CMCS Reflections: Day One

**This is a couple of brief reflections hopefully for each day I will be at CMCS‘ summer school in Oxford. My intentions behind these posts are similar to those behind the purpose of this blog – a space to publicly process my own thoughts. 

Early observations

The summer school so far has done what it says on the tin and has in no way been an unfulfilled promised emblazoned on a bus. Oh, there is also a pokestop just outside my window !!!

After the usual introductions, tour, and food. The first lecture was a brief summary of both Christianity and Islam. Ida Glaser’s (Christian) was spot on, with just one issue cropping up – that of whether or not the Apostles’ Creed states that Jesus descended to Hell or ‘the place of the dead’ (i.e. Hades).

The Islamic view of Jesus

Ayatollah Sayed Fadhil Milani’s presentation followed and started first with what the Quran (and Muslims) say about Jesus. All 8 of these points came with quranic quotations, I’ve classified them under 3 groupings – Dubious (D), Corroborated (C), Rejected (R). My classifications here are not just based on standards of historicity neither merely on whether or not the Bible confirms the quranic account. My judgement is mostly theological and explicitly from a Christian standpoint, which I need not apologise for.

Of the 8 listed, the following I considered ‘D’:

  1. Speaking whilst still in the cradle ( 19: 27 – 33 )
  2. Disciples ask for a feast ( 5: 112 – 115)

These are classed under ‘C’

  1. His birth (Quran 19:16 – 21)
  2. His miracles ( 3: 49 – 51 & 5:110)
  3. Being rejected and denied by jews/calling for supporters (3: 52 – 53)
  4. His disciples: those who believed in him ( or rejected him) (61:14)

The second quotation in 2 above also contains references to Jesus speaking in the cradle (See 1st point under ‘D’) but also healings and raising the dead.Core of Islam

Finally, these are the points explicitly rejected by both sides. And by rejected I mean, the Quranic account rejects that of the Bible and vice-versa.

  1. Not being the Son of God ( 19:35)
  2. Not being crucified (4: 157 – 158)

The second half of the Islamic side were just a general view of the religion, taken from a book we were given for free. (See left) 

Personal reflections

I have just displayed a classic example of confirmation bias by making quick judgements on an opponent’s viewpoint and not only did I do it but was also aware of it yet unapologetic. Oftentimes those writing history books do so with an air of objective arrogance that does not pay attention to the limitedness of the eye of the beholder.However, this does not mean that history cannot be gotten at as close as possible without being tainted by biases but even when all biases are removed, a viewpoint still needs to be formed and the events interpreted. I am thoroughly aware that my interpretation of the Islamic account of the life of Jesus has several unexplored presuppositions, discerning readers can make a list of them.

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