6.The Bible is more hospitable to languages and cultures of the world because of its openness to translations. The Qur’an is more stable in time because of heightened position of Arabic in Islamic prayer and liturgy.
The Bible has been translated into many languages and in principle is translatable. In fact, some ethnic groups gained their first alphabet when missionaries translated the Bible into their language. This means that Christians believe that revelation does not suffer any significant loss when the Bible is translated. You can translate the Bible into Chinese and use it in a worship service.
Not so with the Qur’an. You can translate the Qur’an, but the dominant attitude among Muslims is that translations of the Qur’an are not the real Qur’an, and no translation could be used in a worship service in a mosque. So everyone is required to memorize Arabic verses from the Qur’an in order to recite it in worship. Because of this, the Bible has many translations while even in Muslim-majority nations, not all ethnic groups have the Qur’an translated into their language.
This is not bad, but it does make the Qur’an difficult to access. In fact, the Qur’an requires you to come to it while the Bible comes to you through translations. So I think the Bible is more hospitable to the diversity and many languages of the world. But the Qur’an is more stable over time because it does not run the risk of diverging from the original text through translations.
Practical Lesson: Read the Bible in many translations and compare them to discover nuances of various words or concepts. If you read the Qur’an in translations just be aware that you are reading a diluted version of the original which would not be passed as a real thing.
7.The Bible has been researched from various perspectives and secular biblical criticism is a mature field of research. The secular, purely scientific Qur’anic studies is still a developing field and is not accepted without difficulty outside of academia.
The Bible was completely researched from a scientific point of view (and is still being researched). Scholars dissected it, took it apart, came up with their theories, constructed various forms of it, and found holes in the scripture. Yet the Bible survived, and Christians found ways of either living with it or answering some of the challenges that biblical criticism have put forward. We do realize that God’s revelation is not confined to the book and that faith in Christ does not fall with the hermeneutics of suspicion or with palimpsests.
The Qur’an is a different matter. Secular scientific research of the Qur’an started in the West (in the last 250 years) and is still in its adolescent period. In the Islamic world, to research the Qur’an from a purely secular and scientific perspective may be dangerous for the researcher. There is much more at stake with the diverging variations of the Qur’anic manuscripts than with the Bible because Islam very heavily emphasizes the literal quality of the Qur’an as revelation as if every word in the Qur’an came out of God’s mouth, and Muhammad passively reported it. Also, the doctrine of the miraculous nature of the Qur’an’s protection from any change contributes to such nervousness in the Islamic world about secular and sparing-no-expense research about the Qur’an.
If not us, then the future generations will see how well the Qur’an withstands this scientific-technological research.
Practical Lesson: Don’t be disheartened by various theories and claims about the Bible. God’s grace and salvation do not depend on mere words. As to the Qur’an, don’t rely on populistic apologetic sources to understand the book. Find academic sources and read them.
8.Christianity focuses on Jesus as the revelation and the Bible is secondary to Christ. Islam focuses on the Qur’an as the revelation and everything else is secondary.
The place of the Bible in Christianity does not necessarily correspond to the place of the Qur’an in Islam. The Bible is the word of God, but the center of the Christian faith is Jesus Christ, the Word of God. The Bible reveals God in Jesus to Christians. Before the Bible, Christians look at Jesus, and the Spirit illuminates their understanding of the scripture. Jesus Christ takes priority over the Bible. The Bible is the medium from which we learn about God in Christ. The Bible and Jesus are intertwined but the center of our faith is Jesus Christ, not the Bible.
The Qur’an however is the center of Islamic revelation. It is the word of God, and it is eternal as Muslims believe that it came from heaven like it is: not a single word of it is changed. Muhammad is only a prophet who passively (like a secretary) reported God’s revelations. There is no human contribution to the Qur’an or revelation in Islam. So the Qur’an has more significance to Islam in terms of revelation than the Bible has to Christianity.
Because of that, Christians who know their faith well enough to be flexible don’t see a big deal with the complexity and tension within the Bible while among Muslims, suggesting that the Qur’an may have contradictions is not received well.
Practical Lesson: Don’t idolize the Bible because it is not the center of our faith. Focus on Christ. Don’t take Muslim’s view of the Qur’an as idolization of a text. Just realize that they put more emphasis on the text than Christians do.
That’s it. Take it, think about it, and then adjust your thinking about two of the most influential books in history. If you think there are other important details between these two scriptures, then let me know. And don’t forget to post it on social media if you think it will help someone to understand these books better.