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Two members of the religion faculty at Martin Methodist College will be among the speakers at a free interfaith lecture series Oct. 13 through Nov. 5, co-sponsored by Martin Methodist and First Presbyterian Church of Fayetteville, Tenn.

Drs. Domenic Nigrelli and Pat Whittemore will participate in the series, “The Role of the Messiah in World Religions,” which will be held at Fayetteville’s First Presbyterian Church. The lead speaker will be internationally respected New Testament scholar Amy-Jill Levine.

“The Role of the Messiah in World Religions” poses a question that is central to Christianity and addressed in other faiths. Leaders of the lecture series hope the discussions will stir a deeper understanding of faith.

“This is beyond Interfaith 101,” said the Rev. Todd Jenkins, pastor of First Presbyterian Church, where the lectures will be held. “This is to get people talking across faiths about some deeper principles – not only to understand their own faith better, but to get a glimpse of how other faiths have understood something in a different way.

“This is part of what we do as Presbyterians and certainly what Martin Methodist College strives to do for their students: to encourage the study, discussion and deeper investigation of principles of faith,” Jenkins said. “Including the inter-faith aspect in this series also gives us the opportunity to learn more about the beliefs of our non-Christian neighbors.”

Levine, who is University Professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies at Vanderbilt University and holds the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter chair of New Testament Studies, will lecture at 10 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 13, in the multi-purpose auditorium of First Presbyterian Church.

The author of The Misunderstood Jew: The Church and the Scandal of the Jewish Jesus, Levine will describe the perceptions of the Messiah circulating in first-century Jerusalem and how those perceptions were debated in some of the texts that became part of the Christian New Testament.

Levine will speak from 10 to 10:30 a.m., with a short time for questions afterwards. She will also continue the discussion in the church’s library in an informal round-table discussion from 11 to 11:40 a.m., which is also when the church’s second worship service will be conducted in the sanctuary. The church’s early service is from 8:45 to 9:30 a.m.

Levine, who is Jewish, is also a co-editor of the “Jewish Annotated New Testament,” published by Oxford University Press. She is affiliated with the Centre for the Study of Jewish-Christian Relations at Cambridge University.

The lecture series continues for the next four Tuesdays from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., Oct. 15 through Nov. 5. All of these lectures will be held in the multi-purpose auditorium at First Presbyterian Church.

Martin Methodist professors Nigrelli and Whittemore will team together on Oct.15 for a presentation on the perceptions of the Messiah and the nature of Christ in the early centuries of the Christian Church. Nigrelli, an ordained elder of the United Methodist Church, is assistant professor of religion and former director of the Cal Turner, Jr. Center for Church Leadership. Whittemore, also an ordained elder in the Methodist Church, is a professor of religion, chair of the humanities division and is the college’s coordinator of church vocations program.

On Oct. 22, Rabbi Elizabeth Bahar of Temple B’nai Sholom in Huntsville, Ala., will lecture on the perceptions of the Messiah in modern Judaism.

On Oct. 29, the Rev. Dr. Basye Holland-Shuey of Huntsville, an ordained Episcopal priest and interfaith scholar, will lecture on perceptions of a Messiah figure in other world religions.

On Nov. 5, Sheik Dr. Ossama Bahloul , the imam of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, will close the lecture series with a discussion of how Jesus and Mary are portrayed in the Qur’an and what role they play in the faith of most Muslims.

For more information on the series, contact First Presbyterian Church of Fayetteville at 931-433-1905.

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