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  You are in: Home > Theology & Religion > A Certain Sympathy of Scriptures  

A Certain Sympathy of Scriptures
Biblical and Quranic

Kenneth Cragg

Kenneth Cragg was first in Jerusalem in 1939, and subsequently became deeply involved in areas of faith between Semitic religions under the stress of current politics. He later pursued doctoral studies in Oxford where he first graduated and became ‘Prizeman’ in Theology and Moral Philosophy, and where he is now an Honorary Fellow of Jesus College. He was a Bishop in the Anglican Jurisdiction in Jerusalem and elsewhere in the Middle East, and played ecclesiastical roles in Africa and India. A Certain Sympathy of Scriptures is a companion book to his Readings in the Qur’an (1988; 1999), and more broadly to his Faiths in Their Pronouns: Websites of Identity (2002). Other works by Bishop Cragg, and published by Sussex Academic Press, include: With God in Human Trust – Christian Faith and Contemporary Humanism; The Weight in the Word – Prophethood, Biblical and Quranic; and The Education of Christian Faith.


Can there be genuine ‘sympathy’ between the Bible and the Qur’an? Their ‘peoples’ have been at odds so long, disputing their texts and discounting their credentials. Scholars from both faiths have contrived intriguing comparison of narratives about Abraham, Joseph or Moses but with little relevance to the contemporary scene and its demand for religious converse and sanity.

A Certain Sympathy of Scriptures attempts something more central to the essential ‘interest’ of both Scriptures, more cogent in this 21st century (the 15th Islam). It is a concern with three shared dimensions: The divine will for this cosmos of created order; its entrustment into human hands as creaturely heirs to its order and responsive ‘sciences’; and the discipline of their tenancy and privilege by ‘messengers’ and prophethoods disclosing the intention of divine Lordship in the fact of human vocation. These three dimensions are the supreme theme of both Scriptures.

This ‘caliphate’ of humankind belongs in a now global situation as the abiding reality of Semitic humanism. We are not ‘on our own’, but trustees in a sacramental order, neither playthings nor puppets of a bland omnipotence but ‘associates’ of the God who willed to create and cared to inform, inspire and invite as such to be.

Deep disparities remain between our Scriptures. They have to do with what goes beyond our ‘education’, as more than prophethood. They enlarge into all that Jesus fulfilled in Christhood. They involve a truer measure of human perversity and, in turn, a larger expectation concerning the ‘greatness’ of God. Yet what divides need not alienate. The mutual ground – this certain sympathy – gives hope of wiser recognition of the divine stake in our humanity.

Preface and Precaution – Bible and Qurñan in Inter-Study

1 Divine Ends Set in Human Means – Creation and Cosmos

2 Engaging Human Means to Divine Ends – The Mission of Messengers

3 The Crisis in Messenger Experience

4 A Parting of the Ways – The Drama of History

5 Sympathy Engaging with Antipathy – Power and Faith

6 Holy Writ and the Writ of Readers

7 The Time and Place Factor

8 In the End – God

Notes (including Arabic translations and transliteration)
Index of Names and Terms
Index of Themes
Biblical and Quranic Passages

“This is a companion book to his Readings in the Qur’an (1988, 1999). “The intention is to identify how and where, in loyalty to their respective Scriptures, the Qur’an and the Bible, those who have so long proved ‘aliens’ to each other, might instead recognize the partial perceptions of Allah, of God, they authentically share and more avowedly proceed upon them. There will still be a mitigated ‘quarrel’ with which they may the better live.” Theology Digest

“Cragg patiently explores the similarities and differences between Christianity and Islam… Crucially, he finds a key difference to be in the relation to political power of the later suras of the Qur’an, at least, and the life and teaching of Jesus… In another life, Kenneth Cragg would be a poet, and the text is dense with poetic allusion… it [has] a meditative quality that only enhances its call to re-engagement with contemporary Islam.” The Revd Dr Timothy Gorringe, Professor of Theological Studies, University of Exeter

“Kenneth Cragg in this fine study pushes a stage further in his lifelong project of developing a Christian reading of Islam more specifically, of the Qur’an. As always, his writing uniquely combines a density of allusion with a precision of meaning … [He has] a detailed mastery of facts and extraordinarily broad scholarship … Whereas his starting point, 60 years ago in The Call of the Minaret, had been a Christian reading of Islam in the sense of an account of that faith which interpreted to his own community its attractiveness and power, the purpose for which he offers a Christian reading of Islam is now quite different. Cragg’s purpose is to propose to Muslims a fresh understanding of their own faith which could be appropriated for the twenty-first century.” Islam and Christian–Muslim Relations

“By endeavouring to trace some form of sympathy – rather than pursue an analytical comparison as such – between the Bible and the Qur’an, Cragg offers both a model as well as a resource for the further pursuit of a Christian–Muslim theological dialogue that centres on that point of contact with the divine which both unites and divides Christians and Muslims: revelation, mediated through scriptural text. Such engagement is of vital importance today, and not just in terms of academic interaction.” Reviews in Religion and Theology


Publication Details

Paperback ISBN:
Page Extent / Format:
160 pp. / 229 x 152 mm
Release Date:
May 2004
  Illustrated:   No
Paperback Price:
£14.95 / $22.50

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