Statesboro, GA, USA
find the Muslim perspective comparatively much more compromising for a religion, Jesus is put into the larger perspective of all the scriptures and all the prophets and messengers and the belief doesn't need to reject any of them in order to try claim the legitimacy for itself or only for the one it favours most. Instead it is accepting others as well that is a fundamental part of claiming legitimacy as a Muslim
Yep, Islam overall is much more openly inclusive and 'compromising' in matters of religion ... a veritable birthplace of inclusivism. um, right. Remember that Islam means to "Submit". That doesn't mean that all Muslims are bellicose or contentious, but none are in the Oprah Winfrey Club. I just don't want distance, since Islam is culturally removed from your everyday experience, to distort the picture too much for you.
Which approach is most likely to provide a better bridge between the two most prominent religions: accepting only Christ and the Bible and rejecting the Quran and Muhammad, or accepting the Quran, Muhammad, the Bible, and Jesus?
Are you suggesting that Koran doesn't actually reject the Jesus of the New Testament? Its misleading to say that the Koran accepts Jesus, and therefore offers a more comprehensive picture of him. Why? Because the two descriptions of Jesus (New Testament/ and Koran) are different. And Islam does emphatically and zealously reject the New Testament Jesus. Tit for tat? The question actually takes us beyond that kind of reasoning, since anything that is debated involves both sides rejecting some things and affirming others.
What you are saying glosses over something very important to this discussion. You say that since Islam accepts all the prophets (meaning Jesus as well as Muhammad), it is therefore more inclusive. But The Koran does reject the New Testament Jesus. The "Jesus" of the Koran is a quite different one. I've already shown that, historically, Muhammad's take on Jesus came from sectarian and gnostic sources closer to his own time. If you want to take this discussion to the next step, you should respond to that, since Islam's credibility when it comes to Jesus, depends on whether it can show that the Koran actually say anything at all about the historical Jesus. My contention, without faulting Muhammed from responding to what he knew of Christianity in his time and culture, is that it doesn't say anything at all about the New Testament, and therefore has no critique to offer. But I get the feeling that your stance (which is a noble one to unite all religions as much as possible), and Dr. Philip's stance is quite different.
I think the real heart of the issue, is whether Jesus is allowed to be more than a prophet, if he indeed claimed to be. In New Testament terms, he was known to be a prophet, but also something more. His mission was not mere reform and moral instruction, but of divine sacrifice. The dialogue of Jesus with his disciples about his own status in the New Testament went like this:
"When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, 'Who do people say the Son of Man is?'
They replied, 'Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah, and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.'
'But what about you?' he asked. 'Who do you say I am?'
Simon Peter answered, 'You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.'
Jesus replied, 'Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.'" (Matthew 16:13-20)
Many people then, like in Islam (and western culture) now, saw Jesus as a standard prophet of God. Nothing wrong with that so far ... a venerable pedigree without question. Who could complain with being compared with the likes of John the Baptist, Elijah, or Jeremiah? But Jesus went on to elicit (without scolding anyone for recognizing the obvious truth that, at the very least, Jesus was a prophet) from his disciple Peter a confession that he was more than a prophet, and that his relation to God (one of intrinsic sonship) was quite different than any of our own, including the prophets of the past.
So in this sense, it is the Koran, not the New Testament, that refuses divine innovation ... that dogmatically rules out a certain kind of answer. It is a more contracted view since it allows more prophets to the tradition, yes, but only a certain kind with a certain kind of message. It admits no prophet who claims to be the Son of God. This too is a narrowed view of things. All religions have their false-prophets, including Islam and Christianity. But in the Christian view of things, any and all prophets may be embraced, except the ones who explicitly say Jesus Christ is nothing more than a prophet.
So the question is not which view is narrowest or widest. (for we all recognize that limitation can be both a good and bad, according to context- a too-narrow rope can endanger the mountain climber. But a narrowed-edge of a tool helps the carpenter) The question is, which account, the Koranic or the New Testament, offers the truest picture of Jesus? That brings us to your next point:
The main "criticism" is that bible has been changed and altered a lot more over the ages, therefore the truth has been diminished in one way or another from an original expression or identity, and people have tried to doctor it in different ways over the ages as well. The Quran on the other hand, has been preserved much more faithfully and is generally the same Quran through out the ages and the same one that all Muslims unanimously accept and still all use as their book today.
First of all, we're talking about Jesus specifically, so that narrows (or should narrow) the discussion to the New Testament, rather than general statements about the Bible. Secondly, that an older document that has been translated into other languages, would have more alterations is a truism. So what? The question then follows: Do such alterations amount to anything like a change of doctrine or anything essential in the New Testament? The answer is no. The quick proliferation of copies of the New Testament in its early days, actually guarantees that we have accuracy.
There have been "changes", most of which amount to changes in punctuation, grammar or embellishments of piety where the translator thought a text should include more. An example would be where the copyist inserted the phrase "Lord Jesus Christ" where it originally only said Jesus, in a particular spot. This is of little consequence since the earliest texts say the full phrase elsewhere. These are changes typical of the transmission of texts.
Another thing to keep in mind is that such changes were regional and produced textual "families" so to speak, groupings that were more alike than other groupings. It was easy to see what exactly was changed, and where the changes differed from the earliest texts. And here's the clincher. Even considering the greatest changes, there is NO alteration that amounts to anything like a real change in the central doctrines of Christianity. If you feel differently, I'd welcome a more specific discussion that included examples and instances.
The Koran, alternately, has retained it's original Arabic language, and escapes the textual variations that are invariably a part of translation to other languages. However, this is because Islam doesn't admit that the Koran can be translated and retain it's divine status. The "Miracle" of the Koran, according to Islam, is the beauty of it's original expression and language. The New Testament is different in that its translators have always held a more evangelistic and universal view that it wasn't ever meant for one language and people, but ultimately for the whole world.
Yes, there are textual variations in all of the transmission. But we still have a plethora of early texts to compare with. And when we really look, instead of accepting uncritically the popular misconception that "the Bible has been translated so many times, it can't be accurate" (it is seldom ever acknowledged by those that make this statement that translations are generally of the earliest manuscripts, not of previous translations leading to cumulative and compounding errors), we find that little has changed.
The variation is a small price to pay for a "catholic" or universal view of scripture. The Islamic view of the Koran is much more parochial protected and elite, ensured by the power of the government and Sharia Law.
But the truth in the Bible has been more "roughed up" and changed over the ages, with different books or parts being added or ommited, accepted or rejected, different versions made etc. There has always been quite a few different bibles throughout the ages rather than one authoritative "Bible" that all Christians could unanimously agree on as being "the Bible" rather than "a bible" (among others that others have used or still use)
Are the Bible translations mentioned significantly different? Most of the disputes over Bible translations in ages past, particularly in Elizabethan England (to give an example close to our time) has been over marginal notes, not the text of the Bible itself.
But yes, for reasons I mentioned previously, the Bible is more "roughed up", because it has been given the liberty of universal translation. It is a text that has been put to rigorous use and trade, so to speak. But it also one for which we have early manuscript evidence, and thus the ability to see whether or not it has been significantly altered. The Koran, through Islamic legislation, has had a totally different story.
But all of this has little bearing on the question of which text offers the truest picture. A text that has been translated, with many variants, can be a truer account than a more recent text, vigorously protected. It is a question of content and proximity to the events spoken of, not a question of how many versions have been allowed by the powers that be.
But that is exactly why the Quran criticizes that kind of "mary worship" that developed among some Christians- because it was against the scriptures and what Jesus would teach, not because it is supported by them. The Quran is simply saying that people deviated from what had been explained in the scriptures, and that Jesus would never teach them to worship Mary and Jesus as "God" instead of God himself.
Yes Mary-worship was against the scriptures. But Jesus as the incarnation of God, or the conception of God as "Father Son and Holy Spirit" was not contrary to the scriptures. The Koran was not correcting the practice of Marian worship according to the standard of earlier scipture, but according to its own understanding of what Monotheism means.
The reason I pointed out that, was to show that the Koran was not really responding to the New Testament at all, since its conception of the Trinity came from a later distortion of Christian practice, the Collyridian Sect of the 4th Century.
We could debate whether the Christian Trinitarian view of God and its view of the incarnation contradicts the Jewish understanding of Monotheism (it doesn't), but that would be another debate. For the purpose of this thread, it is enough for me to show that the 600-year-removed Arabian Koran has no critique of the New Testament. It is a Johnny-come-lately commentary that makes rhetorical use of the Christian traditions that Muhammad knew of at the time. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with that. I am saying that because of this, the Koran has nothing to add to a discussion about whether the New Testament offer a true account of Jesus.
The Quran is referring to an ultimate truth rather than an apparant one. Jesus was crucified in the sense of being put on the cross, but he wasn't crucified in the sense of actually/ultimately being killed, destroyed, proved as false, etc on the cross. If you read "not crucified" as implying "not defeated" you can understand better the perspective of the Quran.
You really confused me when you stated earlier that the Koran "agrees with the general point that Jesus was not actually crucified". But obviously you don't mean that the Koran denies the "actual" crucifixion. Rather you're saying that the Koran admits an actual crucifixion that is not significant or has no import, because of the victory of God. As a Christian I agree with this, since Christians believe that the crucifixion was not final, and that Jesus was literally and bodily raised from the dead.
But your interpretation of the Koran here is much more Christian than Muslim. I think if you look into it, you'll find that this is not the Islamic interpretation at all. The main Islamic interpretation is that Jesus was not crucified at all. Some Islamic scholars think this means there was a substitution, like the gnostic text says, others think he simply wasn't crucified. Either way, Islam believes that the crucifixion takes away from the dignity of Jesus, so they don't admit it.
My point in comparing the text of the Koran with the Gnostic Text was not to show that they are identical in every regard, but to show that the latter is essentially derived from the former ... that Muhammed's views of Jesus are essentially Docetic. And Docetism is attributed to Gnostic views of Jesus that originated later than the New Testament. If this is true, then it isn't very likely that the Koran was attempting to teach the same thing as the New Testament.
Anyway, Dr Bilal Philips himself, whose video you posted, does not believe that Jesus was crucified. Hear him in this video stating it explicitly, beginning at 1:22
In conclusion, the Koranic view of Jesus and the New Testament view of Jesus are at odds with each other. And while Dr. Philips says that the Koran has a remedial relation to New Testament, offering a correction (after which Jesus may be included) the Koran's own views of Jesus can be reasonably shown to be based on 4th Century heterodox traditions, and therefore cannot offer any serious critique of the New Testament.
[This message has been edited by Stephanos (11-18-2011 06:10 PM).]