Judaism, Christianity and Islam Dissected

Santa Monica's Ocean Park Branch Library held a lecture with cultural historian and renowned film-maker Jean-Pierre Isbouts on Saturday, Oct .11, when he discussed the similarities and differences between the world's three dominating faiths. The elusive margin of contrasts between Christianity, Islam, and Judaism grew even thinner with his multi-dimensional analysis which combined literature, archeology, and the historical world-views regarding key overlapping events within the scopes of each belief system. The presentation effectively brought together varying perspectives in order to reveal the factual details hidden beneath layers of historical myth and incongruence.

The quaint lecture hall located in the basement of the library was the meeting place for enthusiastic and knowledgeable scholars interested in the field of theology. This particular audience was nodding their collective head in approval after Isbouts gave a presentation that would have most religious fanatics squirming in their seats.

The extremely conversant and educated crowd raised a heap of tough questions, all of which were answered comprehensively and insightfully by Isbouts. One listener contended the exact date of the Septuagint texts as another inquired into the complex relationship between biblical accuracy and meaning.

"I'm a practicing Christian but that does not prevent me from looking at the Bible also as a book of history," said Isbouts in reply to a question about whether much of the internal knowledge of the Koran has been examined, especially by western scholars.

The sensitivity of the Koran has kept scholars from digging into its intricate web and tradition of sayings which has been percolating from community to community for centuries. It was entirely dictated in rhyme, making use of advanced Arabic poetry to pass down the revelations of God in first person. In fact, it has no chronological order and each of its 114 chapters is about one particular revelation organized by length. Not only is there every indication to suggest that neither Mohammed nor Jesus could read, but also that the rise of monotheism was an evolutionary process that had more to do with the lack of control over regional floods in Mesopotamia than the great leap of faith that Moses is credited with. Isbouts connected pieces from oral strands, literature, and archeology that also supported the apparent carelessness within biblical scripture.

The short lecture covered a wide range of details that are discussed in much farther detail in his two books. Among a branching list of achievements, Isbouts is also the author of the books Young Jesus and National Geographic's The Biblical World: An Illustrated Atlas.

It's no wonder that this modern day Renaissance man was able to bring his audience to an agreement on topics of religion, the controversy of which dates back to the history of civilization itself. Although Isbouts will be lecturing in Europe for the rest of the year, he did promise to return to Santa Monica, with the help of Jamie Watson, for a lecture on the Exodus set for sometime around January.