From 19 – 23 September 2022, a group of 7 scholars met at the National Biblical Catechetical and Liturgical Centre (NBCLC), Bengaluru, to engage in a workshop on intertextual reading of Sacred Scriptures. Dr. Shilanand Hemraj and Rev. Dr. Yesu Karunanidhi, who facilitated the workshop, introduced the Sacred Scriptures of different world religions – Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism and Christianity, Sikhism, Zoroastrianism – their context, content, and connection. It was a unanimous experience of the participants that the Sacred Scriptures of the world religions are the starting points for mutual understanding, mindful dialogue, and masterful solidarity. In the context of religious fanaticism, fundamentalism, communal violence, demonizing others, indifference, and intolerance it is imperative and need of the hour that we join hands and eyes to read our Scriptures together. At the end of the workshop a statement and an action-plan were evolved.
Rev. Dr. Yesu Karunanidhi introduced to the participants the method of intertextuality and its practice within Biblical interpretation and other literatures. Dr. Shilanand Hemraj familiarized the participants with different Sacred Scriptures, their historical and theological backgrounds, their summary, and their inter-relatedness. On the last day the participants made presentations of their individual projects. The Biblical texts were studied intertextually with the Hymn XXXVII Śivapuranam, “The Decade of the Tenacious Grasp”, Dhammapada, Śivapuranam, The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, xxi – xxx, The Dhammapada, Hiraṇyagarbha Sūkta of the Rigveda, and Avesta.
Terrance, one of the participants, said, “through the study of one text in the light of the other we are able to acknowledge, appreciate, and appropriate that the basic human experiences are universal, and all the Scriptures express these experiences in their languages and from their perspectives.” Biju Cherayath added, “we walk with an inclusive identity whereby we realize that we are all journeying companions.” Paul Albey OCD called that “we resolve to increase religious literacy among the people whom we encounter in our day-to-day life, thereby we shed our prejudices, myopic concepts, and fears.”
At the end of the workshop it was unanimously agreed that we join hands with other scholars who have been involved with inter-religious dialogue, and we continue to read the Sacred Scriptures of the world religions with respect and discernment.
The workshop was jointly organized by Rev. Dr. A. John Baptist, the Director of the NBCLC and Rev. Dr. Yesu Karunanidhi, the Executive Secretary to the CCBI Commission for Bible.
Given jointly by Rev. Dr. A. John Baptist, and Rev. Dr. Yesu Karunanidhi at NBCLC, Bengaluru, on 23 September 2022