Bethlehem Bible College Launches "The Land of Christ-A Palestinian Cry" By Rev. Prof. Hanna Katanacho
Bethlehem Bible College celebrated the book launch of “The Land of Christ – A Palestinian Cry,” by Rev. Dr. Hanna Katanacho, a member of the College faculty. Also in attendance were Bishop Atallah Hanna, Father Dr. Jamal Khader, Dr. Qostandi Shomali, Rev. Dr. Jack Sara, current president of BBC, and Dr. Bishara Awad, founder of the College and its President Emeritus.
Rev. Dr. Munther Isaac, BBC’s Academic Dean, opened the evening by welcoming the guests. He stressed that books and literature have become like an outdated currency that is no longer used in our present day. He suggested that the progress of people is measured by the amount they read, and therefore is why we are filled with pride for launching “The Land of Christ – A Palestinian Cry.” Rev. Dr. Munther added that it is not the first time that one of the faculty members in Bethlehem Bible College have written such a valuable book.
In turn, Rev. Dr. Jack Sara welcomed the attendees to the book launch, and congratulated Rev. Dr. Hanna and the Palestinian people on this distinct voice that challenges normative viewpoints of the divine right of the land. Also, the Bethlehem Bible College Choir, led by Akram Nassar, shared some hymns.
Next, Rev. Dr. Jamal Khader, president of the Seminary Institute in Beit Jala, stressed that, “What was thought in previous times to be difficult, has now become possible. This book launch by an evangelical author now has a Catholic priest presenting, and a Baptist pastor talking about the Bible all in the language of social justice!”
Father Jamal added, “The author introduces us to the world of the Bible from the perspective of the study of land, in addition to introducing us to the world of the author, where he presents his own spiritual experience and his struggle with the commandment of loving our enemies. A personal experience, especially when it is spiritual, is not evaluated or commented about, but is listened to with an open mind and heart. We want to share our appreciation to the writer for opening his heart and sharing with us his spiritual life and battles. ” In conclusion, Father Khader thanked Rev. Hanna Katanacho for his commitment and writings.
Rev. Prof. Hanna Katanacho then provided an explanation for his book. At first, he gave thanks to his family, who supported him in writing this book; to Dr. Bishara Awad, founder of Bethlehem Bible College, because of his contribution to this book and for writing the introduction; and also to Rev. Dr. Jack Sara, Rev. Dr. Munther Isaac, and all professors of the college who shared and provided him with ideas, convictions and debates. He also specifically thanked his students and Professor Qostandi Shomali who provided the body for the spirit of the book through translating it from English to Arabic.
“For me, this book is a message; I love Christ, He is my life, and He is the most important thing to me, and whoever loves Christ also loves His people and His land.” Rev. Hanna emphasized that his love for Christ causes him to defend the oppressed and the needy. In this book, he combined social justice with the love of Christ, all the while paying credit to the Palestinian context.
He added that there are many people who are sure that this land was given to the Jews by God, which prompted him to wonder, “What does God want from me?” “How do I understand the Bible as a Palestinian without canceling my Palestinian and Christian identities?” “How shall I bring my Palestinian and Christian identities into a dialogue and a discussion?” He wanted to stress that both his Palestinian and Christian identity are blessings from God.
In this book, he asked important questions in response to common Christian Zionism assertions when they say that God gave the land to the Jews. The first question was: “What are the limits of this land in the Bible?” The second question was, “Who is Israel in the Bible?” And lastly, a series of questions that build on one another: “Is God a land broker?” “If so, what do we mean when we say that God gives away land?” “How is the gift of God described in the Bible?” He added that the answers he concluded are that we cannot understand the gift of God without first understanding and committing to the standards of God and His plan. God’s gifts are purposeful, and they cannot be separated from His Supreme Gift, the Lord Jesus Christ. That is why we must look at the history of God’s dealing with the land from the perspective of Jesus Christ. This is why, therefore, the book was called “The Land of Christ.”
Ft. Bishop Atallah Hanna, shared a quick comment on the book, and then congratulated Rev. Dr. Katanacho for his valuable publication, which has enriched the Christian Arab library.
Time was then given to the audience, and to everyone who watched the ceremony via live broadcast, to ask their questions and share their comments, which were answered by Father Jamal Khader and Rev. Dr. Hanna Katanacho.
In conclusion, Rev. Dr. Munther Isaac appealed for students and teachers to write and to have confidence as Palestinians to express their views. He then invited them to the reception ceremony which was simultaneous with an exhibition from local artist Rana Bishara entitled “Stolen Childhood” and “Zarqawat Al-Jabal”. Rana presented her exhibition at the Bishara Awad building during the opening ceremony of the book launch. Rev. Munther thanked the attendees, guests and speakers and invited them to buy the book and have it signed by the author.