Academic Programs 

Building Abrahamic Partnerships (CM-650)
Summer 2004

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. It will be an eight-day intensive experience, starting with a dinner at 6 p.m. on June 6, continuing with 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. classes during the week and closing with worship and dinner on June 13.  

Meeting Day, Time and Dates:
Sunday, June 6 – Sunday, June 13

Yehezkel LandauYehezkel Landau
Faculty Associate in Interfaith Relations and Co-founder, Open House, Ramle, Israel

Contact Information:

(860) 509-9538


course syllabus

 Course Faculty:  Prof. Yehezkel Landau, Prof. Kelton Cobb, Prof. Ingrid Mattson, Prof. David Roozen, Prof. Dale Bishop, Rabbi Arthur Starr, & Imam Yahya Hendi

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 June 6 and ending with a closing dinner on June 13.

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 Abrahami 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 meal

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 August 31, 2004.  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, June 6:   Informal opening dinner, 7 p.m., in the Meeting Room.  “Before”    questionnaires will be handed out for completion by the following morning.  

Monday, June 7:   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, June 8:  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;


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

Interfaith study of liturgical texts (course staff):  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)

     (prayers to be distributed)

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.

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.  

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

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

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

SUGGESTED READINGS:  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.

Lunch break (sandwiches to be provided), 12 noon to 1:30 p.m. 

Video:  Seasons of the Soul” featuring Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi and Dr.    Michael Kagan (with commentary by Dr. Michael Kagan, course participant) 

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 1998 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: JEWISH LITERACY by Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, New York: William Morrow/HarperCollins, 2001; 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 program, 7 to 9:30 p.m.  (optional, recommended for course participants)

The Pastor and the Imam:  Healing Conflict in Nigeria” featuring Evangelist James Movel Wuye and Ustaz Muhammad Murayn Ashafa, co-directors of the Inter-Faith Mediation Centre in Kaduna, Nigeria.  Imam Ashafa and Pastor Wuye, participants in the “Building Abrahamic Partnerships” course, will speak about  their experiences as former warriors and now peacebuilders in their Nigeria.  Copies of their book, THE PASTOR AND THE IMAM: RESPONDING TO CONFLICT, will be available for purchase by course participants.

Thursday, June 10
:  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 Prof. Dale Bishop)

READING:  CHRISTIANITY: A WAY OF SALVATION by Sandra. S. Frankiel,     New York:  HarperCollins Publishers, 1985

SUGGESTED READINGS:  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 Prof. Dale Bishop)

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 Arthur Starr, Imam Yahya Hendi, and Prof. Dale Bishop)

Friday, June 11:  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, June 12:  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, June 13:  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