Pluriel

University platform for research on Islam

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Theology of Prophecy in Dialogue (Bonn)

A Jewish-Christian-Muslim Encounter

The Qur’anic approach to prophecy challenges Jewish and Christian perspectives for a variety of reasons. The Qur’an seems to have some concrete features of prophets in mind that are not completely coherent with the Biblical tradition. Moreover, it is the selection of prophets within the Qur’an that is idiosyncratic and confusing from Jewish and Christian perspectives. For example, important prophets, such as Isaiah and Jeremiah, do not appear by name in the Qurʾan but Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, considered as patriarchs in the Bible, are named prophets in the Qur´an.

The selection of the prophets in the Qur’an might be explained by considering the Qur’anic dialogue with Rabbinic literature and with the Syriac Mêmrê, especially from Jacob of Sarug. The Qur’an is obviously deeply intertwined in interreligious debates in late antiquity. Hence, one basic aim of our project will be to promote a historically situated understanding of Qur’anic prophetology. This includes not only textual elements of the Qur’anic proclamation but the contextualization of the prophetic figure of Muhammad within the wider political and religious developments of late antiquity.

Even with a better historical understanding of the development of Qur’anic ideas, Christianity is still confronted with the challenge of the content of the Qur’an’s account of prophetology. The Qur’an seems to react to the typological readings of the prophetic figures in the preaching of the church fathers and to establish prophetology as a kind of counter-discourse to Christology. Today many Christians know that the typological reading of the prophetic literature can easily be understood in a supersessionist way. If Muslims present the Qur’anic way of reading the prophetic tradition in non-supersessionist modes, Christians might be inspired by this to reframe their typological interpretations.

There is currently no systematic theological attempt in Christianity to develop a prophetology that takes account of the proprium of Christian theology alongside the insights of Israel-theology on the intrinsic value of prophecy. A Christian prophetology should broaden the Christian view of Jesus Christ even if Jesus is the fulfilment of all humanity and prophecy. As conditional beings, humans will never come to an end with the recognition of the unconditional. If Jews articulate why they challenge the Christian reading of Christ as fulfilment of the prophetic figures of the Bible, Christians might be able to learn from these interventions to rebuild Christology in a non-supersessionist way. Conversely, Muslims might learn from the Jewish and Christian understandings of the prophetic tradition how to understand their own tradition as a constructive partner within a discourse with Judaism and Christianity.

This research project is a DFG-Project and an activity of the “Centre of Comparative Theology and Social Issues” (CTSI) of Bonn University
Project duration : 2020 – 2023

Group members

Elizaveta Dorogova

Research assistant at the Islamic Theological Seminary of the University of Paderborn.

Zishan Ahmad Ghaffar

Professor of Quranic exegesis, Director of the Centre for Comparative Theology at the University of Paderborn.

Mohammad Haghani Fazl

Postdoctoral fellow at the Islamic Theological Seminary of the University of Paderborn.

Cordula Heupts

Research assistant, Bonn University

Elisa Klapheck

Professor of Jewish Studies at the Centre for Comparative Theology and Cultural Studies (ZeKK) at the University of Paderborn

Nadia Saad

Research assistant at the Islamic Theological Seminary of the University of Paderborn.

Klaus von Stosch

Professor for Catholic Theology, holder of the "Schlegel" Chair of Excellence for "systematic theology with a special focus on societal challenges", University of Bonn

Muna Tatari

Professor for Islamic Theology - University of Paderborn.