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Bible lecturer to speak on "Reading the Bible through Palestinian Eyes"

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Naim Stifan Ateek will be the featured speaker for the Bethel College Bible Lectures Feb. 15 and 16 on the college campus in North Newton. A Palestinian Christian, Ateek will speak on the theme "Reading the Bible through Palestinian Eyes" during three lectures in Krehbiel Auditorium, Fine Arts Center at Bethel College in North Newton. Admission is free and open to the public. He will present three lectures: "The Use and Misuse of the Bible in Palestine: An Historical and Theological View" at 7:30 p.m., Feb. 15; "Jonah: The First Palestinian Liberation Theologian" at 11 a.m., Feb. 16; "The Bible and the Land" at 7:30 p.m., Feb. 16.

"Naim Ateek lives in a land that has known decades of conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, and as a Christian, he is committed to working at solutions based on the principles of justice, peace and nonviolence, says Patty Shelly, associate professor of Bible and religion at Bethel College.

An Anglican priest, Ateek is founder and director of the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center in Jerusalem. From 1985 to 1997 Ateek was parish priest of the Palestinian Congregation and canon at St. George’s Cathedral in Jerusalem. He also served churches near Nazareth and in Haifa.

Sabeel (an Arabic word which means "the way" or "spring of water") is a grassroots movement among Palestinian Christians. For the various national and faith communities in Israel/Palestine, Sabeel seeks to develop a spirituality based on justice, peace, nonviolence, liberation and reconciliation.

"Naim Ateek and Sabeel have been long-time friends and partners with Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) in Palestine. MCC has supported the Sabeel Center since its founding in 1992 and has also drawn support from the creative thinking and witness of those Palestinian Christians involved in Sabeel’s ministry," Shelly says.

Ateek authored the book "Justice and Only Justice: A Palestinian Theology of Liberation" (Orbis Books, 1989), which addresses the conflict over Palestine and explores the political, religious, biblical and theological dimensions of a theology of liberation.

He completed his bachelor’s degree at Hardin-Simmons University, Abilene, Texas, his master of divinity degree at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific, Berkeley, Calif., and his doctoral studies at San Francisco Theological Seminary.

"When I lived in Jerusalem (from 1996 to 2000)," Shelly says, "I often attended the church where Rev. Ateek was pastor. His sermons were always a passionate engagement of gospel truth and current events."

The Bible Lecture Series has been part of Bethel College since 1914. Since 1951 the series has been endowed by the Hartzler Foundation.

The Bethel College Church Relations office will host area pastors at a noon luncheon and a 1 p.m. question-answer session with Naim Ateek on Monday, Feb. 16. Area pastors are invited in attend, and reservations are required by Friday, Feb. 13. Call Dale Schrag at (316) 284-5356 for additional information or to place a reservation.

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