Scholars’ Trialogue

Since 1978, the Dialogue Institute has sponsored what became known as the International Scholars’ Abrahamic Trialogue (ISAT). These conferences have brought together leading scholars from each of the Abrahamic faiths in regions where interreligious understanding is crucial to promoting stability and peace. Through intensive dialogue, academics and regional leaders use religious diplomacy to address communities in crisis.

The gatherings began with a six-year series held at the Kennedy Institute of Ethics in Washington, DC, 1978-1983, and expanded in 1989 with a gathering of international scholars in Philadelphia. Additional ISATs have been held in: Atlanta, United States; Orlando, United States; Graz, Austria; Jerusalem; Jakarta, Indonesia; Skopje, Macedonia; Philadelphia, United States (jointly with the 35th Annual Scholars’ Conference on the Holocaust and the Churches). The most recent ISAT, which focused on interreligious cooperation in relation to socially responsible global business, was held in Amman, Jordan, in May of 2008. It was hosted by HRH Prince Hassan bin Talal, a long time ISAT member and Chair of the board of Jordan’s Royal Institute of Inter-faith Studies.

ISAT scholars have gathered with regional leaders in varied fields to exchange ideas, establish principles for dialogue, and advance interreligious understanding and cooperation. Among the outcomes of this ongoing dialogue process:

  1. The collegiality and continuing commitment of scholars engaged in work of mutual understanding and joint problem-solving provide a unique forum for countering religious strife in specific international contexts.
  2. The ongoing scholarly pursuit of dialogue has fostered a veritable “technology” for creating new possibilities out of the exchange of ideas respectful of diversity and difference.
  3. One such ISAT series under the Patronage of Sir Evelyn Rothschild of England, Prince Philip of England, and Prince El Hassan bin Talal of Jordan produced A Code of Ethics on International Business for Christians, Muslims and Jews out of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim sources.
  4. The 2002 ISAT, hosted by the late President Boris Trajkovski of Macedonia had a positive impact on countering the sources of religious conflict in that war-torn region through a triple commitment to: a) regular meetings of religious leaders under the patronage of the President; b) collaboration between the Orthodox and Islamic theological seminaries on both faculty and student levels; c) establishment of a “Council of Interreligious Collaboration.”

Each ISAT has a particular focus, and specifically interacts with the local host country, with an effort to include the local faith communities and to address their needs. Proceedings of many past ISAT conferences have been published as books, or incorporated into a special issue of the Journal of Ecumenical Studies.

See: Trialogues: Theoria --> Praxis: How Jews, Christians, Muslims (and Others) Can Together Move from Theory to Practice (1998); Religions in Dialogue: From Theocracy to Democracy (2002); and Interreligious Dialogue toward Reconciliation in Macedonia and Bosnia (2003).