Hermeneutical keys for reading the Bible in the context of Islam

Dr. Ida Glaser
Academic Director, The Centre for Muslim-Christian Studies

I first describe a model for reading between text and context that is characterised as ‘conversation, recognition and analogy’, videmy doctoral thesis (1996) and David Tracey (The Analogical Imagination, SCM, 1981). Analogy ensures that we retain the similarity-in-difference of text and context without falling into the polar mistakes of conflating the systems or seeing them as totally opposed to one another.

Next, conversation between the Biblical texts and the context of Islamic thought suggests the recognition of categories such as ‘prophet/messenger’, ‘revelation’, ‘one God’ and ‘people of God’ as starting points for building fruitful analogies. However, exploration of similarities and differences in such concepts leads to the proposal of pairing Biblical and Islamic concepts in unexpected ways. Foundationally, the Islamic concept of ‘prophet/messenger’ is paired with the Biblical concept of Israel as the ‘people of God’. This leads to the observation that, where the centre of Islamic concepts of revelation is the idea that God speaks, the analogous centre of biblical concepts of revelation is the idea that God comes.

Finally, these ideas are proposed as hermeneutical keys for reading the whole Bible, and their consequences for interpreting selected passages and themes are briefly indicated.