Gender Justice in Muslim-Christian Readings

Christian and Muslim Women in Norway: Making Meaning of Texts from the Bible, the Koran, and the Hadith

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In recent decades, women in the Christian and Islamic traditions have been negotiating what it means to participate in religious practice as a woman within the two traditions, and how to interpret canonical scripture. This book creates a shared space for Muslim and Christian women with diverse cultural and denominational backgrounds, by making meaning of texts from the Bible, the Koran, and the Hadith. It builds on the reading and discussion of the Hagar narratives, as well as 1 Timothy 2:8-15 and Sura 4:34 from the New Testament and the Koran respectively, by a group of both Christian and Muslim women. Interpretative strategies and contextual analyses emerge from the hermeneutical analysis of the women’s discussions on the ambiguous contributions of the texts mentioned above to the traditional views on women.
This book shows how intertextual dialogue between the Christian and Islamic traditions establishes an interpretative community through the encounter of Christian and Muslim readers. The negotiation between a search for gender justice and the Christian and Islamic traditions as lived religions is extended into a quest for gender justice through the co-reading of texts. In times when gender and the status of women are played into the field of religious identity politics, this book shows that bringing female readers together to explore the canonical texts in the two traditions provides new insights about the texts, the contexts, and the ways in which Muslim-Christian dialogue can provide complex and promising hermeneutical space where important questions can be posed and shared strategies found.
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Biographical Note

Anne Hege Grung (1965) is Associate Professor in Practical Theology at the Practical-Theological Seminary, Oslo. She has been engaging with Muslim-Christian encounters and dialogue through participation and research since the early 1990s in Norway and beyond.

Table of contents

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements

PART I - INTRODUCTION
CHAPTER 1
BACKGROUND, AIM, AND FOCUS
Gender Justice
Delimitations of this Study

PART II - THEORETICAL, CONTEXTUAL, AND METHODOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVES
CHAPTER 2
THEORETICAL AND CONTEXTUAL PERSPECTIVES
Hermeneutics, Dialogue, and Feminisms
Hermeneutics
Dialogue and Hermeneutics
Two Models of Interreligious/Transreligious Dialogue
Feminisms, Muslim‐Christian Dialogue, and Hermeneutics

CHAPTER 3
METHODOLOGICAL CONSIDERATIONS, CHOICES, AND TOOLS
Situating the Project Methodologically
Establishing the Empirical Material: Selecting Texts,
Participants, and Working Methods
Methodological Discussions
Ethical Perspectives
The Empirical Material in the Study and the Analysis

PART III - SITUATING THE BIBLE, THE KORAN, AND THE HADITH: READINGS OF THE HAGAR/HAJAR NARRATIVES
CHAPTER 4
SHARING IMAGES AND EXPERIENCES OF THE KORAN AND THE BIBLE
Is it OK to Leave the Bible on the Floor?
Different Understandings of Materiality and Respect for the Bible and the Koran
The First Discussion in the Group: Complex Communication
What is at Stake for the Participants in this Discussion

CHAPTER 5
MAKING MEANING OF THE HAGAR/HAJAR NARRATIVES
The Hagar/Hajar Narratives in the Old Testament and the Hadith
The First Comments on the Hagar/Hajar Narratives
Discussion 1 on the Hagar/Hajar Narratives: The Practice of Naming Women
Practices of Naming as an Example of Discrimination Against Women in Text and Context
Discussion 2 on the Hagar/Hajar Narratives:
Eva: “How could Hagar/Hajar abandon Ishmael in the desert?”
Discussion 3 on the Hagar/Hajar Narratives:
The Complexity of the Hagar/Hajar Narratives in the Process of Interpretation
Testimonies about Narratives of Equality and Hope: Temporal and Spatial Aspects
Discussion 4 on the Hagar/Hajar Narratives: Obedience versus Forgiveness in the Christian and Islamic Traditions

PART IV - SITUATING THE CONTEXTS: READINGS OF SURA 4:34 AND 1 TIMOTHY 2:8‐15
CHAPTER 6
MAKING MEANING OF SURA 4:34 AND 1 TIMOTHY 2:8‐15
The Texts: 1 Timothy 2:8‐15 (the New Testament) and Sura 4:34 (the Koran)
Discussion 1 on Sura 4:34 and 1 Timothy 2:8‐15: Inger: “Why do I have to read this in 2006? These texts belong to the past”
Discussion 2 on Sura 4:34 and 1 Timothy 2:8‐15: Aira: “The old understanding of old things that perhaps used to be sufficient but is not today”
Discussion 3 on Sura 4:34 and 1 Timothy 2:8‐15: Inger: “Women as wise as us ... need … to get something said!”
Discussion 4 on Sura 4:34 and 1 Timothy 2:8‐15: Shirin: “But think about it. This is much better than what happens in real life”
Concluding Discussion on Sura 4:34 and 1 Timothy 2:8‐15: Strategies of Making Meaning and Ethical Implications for the Readers

PART V - CONCLUSIONS
CHAPTER 7
MAKING MEANING OF CANONICAL SCRIPTURES:
A STEP TOWARD GENDER JUSTICE?
The Crucial Focus Point in Gender Justice: The Texts or the Readers?
The Canonical Texts: Roles and Functions
The Hermeneutical Strategies and Tools: Shared and Particular
Different Hermeneutical Strategies Used in the Narrative and the Prescriptive Texts?
Religious Differences and How They Are Interpreted: Constitutive or Challenging?
A Dialogically Situated Feminist Hermeneutics
Gender Justice, Religious Traditions, and Dialogue:
In Search for Places of Human Equality

Bibliography

Index of subjects

Index of authors