This book explores Christian origins by examining a key New Testament epistle, Paul’s letter to the Galatian churches, seen by Christians as the charter of Christian liberty from the inherited Jewish law.
The New Testament in Muslim Eyes provides a close textual commentary on perhaps the earliest declaration of Paul’s apostleship and of his undying commitment to the risen Christ. It notes the subtleties of the Greek original against the backdrop of an exciting glimpse of Quranic Arabic parallels and differences. It asks: Does Paul qualify as a prophet of Allah (God)? The thoughts of Paul are assessed by examining his claims against the background of Islam’s rival views of Abraham and his legacy. The Arabic Quran framed and inspired the life of the Arab Apostle, Muhammad, who was sent, according to Islam, to all humanity, Jewish and Gentile alike. Pauline themes are set in dialectical tension with the claims of the Quran. Akhtar compares and contrasts the two rival faiths with regard to: the resources of human nature, the salvation of the sinner, and the status of the works of the law. Both Christians and Muslims concur on the need for God’s grace, an essential condition of success in the life of faith. The core Pauline Christian doctrine of justification by faith alone is scrutinised and assessed from a variety of non-Christian, especially Islamic, stances.
Providing an Islamic view of Christian origins, this book helps to build bridges between the two religions. It will be a valuable resource to students and scholars of Biblical Studies, Islamic Studies, and the Philosophy of Religion.
1. Preface to the Commentary
2. ‘There is no gospel except the only Gospel’ (1.1-12)
3. The Apostle’s Apologia and Gospel (1.13-3.5)
4. The Promise of Abraham’s Gospel (3.6-4.7)
5. Pastoral Interventions: Saint Paul as Pastor Paul (4.8-20 and 5.2-12)
6. Covenant of the Spirit (4.21-5.1 and 5.13-26)
7. Law of Christ, Gospel of the Cross (6.1-18)
8. Crisis of Law, Promise of Grace: Inter-faith Interfaces in Galatians
9. Epilogue: Missionaries in Reverse: Learning from the Rival
This series represents an urgent theological initiative for the third millennium: purposeful interpretation of the Bible in contexts provided by Islam, especially the Qur’an. Biblical interpretation has affected the development of Western society and continues to be a key determinant of Christian and Jewish action worldwide; and Muslim views of the Bible and of how Jews and Christians interpret it are key determinants of Muslim views of non-Muslims. We therefore expect the series to produce novel perspectives on the continuing religious, political and ideological rivalries which divide the contemporary world as well as fresh insights into biblical texts.
The opening volume features scholarly work from a conference held in Oxford in September 2015 to explore the parameters of this innovative venture. Subsequent monographs explore a range of methodologies and deal with historical and cultural, as well as inter-textual, dimensions of the interpretative task. Topics range from an Islamic commentary on a key New Testament epistle, through Christian readings of biblical themes ‘in conversation with’ the Qur’an and its interpretations, to historical studies of Muslim engagement with the Bible.