Evanglical Writing on the Middle East

Compiled by Dr. Gary Burge, Wheaton, College

(This video featuring Dr. Gary Burge was presented at the EMEU 25th Anniversary Conference.)

EMEU has been at the forefront of a larger trend that witnessed a sea-change in evangelical thinking about the Middle East. Think back to the 1970s and the 1980s. The major contributors to distinctively Christian writing about the region belonged to dispensationalists such as Hal Lindsey, John Walvoord, and a variety of others for whom 1948 and particularly 1967 were dramatic fulfillments of prophesy. Christian scholars engaged and critiqued this view beginning about 1990.

The bibliography lists western contributors who work within a Christian theological framework but reach conclusions in sharp disagreement with the original dispensationalists. (Christian writers from the Middle East and Jewish writers speaking to western Christian audiences are included at the end.)

From the United States and the United Kingdom

This is a select list of books that have engaged the questions of the Middle East for the western Christian reader directly. In addition to these titles, many other very personal books were released telling stories about the personal encounters and awakenings of western Christians as they traveled to the Middle East.

  • 1992. Chapman, Colin G., Whose Promised Land?/Israel or Palestine? What Are the Claims and Counter-Claims? Are the Ancient Promises of the Bible Relevant Today? (Lion, 1992; 2002)
  • 1992. Walker, Peter W.L., ed., Jerusalem Past and Present in the Purposes of God (Tyndale, 1992)
  • 1992. Burge, Gary M., Who Are God’s People in the Middle East? (Zondervan, 1992)
  • 1993. Wagner, Donald E., and O’Neill, Dan, Peace or Armageddon (Zondervan, 1993)
  • 1995. Wagner, Donald E. Anxious for Armageddon: A Call to Partnership for Middle Eastern and Western Christians (Herald Press, 1995)
  • 1995. Habel, N., The Land is Mine. Six Biblical Land Ideologies (Fortress, 1995)
  • 1996. Walker, Peter W.L., Jesus and the Holy City. New Testament Perspectives on Jerusalem (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996)
  • 2000. Johnston, P., and Walker, P., ed., The Land of Promise (IVP, 2000) [Forward by John Stott]
  • 2000. Loden, L., Walker, P., and Wood, M., The Bible and the Land: An Encounter (Jerusalem: Musalaha, 2000)
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2002. Brueggemann, Walter, The Land. Place as Gift, Promise and Challenge in Biblical Faith. Second Edition (Fortress, 2002)
  • 2003. Burge, Gary M., Whose Land? Whose Promise? What Christians Are Not Being Told About Israel and the Palestinians (Pilgrim/Paternoster: 2003).
  • 2003. Wagner, Donald E., Dying in the Land of Promise: Palestine and Palestinian Christianity from Pentecost to 2000 (Fox, 2003)
  • 2004. Chapman, Colin G., Whose Holy City? (Lion, 2004)
  • 2004. Weber, Timothy, On the Road to Armageddon: How Evangelicals Became Israel’s Best Friend (Baker, 2004)
  • 2005. Sizer, Stephen R., Christian Zionism: Road-Map to Armageddon? (IVP, 2005)
  • 2006. Carter, Jimmy, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid (Simon & Schuster, 2006) [Carter is really writing about political history but he is a well-known Christian whose positions have been influential.]
  • 2007. Sizer, Stephen R., Zion’s Christian Soldiers?: The Bible, Israel and the Church (IVP, 2007)
  • 2010. Burge, Gary M., Jesus and the Land. How the New Testament Challenges Holy Land Theology (Baker Academic/SPCK, 2010)

Kenneth Bailey: Middle East Contextual Approaches to the New Testament

Bailey’s contributions have been significant (particularly his hugely popular 2008 book and his original studies on the parables). He has uniquely wed the disciplines of cultural anthropology and exegesis showing us that the culture of the Middle East may hold one key to understanding the New Testament. Almost single handedly, he reclaimed the word “middle east” for theological conversation. Bailey’s publications (print and audio) are extensive. These are titles that shifted the theological conversations among scholars. See the website: www.shenango.org/Bailey/index.htm.

  • 1976. Poet and Peasant, a Literary-Cultural Approach to the Parables in Luke (Eerdmans, 1976)
  • 1980. Through Peasant Eyes: More Lucan Parables, their Culture and Style (Eerdmans, 1980)
  • 1992. Finding the Lost: Cultural Keys to Luke 15 (Concordia, 1992)
  • 2003. Jacob & the Prodigal: How Jesus Retold Israel’s Story (2003)
  • 2005. The Cross & the Prodigal: Luke 15 Through the Eyes of Middle Eastern Peasants (IVP, 2005)
  • 2008. Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes: Cultural Studies in the Gospels (IVP, 2008)
  • 2011. Paul Through Mediterranean Eyes: Cultural Studies in 1 Corinthians (IVP, 2011 forthcoming)

Christians Writing from the Middle East

This period also witnessed an awakening of Palestinian Christian writers who recognized that their voices could indeed be heard in the western church. Many perspectives are represented: conservative protestant (Rantisi, Raheb, Awad), liberal protestant (Ateek), and Melkite (Chacour). Undoubtedly Chacour’s early book, Blood Brothers, has had an enormous influence on western protestants. A name to watch is the young Palestinian scholar, Dr. Hanna Katanacho (BBCollege, Nazareth campus).

  • 1984. Chacour, Elias, Blood Brothers (Chosen, 1984, 2004)
  • 1989. Ateek, Naim, Justice and Only Justice. A Palestinian Theology of Liberation. (Orbis, 1989)
  • 1990. Rantisi, Audeh, Blessed Are the Peacemakers: A Palestinian Christian in the Occupied West Bank (Zondervan, 1990)
  • 1995. Raheb, Mitri, I am a Palestinian Christian (Fortress, 1995)
1998. Raheb, Mitri, Bethlehem 2000 (Interlink 1998)
  • 2001. Chacour, Elias, We Belong to the Land: The Story of a Palestinian Israeli Who Lives for Peace and Reconciliation (Univ. Notre Dame, 2001)
  • 2001. Awad, Alex, Through the Eyes of the Victims: The Story of The Arab-Israeli Conflict (BBC: 2001)
  • 2004. Raheb, Mitri, Bethlehem Besieged: Stories of Hope in Times of Trouble (Augsburg, 2004)
  • 2008. Ateek, Naim, A Palestinian Christian Cry for Reconciliation (Orbis 2008)
  • 2008. Chacour, Elias, Faith Beyond Despair: Building Hope in the Holy Land (Canterbury, 2008)
  • 2008. Awad, Alex, Palestinian Memories: The Story of a Palestinian Mother and Her People (BBC, 2008)

Jewish Voices Engaging Western Christian Thinking

For those of us working in this field, Jewish religious scholarship has been invaluable. Israeli scholars have chronicled the justice issues with boldness and resolve. American Jewish scholars have reflected on the ethical dimensions of the Israel-Palestine conflict with remarkable courage since in many cases their work has inspired harsh criticism from some in their own communities.

  • 2004. Mark Ellis, Toward a Jewish Theology of Liberation (Baylor Univ. Press/SCM, 2004)
  • 2009. Mark Ellis, Judaism Does Not Equal Israel: The Rebirth of the Jewish Prophetic (New Press, 2009)
  • 2010. Mark Braverman, Fatal Embrace. Christians, Jews and the Search for Peace in the Holy Land (Synergy Books, 2010)

Web Sites

In this same era, web sites have now tried to bring together published works and advocacy for the concerns for the Middle Eastern churches.

Film

Film and online ‘shorts’ is the medium of the younger generation. Christians have begun using YouTube (see the Mennonite contributions) and produced documentaries that are compelling and professional.

  • 2006. Palestine is Still the Issue. John Pilger. (Bullfrog Films, 2006)
  • 2010. With God on Our Side. Porter Speakman. (Rooftop Productions, 2010)
  • 2010. Little Town of Bethlehem. Jim Hanon. (Ethnographic Media, 2010)

Student Immersion Programs

There are now a number of programs that invite western Christian students to spend significant time in the Middle East engaging its culture first hand. The student can stay in Arab Christian homes for a full cultural immersion (HLT), study for a semester for transferable credit (CCCU), or participate in non-violent activisim (Daher). Each program has a helpful web site and in some cases, a Face Book page.

  • Holy Land Trust, Middle East Fellowship: Bethlehem & Damascus
  • Best Semester: Cairo. Consortium of Christian Colleges & Universities [CCCU]
  • Tent of All Nations: Bethlehem Region: Daher’s Vineyard.