DOES THE QUR’AN MAKE CLEARER THE TEACHING OF THE BIBLE?
This Koran is not such as can be produced by other than Allah;
on the contrary it is a confirmation of (revelations) that went before it,
and a fuller explanation of the Book (10:37 AYA/38 MP).
Verily this Koran doth (does) explain to the Children of Israel
most of the matters in which they disagree (27:76 AYA).
The Death of Jesus
In the Bible the death of Jesus on the cross is very clearly explained. Both Jesus and his disciples taught that Jesus’ death was to pay for our sins so that we could be saved from the judgement of God.
(T)he Son of Man (Jesus) did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. (Matthew 20:28)
The apostle Peter taught:
For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. (1 Peter 3:18)
The apostle Paul taught:
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law (eg. judgement) by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles (nations) through Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:13-14)
The apostle John taught:
He (Jesus) is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
The above quotes show that the Bible explains the death of Jesus very clearly. But when the Qur’an is read it does not make clearer the Bible’s teaching instead it actually confused this teaching. It does this by teaching that Jesus never died on the cross.
“We (the Jews) slew the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, the Messenger of God” – yet they did not slay him, neither crucified him, only a likeness of that was shown to them. … and they slew him not of certainty – no indeed; God raised him up to Him; God is All-mighty, All-wise.(Sura 4:156-157, Arberry)
What is the result of what the Qur’an teaches about Jesus’ crucifixion? Is the meaning of Jesus’ death taught more “clearly” so that it is easier to understand? No, it is the opposite. The death of Jesus is not even believed by many Muslims. Thus the Qur’an does not make clearer the teaching of the Bible, instead it confuses and takes away from people God’s word that was already clear.
The Bible teaches very clearly that Abraham was commanded to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice to God:
Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.” Early the next morning Abraham got up and saddled his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. … When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” (Genesis 22:1-12, NIV)
The rest of the Bible also teaches clearly that Isaac was the son that Abraham offered in sacrifice:
By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son. (Hebrews 11:17, NIV)
Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? (James 2:21, NIV)
The account of Abraham’s sacrifice is also told in the Qur’an. However the account is not very clear. In particular the identity of the son is not explicitly stated.
We gave him (Abraham) news of a gentle son. And when he reached the age when he could work with him, his father said to him: “My son, I dreamt that I was sacrificing you. Tell me what you think.” He replied, “Father, do as you are bidden. God willing you shall find me steadfast.” And when they had both submitted to God, and Abraham had laid down his son prostrate upon his face, We called out to him saying: “Abraham, you have fulfilled you vision.” (Sura 37:99-104, Dawood)
Since the identity of Abraham’s son is not mentioned this has led to all types of confusion for the Muslim community. Al-Tabari is one of Islam’s greatest historians of the Qur’an. He freely admits that the early Muslim theologians were not sure which son Abraham offered, some thought it was Isaac, others that it was Ishmael. In fact Al-Tabari even says that there are reliable hadiths (reports) from Muhammad some of which say it was Isaac and others which say it was Ishmael:
The earliest sages of our Prophet’s nation disagree about which of Abraham’s two sons it was that he was commanded to sacrifice. Some say it was Isaac, while others say it was Ishmael. Both views are supported by statements related on the authority of the Messenger of God. If both groups of statements were equally sound, then – since they both came from the Prophet – only the Quran could serve as proof that the account naming Isaac is clearly the more truthful of the two. (Al-Tabari, The History of al-Tabari, Vol. II, p. 82, Prophets and Patriarchs (trans. William M. Brenner), State University of New York Press, Albany 1987)
This confusion, caused by the Qur’an, comes to a climax with the Muslim festival of Eid-ul-Adha. This festival occurs during the annual pilgrimage to Mecca. At this festival an animal is sacrificed to remember the time when Abraham offered, not Isaac, but his son Ishmael. The Bible clearly teaches that the son Abraham offered was Isaac. The Qur’an does not say who the son was, but the result of the Qur’an’s unclear teaching is that Muslims reject the clear teaching of the Bible and instead think that the son was Ishmael even though there is not evidence for this from the Qur’an.
Again we see that what was clearly taught in the Bible is confused by the Qur’an and has led to confusion and disagreements between Muslims and Jews and Christians. Thus the Qur’an’s claim to explain more clearly the Bible is seen to be false yet again.
(For more information about Abraham’s sacrifice and the title of “only son” follow the link at the end of this article.)
Son of God
In the Bible there is a lot of teaching about the “Son of God”. This teaching is quite clear. The Qur’an also has much to say about the “Son of God”, however it does not confirm or make clearer the Bible’s teaching, instead it misunderstands and actually confuses what the Bible clearly taught.
What does the Bible say about the “Son of God”?
The phrase, “Son of God” is a title that is used in the Bible to denote someone’s relationship to God. This relationship involves the person, or people, receiving promises from God that they will receive something from him. In this way they are an heir to God as they have been promised and inheritance from him. Now since a son is the heir to his father so too those who have received promises from God are called “sons” of God. In the book of Exodus we see that the whole nation of Israel is called God’s “son”.
The LORD said to Moses, “When you return to Egypt, see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders I have given you the power to do. … Then say to Pharaoh, `This is what the LORD says: Israel is my firstborn son, and I told you, “Let my son go, so he may worship me.” But you refused to let him go; so I will kill your firstborn son.'” (Exodus 4:21-23, NIV)
When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. (Hosea 11:1, NIV)
Later in Israel’s history God appointed David as Israel’s king. The title of “Son” that had been applied to Israel was now also applied to her king as he was the head of the nation and had received a special promise from God. Thus every king of Israel had the title of “Son” of God:
The LORD declares to you (David) that the LORD himself will establish a house for you: When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his father, and he will be my son. (2 Samuel 7:11-14, NIV)
The king of Israel also had another title, the title of Messiah. (The Greek translation of the word Messiah is Christ.) The word Messiah comes from the Hebrew word “to anoint”. Every king of Israel was anointed to the position of king, and so every king was The Anointed or the Messiah. We see this happen when Saul was anointed king over Israel:
Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on Saul’s head and kissed him, saying, “Has not the LORD anointed you leader over his inheritance? (1 Samuel 10:1, NIV)
What have we seen so far? We have seen that every king of Israel had the titles of Son of God and Messiah/Christ. Thus the Son of God was the Messiah/Christ and the Messiah/Christ was the Son of God. This connection between the two titles was clearly understood at the time of Jesus for we see the two titles used together:
When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” … Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ (Messiah), the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:13-16, NIV)
Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?” But Jesus remained silent. The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” “Yes, it is as you say,” Jesus replied.(Matthew 26:62-64, NIV)
Hopefully now you can understand what the Bible means when it talks about the Son of God. It is not talking about God having sex and producing a baby. The title Son of God does not even imply divinity in the person for, as we have seen, the nation of Israel and her king were call God’s son. Jesus is the true fulfillment of the Son of God. He is the true son of David, the true Israel. He is the true son who received the inheritance from his Father God. This inheritance was the kingdom of God itself.
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. (Matthew 28:18, NIV)
Now does the Qur’an make clearer the Bible’s teaching about the “Son of God”? The answer is no! In fact the Qur’an misunderstands and confuses this teaching from the Bible. Throughout the Qur’an it denies that Jesus is the Son of God yet mistakenly still calls him the Messiah.
The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was no more than God’s apostle and his Word which He cast to Mary (Sura 4:171, Dawood).
The Jews say, Ezra is the “Son of God”; the Christians say, “The Messiah is the Son of God.” That is the utterance of there mouths, conforming with the unbelievers before them. God assail them! How they are perverted. (Sura 9:30, Arberry)
They say: “God has begotten a son” God forbid! (Sura 10:68, Dawood)
The Qur’an shows no understanding of the meaning of the title “Son of God”. In the Qur’an it means nothing more than to imply that God had sex, and as we have seen from the Bible this is not what the title means. In the Qur’an Jesus is given the title of Messiah and yet denied the title of the Son of God; the Bible clearly teaches that both of these titles go together.
Again we see that what was clearly taught in the Bible is confused by the Qur’an and has led to confusion and disagreements between Muslims and Christians. The Qur’an claims to make clearer the teaching of the Bible but this claim is false. It does not make clearer the Bible’s teaching, in fact it only confuses it.