Quran, Old Testament, New Testament

steph was responding to a comment of mine on Nick’s post. In it, she makes a number of claims:

Christianity adopted the Hebrew Bible.

“Qu’ran is essentially the political speeches of Muhammad.” The Qu’ran is essentially influenced by the Hebrew Bible. It is no more than the political speeches of Muhammad than the Hebrew Bible is the political speeches of the prophets.

my response

For starters, “adopted” is a very loose word and offers little real “content”. It is an assertion that will be assented to, but that assent does not really say what is meant. Are we bound by it? Is it informational or instructive? Why has it been “adopted”? There is probably a rhetorical term for such a word or construction, but I don’t know it. Oh, well.

It is very reasonably one might look at the Prophetic writings of the OT as “political speeches.” Many scholars do treat them in exactly this fashion. I would offer that they are much more than that, since this was God’s political message for Israel. But some might disagree, and I don’t intend to get bogged down there.

To the original main point, even if you look at the message of the prophets (lets stick with those after the Divided Kingdom) in the Old Testament, it is usually a call for justice, a call for a return to true worship and practice. It often includes foreign condemnation, but it does not call the nation of Israel or Judah to perform that judgment. It simply speaks God’s view of how current situations will impact the future. More often than not, it is a message that is to Israel and Judah and addresses their own twin rejection of God’s authority and way of doing things.

As for the law and entry into Canaan, it is clear that the scriptures taught that Israel was performing God’s judgment on the peoples there. But never is Israel giving a standing order to imperialistically increase the kingdom. They were given a distinct parcel of land, and that was that. And certainly this does not provide Christians with any doctrine such as, “Go kill/subjugate the city over there because they refuse my authority.”

I have never heard anyone say that the Quran was based on the Hebrew Bible (I have much yet to read, to be sure), though I would not be surprised at similarities and inclusions (based on common social background, cultural origin, language structure and interaction). Influence might be more likely, but one would have to ask is this based on cultural interchange, or actual textual influence? Once again, is the influence doctrinal, instructive or background?

I have, however, read scholarly works that present Islam and the Quran as a response to Byzantine Christianity and the assumed excesses (much as the more outspoken Muslims decry the excesses of Western wealth and religious hedonism, today). I have read sources that speak of Islam as a response to Trinitarian concepts that departed from a monotheistic understanding that the Arabian peninsula might have shared with Jewish teaching. These cannot give the full picture, though, for many of those settlements which received the Prophet’s eye were neither Jewish nor Christian enclaves.

At this point, I am very weary of this whole matter, to be quite honest… I believe a good reader of the scriptures of the three faiths here discussed (and their earliest histories) would come to the conclusion that Islam was un-ashamedly violent and militarily offensive. On the other hand, Christianity was non-violent and not even militarily defensive. Indeed, Jesus had directly commanded that his followers should not “resist evil.” You can take that literally or in any other way if you like, but it is a world-view away from Islam.


About George

I'm interested in theology, languages, translation and various sorts of fermentation.
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4 Responses to Quran, Old Testament, New Testament

  1. steph says:

    I too have read lots of “scholarly” books including the Qu’ran which was presented to me by one of the mosques I interacted with. I also pursued field study in the Islamic community We come to different conclusions. My degree was in World Religions and I am completing my PhD in the New Testament in the UK. I too read biblical languages but Aramaic is fundamental to my work right now. I too find this discussion tiring and upsetting. It only started because young Nick saw nothing wrong in Parlsey’s public statement.

    A fellow student once hypothesised that a couple of Jews met Muhammad and told him the stories in the Hebrew Bible, but making fun of him they jumbled it up and put characters in wrong generations and wrong stories. Muhammad wrote it down later as well as he could remember – jumbled up. A student’s observation. There are parallels in characters and stories.

    Shalom to you.

  2. steph says:

    BTW I did say ‘influenced’ in a playful way but I did not say ‘based’.

    Also I don’t actually read either the HB or the Q as “essentially political speeches”.

    And finally the Christian Bible includes the Old Testament. Plenty of Christians appeal to Genesis for creation and Leviticus to condemn homosexuality. Augustine articulated the Fall which he interpreted from the Old Testament. In the past slavery was defended. And now I have heard and read Christians defend war and torture. This just makes me very sad.


  3. George says:

    I agree, you definitely did not say “based”. And I did not mean to imply that you did. My wording poorly distinguished, though.

  4. if the koran is based on the old testiment as well as other prophets… I am wondering if the koran took out the statement that “those who bless Isrial will be blessed and those who curse it will be cursed”?

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