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Saint Peter’s College to Host Theology Conference on Pilgrimage and Jerusalem

Wednesday, February 22, 2006  
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Saint Peter’s College will host a Conference entitled Common Ground: Pilgrimage and Jerusalem in Early Judaism, Christianity and Islam on Thursday, March 30 from 2-5 p.m. The event is free and open to the general public.  The Department of Theology is organizing the conference.


The conference brings together leading scholars and theologians whose papers and discussions will examine traditions shared among the three monotheistic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.  The speakers will focus on the significance of Jerusalem and pilgrimage to these major faiths, especially in their respective scriptures.


“Our conference aims to promote respect and understanding among the three faith traditions and to focus on some of the core similarities,” said Dr. Susan L. Graham, Assistant Professor of Theology and conference chair. “We hope to encourage conversation and dialogue among the interfaith community in this area and throughout the academic community.”


Five speakers will address specific topics at the conference in McIntyre Hall on the Saint Peter’s College campus.  A reception will follow the presentations.


The scholars include:


Robert Paul Seesengood, Ph.D., Department of Classics at Drew University will present “Beginning in Jerusalem: Jerusalem as Origin and End in Ancient Christian Literature."  He will examine how the Christian New Testament presents a Christian "myth of origins" that centers on Jerusalem.


Thomas Ferguson, Ph.D., Department of Religious Studies at Manhattan College will present "The Mother Ship: Jerusalem as Nexus of Memory and Influence."  He will examine pilgrimage and the eschatological Jerusalem in early Byzantine Christian tradition.


Ruth Gais, Ph.D., Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, will present “’How The City Sits Alone!’ The Rabbis Confront the Loss of the Temple.”  Her paper will discuss how the early Rabbis confronted the problems of pilgrimage after the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple by the Romans.


James D. Pavlin, Ph.D., Department of Religion at Rutgers University-New Brunswick will present "The Symbolic Meaning of Hajj in Islamic Scriptural Sources,” which will discuss pilgrimage especially in the Koran and early Hadith.


Francis E. Peters, Ph.D., Department of Religious Studies and Middle Eastern Studies at New York University will present "Jerusalem Without Pilgrims/Pilgrims Without Jerusalem." He will draw together portraits of Jerusalem and of religious pilgrimage in the three traditions.

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