In 1992, Peter Ochs and a few Christian and Muslim colleagues began to gather small groups, in and outside the classroom, to practice close and attentive reading of the sacred Scriptures of the Jewish, Muslim, and Christian traditions. The hope was that members of different religions could hear one another through the patient, respectful reading of each other's Scripture. Hearing each other, participants might enter into interreligious relationships that might point a way to the peaceful engagement of religions--especially those who, after September 11, 2001, too often found themselves at each other's throats. It was a hope for religion without violence.
Nearly thirty years later, this practice of study-across-difference has seeded an international movement, now named Scriptural Reasoning. The movement nurtures cooperative study among students, scholars, and congregants devoted to distinctly different religious and value traditions.
In Religion without Violence, Ochs reflects on the practical and philosophic lessons he has learned from hosting hundreds of Scriptural Reasoning engagements. He introduces the "scriptural pragmatism" of Scriptural Reasoning." He painstakingly recounts instances of successful scriptural reasoning and warns where and how it might fail. He provides guidance on how to introduce and facilitate Scriptural Reasoning in the classroom. He shows how reading out of the "hearth" of a faith can contribute to peace building across religions. And, drawing on the resources of rabbinic tradition, Augustine, and Charles Peirce, he moves beyond practice to reflect on the implications of Scriptural Reasoning for discerning what kinds of "reasoning" best address and help repair societal crises like religion-related violent conflict.