The House of David

"dawnbreak in the west"

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Jesus from a Qur'anic perspective

Louie Fatooey on Jesus the Muslim Prophet:

There is one last important point I should add. Muslim scholars have always written about Jesus using Islamic sources only. While I write about Jesus from a Qur’anic perspective, my writings are not based on the Qur’an only. The genuinely new contribution I try to make to the literature is bringing in historical facts and sources. My writings attempt to start a study of the historical Jesus from a Qur’anic perspective. The historical Jesus has been studied extensively by Christian and Western scholars, and I try to encourage the development of a similar discipline in Islamic scholarship.

I have ruled any use [of] the Qur’an to differentiate between which statements attributed to Jesus that are likely to be historical out of court - almost laughed it out of court in fact. The larger question is, is it even possible to study the historical Jesus from a Qur'anic perspective? Should Muslims bother?

I am leaving aside Aslan and Khalidi. Aslan's work wasn't at base an Islamic perspective. Khalidi's was a study of later Muslim attitudes. Both books have value to scholars; both are irrelevant to the (meta)question.

What we'd want from a Qur'an-centred view of the historical Jesus is, first, any assurance that the Qur'an (or Hadith) brings relevant information to the ma`îda. It must be agreed that the suras' information about Jesus postdates the man's mission by about six centuries. We would therefore inform the researcher to use the Qur'an as reflecting the attitudes of its own (Arabophone) community, and not as God's will. In sha' llâh.

We would then almost certainly be following Imam Bart Ehrman, to declare Jesus the "apocalyptic [Jewish] prophet of the new millennium". Fortunately this much is not so unreasonable; I believe this myself. Aslan's work is a start along this road.

At this point we might be able to discuss such proto-Islamic influences as also went into Christianity but are unique to Christianity and Islam (so, no mainline Second-Temple Judaism to the extent there was such a thing). We would be discussing Qumran, Nabataeans in the Book of Acts, desert poetry, and Near East prophecy. Basically we'd be re-reading Philonenko.

It could be done. But it would be difficult. And (as pointed out with reference to Aslan) the exercise would do more harm to Islam than to Christianity; given that sura 4 would have to go. In consolation, I've said about the same about Christian researches into the historical Jesus.

posted by Zimri on 17:10 | link | 0 comments

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