German
English
Turkish
French
Italian
Spanish
Russian
Indonesian
Urdu
Arabic
Persian

Question 261:

The question is in three parts:

a.  Is there any common method that helps me refer to the New Testament as I refer to the Qur’an?

b.  As you know, we have certain criteria to which to refer when understanding the Qur’anic text. If we follow these criteria in our interpretation, it is considered valid in the Islamic tradition. Is this, mutatis mutandis, also the case in the Christian tradition?

c.  Has the New Testament the same position in Christian theology and theological reflection as the Qur’an has in Muslim theology and theological reflection?

 

Answer: 

 

a.  Is there any common method that helps me refer to the New Testament as I refer to the Qur’an?

 

The twenty-seven books that comprise the New Testament have standardised names and are printed in a set order. Each name is given a standard abbreviation but these differ from one language group to another. The best thing is to look in the front of a printed copy of the New Testament, where all the books have been listed in order and a table of abbreviations will be given. Normally page numbers will be given to indicate where that book begins in the edition that one has to hand.  Each book is divided into standardised chapters and verses, so that a reference can be precise. By way of example: Luke’s gospel will be abbreviated in English as Lk. This will be followed by a number referring to the chapter, which will be separated by a colon from the number of the verse. So, the thirty-third verse of chapter seven of Luke’s gospel would have the reference, Lk 7:33.

 

 

b.  As you know, we have certain criteria to which to refer when understanding the Qur’anic text. If we follow these criteria in our interpretation, it is considered valid in the Islamic tradition. Is this, mutatis mutandis, also the case in the Christian tradition?

 

Over the centuries, the various parts of the Christian family have devised many ways of interpreting the scriptures. These might focus on linguistic analysis, allegorical interpretation or criticism of the style, form or editorial layering within the text, to name just a few. Any serious student, who wants to interpret the Christian scriptures, must be steeped in the necessary languages and methodologies in order to devise an interpretative comment, which must then be subjected to the critical appraisal of the body of scholars. This is traditionally done through a published volume, which is why such works generally have extensive footnotes explaining how they interact with earlier positions.  Scholars will then review the book and eventually a body of scholarly agreement will emerge as a guide to its authority. The individual Christian or church community will then have to decide which interpretation to follow.  Such positions will be open to review as new scholarship sheds more light on the question. Some churches will identify the range of positions that they find to be acceptable for their members.

 

c.  Has the New Testament the same position in Christian theology and theological reflection as the Qur’an has in Muslim theology and theological reflection?

 

 

This is a question of great importance.  In the Islamic religion, the Qur’an is the Word of God sent down (tanzil) upon the heart of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), who is the recipient and in no sense the author of the scripture. This gives the Qur’an a unique authority as a written deposit of the Word of God in Arabic. The Christian tradition has no equivalent to this aspect of the Islamic tradition.  In the Christian tradition, Jesus himself, as the Word of God, is the fullness of revelation. The New Testament consists of different kinds of literature, each of which is an expression of the life and teaching of Jesus emerging from the faith of his immediate followers. Such different kinds of literature are, for example, gospel, history and personal letters. Human authors have produced all these different kinds of literature. These human authors were writing under the influence of divine inspiration and they wrote for various communities of readers according to particular theological ways of thinking. The gospels, for example, are best thought of as the witness of the first generations of Christians to their faith in the teachings and actions of the Lord Jesus. Hence, the gospels and other New Testament writings are of central importance in Christian theology and theological reflection but they do not occupy the same position as the Qur’an in the Islamic traditon. Islam and Christianity have different theological paradigms.

 

Contact us

J. Prof. Dr. T. Specker,
Prof. Dr. Christian W. Troll,

Kolleg Sankt Georgen
Offenbacher Landstr. 224
D-60599 Frankfurt
Mail: fragen[ät]antwortenanmuslime.com

More about the authors?