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Sunday, June 10, 2007

Blogging the Qur'an: Sura 2, "The Cow," verses 1-39

Robert Spencer has this installment here.

Spencer comments on a central Koranic claim:

The Qur'an is not to be questioned or judged by any standard outside itself; rather, it is the standard by which all other things are to be judged. That, of course, is not significantly different from the way many other religions regard their Holy Writ. But there has been no development in Islam of the historical and textual criticism that have transformed the ways Jews and Christians understand their scriptures today.

There are two types of textual criticism: one that seeks to better understand the historic context of the Bible, and one spins new context into or original context out of the Bible.

Compare this to the originalist vs. activist methods of interpreting the Constitution. Both types of spin are common to Second Amendment interpretation ("A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed"). Many leftists perceive that the amendment authorizes states to have national guards, and pretend that the latter half of the amendment does not exist. Originalists point out that the Militia is the collective term for all men of consctiption age, that it exists independent of the states, that "well-regulated" in that time was often synonymous with "competent," that Article 1, Section 8 already stipulates State powers regarding the Militia (appointing officers, organizing military training), that "a free State" uses State synonymously with Nation, that the whole reason the Bill of Rights exists is because of concerns about individual rights and not "states' rights," and that the second half of the amendment does indeed exist.

Such treatment of the Bible has always existed. Ancient and modern spin doctors have sought to expunge all claims of Christ's deity from the Bible. Constantine nationalized the church, thus inserting into church authority an entity that was never authorized by the Apostles. Medieval leaders assumed that powers vested to theocratic Israel were vested to all nominally Christian governments, when such is not written in the Bible. The Book of Revelation is a candy store for undocumentable soothsaying.

Back to the Koran.

The Qur'an, we're told, is guidance to those who believe in what was revealed to Muhammad as well as in "that which was revealed before" him (v. 4). This involves the Qur'an's oft-stated assumption that it is the confirmation of the Torah and the Gospel, which teach the same message Muhammad is receiving in the Qur'anic revelations (see 5:44-48). When the Torah and Gospel were found not to agree with the Qur'an, the charge arose that Jews and Christians had corrupted their Scriptures — which is mainstream Islamic belief today.

Interestingly, this closely parallels Watchtower (Jehovah's Witnesses) and Mormon treatment of the Bible. However, the Watchtower does not challenge the veracity of original Biblical scriptures as Islam does - only the modern non-Watchtower translations. (I don't know the Mormon stance on this topic, but I do know that Mormons - and the Watchtower - each claim that it is the only genuinely Christian sect.)

I am also unaware of any historical evidence Islamic scholars have to offer regarding their claim that the original Christian and Jewish scriptures were replaced by spin.

There's more. Read the whole thing.

Update: Click the "Koran" label to see all my posts on this series.

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