Before we look into our next subject, we have to define the word "Revelation" which is clothed in different meanings by Christians on the one hand and Muslims on the other.
ISLAM reasons: Book (Qur'an) from God (nazil = come down) = Revelation FROM GOD.
CHRISTIANITY maintains: Christ from God = Revelation OF God.
Thus the ultimate question is: Is Christ, the Word (Logos) of God = Revelation? (Sura 3:45, 4:171) (John 1:1,14)
Is the Qur'an the Word of God = Revelation? Or perhaps both?
We must realize that God cannot reveal HIMSELF in words alone! There He reveals information about Himself, His character and will. Self-revelation is an "open appearing", an "uncovering" of Himself. This happened when a body was prepared for Him (Hebrews 10:5). Hence Jesus could say:
Further the Apostle John recorded for us:
What we know about Yahveh, God's revealed Name in Scripture, and Jesus we find in the pages of the Bible. This is the inspired revelation from God. Every Christian accepts the total authority thereof.
The whole Bible likewise moves progressively towards the culmination of revelation, when God revealed HIMSELF. This revelation is not "nazil" the way Islamic theology understands this concept today. Neither is the Qur'an if measured alongside the same concept (see "Christians ask Muslims"). The Bible does show the imprint of human hand (individual use of language; varying keenness of intellect or temperament; apparent presupposition of contemporary concepts of scientific knowledge without which the Scriptures would have been beyond understanding at that time) and style of writing.
The Muslim reader will find it difficult to accept this concept of revelation for it is different to his own. However, we should like to point out, that it is wrong of Muslims to measure the Bible against the "nazil" concept. The revelation evidences that the Bible very strongly produces, as will be seen a little later, are absent in the Qur'an, namely: Fulfilled prophecy, historic documentation and the acceptable eye-witness report of accompanying signs and wonders. Besides that we also find a similar imprint of human hand in the Qur'an. We observe varying modes of inspiration in the Bible:
"Thus SAYS the Lord ..." (Jeremiah 13:8 and very many other places.)
"The Word of the Lord CAME to me ..." (Jeremiah 13:1 and many other passages).
"The ORACLE (or burden) of the Word of the Lord to Israel by Malachi." (Malachi 1:1)
"I SAW WHAT HAPPENED to be a sea of glass mingled with fire ..." (Revelation 15:2).
"When I SAW Him I fell at his feet as though dead. But he LAID his right hand upon me, SAYING: Fear not!" (Revelation 1 :17); or even:
"To the married I (Paul) give charge, but not the Lord ... I say this by way of concession, not of command ... This is my (Paul's) rule in all the churches ... I have no command of the Lord, but I give my opinion ..." (I Corinthians 7:10,6,17,25).
We must learn to discern between these modes! The Muslim must also learn to understand that in the Bible we find combined what we would term the "Qur'an", the "Hadis" and even the "Tafsir".
However, the essential biblical message is uniform, despite the variety of "recorders" and the vast expanse of time between them. God unfolds the message of His desired relationship with man, His love, His concern and grief, His compassion, mercy and wrath - and His plan of reconciliation.
Christ appears in the very first verse of the Old Testament and throughout all the Revelation of God in Him (pp. 43ff, 92ff). Everything was, however, progressively unfolded, as man was able to comprehend.
In the recorded, inspired Word we find God in Jesus. Even today we can experience the New Birth as recorded in the Bible if we put our faith in Him, which comes by hearing God's Word. We still receive the Holy Spirit to transform us and to live in us!
If we claimed the Bible to be "nazil", we would have to try to explain the imprint of the human hand, as we are waiting on the Muslim to do in the case of the Qur'an. In the case of the Bible the evidence of its divine authorship is clear and needs no further proofs (pp. 43ff, 105, 135). The message of the Bible is inspired (theopneustos = God-breathed), though by the countless copying of the handwritten texts on primitive materials under adverse conditions resulted in some "mistakes". Studying the vast amounts of recently discovered documents, scholars have detected and clarified just about all of these.
Next Chapter: Islamic Allegations and our Answers based on Evidence
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