What the Bible Says
So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, "it is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared." (Genesis 32:30)
Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and the seventy elders of Isreal went up and saw the God of Isreal… (Exodus 24:9,10)
Contradicting Verses from the Bible
But,he (God) said," You cannot see my face, for no-one may see me and live. " (Exodus 33:20)
What the Qur'an Says
No vision can grasp Him, but He grasps all vision. (Qur'an, 6:103)
I don't think the author(s) of Genesis and Exodus actually had direct knowledge of whether Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and the elders of Israel actually saw God. I think that they were relying on oral traditions and recorded what they had been given to write the accounts in Genesis and Exodus. I am not relying on the Wellhausen school to reach this conclusion. There are clear stylistic differences between specific passages of the first five books of the Old Testament, and those differences both in terms of the way things are expressed and the vocabulary used suggest that multiple hands were involved in the formation of the final Masoretic text of the Old Testament.
With regard to the Qur'an, the nature of what is said is not intended to be historical. It does not refer to specific events but simply states a principal which is intended to be taken as a kind of aphorism regarding God, El Shaddai, Elohim, Allah, or whatever name we may impose on the person of creator of life and the material world. As such it is not a direct comparison of beliefs between two religions.
As for the contradiction between Genesis 32:30, Exodus 24:9-10, and Exodus 33:20, there are some things to bear in mind. In the Genesis passage, it simply states that Jacob wrestled with a man and that Jacob's surmised that he had wrestled with God. The passage then quotes Jacob, renamed Israel, who is to have said, "I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been preserved." The point of the passage, however, was not to prove that God could be seen and not yield death for the viewer. The point was to explain why Jews do not eat the sinew (ligaments) that surround the hip socket of kosher meat. The flavor of this passage is rabbinical to say the least. There are numerous such passages throught the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Old Testament) that tell a story and then conclude by saying, in effect, "That is why we do or don't do..."
The Exodus 24 passage clearly states that Moses and those who accompanied him saw God, at least from a distance. In the first verse of that chapter, Moses is told by God that only he may approach Him; the others have to remain at a distance. In spite of that fine distinction, the description provided later in the chapter would lead a reasonable person to conclude that the seventy did see something. What they saw is not clear. There is reference made to the feet of God, but in other passages in the same and in the next chapter, the appearance of God is nebulous. In fact in chapters 25-32, the focus is suddenly on the construction of a place or worship, assignment of administrative and priestly duties, and procedures for the sacrifice of animals in such detail that it stands in stark contrast to the very much less specific chapter 24. For this reason, I think that chapter 24 is perhaps from a different source than that for the surrounding sections of the same book.
Exodus 33 is the pivotal point of the entire book. It lays the foundation for Moses authority, not for his own generation but for those who would read about him centuries later. As such, there is a certain artificiality about it that cannot be ignored. The gist of the story is that God is telling Moses to lead his people to an unknown destination. Certain phenomena accompany Moses' presence in the so-called "tent of meeting;" a "pillar of cloud" would appear after Moses entered the tent. This was presumed to be the presence of God. In fact, the writer of Exodus says, "Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend." (Exodus 33:11) Now, the writer was not present during these meetings, and it is the assumption made comfortable from the perspective of centuries after the fact that there was a face to face encounter between Moses and God.
Moses' dialogue with God ensues after this description, and Moses asks how he can preserve his authority to lead his people and how he, Moses, can know God better and more intimately. God's response is to say that he will reveal his glory but not his face because "You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live." (Exodus 33:20) Plainly, this is not in the the same vein of thought as that expressed in verse 11. This suggests again that there are multiple oral traditions that are drawn upon to compose this portion of the book of Exodus.
The same situation of the Qur'an being a compilation of multiple traditions with respect to its final text is less likely, not because it is any less susceptible to being edited in such a fashion, but rather because the time in history in which it was composed was more inclined to give weight to the facts surrounding events, lives, and the like, unlike during the times of the formation of the Old Testament when the principles of righteousness seemed to have greater primacy.
Comparing Christianity and Islam is often like comparing apples to oranges. Christianity is focused on the person of Jesus and his relationship to the Father. Islam is focused on a path to righteousness as provided by the its supreme prophet Mohammed. Neither is more nuanced than the other, but there are clear differences. Islam is what many in Christian circles would label as "works righteousness," meaning that one's faithfulness in periodic prayer throughout the day, observation of feasts and religious occasions, and careful attention to the practices of the discipline of being a Muslim determine to a greater or lesser degree one's holiness. In short, there are "good" Muslims and "bad" Muslims. Christians, on the other hand, are often what we call "loosey goosey," meaning that their definition of holiness is often vague. It is like trying to grasp a handful of gelatin and squeezing one's fingers. It comes oozing out of the gaps, and cannot be contained. In part, this is because for Christians, their faith is a very internal affair, between them and God and not subject to the approval or lack thereof by any other person. There are no guaranteed "things" one can do that will ensure his entrance into heaven. There is no such thing as martyrdom ensuring seventy virgins or the like.
I am a Christian, and obviously my perceptions are colored by my living experience as a Christian and by my experience of being raised in an American Christian experience which tends to confuse capitalism with faith and prosperity with righteousness. I suppose my attitudes would be different if I was raised in poverty, but that is not the case for me.
I spent six years studying in theological seminary that defends the integrity of the Old and New Testaments of the Christian Bible, but I think that the case for multiple authorships is undeniable if one is willing to look at the evidence with impartiality. Some get stymied by the authorship issue, and they reach the conclusion quickly that multiple authorship equals contradiction and therefore flawed or fallacious representations of God. I don't think that way. I am a great believer in the value of informed consensus. There is a wisdom that arises from the collective experience and knowledge of the larger mass of humanity. The Bible is a good example of that at work. Multiple authors contributed their thoughts which were redacted by later hands to produce a holy book whose insights into man's relationship with God have been able to guide people through the horrors of war, slavery, depression, destitution, and any number of living tragedies to a brighter and more positive present and future. The mechanical following of any particular discipline almost never works in life. After a while the lack of authenticity and inapplicability of the practice lead adherents away from further participation, and they are left hungry for something that is durable and capable of sustaining them through the gritty parts of life. In that sense, Christianity shines.
It is not a perfect union between man and God. It is after all a man made arrangement that is based on the life of Jesus that has been layered upon with rules, regulations, theories, orthodox restatements of the tenets of the faith that change from generation to generation, and a very large dose of secularism that makes it all palatable to the ordinary citizen of the current era. The same goes for Islam. There is a large secular component, perhaps even more so than Christianity because it was formed at a time when the force of politics and warfare was embraced as a legitimate means of promulgation of the faith, something that Jesus specifically eschewed.
The real challenge for the people of the world is to find it within themselves to treat others like they wish to be treated. Frankly, few ever do it.
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I don't believe that those Bibles are true, because the Bible which God sent to his prophet Jesus was written in Hebrew, but those all Bibles which we know now, it is not ture. God said in the Quraan: In the name of God " Then woe to those who write the Book with their own hands and then say, " This is from Allah," to purchase with it a little price! Woe to them from what their hands have written and woe to them for that they earn thereby" Chapter El Baqarah 78:79
Hassan, I don't understand your logic. You contend that the Bible is fallacious because it was written by people. From what I can read in history, the Qur'an was also written by associates of Muhammed based on his dictations. Later after his death, Caliph Abu Bakr compiled those writings into one book. As time passed, the changes in Arabic dialects resulted in changes to the text, so Caliph Uthman selected the original text prepared by Caliph Abu Bakr.
This would seem to imply that the text was not redacted in any way, but the history also implies that there was a considerable amount of time between the reception of each of the 114 revelations and that actual writing of them. The story goes that each revelation was memorized, recited, and then written down. The assumption of muslims, however, is somewhat the reverse of that sequence: they were written down as they were received and then memorized and recited.
Anyone who is familiar with linguistcs and psychology will acknowledge that the potential for notarial inaccuracy of a given text increases with the frequency of repetition and the lack of ability to corroborate each iteration against a recorded standard. Local idiomatic and dialectic patterns creep into the memorized text inadvertently and they alter the final product. Unless Muhammed wrote down the revelations himself contemporaneously with his receipt of them, Muhammed's own memory and propagation of those moments of revelation are also subject to the same distortions of language and thought patterns as those of his associates and friends.
Further, there seems to be no indication in history of the trustworthiness of Muhammed's companions with regard to their facility with language itself. We don't know if they were educated or illiterate, scholars or shepherds. We don't know their expectations or their biases. In short, the transmission process of the original discourse between Muhammed and the divine is subject to just as many questions as that of the Bible itself.
To say the the Bible is untrue based on a text from the Qur'an that says that is a warning of the illegitimacy of invented versions of the Qur'an itself is specious logic. It may pass for logic in religious circles, in which I include myself, but it does not pass muster in an circle outside those of religion. Presuming that religion has some bearing on circles of influence outside its own, that would imply that the logic used to defend the integrity of religious writings must also meet the litmus tests of reasonableness of non-religious circles. For advocates of Islam to contend that the Bible is false in its entirety because it is not the verbal equivalent of the Qur'an is senseless and it is simply religious bigotry.
For instance, are the Ten Commandments wrong? If, as the Old Testament contends, the commandments were written by God on stone tablets which Moses received, are they invalidated because someone eventually had to transfer them to the written page? If so, that would mean that the transfer of Muhammed's revelations from the oral tradition to the written page would also invalidate them. Is it the fact that the Bible is written in Hebrew, a human language? If so, then the recording of Muhammed's revelations in Arabic would form the basis for invalidating them again since Arabic is human language...unless of course it is contended that Arabic is the language that God speaks, thus implying that Allah is only a god of Arabic speakers.
I think there is enough inconsistency in any religion, including Islam, in terms of its origins, its holy texts, and the behavior of its adherents to instill some long overdue modesty about the assumptions of its adherents of being right and those of other religions being false. In fact, there is an excellent chance that much of what all religions teach is simply prejudice based on the licking of wounds inflicted over the centuries. It has little to do with the present day except for enervating the drive toward peace, care, and concern for others that their founders envisioned.