Book: Earth, Empire and Sacred Text
Chapter: Chapter 5 READING HOLY SCRIPTURES
This chapter closes the first part of this project. In the preceding pages I have described the socioeconomic and political landscape of postmoder- nity, pointing simultaneously to the urgent nature of Muslim–Christian cooperation in fostering a more inclusive, just and peaceful alternative to the Western-led, neoliberal McWorld, and to the philosophical issues within the postmodern paradigm that Muslim and Christian theologians cannot afford to sidestep. Foregoing the scientism of the modern mind- set, I have urged both parties to take into account how knowledge is produced in science, through theories, models, paradigms and research projects— a process that owes a great deal to the dynamics of individuals working within the framework of received traditions in particular com- munities. I hope to have shown that Barbour’s comparison between the production of knowledge in science and the working out of theology in religion is not so far-fetched as it might have first seemed. Despite the obvious differences in subject matter, one does encounter a great deal of similarity in the methodologies employed. In both cases, the core beliefs draw from and feed into the data through the use of imagination, sym- bols, analogies and models. Though I am here highlighting the reading of sacred texts, Barbour’s characterization of the data of religion as being “religious experience, story and ritual” is a good reminder that all four elements are in dynamic interaction and mutually influence one another in surprising ways. In the following section, I draw out the conclusions of the last chapter on the hermeneutics of sacred scriptures and apply them to the task at hand. I end by making explicit my own approach to the Qur’an in the following chapter.