Student Journal of Scriptural Reasoning

How Do I Get Involved?

If you are interested in Scriptural Reasoning, begin by perusing some of the writings found in the SR in Action area. This will give you an idea of what Scriptural Reasoners discuss and how they write about it. For a more "technical" introduction, you might want to read the "Rules of Scriptural Reasoning" issue of the Journal of Scriptural Reasoning.

SR begins with the study of scripture. Individual study is of course necessary to familiarize yourself with the texts. To begin to get the feel of SR, however, it is recommended that you study with at least one partner. Studying and reasoning together are important aspects of SR. More information about currently active Scriptural Reasoning groups can be found on the web pages of the Children of Abraham Institute and the Scriptural Reasoning Forum.

Starting SR Groups

There are several ways to go about setting up a SR study group at your university. We suggest seeking equal representation (or as close as possible) from all three scriptural traditions (Jewish, Christian, and Muslim). A group may begin, however, with representation from only two of these traditions, with the goal of eventually securing participants from the third. While you may need to be creative in the earliest phases of developing your group's demographics, the most important factor is to locate participants who share in the goals and methods of SR and, then, to seek representation from each group. The goal is not simply dialogue among Jews, Christians, and Muslims. The first priority is to find students motivated to pursue scriptural study together, then to find students who bring sufficient familiarity with the sources (not expertise, just familiarity-although the group leaders will have some expertise). The ideal group size, in our experience, has been between 5 and 10 participants.

Before dialogue actually begins, study group leaders will have met with others who are familiar with SR practice in order to "learn the ropes." The group leaders (preferably one from each tradition who is familiar with her/his own texts) will then bring in the participants from their own faiths for one or two sessions of intra-faith SR, to give them some sense of confidence in their "own" tradition of study, and to familiarize themselves with SR practice in a comfortable setting. Then, each sub-group would convene to engage in inter-faith SR.

Text selection. The idea is to begin with brief textual selections, so that study can proceed with care for each sentence, and opposed to hasty study of "themes." After a few meetings, it may be good to bring in examples of traditional readings of these texts, from sources in the rabbinic, patristic, and haddith literatures. It is important to realize, of course, that the groups are by no means expected to exhaust any given text in a single meeting.

Each study session will begin with brief (5 minutes or so) introductions to each tradition's text selection by a member of that tradition. It is important to reiterate that these introductions are not meant to be lengthy presentations, nor used to teach one another "the truth" of the texts. They should simply offer enough learned background on the texts that dialogue can be deep and lively without wholly misrepresenting any tradition's sense of the text.

After about 45 minutes into each session, the group should be engaging in a free exchange of readings and interpretations of all three text selections. Group leaders should gently nudge the group toward some overall reflections toward the last half hour of each session: reflections on the general themes of the day's readings, on shared insights, and on challenges.

After about three sessions of this kind, a successful group should begin to nurture a sense of friendship in study and an emergent sense of direction: how this particular group may want to direct its future study. The group, for example, may want to plan a year of study along some developing textual theme, or to work gradually to insights into some communal, political or ethical theme.