book mount and mountainMOUNT AND MOUNTAIN (Volume 1): A REVEREND AND RABBI TALK ABOUT THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, Michael Smith and Rami Shapiro, Smyth & Helwys Publishing, 2012

MOUNT AND MOUNTAIN (Volume 2): A REVEREND AND RABBI TALK ABOUT THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT, Michael Smith and Rami Shapiro, Smyth & Helwys Publishing, 2013

BEGINNINGS: A REVEREND AND RABBI TALK ABOUT THE STORIES OF GENESIS, Michael Smith and Rami Shapiro, Smyth & Helwys Publishing, 2014

“Here’s the story: a reverend and a rabbi start a blog.” It sounds like the beginning of a good joke but in reality it is the start of a virtual conversation between Rabbi Rami Shapiro and Baptist minister Michael Smith in 2008. Two friends dialogue together about their common love and understanding of their faith traditions by exploring scripture texts common to both Judaism and Christianity. These conversations became books which are rich in content, highly readable and deeply inspiring.

Rabbi Shapiro comments after the conversation about the Ten Commandments and Sermon on the Mount: “At the heart of rabbinic Judaism is the notion that the reader co-creates the text with the author. While it may be that the Torah comes from God, its meaning comes from us. I am not inclined to take this literally. I don’t think God writes books. But as a metaphor it is a powerful insight … Interfaith dialogue is not new, but most of it takes place on the level of doctrine. Rarely do we find people of different faiths reading one another’s holy books together. Granted, the Ten Commandments are no less a part of Christianity than they are of Judaism, but our traditions do understand them differently. And when it comes to the Sermon on the Mount, the rarity and import of our dialogue becomes all the more clear …” (p. 231, “Afterword”, Mount and Mountain, Vol. 2)

In response, Rev. Michael Smith commented: “… Do you remember the genesis of Mount and Mountain? … We knew, I think, that we did not want to attempt yet another doctrinal study, diatribe, or something suitable only for academics. Instead, we wanted to practice and model a genuine conversation between two friends from quite different yet historically intertwined religious traditions … I suspect that our respect for and knowledge of one another’s traditions grew. The journey taught us, I think, that we need one another’s perspective(s) if we are to find our way through our complicated and complex world.” (p. 232f, “Afterword”, Mount and Mountain, Vol. 2)

Genesis: A Reverend and Rabbi Talk about the Stories of Genesis became a continuation of the conversations between these two friends.

These three books were a great find, inspiration and illumination for me. I recommend them to anyone wishing to discover the organic relationship of Hebrew scripture and the Greek scripture we call the New Testament. We tend to overlook that Jesus was great teacher in the stream of Hebrew and rabbinic thought in our attempt to make him “unique” and “Christian.”

—Richard R. Kuns

Richard Kuns writes reviews of books you can find in the Renouf/Nelson Library.

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