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  • Rıdvan Demir


(In the Gospels & In the Quran)

Allah has sent many messengers/prophets and messages in history for humankind. When Allah sent prophets, he subsequently sent books along with them to guide the people. We can say that the Abrahamic religions offer prophets, messengers and books as signs of his majestic and transcendental qualities. As this is the understanding of revelation in Islam, this paper examines the variety of similar motifs in Christianity.

According to Christianity, the concept of original sin resides in the imagery of Adam. Because of unforeseen deluge by Adam and Eve (peace be upon them), their expansive progeny, have inherited the sweltering torment of sin. Hence, by believing in the cross of Jesus, one might be granted salvation. Man’s sins are forgiven as a result. Jesus (peace be upon him) is resurrected, and the evidence of humility becomes pertinent. At the same time, Jesus is Son of God and of humankind; he has both natures, in one body. Jesus as savior, we might conclude, is directly derived from such an understanding. It is clearly shown that the understanding of revelation in Christianity and other Abrahamic traditions are somewhat different on this point. I will attempt to address some of these issues from the Islamic and Christian perspectives. Therefore, I would like to demonstrate how significant Jesus is in the Gospels and in the Quran.

The Jesus theme is generally discussed in five big topics in the Quran and the Gospels.

  1. The Birth of Jesus

  2. The Miracles of Jesus

  3. The Identification of Jesus and Crucifixion of Jesus (His mission)

  4. The Death

  5. His Mother Mary (I will not discuss, because it is not relevant)

  1. The Birth of Jesus

Jesus was born as a miracle from Virgin Mary (peace be upon her) according to both the Quran and Gospels. Roah (Spirit) appeared as a man in front of her in all respects and said: I am only a messenger from your Lord, and I will give you a son. Mary was very amazed, because she was a virgin still and a pure woman. (Aal-i Imran, 3:47) Roah (according to Islamic scholars it is probably Cibriil / Angel Gabriel in Islam) says: this is a sign from Allah and is a matter so decreed. Thus Jesus was born from Virgin Mary as a miracle (al-Maryam, 19:16-22). In this point, all Jews criticized and blamed her. Contrarily, it is clear that the Quran and Gospels are very parallel in this point.

The Matthew Gospel states very clearly that Jesus was born from the Holy Spirit as a miracle. Even God ordered her betrothed Joseph of David’s son to “not leave from Mary and hold her near.” (Matthew, 1:18-25, Luke, 26-38). In this concept, Islam and Christianity are very close; unfortunately Judaism is so difficult in this issue. (see 19:23-35). Besides, the Quran says: “and we made the son of Mary and his mother as an ayah / sign”. (al-Mu’minuun,23:50). This sign is the birth of Jesus as a miracle by Allah.

  1. The Miracles of Jesus

The miracles of Jesus are very different in the Quran and the Gospels. The Quran sometimes emphasizes this speech when he describes Jesus as a baby (Aal-i Imran, 3:46). There is oftentimes an emphasis given to the descriptions of his soul and the similarities found in a bird. Jesus revived the dead, cured the sick, and healed the blind. It is also described that he declared to humans what you eat, and what you store in their houses, but he makes and knows these of all by Allah’s leave. (Aal-i Imran, 3:49); (for the by my leave version, al-Maaidah, 5:110).

“And people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed, and he healed them.” (Matthew 4:24). Jesus healed the man with leprosy (Matthew, 8:3). In one verse Jesus revived a girl when he said “talitha koum!”, which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up” (Mark 5:41). He revived Lazarus (John, 11:43-44). There are more than many miracles of Jesus in the Gospels.

Some religious authorities say that Allah gave medicine to the West because medicine miracles were given to Jesus. Nevertheless Allah has given the literature also to the East, because literature miracles were given to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him); that was the Quran.

  1. The Identification of Jesus and Crucifixion of Jesus

The Quran emphasizes the identity of Jesus in intricate detail. In this context, however, there is much emphasis given to what Jesus is not. First, Jesus was not God or the son of God, according to the Quran. Second, his mother was not God’s mother (Theotokos) about which declaration is in the Council of Ephesus (431 AD). According to some Christian authority while some Christian denominations have said God wanted to send Jesus from himself, other Christian denominations have said Jesus wanted to leave God. The Quran has explained, “Lem yelid velem yuuled”, which means, “He begets not, nor is He begotten.” (Ikhlas, 112:3) The Quran everywhere talks with insistence about who Jesus was not. (Christian authorities entitle this kind of theology as “ negative theology” which mention who Jesus was not).

On the other hand, the Quran also states who Jesus was. The Quran has attempted to solve this problem by depicting Jesus as a son of Man who operated as a prophet (Nabi and Rasul). Nevertheless, he is from Ulu’l azm Prophets who are top five prophets [1] in Islam. Besides he is a son of Mary. The Quran said this for the purpose of saying that he was not the Son of God. In this point, the Quran states that Jesus and Mary were eating food, which means that they were not divine but humans.

The Gospels were not very clear about the divinity of Jesus, but Jesus is called God in the letters, particularly in Paul’s letters. According to Paul, God’s greatest plans were in Jesus. First, God has sent (to incarnate) Jesus on earth from himself as a message. Second, he lived out life and was crucified for our sin on the cross. Third, he will come back for humankind and everything will be much better. We can only find the Trinity doctrine in the Matthew Gospel in 28:19. In this situation, Jesus is God as the Son of God according to Christianity.

It is very interesting that Jesus is also man and Prophet. Christian interpreters have explained that Jesus has one body, but he has two different characters. He is a message from God in Christianity, but he is a messenger from Allah in Islam. We can say in this point that Christianity and Islam have very different revelation systems. The ways by which the identity of Christ comes to be known is quite divergent between the two traditions, and the ways in which Christianity and Islam come together as Abrahamic traditions is quite intriguing.

  1. The Death

His death and crucifixion in relation to his identity are very similar in both religions, with some nuances. Chapter an-Nisaa, 4: 157-158 is very famous concerning Jesus. The Quran is clear that Jesus was not killed or crucified. “But so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubt, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture by fellow people. For a certain surety they did not kill him. Nay, Allah raised him up to himself; and Allah is exalted in power, wise.” I understand that ‘Jesus was not killed’, however it does not means ‘he did not die’ and he is still alive. He died and his soul was raised to Allah according to verse 158. In the Christian perspective, Jesus was crucified for our sins, and thus God will forgive us (Romans 3:22-26; Ephesians 2:13-18). The cross is in the Gospels, but there is almost not doctrine of the cross in the Gospels.

Finally, the understanding of revelation in Christianity is very different from other Abrahamic traditions. God has planned the biggest plan with Jesus and sent him as Lord and also human to the cross to forgive our sins. Jesus is the Lord according to this understanding, as well as being pure human. Jesus has used the Lord concept as a secret for himself in the New Testament and instead used the Son of man concept to describe himself. Jesus has been described by both of these words to show a modality of expected kingship.

Indeed the resurrection Jesus has been credited with allowing such distinction to occur. God resurrected Jesus for the salvation of humankind. Thus, Jesus has one body, but He has two natures still. Jesus is one hundred percent God as well as one hundred percent human, according to the Christian faith system.

As a result, Jesus is incarnate from God. Therefore, he is the Son of God and son of man, divine and human characters in one body, in Christianity. He is God’s message. Perhaps, Jesus is man, servant, prophet, and son of Mary in Islam, because he is a messenger from Allah. How would this effect our understanding of the revelatory modalities inscribed on the Abrahamic traditions? The miracles of Jesus and his birth are very parallel, but his death and his identity/mission are very different between the Quran and the Gospels. Jesus is a message from God to man while a messenger/Prophet of Allah for man in Islam, hence, revelation understandings are really different each other.

[1] They are Prophet Noah, Prophet Abraham, Prophet Moses, Prophet Jesus, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon them). See al-Ahzaab, 33:7.


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