The Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften: Events
Thursday, 26 January 2023, 11:00
Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften, Am Wingertsberg 4, 61348 Bad Homburg
Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften of Goethe University
Zafer Duygu (Dokuz Eylül University, Izmir)»The Qur’an and St. Paul. An Analysis of Surah Nisâ 157 and Surah Mâide117«
Zafer Duygu is Associate Professor at the Faculty of Theology at Dokuz Eylül University in Turkey.
Paul is probably the most important figure in the history of Christianity after Jesus Christ. According to the New Testament, Paul did not actually believe in Christ in the first place; he is not a member of the Christian community. In fact, his name was first mentioned among those who persecuted the Christian community during the "Age of the Apostles" after the crucifixion. However, it is accepted that Paul was chosen as the "apostle of Christ" on the occasion of a miraculous experience called the "Damascene conversion" or "road to Damascus" event in the same period, and then announced the name of the Christ and the Gospel to all humanity with the title of "the apostle of the nations". Paul's "chosen" claim to himself gave him the opportunity and authority to explain mankind's salvation in the next step through Christ's death on the cross. Thus, Paul interpreted the crucifixion event in a soteriological context, presenting the death of Christ as a justifying death from sin, and made this exegesis the most fundamental teaching of traditional Christianity.
The religion of Christianity, as well as the Jesus Christ and the people, developments and concepts related to him, are mentioned in many verses in the Qur'an. These verses have been the main factor shaping Muslims’ ideas about Christ and Christianity. This phenomenon has had some consequences among Muslims from a very early date. For example, the criticism of Christians in some verses of the Qur'an is among the reasons that create an anti-Christian polemic and taḥrīf literature among Muslim writers. But on the other hand, the necessity for Muslims to believe in the Christ, the apostles or the Gospel has also emerged. At this point, the concept called "confirmation" in the Islamic tradition comes to the fore. The concept of confirmation defends the opposite of the common belief that religious understanding and practice began with the prophet Muhammad; expresses that the Qur'an confirms and includes previous revelations and prophets. Therefore, in many verses of the Qur'an, ancient prophets including Jesus, parables and previous books including the Gospel are mentioned. Because in the Qur'an, confirmation is established between the corpus revealed to the prophet Muhammad and the previous sacred books and prophets. In short, the Qur'an confirms the previous books and prophets. Well, but within what framework should this affirmation relationship be established? For example, what is the place of Paul in this framework?
The answer to this last question does not have a definitive answer among Muslim intellectuals. Because, first of all, the name Paul is not clearly mentioned in the Qur’an. Moreover, it is controversial whether the Gospel, which is said to have been revealed to Jesus in the Qur'an, corresponds to the New Testament, which is known to be dominated by Paul. As a result of such uncertainties, some of the Muslim commentators included Paul in the concept of confirmation. As a matter of fact, Paul's name has sometimes entered the Qur'anic commentaries (tafsīr) and some footnotes in the translations. The story of ashâbü'l-karye in the Surah Yaseen/Ya-Sin (13-29) is an obvious and typical example of this. On the contrary, based on the general principles of the Qur'an and also some specific verses, it can be said that both Paul's claim to be chosen and the teaching of the cross are clearly rejected by the Qur'an. In my opinion, the 157th verses of the Surah Nisâ and the 117th verses of the Surah Mâide contain important details in this regard. In this presentation, the possible attitude of the Qur'an towards Pauline claims will be analyzed through the two verses in question.
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