Is it hypocritical for Christians to point out non-canonical sources in the Qur’an?


‘Is it hypocritical for Christians to point out non-canonical sources in the Qur’an?’

https://steelmanapologetics.com/is-it-hypocritical-for…/

I make four arguments as to why it is not:

1) The Qur’an seems to refer to these sources much more frequently.

2) The Qur’an seems to affirm more problematic elements in those sources.

3) The Qur’an and the Bible have different relationships to their sources.

4) The Qur’an and the Bible have different mechanisms of revelation.

Do let me know your thoughts either here or on the blog post 🙂



Categories: Islam

16 replies

  1. This is more reasoned argumentation then the low level Moon God, Petra theories out there

    Sadly since your defense of Gibson, I have become a bit disheartened and I can’t take your seriously anymore

    By the way I see an uncritical use of Reynolds.

    As an example, the supposed interaction of the Khidr story with accounts related to John Moscus.

    Have you checked the manuscript tradition for this account?

    I suggest you do

    Like

    • Obviously the source isn’t Reynolds but in his book he collects claimed interactions uncritically

      Like

      • I do try and check out the sources Reynold uses and evaluate the proposed parallels for themselves. As I mention in the piece, I do not have access to the writings of John Moscus and so I am leaning on Reynolds for this one. At face value, especially since his other suggested parallels when I look into them seem legitimate, I thought I would take him at his word if he says there is a parallel between these texts. But I am happy to learn more about this text and the argument against there being a parallel.

        Like many old works, I presume our earliest manuscripts come centuries later. This doesn’t stop scholars from being able to date it earlier based on its content. But if you have any information on this, please do share.

        As an example, the supposed interaction of the Khidr story with accounts related to John Moscus.

        Have you checked the manuscript tradition for this account?

        I suggest you do

        Like

  2. Sorry I copy and paste your replies so I can reply to them – I kept a bit of your comment at the end of mine.

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  3. Reynolds uses the reference of Roger Paret but the tradition is unstable even among the very late manuscripts that form the basis for the Pratum Spirituale. Late as in late Ottoman late as far as I know.

    This, among other factors, makes this a likely post Islamic influence. At the very least, it isn’t clear.

    I obviously think your methodology to “distance” biblical interaction from Quranic interaction doesn’t work and there are far more troubling biblical ones that you don’t mention. Even the answers you give in relation to some of the interactions aren’t really convincing. I am “preaching” now I know but I could go on and on about this if I wanted to argue my case

    There is a lot to say about the Quranic interactions as well (sigh!) In a way, I agree with you, a blog isn’t a platform to have an actual academic discussion where the arguments are really tested.

    My advice is this and it really is one of sincerity (please forgive me if I have occasionally come across as rude). Avoid quack internet theories by evangelists with an agenda. You really do yourself a disservice. . Also, let’s be honest. Reynolds has his Christian bias like Gordon Nickel and Marc Durie and this leads sometimes to some odd reasoning. In other words you need to double check some of the claimed interactions that Reynolds references in his Quran and the Bible

    Some of his claims are way out there (well quite a few!). As an example he cites Beck to claim that the “subtext” for Surah al-Fil is the Jewish Seleucid conflict portrayed in Maccabees!

    This isn’t a Christian thing. It happens in all religious denominations. It is a fact of life. But one ironically does make it “easier” for the “antagonist” when such arguments are used

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    • You make a good point, I think I might remove the Pratum Spirituale point, or at leas highlight it as especially problematic. I need to look into the point more.

      ‘I obviously think your methodology to “distance” biblical interaction from Quranic interaction doesn’t work and there are far more troubling biblical ones that you don’t mention.’ – I would be interested to hear if you wis to elaborate.

      ‘Even the answers you give in relation to some of the interactions aren’t really convincing.’ – fair enough, I can see that. I can recognise that sometimes as a Christian I might give a faith-based answer that might not be convincing to a non-Christian. And the same with Muslim explanations and the Qur’an. I guess that from my perspective if I see more of these on one side than the other, then that’s worth paying attention to. But we might disagree as to which book has more problematic tests.

      Please forgive me too if I have seemed rude or dismissal at any point – I reall do value your feedback.

      I do take your point about Gibson and the caution that is required, but I honestly do want more discussion of his primary data to confirm if its true or not. I cannot be intellectually honest and say I don’t think there’s anything there that needs looking into. I’m sorry that this makes me lose credibility in your eyes, but that’s what I genuinely think.

      Sure, Gordon Nickel and Mark Durie have Christian faith perspectives, and like any worldview this could potentially influence their work. This applies to Muslim and secular scholars too – all of us have potential biases. At the end of the day though, Gordon Nickel’s work seems insightful to me, and so any refutation of his ideas will have to actually look at the data. I have spent less time on Durie’s work (I have read his Qur’an and its Biblical Reflexeses), but he seems to have some interesting points.

      As I said, John Moscus was quite unusual – I should have been more cautious. Generally I do check the references to see if I am convinced of the parallel.

      ‘Some of his claims are way out there (well quite a few!). As an example he cites Beck to claim that the “subtext” for Surah al-Fil is the Jewish Seleucid conflict portrayed in Maccabees!’ – Fair enough, I have no strong opinion on this. I wasn’t aware he said this, and know nothing about the matter.

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  4. Hi Richard,

    You raise good points.

    Regarding the Story of the Dhul Qarnain and probably extending to other non canonical stories, please see

    from about 1:55 for a perspective on the reason from an academic who explains the purpose of the Qur’an in doing so.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Ihsan,

      Excellent video, thank you so much for sharing. If in future you read any of my articles and know of a video like this, please do share it.

      I’m really appreciating Dr Javad Hashmi – I agree with his points about criticial scholarship, and I agree that there is some kind of interaction with the Alexander stories.

      I suppose my biggest difference is whether the Qur’an is just recounting the story of Dhu-l Qarnayn (with Islamic twists), and that this is a literary and moral telling. I give some Qur’an verses in my article which say that the Qur’an intends its retelling of stories to be taken as historically and factually true. But if you know of a rebuttal to that point, do let me know.

      At about 2:31:20 he says that the purpose of a story in the Qur’an is to give a moral lesson. Absolutely. But I think in the Qur’anic worldview the strength of this approach is that these stories actually happened. E.g. the Qur’an repeatedly calls its listeners to learn from the stories of those nations like Ad and Thamud that had messengers sent to them, but they didn’t listen, and so weren’t destroyed. The moral (repent or God will destroy you) only works if the historical reality (God destroyed these nations) holds. And the Qur’an says their destruction literally happened – e.g. it says that the people walk by the ruins of Sodom and Gomorrah day and night (e.g. Q 37:137).

      Like

  5. Excellent article, Richard!

    Geiger’s work is famous and has stood the test of time. (shows the borrowing of the Qur’an from Jewish sources, Midrash, Talmud, etc.

    St. Clair-Tisdall also wrote the same thing regarding the apocryphal and Gnostic sources.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Ken! Yes Geiger seems to have stood the test of time well, in terms of his ideas themselves and their scholarly reception. St. Clair-Tisdall seems to be more controversial academically – perhaps because of the polemical nature of the work. But the ideas themselves are what matter at the end of the day.

      In terms of Christian dialogue partners, to use a neutral term, have you read Witztum’s The Syriac Milieu? I reccomend.

      Liked by 1 person

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