Blackburn Cathedral and Corpus Christi College, Oxford have many things in common, I’m sure, but the most important thing at the moment is that in January they are both hosting events that will shed light on the distinctiveness of Christian and Muslim approaches to faith, belief, and belonging.
First up is Corpus Christi, which is hosting a roundtable on 23rd January at 5:15 p.m. on the theme, Faith and Belief in the Ancient World: Dispelling Misconceptions. The idea here is to give substance to the insight that ‘faith’ and ‘belief’ in the modern world are very different to what they were in antiquity – so, for example, when a first-century writer like the Apostle Paul talks about pistis (the Greek term for ‘faith’ – as in ‘faith, hope, and charity’) he is not talking about ‘belief’ in our modern sense – he is actually using a term for relationships of trust that is also used in banker’s drafts of the period. The image on the poster at right illustrates a distinctive use of the Latin term fides (also meaning ‘faith’) in a gold ring given by a Roman emperor to encourage faithful obedience from one of his officials.
The theme of the Blackburn event, Christians, Muslims, and Jesus, may initially seem unrelated – but in many ways it is the flip side of the same coin. Professor Mona SIddiqui OBE will clarify how Christianity and Islam have claimed the first-century Jewish leader Jesus of Nazareth, and shed light on the very different legacies which the two sister faith traditions have built out from his memory. One of the distinctive questions is how the two traditions understand the bond of trust between God and the faithful – what did it mean for God to send a Son – or Prophet – to visit humanity in the first century? And how do the life and death of this first-century figure change the landscape of human possibility for members of the different faith traditions in the twenty-first century?