An Old Fashioned Book Tour for Three Testaments: Torah, Gospel and Quran
Rowman & Littlefield, under licenses from Jewish Publication Society, Sheed & Ward and Kazi Publications
Three Testaments: Torah, Gospel and Quran embodies the scriptures of Abraham’s family published together for the first time, with a foreword by Amir Hussain, prefaces to the Torah, the New Testament and Quran (Ellen Frankel, Henry Carrigan and Laleh Bakhtiar respectively), introductions to the sacred texts (Marc Zvi Brettler, David Bruce and Nevin Reda) and contextual chapters by the contributing editor, Brian Arthur Brown. A seven city North American launch tour took place in September 2012 during which the editor and all contributing writers interfaced with nearly 2500 participants in over thirty events, normally a seminary, a university, synagogue, church and mosque in each major urban area.
The old style launch tour began in New York Sept. 6-9 with a symposium for the organizers and presenters on Thursday, Sept. 6 at Auburn Theological College and a seminar at NYU. Succeeding days saw a presentation after Friday Prayers at the Nur Ashki Jerrahi Community, an Interfaith Shabbat at the Synagogue for the Arts, and a presentation at Judson Memorial Church on Sunday morning. These events preceded New York’s “main launch event” at St. Peter’s Church next to “Ground Zero” on the afternoon of September 9. The Huffington Post led the media presence and audience participation followed a panel discussion moderated by Father Kevin Madigan with scholarly raconteurs Ellen Frankel and Marc Brettler, Donna Schaper and David Bruce, Daisy Khan and Feisal Rauf.
In Washington a 9/11 launch for diplomats, politicians, academics and religious leaders at the Canadian Embassy was hosted by Ambassador Gary Doer for the US Ambassador for International Religious Freedom, Suzan Johnson Cook, and ambassadors from around the world. The assembly was addressed by Her Excellency Houda Ezra Nonoo, the (Jewish!) ambassador of Bahrain, by Joseph Montville, Chair of the Center for World Religions, Diplomacy, and Conflict Resolution at George Mason University, and by Dr. Sayyid Syeed, Interfaith Director of the Islamic Society of North America. The media was represented by Sojourners Magazine and a panel was moderated by Chester Gillis, Dean of Georgetown College, with contributors to the book: Ellen Frankel of Philadelphia (recently retired 20 year CEO of the Jewish Publication Society), David Bruce of Toronto (a Canadian Catholic writer), and Amir Hussain of Los Angeles, the editor of the Journal of the American Academy of Religion.
Events in Texas led off with a press conversation for the Dallas Morning News and the Texas Jewish Post at Thanksgiving Square in Dallas and an evening event at Austin Presbyterian Seminary for the community, featuring an interfaith panel moderated by Professor Whitney Bodman with Rabbi Neil Blumofe, Professor Lewis Donelson, and Guner Arslan, President of the Institute of Interfaith Dialogue in Austin. On Sept. 13 an academic launch event took place at the new Harrison Building of Brite Divinity School in Ft. Worth, featuring a panel presentation, moderated by Principal Mark Toulouse of Emmanuel College, University of Toronto (former Dean at Brite), with Rabbi Ralph Mecklenberger, Professor Shelly Matthews of Brite, and Professor Whitney Bodman of Austin. A challenge to a subtext of this book, that we stand at the beginning of a re-assessment of the role of ancient Zoroastrianism as reflected in all three texts, was introduced by Rabbi Mecklenberger and vigorously pursued by Professor Matthews.
In Los Angeles, Sept. 14-15, activities began with a morning assembly of students and faculty at Loyola Marymount University, an afternoon media conversation in the offices of the Journal of the American Academy of Religion, and an evening roundtable for the congregation, UCLA and related interfaith institutions, led by Professor Jeff Siker at Westwood Presbyterian Church. The main LA launch event took place at the Temple Beth Am Shabbat service with Dr. Brian Arthur Brown in the pulpit, followed by refreshments and a featured panel, moderated by Rabbi Adam Kligfeld with Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi, Dr. Elliot Dorff and Dr. Reinhard Krauss, all of the Academy of Judaic, Christian and Islamic Studies.
Brian Brown preached on Sunday to a receptive congregation at Hillcrest United Church in Oakland and San Francisco Theological Seminary was the scene of activities on Monday, Sept. 17. Tuesday morning saw an
engaging Tuesday morning Rosh Hashanah event at Oakland’s Temple Sinai. That afternoon public launch event at the Jesuit University of San Francisco featured a self moderated panel with Rabbi-educator Ruth Adar, Dr. Fred Weidmann, formerly of Union Theological Seminary in NYC, and Susan Strouse, President of the Interfaith Center of the Presidio. The theme there, as in many other places, was a celebration of the mutual respect among the three traditions as fostered by this book.
The American leg of the tour finished in Chicago with a Sept. 19 luncheon hosted by the Northwestern University press at the Garrett Evangelical Seminary in Evanston, followed by a roundtable with Phil Amerson, the president of Garrett, and other academics in conversation with Henry Carrigan, senior editor of the Northwestern University Press. On Thursday, Sept. 20, faculty coffee at Lutheran School of Theology and conversations at the Catholic Theological Union were followed by a meeting at the Chicago Theological College. The main Chicago launch took place at 7:30 pm Thursday in the corporate headquarters of Kazi Islamic Publications, with a presentation by Brian Arthur Brown and a panel moderated by Dr. Kenneth Vaux of Garrett with panelists Rabbi Rachel Mikva, Professor Henry Carrigan and Dr. Laleh Bakhtiar.
In Toronto Brian Brown and David Bruce staffed the Three Testaments tent all day Sunday, Sept. 23 among throngs of people at The Word on the Street, a book festival on Queen’s Park Circle. The Toronto launch event took place on Sept. 27 when Emmanuel College hosted coffee and danish, a book launch at the Royal Ontario Museum for university and seminaries students at the University of Toronto, representatives of the United Church Observer, the Canadian Council of Churches and the public. Opened by a contributor to the book, Dr. Nevin Reda, in the ROM’s elegant RBC Foundation Glass Room, a press and audience conversation was followed by a panel moderated by Principal Mark Toulouse, including scholars associated with Emmanuel in various ways over the years: Dr. Kurt Anders Richardson, Dr. Susan Harrison and Dr. David Bruce.
A North American tour reprise came with sales and book signings in the Rowman & Littlefield booth where Three Testaments: Torah, Gospel and Quran was featured at joint meetings of the American Academy of Religion and the Society of Biblical Literature at Chicago’s McCormick Place Convention Center, November 17-20, 2012.