Mualem addresses many concerns in different ways. First, he takes a prophetic role as he defends the rights of children, women, aging parents, the oppressed, and the marginalized. He rebukes profligacy and irresponsible spending especially in weddings. He also condemns honor-killings and political hypocrisy. Second, Mualem acts as a theologian. He engages the German philosopher Nitsche, discusses the importance of Mariology, and unpacks the significance of icons. Gladly, he focuses on the centrality of the Christ event in transforming humanity. He boldly describes the birth of Christ, his life, his crucifixion, as well as his glorious resurrection asserting that Christ came to redeem all human beings for all are sinners. Third, Mualem advances the Christian-Muslim dialogue by encouraging their common heritage and culture. He employs biblical and Quranic verses in an artful way addressing both Muslims and Christians. Fourth, Mualem points out the common geographic denominator that combines the Galilean Christ and contemporary Palestinian Galileans. Jesus Christ is the son of Nazareth and Galilee, the same region that we hold dear. This shared geography becomes a platform for celebrating Christ, his accomplishments, and universal recognition. All the inhabitants of Galilee can celebrate Christ who is the son of the same country that they value.
Mualem is a good model of bridging cultural and biblical horizons. His profound understanding of Islam and Palestinian culture enables him to coin meaningful dialogues with the biblical text. Further, his Arabic linguistic skills pave the way for writing lucid as well as captivating essays. Last, although the book has many advantages it needs further work in the following areas. First, there are dozens of typos in the book. I strongly suggest editing it. Second, Mualem’s concept of a shared geography with Christ is an intriguing thought but it needs further development. Third, Mualem’s response to the criticisms related to his understanding of Mariology is weak. Although he demonstrates a great heart in addressing the issues, his answers lack biblical support and assume interpretive superiority based mainly on longevity, a position that is different from the openness and rigorous intellectual engagement found in the rest of the book. In short, I highly recommend Mualem’s book and hope that Bishop Mualem will live many more years and write many more books.
Rev. Yohanna Katanacho, PhD
Director of the Academic Affairs at Galilee Bible College