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[Colloquium] Interreligious Horizons in Psalms and Psalms Studies

We would like to announce an international colloquium on “Interreligious Horizons in Psalms and Psalms Studies” organized by Prof. Dr. Christian Frevel (Department of Catholic Theology, Ruhr-University Bochum) in cooperation with the Dormition Abbey on Mount Zion in Jerusalem and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD)

Title: “By my God I can leap over a wall” – Interreligious Horizons in Psalms and Psalms Studies: An International Colloquium in Memory of Erich Zenger (* July 5, 1939 - † April 4, 2010)

Date: July 29-31, 2019

Venue: Dormition Abbey, Mount Zion, P.O.Box 22, 9100001 Jerusalem, Israel

If you wish to participate in this conference please feel free to register by e-mail to

Description of the colloquium: There is hardly any need to justify the fact that Jerusalem is a special place of intra- and interreligious encounter of the so-called Abrahamic religions. The variety of confessions, denominations and religions in such a density at the narrowest of spaces is second to none. Adding the historical dimension, which potentiates the diversity of perspectives, the power of Jerusalem has a unique characteristic regarding the interreligious dialog compared to all other religious melting pots of modernity. The multi-religious lived space is characterized by cohabitation and snippets of shared religious experience. Thus, the historical and actual Jerusalem is a promising place for the academic reflection of mutual contact and religious encounter.

The colloquium will take the Psalms and the Psalter as a case study. Throughout history the Psalms represent an important part of the Christian-Jewish spirituality in practice. Alongside the character of David, the prophet, the Psalms are also appreciated in the Qur'an and the Muslim tradition. There is plenty of shared experience through the history although the Psalms are not part of the explicitly shared tradition. However, academic exchange on the interpretation of the Psalms took place in antiquity as well as in the Middle Ages until modern times. Addressing the present and coming Jerusalem as a lived and believed space, the Psalms are an outstanding study object to explore the prospects and limits of an interreligious dialog starting from the treatment of religious traditions and their reception. Hence, it is time to explore the capability of the Psalms and Psalms studies in the interreligious dialog.

The role of the Psalter with its hymns and laments, its longing for peace, and its hope for the blessing of the world of nations will be explored in this colloquium which brings Jewish, Christian, and Muslim academics in a fruitful exchange. The city of Jerusalem is as well subject matter as the place of venue. “In the Psalms, there sounds an idea [...] that the city grants its inhabitants something which is not simply the product of its inhabitants” (Erich Zenger).

The Colloquium deals with four topics:

I. Interreligious horizons in Psalms and Psalms studies

II. Psalms in the Muslim-Christian-Jewish dialog

III. Psalms in Jerusalem - Jerusalem in the Psalms

IV. Contextualizing Psalms in an interfaith dialog


Monday, July 29

14.00-14.30 Welcome Addresses

14.30-15.00 Christian Frevel, Bochum

Brief introduction

15.00-15.45 Ludger Schwienhorst-Schönberger, Vienna

Abraham’s God. Religions and interreligious understanding in Erich Zenger’s approach to the Psalms

16.15-17.00 Dorothea Erbele-Küster, Mainz

Reception aesthetics of the Psalms. A source for intercultural and interreligious dialog

17.00-17.45 Till Magnus Steiner, Jerusalem

City of God. Jerusalem as a place of encounter with God and the other

18.15 Vespers in the Dormition Church

20.15-21.15 Bernd Janowski, Tübingen

Public lecture: “JHWH knows the way of the righteous” (Psalm 1:6). The Psalter and the ethos of recognition

Tuesday, July 30

9.00-9.45 Meira Polliack, Tel Aviv

Witnesses of exchange. David’s image in the Psalter in a comparative exegetical perspective

9.45-10.30 Mustafa Abu Sway, Jerusalem

A Muslim’s reading of Psalms

11.00-11.45 Sivan Nir, Tel Aviv

The true order of the Psalms. The impact of Muslim prophetic biography on medieval Jewish exegesis of the Psalms

12.15 Sext in the Dormition Church

14.00-15.30 Florian Lippke, Tübingen

Guided tour: “Standing within your gates.” Locating Psalms in the history of Jerusalem

16.15-17.00 Ronny Vollandt, Munich

The Arabic Psalms fragment found in the Umayyad mosque in Damascus

17.00-17.45 Carl S. Ehrlich, Toronto

Judaism and the Psalms. Life and liturgy

18.15 Vespers in the Dormition Church

20.15-21.15 Angelika Neuwirth, Jerusalem

Public lecture: The emergence of the Qur'anic proclamation out of liturgy

Wednesday, July 31

8.00-10.45 Angelika Neuwirth, Jerusalem

Guided tour: The Temple Mount and the Qur'an. New and old insights

11.15-12.00 Dalit Rom-Shiloni, Tel Aviv

Praise and protest in a theodical discourse in Psalms

12.15 Sext in the Dormition Church

14.00-14.45 Nancy Rahn, Berne

Kingdom of all nations and kingdom of all times. Explorations into a main topic of the Psalter and its potential for interreligious encounters

14.45-15.30 Shani Tzoref, Potsdam

Prayer and prophecy. Psalms as liturgy and scripture in Qumranic and medieval Jewish exegesis

16.00-16.45 Martin Wallraff, Munich

Framing the text. Early Christian prologues to the Psalter

16.45-17.30 Yael Sela, Jerusalem

Between Jerusalem and Athens. Moses Mendelssohn’s Psalms translation

17.30-18.15 “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!”

Round table: The interreligious potential of Psalms

18.30 Prayer for peace in the Dormition Church