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Compare and contrast how the three major monotheistic religions view the person of Jesus

 

Introduction

 Questions about the differences between these religions continue to receive widespread attention in religion. In particular, Jesus’s death, resurrection, and his messianic aspects have become controversial. Responses have been polarized understandably because the Jews, Christians, and Muslims have constructed their religion, perceived other people’s faith, and articulated relations between the religions in different ways. Of course, there are common features and parallels. What follows is a concise overview of significant differences and similarities between the three religions’ views of the person of Jesus.

Similarities and Differences in the view of Jesus

There are apparent similarities between the three beliefs. For example, both these religions are monotheistic religions that hold that God created the universe and that God has given humankind special revelation and that there will be a final judgment. However, there are also fundamental differences, the differences that take us to the heart of the Christian gospel, and the new testament teaching about Jesus Christ.

To begin with, both religions acknowledge the existence of Jesus. In the Quran, Jesus is referred to as Issa and Yeshu in Judaism.  Although there have been some speculations amongst scholars as to the origin of the name, it is difficult to be assertive. Some of the common references are the son of Mary (ʿĪsā ibn Maryam) in the Quran and Jesus of Nazareth among Christians and Judaism.  Harmoniously, similar to the Biblical annunciation of the birth of Jesus, the Quran, and most hadiths acknowledge the birth of Jesus by the virgin Mary. Gods’ vindication is proof that Jesus was conceived supernaturally through His directive acts. However, the virgin birth does not entitle Jesus to be the “Son of God”  because also Adam was created miraculously.

In fact, Islam and Judaism warn that God is One alone. Jewish theology, similar to Islam, does not believe in the concept of trinity. Judaism rejects Jesus as being a divine being and the intermediary between God and humans. In Judaism, the idea of God being in trinity or duality is heretical. The Torah rules out God’s trinity in Deuteronomy (6:4): which says “Hear Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is one.” In Islam, Jesus is portrayed as saying explicitly that he is not to be identified with God. [1] in particular, Muslims find the title son of God to be offensive as there is no physical generation of the Son from the father, plus God is one in Himself (tawhid). In Islam, Jesus is viewed as human, hence no divinity whatsoever. In fact, such beliefs constitute shirk, (which is associating God to other partners).

Secondly, Muslims view Jesus as the apostle (rasûl), and the prophet (nabi) of God, just as Abraham, Ishmael, Noah, and Moses were. Jesus was also God’s messenger, to whom God gave a revelation to announce good tidings, discourage evil, bring the gospel (injil) as well as announce the coming of the last prophet Muhammed.[2] In Christianity, Jesus is viewed as a message of God who was set aside to preach the good news and to make God’s salvation known to humans.[3] For the most part, Jews is seen as a teacher (rabbi), but not a prophet, according to the Torah, someone is considered a prophet only when he follows the God of Israel and speak for God. A prophet does not advocate to change God’s law or fulfill it as Jesus is purported.[4] Thus, the divergence that is espoused by Jesus from the biblical tenets disqualifies him to be considered as a prophet in Judaism.

Muslims and Christians acknowledge that Jesus had supernatural power to perform miracles. The bible is explicit with examples of Jesus’ miracles from turning water to wine, raising the dead, and also miraculous healings[5]. Similarly, although lacking detail description as those in the gospel, there are at least six counts of miracles that are attributed to Jesus in the Quran through hadiths and poetry. Some of Jesus’ miracles in the Quran include healing of a blind man and a leper, bringing the dead to life and even speaking as an in fact. [6] Judaists acknowledge that Jesus performed miracles, but not from Gods. Instead, they claimed that Jesus’s miracles were wielded by the Devil’s power (Balaam).[7]

Elsewhere, in Islam, Jesus is described as the servant of God, a slave; “He is nothing but a slave on who was bestowed favor, and we made example for the children of Israel”[8] Christians acknowledge the fulfillment of Jesus Servanthood as the fulfillment of prophet Isiah prophecies.[9] Therefore, the servanthood of Jesus is viewed in Christianity within a redemptive and historical context. The servanthood is the means through which Jesus identified with humanity to accomplish the atonement of sin. However, while Jews believe that the messiah will fulfill Isiah’s prophecies, Jesus is not viewed as the messiah because he did not fulfill some of the prophecies, including reigning as King.[10]

The Quran also refers to Jesus as mushia bi’l baraka (“the Messiah—someone blessed by God” and the Christ). [11]Withal, the Quran is silent on the significance of the term, with most Islamic scholars contending with Christian interpretations of the messiah. Howbeit, some scholars explain that the messiah is used to refer to the status of Jesus as the anointed one of God to perform miracles and spread his word.[12] Jesus is also referred to as the word and the spirit in Islam.

Similarly, Christians also acknowledge that Christ is the Messiah who is to save the world.  In contrast, Jesus claims to be the messiah was seen as blasphemy an offense that warranted death. In fact, though the Christian messiah brings salvation to the whole world, the Jewish messiah is viewed as one who is only to liberate the Jews and not the entire world.

There is a significant divergence of views that pertain to Jesus’s redemption of sins and bringing salvation to man. In the context of Christianity salvation primarily refers to the atonement of sins, which involves saving humans from sin. Christians believe that salvation is made possible through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Through Jesus, Christians believe that they have the redemption and forgiveness of sins and a new life through reconciliation with God. The gospel is essentially founded with the death of Jesus at the cross. Hence, Jesus is seen as pardoning the sins of the human through God, the father. The scriptures are clear in noting that “I am (Jesus) is the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).  On the other hand, Muslims contend that no one can give salvation by virtue of their deeds or belief. Instead, it is God’s mercy that can merit salvation of mankind through repentance. Further, there is no atonement of sins through Christ, because each person is responsible for his or her actions (36:54; 53:38; 82:19). In parallel, in Judaism, God is seen as the sole provider of salvation for humanity. Man gets redemption through God by observing and honoring his laws. [13]

While the death and resurrection of Jesus is the crux of the gospel of Christians, Muslims believe that Jesus did not die on the cross. The Quran acknowledges the crucifixion, although there have been contentions as to who was crucified on the cross. According to Surah 4:155-159, it is unthinkable that God would allow his appointed prophet to be crucified. Arguably because of its nature, crucifixion was considered the most shameful in brutal ways to die. Nonetheless, there is a sharp contention and discord as to who was crucified. According to Ibn Ishaq’s brief accounts, Jesus was replaced by someone named Sergius.[14] Others claim purport that Jesus’ death was an illusion with Jesus’ face put on another man.[15] Lastly, the Jews acknowledge Jesus’ crucifixion; primarily, Jesus was crucified for misleading the Jews.[16]

Another significant point of contention pertains to the resurrection of Jesus, Both Muslims and Muslims believe that Jesus resurrected from the dead and ascended into heaven. The Quran is not detailed as to the events, Ibn Ishaq mentions the crucifixion of another man; however, the text asserts to the existence of the grave.[17] Moreover, the Quran acknowledges that Jesus resurrected in his physical body.[18] Jew’s belief stands in contradiction. First, even though Jesus died, the resurrection is not validated but a mere rumor from his disciples; subsequently, there is no assurance of his ascension after that.

It appears that there are major parallels as to the view of Jesus in Christian and Islam. Unlike the Jews, both Muslims and Christians believe in the second coming of Jesus, albeit some minor differences. Christians, primarily belief that Jesus’s second coming will be to end the kingdom of Satan and to judge the world. He is to reward his followers with enteral life and to cast the sinners to the fires of hell. A sect of the Jews believes in resurrection, but it is not premised on the resurrection of Jesus. Moreover, while Muslims hold the belief that Christ will sit together with God on the Day of Judgment; Islam does not emphasize on the role that Jesus will play on that day.

Conclusion

 Regarding shared beliefs, the Jews, Cristian’s and Muslims affirm the humanity of Jesus. Muslims and Christians believe in the supernatural power of Jesus as a messenger of God who died ascended to heaven and is to come for a second time. On the other hand, while Jesus is a mere human to Muslim who like his other prophet came to bring the good news, Christians hold a significant reverence for Jesus as the son of God who has the power to atone sin and bring salvation. The belief of Christianity is rooted in Jesus’s divinity, death, resurrection, and his place in God’s kingdom. Lastly, Judaism does not acknowledge Jesus as the messiah or a prophet but a mere man who performed miracles because of using demonic power. Moreover, Jesus is not the messiah, and although he died, his resurrection, ascension, and second coming are unfounded.

Bibliography

Kolatch, Alfred (2000) [1985]. “Judaism, and Christianity.” The Second Jewish Book of Why. Middle Village, NY: Jonathan David Publishers, Inc. pp. 61–64.

Nickel, Gordon. The Gentle Answer to the Muslim Accusation of Biblical Falsification (Calgary: Burton Gate, 2015).

Parrinder, Geoffrey (2013). Jesus in the Qur’an. Oneworld Publications.

Willard Oxtoby, ed. World’s Religions: Western Traditions, 5th edition. Oxford Publisher.

Warner, J.  (December 4, 2017).  Who Is Jesus? According to Other Religions? Available from https://coldcasechristianity.com/writings/who-is-jesus-according-to-other-religions/


[1] Quran (5:109-119)

[2] Willard Oxtoby, ed. World’s Religions: Western Traditions, 5th edition. Oxford Publisher.

[3] Parrinder, Geoffrey (2013). Jesus in the Qur’an. Oneworld Publications.

[4] See Matthew 5:17; Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.

[5] Willard Oxtoby, ed.

[6] Quran (3:46-49)

[7] Kolatch, Alfred (2000) [1985]. “Judaism and Christianity”. The Second Jewish Book of Why. Middle Village, NY: Jonathan David Publishers, Inc. pp. 61–64.

[8]  Quran (43:59; see 4:172).

[9] Jewish history affirms that Jesus was not the long awaited messiah because his coming did not align to the scriptures. For instance,   Kolatch, A(2000) denotes that the Jewish messiah was to “return the Jews to their homeland and rebuild the Temple, reign as King, and usher in an era of peace”

[10] Parrinder, Geoffrey (2013).

[11] Ibid

[12] Warner, J.  (December 4, 2017).  Who Is Jesus, According to Other Religions? Available from https://coldcasechristianity.com/writings/who-is-jesus-according-to-other-religions/

[13] Kolatch, Alfred (2000) [1985]. “Judaism and Christianity”.

[14] Ibid

[15] Ibid

[16] Willard Oxtoby, ed. World’s Religions: Western Traditions, 5th edition.

[17] (Quran 3:55)

[18] Warner, J.  (December 4, 2017)

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