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Witnessing for Peace: In Jerusalem and the World.

Witnessing for Peace: In Jerusalem and the World. By Munib Younan. Edited by Fred Strickert. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2003. xiv and 169 pages. Paper. $16.00.

In 1977 I led my first study seminar to the Holy Land and from that time have become deeply concerned about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Numerous books have been recently published on the this topic, yet Bishop Younan's offering provides a fresh approach. As the Bishop of Jerusalem in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Jordan/Palestine/Israel (ELCJ), he shares his own family story as part of a larger focus on the church as "witnesses" (martyrs) for peace, both past and present. We North American Lutherans need to become acquainted with Palestinian Lutherans in the Holy Land and determine how we can support them in their witness for peace in that volatile situation. Younan's book will help us do that.

Younan divides his book into three major parts. Part I deals with "Contexts." In chapter 1 he traces briefly the larger context of 2,000 years of Christianity in Jerusalem. He does so with a keen eye to the role of Palestinian Christians throughout. He helpfully explains the history of the Lutheran Church in Palestine, including of course the beginning of the ELCJ in 1959. Chapter 2 describes the complex family history of the Younans, which includes refugee experience, attachment to the Old City of Jerusalem, and the importance of Lutheran school education.

Part II is titled "Martyria and Nonviolence." In chapter 3 Younan develops an evocative theology of martyria ("witness"), clearly linking it to the church's minority status in the Holy Land. In chapter 4, "Witness in the Land," the bishop argues that the church has to remain in the Holy Land to provide a witness. he shows the importance of geography to salvation yet departs from certain religious fundamentalisms that assert ownership of the land in light of a facile reading of biblical texts. Chapter 5, "Witness for Justice: The Political Situation," discusses the current political context with a resolute clarity that peace only follows where some semblance of justice is done. Chapter 6, "Witness for Nonviolence and Moderation," builds the case for a nonviolent approach for accomplishing peace and the church's role in that process.

In Part III, "Applications," Bishop Younan concretely deals with the reality on the ground. How does he witness in the face of terrorism? How does he witness to an actual terrorist? How is a theological "trialogue" constructed among Jews, Christians, and Muslims? How would he witness to the Muslim community? And how would he witness to the Jewish community?

This testimony of one who grew up in Jerusalem and reflects theologically on the current conflict in the Holy Land is extremely valuable. Pastors and other rostered leaders in the Lutheran Church should read it. In turn, they should seriously consider leading lay groups in discussing it so that many Christians may discover concrete ways to share in the Bishop's "witnessing for peace."

James L. Bailey

Wartburg Theological Seminary
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Author:Bailey, James L.
Publication:Currents in Theology and Mission
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Oct 1, 2004
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