Interpreting & Understanding Sacred Texts

Understanding & Interpreting Sacred Texts – Perspectives From The Three Abrahamic Faiths.

The pandemic has quite fundamentally changed the way we engage with JCMA members and with others interested in the activities of JCMA. While in the past we would have organised an afternoon or evening event at a suitable venue, for the time being this is not possible, and instead we have become familiar with Zoom meetings.
Over 3 evenings on 8th, 15th & 22nd October 2020, the JCMA explored the way Judaism, Christianity and Islam understand and interpret their sacred texts. These 1½ hour sessions each attracted over 50 Zoom connections, with many couples participating, so the number of people attending would have been 75 or more.
The first session featured Rabbi Fred Morgan, Emeritus Rabbi at Temple Beth Israel in St Kilda. He took 3 texts from the Torah (the 5 books of Moses), and showed how the simple meaning of the text is only the beginning of a multi-layered analysis that derives the rules, rituals and obligations for a Jewish way of life.
The second session featured Adam Cooper, Associate Professor at the Catholic Theological Institute in Melbourne. His area of specialty is in early Christian theology and history. Adam talked about the way that the Hebrew Scriptures and the Christian New Testament are used in Christian worship, and the regard the Christians have for these scriptures as “Word of God”.
He focused especially on the way in which Christians have traditionally read the Hebrew Scriptures in the light of Jesus, seeing Jesus as the fulfilment of the scriptures. At the same time he emphasised that in Christianity, it is Jesus himself who is “The Word of God”. Adam took texts from Matthew, Luke and Acts to demonstrate his meaning. In Breakout Groups the participants spent time with the parable of the Good Samaritan from the Gospel of Luke.
The third session featured Sheikh Alaa El Zokm, Imam of Elsedeaq Heidelberg Mosque in Melbourne and Assistant Secretary of the Board of Imams of Victoria. Sheikh Alaa briefly described the processes and tools for understanding Quranic texts. Thereafter, he analysed 3 specific Quranic verses that are often misunderstood and explained the lexicon, historical context of revelation and application in our times to give proper understanding and meaning.
The 3 sessions provided for audience participation through questions, and Adam’s session included breakout rooms for smaller groups to have a more interactive discussion. Although each session was devoted to the texts of one faith tradition, the discussion barely scratched the surface of the scholarship that has developed over millenia. There is an opportunity for these sorts of activities to be run on a regular or semi-regular basis.

Understanding & Interpreting Sacred Texts

Perspectives From The Three Abrahamic Faiths

Sacred Texts

Join us at the Jewish Christian Muslim Association of Australia (JCMA) in a free on line event series: Understanding and Interpreting Sacred Texts – Perspectives From The Three Abrahamic Faiths’ featuring Rabbi Fred Morgan, Associate Prof. Adam Cooper and Sheikh Alaa El Zokm.

As a series of three Thursday evening sessions, each session will focus on one faith tradition with the speaker offering an approach to reading and interpreting their sacred texts followed by Q&A.

The aim is to deepen our knowledge and appreciation of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim texts so we gain more of an understanding of the connection with people from the Abrahamic faiths and can engage more fully in dialogue with each other.


Session 1 -Jewish Tradition •Rabbi Fred Morgan, 8th October

Session 2 -Christian Tradition• Associate Prof. Adam Cooper, 15thOctober

Session 3 -Muslim Tradition• Sheikh Alaa El Zokm, 22ndOctober

Cost: Free

Time:7.00pm – 8.30pm.

Where:On line using Zoom with entry from 6.50 pm

Session 2 Text download for discussion:JCMA-Interpreting-Christian-Scriptures-handout.pdf

Registration:To register on EventbriteClick here. All those who register will be emailed further details and Zoom link for the virtual event nearer the time of the event. We ask that all participants review the JCMA Principles of Dialogue by visiting this link We look forward to your participation.

Further Information:Contact Ginette on 0400 211 221 more information on the speakers click here:Speaker Profiles