Islamic scholar Gabriel Said Reynolds, the Tisch Family Associate Professor of Theology, opened the Department of Theology’s Summer Lecture Series on Wednesday, June 29 with a talk on “The Jesus of the Qur’an.”
The lectures are a quarter-century tradition connected with the Master of Arts in Theology summer program that attracts some 250 people and offers nearly 20 courses, said Kristin Colberg, director of the summer master’s program.
Reynolds, who has written books and organized conferences about Qur’an, presented traditional ideas about Qur’an as well the meaning of prophets and the relationships of Jesus to the Jews and to the Christians as presented in the book.
He described the role of the prophet, the messenger of God, to declare monotheism and their own prophethood while warning societies of judgment if they fail to believe.
The catalog of prophets—some named in the Bible, such as Noah, Lot, Moses and Jesus; some not, such as Hud, Salih and Shu’eyh—emphasizes the unity of the message, miraculous signs to confirm some prophets’ claims, rejection by leaders and others, and punishment in the form of natural disasters.
Moses, Reynolds said, is portrayed as a prophet to the Egyptians while Jesus is a prophet to the Jews. Muhammad is understood to be the messenger to all of humanity rather than a single nation, but the message is the same.
According to the Qur’an, Reynolds said, “Christians have one problem—forgetting. The Quran is reminding them—‘remember what Jesus said…. Did you forget? This is what Jesus said. He said worship God—my Lord and your Lord.’
“In my reading, the Qur’an makes the question of the salvation of Christians an open question,” he said. “The Christians accepted the prophet Jesus. The only question is whether or not they remember his words.”
In a question-and-answer session, Reynolds said Islam understands the virgin birth of Jesus as a parallel to Adam’s creation without a human father, not a sign of divinity.
“The Christian source of information on Jesus is essentially the New Testament,” The Muslim source is the Qur’an and later writings. Can we say Muslims and Christians both believe in Jesus? That’s a big question.”
Upcoming lectures in the series are:
- “Vatican II Fifty Years Later: The Debate Over the Council’s Interpretation,” by Kristin Colberg, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 6.
- “On Liturgical Asceticism,” by David Fagerberg, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 13
- “Living the Beatitudes: A Virtue Ethics Perspective,” by William Mattison, assistant professor at Catholic University of America, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 20.
All lectures take place in the Andrews Auditorium, Geddes Hall