New Ventures into the Field of Interreligious Dialogue

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Amir Dastmalchian

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Books Reviewed: Catherine Cornille, ed., The Wiley-Blackwell Companion
to Inter-Religious Dialogue. Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons, 2013;
Daniel S. Brown, Jr., ed., A Communication Perspective on Interfaith Dialogue:
Living within the Abrahamic Traditions. Plymouth, UK: Lexington
Books, 2013; Daniel S. Brown, Jr., ed., Interfaith Dialogue in Practice: Christian,
Muslim, Jew. Kansas City, MO: Rockhurst University Press, 2013.
These three volumes represent fifty individual contributions to the topic of interreligious
dialogue. In this essay I will concentrate on providing a flavor of
the approach taken in each volume and, where possible, on those contributions
which relate closely to the study of Islam and Muslims. I will discuss the three
titles in the order they have been cited above and then offer a short conclusion.
The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Inter-Religious Dialogue represents a
useful introduction to both the theoretical and the practical issues raised by interreligious
dialogue as well including a number of case studies of interreligious
dialogue. Ten chapters comprise the focal topics of part 1 and seventeen chapters
comprise the case studies of part 2. The topics covered by the chapters are
quite wide ranging and show a good deal of originality in that they do not feature
widely in the extant interreligious dialogue literature. For example, in part
1 there is a chapter on art and interreligious dialogue and another on interreligious
worship; and in part 2, of the various possible religion combinations,
there are chapters on Shinto-Buddhist dialogue and Confucian-Jewish dialogue.
All of the chapters of part 2 give some space to outlining the history of the interreligious
relations which they discuss and all (with one exception) are acknowledged
to be written from one side of a relationship rather than the other.
Turning to some of the chapters of the volume we can begin by noting
Leonard Swidler’s history of interreligious dialogue in chapter 1. Swidler
charts the rise of interreligious dialogue and the increasing awareness of its
need, postulating that we are now facing a significant new era in human ...

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