The New Testament and the Koran

1. Well, first of all, how one gets into Heaven is very different for either. In the Islamic religion, one must acknowledge Muhammad as Allah’s prophet and denounce Jesus as God. On the other hand, Christianity believes that the only way into heaven is by acknowledging Jesus to be the son of God and God incarnate. By believing that Jesus is God, he thus has the power to grant forgiveness and become the way to Heaven. Another difference is that in Islam, all will be judged as they are “on their knees around the fire of Hell.” “Those who fear Us [will be delivered], but the wrongdoers will be left there o their knees.” This is a very high contrast from the Christian belief that all will account for their actions at the gates of Heaven, when the names of those who wish to enter will be looked up in the Book of Life. If their name is not found, then they will be cast into Hell. Christians believe that everyone is was given the opportunity to enter the Kingdom of God while still alive, but if they rejected him then, then they will have no standing with God and will be Cast out of his presence. So instead of the righteous being delivered from Hell, as in Islam, the unrighteous will be denied access to Heaven.

Another large contrast is the vision of Heaven itself. In the Koran, Heaven is described as a place of multiple gardens with many virgins for those who dwell in them. However, the Bible gives a  detailed description of Heaven in the book of  Revelation. This description describes the presence of God and His perfection being the ultimate of Heaven. There was no mention of God being in Heaven from what I saw in these excerpts of the Koran.

2. Considering Israel was under Roman rule, the pagan audience, at least those that were part of the Roman Empire, would understand the political proceedings. In the Nativity story, would be familiar with the rule of Augustus Caesar and the census taking process and the inconvenience of going where they were from. In the Crucifixion, the legal system is on full display, and the progression from lowest to highest rule would be familiar.

I feel like the attractiveness to Greeks stems from a different place than cultural familiarity. I think that the fact that there was nothing they could relate to made the ideas revolutionary. The Jews grew up with the stories of a coming king and a Savior. The fact that one finally came from a very small town with no flair made it hard for them to believe that he was the One. It was also hard for Jews to give up the law that they had been under for so long, for the idea of mercy and a salvation not based on acts. The Greeks were not brought up with these ideas, so when they were offered a religion that was novel, it was easier for them to abandon their other previous beliefs for these new ones.

3. This changes the relationship from one of the human constantly seeking an unattainable God to one of God bringing himself to the human. Because the righteousness of the man was based on the keeping of the law, it was impossible for anyone to be perfectly righteous. However, repentance is the acknowledgement that one cannot do it themselves and that they will never be righteous. God is pleased by the humble and thus is pleased by those who can own up to their shortcomings instead of those who are constantly striving to be perfect even though they are already marred by sin.

In Gilgamesh, Gilgamesh was friends with a part god. These two were practically equals. This shows that the people of that time viewed deities as those who could be equaled in status, strength, intelligence, etc. In the Iliad, the gods are a bit higher than the humans. The gods were able to help and hurt human lives, but they were not always in the right. This shows that the Greeks viewed themselves as equals to the gods in morality, that is by the human definition of morality, since they believed that morality was a human construct that the gods did not have.

1 thought on “The New Testament and the Koran

  1. jwmaring

    I liked your post and found you contrast between Islam and Christianity to be informative. Specifically informative was your keen observation that in Islam, the righteous are delivered from hell into heaven, and in Christianity those whom are not righteous are those cast from heaven into hell. This is an important distinction which I overlooked and I am better off in my learning for you pointing this out.

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