitzchok Adler) or Congregation Beth Israel (Reform, Rabbi Stephen Fuchs) for  Sabbath morning prayers, followed by kiddush (light meal) and discussion at Beth     David Synagogue


Sunday, January 16:  Visit to Immanuel Congregational Church (Rev. Ed Horstmann) or Trinity Episcopal Church (Rev. Don Hamer) for Sunday worship, followed by lunch and discussion at Hartford Seminary


Late afternoon, 4 to 6 p.m.:  Open discussion with representatives from the local Jewish, Christian, and Muslim communities; “After” questionnaires distributed


Evening, 7 to 9:30 p.m.: Closing dinner and farewells…SHALOM, SALAMAT, PEACE


Hartford Seminary  77 Sherman Street  Hartford, CT  06105   860-509-9500