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Cambridge Interfaith Programme


Scholars regularly focus on how one religious tradition or one period has approached the book of Psalms, but another fruitful method is to consider multiple traditions reading the same text.

Examining how Jews, Christians, and Muslims have distinctly read the same Psalm shows the disparate approaches to the same themes, the same spiritual topics, the same challenges of living out faith. Moreover, Psalms provide a unique opportunity since Muslim writers over the centuries considered that the Psalms of David, which they call the Zabur, underwent little of the corruption (Taḥrīf) they attribute to Torah and Gospels, and they were therefore more willing to “appropriate” the Psalms, to comment on them.

This paper looks at how Jews, Christians, and Muslims over the centuries have interpreted Psalm 48, an important Psalm since from an exegetical perspective it both highlights God’s unique presence on Zion while also opening to the Gentile world. Both commentarial and liturgical texts are discussed—including Rashi, David Kimhi, Ibn Ezra, and Obadiah ben Jacob Sforno for Judaism; Paulinus of Nola, Athanasius, Thomas Aquinas, and the Byzantine Menaion for Christianity, and the Quran and Ali ibn Sahl Rabban al-Tabari for Islam. Finally, the use of Psalm 48 by ʻAbdu'l-Bahá (d. 1921) in the Baháʼí Faith and Prince Far I (d. 1983) in Rastafarianism allows the focus to move beyond the traditional “Abrahamic triangle” to other religions that draw on the Psalms.

Speaker: Robert D. Miller II (Ordinary Professor of Old Testament, Catholic University of America)

Respondent: Dr Hilary Marlow (University of Cambridge)

This seminar is a supplement to the Inter-religious seminar series, and will be hosted by Margaret Beaufort Institute of Theology (on site and via Zoom). 


Register to attend on Zoom or join the on site audience (via Eventbrite).

Thursday, 23 February, 2023 - 14:30
Event location: 
Margaret Beaufort Institute of Theology, 12-14 Grange Rd, Cambridge CB3 9DU

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