Langham Writer Impacts Middle East

22 June 2009

In June 2008, Langham Scholar Riad Kassis’ book, Why Don’t We Read the Book That Christ Read? Towards a Better Understanding of the Old Testament, became the first Arabic, Middle Eastern publication to be produced as a result of the Langham Writer programme. Arab Christian scholars and pastors alike have received the book with much praise, and Riad’s impact on how readers may approach the Old Testament within the context of Middle Eastern culture has grown dramatically.

Here are some comments about the impact of Why Don’t We Read the Book That Christ Read?:

Letter received from a North African academic:

‘I was invited to teach a course in systematic theology in a Bible school in North Africa. I received your book on the Old Testament during a conference in Malta, and I was so excited about it so I decided to complete reading it in the plane on my way to present the course. I had prepared very well for the course and was ready to share it. When I arrived at the airport, I was told that the course has been already being taught. I was asked to teach another course starting tomorrow. I was totally devastated. How was I going to prepare for another course in such a short time? I had no materials and resources to use in preparation. Then an inspirational idea came to my mind: Why do not have a course based on Dr Kassis’ book? This I did! The outcome of my teaching time was great and very exciting. The chapters on wine, Song of Songs, and violence in the OT were so helpful to my students. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for such a helpful and beneficial book.’

An encounter in the Middle East:

Riad was recently at a conference center where “Mona” (not her real name), a qualified teacher in high school, approached him with her husband, who is a well-known physician. She greeted him warmly and both thanked him for the book. She added:

‘My two brothers are well educated but both had great difficulties accepting the Old Testament. One day we were all together in our summer house and I was reading your book. When my brother knew what I was reading, he commented satirically: “Are you still interested in the Old Testament?” I told him that this book will answer all your questions. You should read it! “No way,” he responded. After the vacation I went back to the city but left the book at the summer house. To my surprise my brother visited me after several weeks to say: “I read the whole book that you left at the summer house. As soon as I started reading it I could not stop. It has really changed my perspective on the Old Testament.”

Mona concluded:

‘I am fascinated with your book and I keep on buying copies from the Bible Society House to give it to my Muslim and Christian friends.’

Riad reports on his book’s impact on seminaries:

‘I am glad to inform you that my book is one of the required readings for Old Testament courses at the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary, Beirut and the Evangelical Theological Seminary of Cairo, Egypt. These are the two most strategic seminaries in the region. I am really humbled and grateful to God and Langham Writers Program for making it available for these future leaders as most of them read only Arabic. I was recently teaching an intensive course on biblical wisdom and Arabic proverbs at the Evangelical Theological Seminary of Cairo, Egypt. More than 65 students expressed their desire to have personal copies of my book, not just to read it themselves but to lend it to their friends to read it.

‘I am humbled as I hear comments from many of these students praising how much the book has helped them in their understanding of the Old Testament in a Middle Eastern context. A student commented: “This book is God’s gift to the Middle East. Please do write more books of this kind!”

‘In fact, my book is the only serious book in Arabic on Old Testament issues written by an evangelical. In my heart I have said: Thank you, Lord, for Langham Writers program! I do highly appreciate what you are doing.’

Read more about Riad Kassis and his book, Why Don’t We Read the Book That Christ Read?

Learn more about Langham Literature’s Langham Writers Programme.