Friday, 23 January 2009

New publication looks at Bible stories in the Qur’an

The Church of Ireland Gazette carries the following half-page news report in today’s (23 January 2009) edition, on page 3:

New publication looks at Bible stories in the Qur’an

The National Bible Society of Ireland has issued Canon Patrick Comerford’s recent lecture in the Bedell Boyle Lecture series as a new publication: Reflections of the Bible in the Qur’an: a Comparison of Scriptural traditions in Christianity and Islam.

In this publication, Canon Comerford points out that Muslims respect Jews, Christians and Muslims as “People of the Book,” sharing a common scriptural tradition based on the Torah (tawrat) or the first five books of the Bible; the Psalms (zabur); and the Gospels (injil). The Qur’an includes many biblical stories, with numerous parallels of the Gospel stories in the Qur’an.

Canon Comerford – Director of Spiritual Formation in the Church of Ireland Theological Institute and secretary of the Church of Ireland’s Interfaith Working Group – also explores the place of Jesus in later Islamic traditions, including the hadith, apocalyptic and Arabic literary traditions, and Sufi poetry, and he examines both the Muslim view of the Bible and the attitude towards the Bible found in the Qur’an and in Islamic teachings.

The annual Bedell Boyle Lecture honours both Bishop William Bedell (1571-1642), who translated the Old Testament into Irish, and Robert Boyle (1626-1691) who published Bibles for Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Canon Comerford’s original lecture, which was delivered in the Milltown Institute two years ago, was chaired and introduced by the Augustinian biblical scholar and former President of the National Bible Society of Ireland, the Revd Dr Kieran O’Mahony.

In his introduction to this publication, Prof. O’Mahony says that Canon Comerford has provided an “eirenic presentation of Muslim teaching on Jesus and other biblical figures” and that his work “makes an ideal and highly informative opening up for the non-Muslim.”

The professor points out, however, that “this latest study does not shirk the contrasts of opinion between Christian and Muslim teaching in the person of Jesus. Such honesty is a mark of respect and a prerequisite for genuine dialogue. Nevertheless, I think the author would be pleased if his readers were moved to take up and read the Qur’an for themselves.”

(Reflections of the Bible in the Qur’an: a Comparison of Scriptural traditions in Christianity and Islam is available from the National Bible Society of Ireland, 41 Dawson Street, Dublin 2.)