Reading other People's Scriptures

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March 16, 2010
April 2, 2010

Summary

A common tradition of shared texts, practices, stories, or scriptures can be one of the foundations and inspirations of inter-religious dialogue. The motive can be curiosity and education, a desire to know the source of a text or idea that is shared between two religious communities. Reading other people's scriptures can also inspire fear and anxiety, and a desire to protect one's own tradition from contamination or from a kind of blurring that threatens to make indistinct its boundaries. These two movements - curious inquiry and anxious boundary-maintenance - can occur simultaneously. Moreover, the act of reading someone else's scripture can occur either across traditions, through dialogue, or in private, as it were, within the confines of one's own community. What are the differences between, and implications of, these two kinds of ways of relating to shared scriptural and textual traditions?

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