1. How do Islamic perceptions of Heaven and Hell differ from those of Christianity and Judaism?
Like any other religions and beliefs, they are different in beliefs. Within Christianity and Judaism, there are differences in their beliefs, what Heaven really is and how one can make themselves in God’s good graces and how they stay that way in order to get to Heaven. Unlike the latter two, Islam does not believe in salvation. Christianity believes that Jesus knows as humans we do bad, think impure thoughts and sometimes act them…but even the most dirty soul can repent and Jesus will look favorably on that. With this, one can believe and you can earn your way into Heaven. In Islam, even if you did the best, most humble things through out your life, that is still no guarantee you would make it into Heaven.
2. Although Jesus was a Jew, the religious institutions created in his name proved difficult for Jews to embrace but attractive to Greeks. What elements in the Nativity and the Passion narratives seems particularly and culturally familiar to a pagan audience?
So, paganism is defined as any person belonging to a religion that is not Christian. Or a religion that has more than one god, like Ancient Greece or Rome. The only thing that could have been familiar to the pagan audience was the fact that the birth of Jesus was to a good, ordained girl. She was a virgin and so this would be of a supernatural happening. Kind of like how Achilles was part god. Pagans liked to hear about people being born in high, rich environments not like Jesus’s lowly birth in a barn.
3. Jesus claims the redeemed sinner is more precious to God than the righteous person who never sinned. This implies a conception of God unlike that found in the Old Testament or in The Iliad. How does this emphasis on human repentance and divine mercy change human relations to God? What different aspects of the divine/human relationships were emphasized in Gilgamesh, or The Iliad?
I’m going to get a little bit more personal here, as I lay out some daily thoughts of m continuing journey of my faith. I feel like Jesus accepts us as sinners and I know the Bible says that we were created in Him. But He is not sinner. A lot of people are not born and realize, “This is exactly what I should be doing to get to Heaven”. So I feel like the relationship that Jesus says a sinner who has obtained forgiveness and has repented is more precious. The sinner realizes he or she was wrong through the teachings of Jesus and comes into a different life and light.
In the Iliad, for example the gods weren’t just looking for humans to seek forgiveness, they wanted revenge on the person that did wrong against them. The gods also has favorites in the Iliad and came to directly to the people.