Tag Archives: Gabriel Said Reynolds

Qur’an 3: The Family of Amram

There are parts of some texts that are easy to understand. Then there are texts that are harder to understand.

And then there are texts even provide a hermenutical key to help in deciphering them.

It is He who has send down to you the Book.
Parts of it are definitive verses, which are the mother of the Book,
while others are ambiguous.

As for those whose hearts is deviance,
they pursue what is metaphorical in it, perusing misguidance and aiming at its interpretation.

But no one knows its interpretation
except God and
those firmly grounded in knowledge;
they say, ‘We believe in it; all of it is from our Lord.’

Only those who possess intellect take admonition.
Qur’an 3:7

The third chapter of the Qur’an takes its name from the father of Moses, Aaron, and Miriam: Amram. An extended comparison between Miriam and the Virgin Mary (who in Hebrew have the same name) is presented. As before there’s also another voice, focused on the political and religious events of another time and that views Christians as an out-group. These two voices have a surprising convergence, at least for me, in their understanding of words and books.

Arian Christianity

The Two Marias

The Christian Bible contains two Marias, with the same name in Hebrew (“????????” or Miryam) . The name of the first is typically translated as “Miriam,” she is the sister of one of the men who during the Transfiguration talked with Christ: Moses. The second is typically translated as “Mary,” she is the mother of the man-god who during the Transfiguration talked with Moses: Jesus.

Both Marias are associated with songs, celebrating God’s overthrowing of the human inequity. In her song to the women, Maria sister of Moses sang:

And Miriam answered them:
“Sing to the Lord,
For He has triumphed gloriously!
The horse and its rider
He has thrown into the sea!”
Exodus15:21

In her own song to Elizabeth, Maria mother of Jesus sang:

And Mary said:
“My soul magnifies the Lord…
He has shown strength with His arm;
He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
And exalted the lowly.
Luke 2:46,51-52

The typological similarities between the Marias as well known in our academic church literature

Tracing the attributes of Miriam, the sister of Moses, we discover the following: she is a leader, a prophetess, a mediator, an initiator, a servant. a nurse. a caring person, a model of discretion and timing, a negotiator, and a woman who secretly and effectively works behind the scenes in the salvific history of the people.
The Catholic Tradition uses such attributes for Mary of Galilee in the Church’s devotional hymns and litanies. The biblical sources for such expressions are taken from the Cana event (Jn 2:1-11) and from the Annunciation and Visitation accounts (Lk 1:28-45).
Old Testament Types of Mary,” Father Johann Roten, S.M.

Perhaps this is why the prophets who bridged the Old and New Testaments looked back not just on Egypt, not just on redemption, but the Family of Amram— the Prophet Moses, the Priest Aaron, and Maria:

For I brought you up from the land of Egypt, I redeemed you from the house of bondage; And I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam.
Micah 6:4

The Family of Maria

In the above, I’ve said “Maria sister of Moses” and “Maria mother of Jesus,” but properly the style should be patristic. The first Maria would be “Maria daughter of Amram”:

The name of Amram’s wife was Jochebed the daughter of Levi, who was born to Levi in Egypt; and to Amram she bore Aaron and Moses and their sister Miriam.
Numbers 26:59

And the other Maria… well, we don’t know exactly. Smart people, going back to the Church Fathers, argued Mary’s father’s name was Perhaps Joachim/ and that we went by a nickname, “Heli.”

It is into this ambiguity that the Koran gives the Father of Maria another name, the name of the father of the first Maria: Amram

When the wife of Amram said, ‘my Lord, I dedicate to You in consecration what is in my belly. Accept it from me; indeed You are all the All-hearing, the all-knowing.’ When she bore her, she said, “My Lord, I have born a female’ — and God knew better what she had borne, and the male was no match for the female — ‘and i have named her Mary, and I commend her and her offspring to Your care against the outcast Satan.’
Thereupon her Lord accepted her with a gracious acceptance, and made her grow up in a worthy fashion, and He charged Zechariah with her care.
Qur’an 3:36-37

The Qur’anic author doesn’t just emphasize the connection between the Marias, he recapitulates their Songs into a new form, using the words of neither but the theme of both:

Say, ‘O God, Master of all sovereignty!
You give sovereignty to whomever You wish,
and strip of sovereignty whomever You wish;
You make mighty whomever You wish,
and You degrade whomever You wish;
all choice is in Your hand.
Indeed, You have power over all things.”
Qur’an 3:26

Post-Christianity in the Context of Christianity

The New Luke, the New Paul

After I read The Heifer I felt the Arian Christian and the post-Christian voices in the Qur’an were fundamentally alien to each other, or at least only inexplicably connected. But the beliefs of the men behind those voices may have been more similar than I suspect.

For instance, it may be that one or both of these men saw himself as a new Paul of Tarsus, or new Luke the evangelist

But if they deny you, apostles have been denied before you, who came with manifest signs, holy writs, and an illuminating scripture.
Qur’an 3:184

Luke quotes Christ speaking of the Jews in the third person in his edition of the Beatitudes

Blessed are you when men hate you, And when they exclude you, And revile you, and cast out your name as evil, For the Son of Man’s sake.

Rejoice in that day and leap for joy! For indeed your reward is great in heaven, For in like manner their fathers did to the prophets.
Luke 6:22-23

Paul elevates this charge, adding the murder of Christ to their misdeeds:

For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God which are in Judea in Christ Jesus. For you also suffered the same things from your own countrymen, just as they did from the Judeans, who killed both the Lord Jesus and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they do not please God and are contrary to all men
1 Thessalonians 2:14-15

Yet Paul nonetheless identified as Jew, at least tactically:

But when Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, “Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee; concerning the hope and resurrection of the dead I am being judged!”
Acts 23:6

And at times a Pauline verse…

But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by a human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I know of nothing against myself, yet I am not justified by this; but He who judges me is the Lord. Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God.
1 Corinthians 4:3-5

appears to cleanly flow int o a Qur’anic one, especially if the three-hold description of God (“Him, the All-mighty, the All-wise”) is in fact Trinitarian:

Nothing is indeed hidden from God in the earth or in the sky.
It is He who forms you in the wombs however He wishes.
There is no god except Him, the All-mighty, the All-wise.
Qur’an 3:6

This rhetorical imitation continues into unexpected areas. Luke uses the term “womb” more than all other New Testament writers combined. Though the emphasis on female participation reproduction according to God’s plan is more common in the Old Testament than the New:

Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer,
And He who formed you from the womb:
“I am the Lord, who makes all things,
Who stretches out the heavens all alone,
Who spreads abroad the earth by Myself;
Isaiah 44:24

That’s not even to mention the time travel.

The Apparition at Fatima

Take this verse, which is Luke writing Christ’s words to Paul:

So I said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said,
‘I am Jesus,
whom you are persecuting. But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you. I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, to open their eyes, in order to
turn them from darkness to light, and
from the power of Satan to God, that
they may receive forgiveness of sins and an
inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me
.’
Acts 26:15-18

Edit the text down, and rearrange:

I am Jesus,
they may receive forgiveness of sins and
turn them from
from the power of Satan
darkness to light, and
an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.

Compare with the Fatima Decade Prayer, given by Our Lady to girls in Portugal nearly 1,900 years later:

My Jesus,
forgive us our sins,
save us from the fires of hell.
Lead all souls to Heaven,
especially those most in need of Thy mercy.
Amen.

And in between, the text of The Family of Amram:

Those who say,
‘Our Lord!
Indeed, we have faith.
So forgive us our sins,
and save us from the punishment of the Fire.’
Patient and truthful, obedient and charitable, and
they plead forgiveness at dawns.
Qur’an 3:16-17

Twice:

Our Lord, whoever that You make enter the Fire will surely have been disgraced by You, and the wrongdoers will have no helpers. Our Lord, we have indeed heart a summoner calling to faith, declaring, ‘Have faith in your Lord!’ So we believed.
Our Lord,
forgive us our sins and
absolve us of our misdeeds,
and make us die with the pious.
Our Lord, give us what You have promised us through Your apostles, and do not disgrace us on the Day of Resurrection. Indeed, you do not break Your promise.’
Qur’an 3:192

This is just weird. How can Christ’s words to Paul, as recorded by Luke, show up both in the Qur’an and at Fatima but chopped up and in a different order, and translated from the Lord’s perspective to man’s? There must, I think be, an intermediate form of this pray circulating in the Patristic age.

Does anyone still know that prayer?

The Battle

The post-Christian voice in the Qur’an returns multiple time to a battle. The battle seems to have been lost. But the specific details and locations are not described — the battle that either would have been well known to the audience, or its an allegorical battle.

The battle was against a people of the Book:

A group of the People of the Book were eager to lead you astray; they they lead no one stray except themselves, but they are not aware.
O People of the Book! Why do you deny God’s signs while you testify? O People of the Book? Why do you mix the truth with falsehood, and conceal the truth while you know?
A group of the People of the Book say, ‘Believe in what has been sent down to the faithful at the beginning of the day, and disbelieve at its end, so that they may turn back.’
Qur’an 3:69-72

Perhaps these references are to a battle in the late Classical period in the Arabian peninsula…

Certainly He has excused you, for God is gracious to the faithful. When you were fleeing without paying any attention to anyone, while the Apostle was calling you from your rear, He requited you with grief upon grief, so that you may not grieve for what you lose nor for what befalls you, and God is well aware of what you do.
Then He sent down to you safety after grief — a drowsiness that came over a group of you — while another group, anxious only about themselves, entertained false notions about God, no notions of ignorance. They said, “Do we have any role in the matter.’ Say, ‘The matter indeed belongs totally to God,’ They hide in their hearts what they do not disclose to you.
They say, ‘Had we any role in the matter, we would not have been slain here.’ Say, ‘Even if you had remained in your houses, those destined to be slain would have set out toward the places where they were laid to rest, so that God may test what is in your hearts, and God knows well what is in the breasts.
Qur’an 3:154

Or perhaps the references — to the persecuting people of the Book, to the falling asleep, to the death that awaits — is to something else:

And when He returned, He found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy; and they did not know what to answer Him.

Then He came the third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? It is enough! The hour has come; behold, the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going. See, My betrayer is at hand.”
Betrayal and Arrest in Gethsemane

And immediately, while He was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, with a great multitude with swords and clubs, came from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders.
Mark14:40-43

There was, after all, something of a battle:

Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus.

So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into the sheath. Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?”
John 18:10-11

The Battle is used as an occasion to bless the weak and marginalized — the female, the migrant, the tortured, and the dead:

Then their Lord answered them, ‘I do not waste the work of any worker among you, whether male or female; you are all on the same footing.

So those who migrated and were expelled from their homes,
and were tormented in My way, and those who fought and were killed —

I will surely absolve them of their misdeeds and
I will admit them into gardens with streams running in them,
as a reward from God, and God — with Him is the best of rewards.’
Qur’an 3:195

This also is parallel to the Gospels:

Then He lifted up His eyes toward His disciples, and said:

“Blessed are you poor,
For yours is the kingdom of God.

Blessed are you who hunger now,
For you shall be filled.
Blessed are you who weep now,
For you shall laugh.

Blessed are you when men hate you,
And when they exclude you,
And revile you, and cast out your name as evil,
For the Son of Man’s sake.

Rejoice in that day and leap for joy!
For indeed your reward is great in heaven,
For in like manner their fathers did to the prophets.
Luke 6:20-23

I wish I understood Arabic grammar better. “God — with Him is the best of rewards” states this voice, who I have been calling post-Christian. I wonder if this is a pun

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”
Matthew 1:23

Christology and Bibliology

The Word and the words

Christians hold that God created the world through the Logos (“the Word”), and in some ways is identified with the Logos:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
John 1:1-5

The Word became flesh on earth:

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
John 1:14

But is the Word-in-flesh identical to the Word, or instantiation of it? Jews believe that God has many hypostases He uses to speak to His creation, including the Spirit of the LORD, the Name of the LORD, and the Angel of the LORD. Is Jesus a part of the Word, or is He identical to it?

The Qur’anic author seems aware of this question, because it’s answered repeatedly: Christ is a Word of God:

When the angels said, ‘Oh Mary, God gives you the good news of a Word from Him whose name is Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, distinguished in the world and the Hereafter, and one of those brought near. he will speak to the people in the cradle and in adulthood, and will be one of the righteous.’
Qur’an 3:45

And the same term is used in the angels’ words predicting John the Baptist:

Thereat Zechariah supplicated his Lord. He said, “My Lord! Grand me a good offspring from You! You indeed hear all supplications.’
Then, as he stood praying in the sanctuary the angels called out to him: ‘God gives you the good news of John, as a confirmer of a Word of God, eminent and chaste, a prophet, and one of the righteous.
He said, ‘My Lord, how shall I have a son while old age has overtaken me and my wife is barren?’Said He, ‘So it is that God does whatever He wishes.’
Qur’an 3:38-40

The Members and the Body

The Church forms the body of Christ. All Christian are members of the one Body of Christ:

Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For “the two,” He says, “shall become one flesh.” 17 But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.
1 Corinthians 6:15-17

Christ instructed us to abandon those members which cause sin:

If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.
Matthew 5:29-30

A logical implication of this, I suppose, is those members of Christ which are still sinful are cast into the fire:

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.
John 15:1-6

Or, as the Qur’anic author puts it:

When God said, ‘Oh Jesus, I shall take you, and I shall raise you up toward Myself, and I shall clear you of the faithless, and I shall set those who follow you above the faithless until the Day of Resurrection. Then to Me will be your return, whereat I will judge between you concerning that about which you used to differ.
Qur’an 3:55

One Body, and many members.

The Qur’an’s theory of the Logos is similar. Many words, many books, many Scriptures, but one “Book.” The Torah, the Evangel (“Gospel”), and the mysterious Criterion are in some ways instances of it:

God — there is no god except Him — is the Living One, the All-sustainer. He has sent down to you the Book with the truth, confirming what was before it, and He had sent down the Torah and the Evangel before as guidance for mankind, and He has send down the Criterion. Indeed, there is a severe punishment for those who deny the signs of God, and God is all-mighty, avenger.
Qur’an 3:2-4

Yet, while a people may only have been given the Torah, and another only given the Gospel, they still had been given the Book:

When God made a covenant with those who were given the Book: ‘You shall explain it for the people, and you shall not conceal it,’ they cast it behind their backs and sold it for a paltry gain. How evil is what they buy!
Qur’an 3:187

The Seen and the Unseen

There is one Book in Heaven, the Book is with God, but the Book is not God.

The Torah, The Qur’an, the “Criterion” (whatever that is), even the Messiah, they are books or words, they are perhaps images of the Book, but they are not God.

Christians believe that face of Christ is how we see the face of God, he is a Divine Icon of Ineffable Divinity:

He is the image of the invisible God-, the firstborn over all creation.
Colossians 1:15

In the context of The Family of Amram, this is worse than sola scriptura — this is idolatry. Consider the following verse — it’s almost totally Orthodox, could almost conclude a Catholic prayer service – except for one line:

God will not leave the faithful in your present state, until He has separated the bad ones from the good.
God will not acquaint you with the Unseen,
but God chooses whomever He wishes from His apostles.
So have faith in God and His apostles;
and if you are faithful and Godwary, there shall be a great reward for you.
Qur’an 3:179

To me this is a striking. In my impressions of the Qur’an’s second chapter, The Heifer , I mentioned there was clearly an Arian Christian voice in the text as well a post-Christian voice. But on this issue of themes of both — the Arian instances on the created nature of Christ, and the Post-Christian emphasis on the created nature of the Torah, the Gospels, and the “Criterion,” they are.

Would these voices agree, the Word is a Book, and the Book became flesh, and in this flesh was a word in the Book?

I’m not sure. But I had not expected to find this parallelism in voices that otherwise seemed so disjointed.

Final Thoughts

The Family of Amram is the third chapter of the Qur’an. It follows The Opening, an introductory psalm or prayer, and The Heifer, which introduces both the Arian Christian voice and the post-Christian voice. The Family of Amram continues the development of these voices, but introduces a shared understanding: the multiplicity of words, scriptures, and books, in contrast with the one Book heaven. This intermingling of concepts implies that the apparently post-Christian voice may itself incorporate a Christian commentary, and is not so opposed to the Arian voice as I had first thought.

I read the second chapter of the Qur’an, The Family of Amram, in Gabriel Said Reynolds’ translation.

Qur’an 2: The Heifer

The Heifer (or “Cow,” or “Young Cow”) is the second book of the Qur’an. It is also the longest, and ironically follows one of the shortest, The Opening. The Heifer is not named after a theme of the book, but is an important reference to the Bible in the book:

Now the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying,
“This is the ordinance of the law which the Lord has commanded, saying:
‘Speak to the children of Israel, that they bring you a red heifer without blemish, in which there is no defect and on which a yoke has never come. You shall give it to Eleazar the priest, that he may take it outside the camp, and it shall be slaughtered before him.
Numbers19:1-3

The author of The Heifer — well, at least one of them — expands this episode into an illustrative commentary of Moses’s patience and Israel’s stubbornness:

Then you turned away after that. And if not for the favor of God upon you and His mercy, you would have been among the losers.
And you had already known about those who transgressed among you concerning the sabbath, and We said to them, “Be apes, despised.”
And We made it a deterrent punishment for those who were present and those who succeeded and a lesson for those who fear God.
And when Moses said to his people, “Indeed, God commands you to slaughter a cow.”
They said, “Do you take us in ridicule?”
He said, “I seek refuge in God from being among the ignorant.”
They said, “Call upon your Lord to make clear to us what it is.”
He said, “He says, ‘It is a cow which is neither old nor virgin, but median between that,’ so do what you are commanded.”
They said, “Call upon your Lord to show us what is her color.”
He said, “He says, ‘It is a yellow cow, bright in color – pleasing to the observers.’ ”
They said, “Call upon your Lord to make clear to us what it is. Indeed, cows look alike to us. And indeed we, if God wills, will be guided.”
He said, “He says, ‘It is a cow neither trained to plow the earth nor to irrigate the field, one free from fault with no spot upon her.'”
They said, “Now you have come with the truth.” So they slaughtered her, but they could hardly do it.
Qur’an 2:64-71

To say one of the authors is not as such to deny Divine Authorship. In the Bible some books clearly have more than one voice. The most obvious is the The Book of Kings , which begins with the same psychological realism as The Book of Samuel and after a couple chapters transitions into either popular or merely chronological accounts. Nonetheless, the Book of Kings maintained a unity of theme of the decline and fall of the Kingdom, and is accepted by both Jews and Christians.

The Heifer also displays multiple voices. The three apparent voices are an inexplicable source, a Christian sermon, a post-Christian source, and a wisdom or law code. (If you read that carefully carefully you’ll note that Numbers describes a “red” cow, while The Heifer has a “yellow” one. The voices described here are my own terms, and I am aware how far Biblical higher criticism has progressed since the Wiseman hypothesis. Qur’anic criticism is now where Biblical criticism was in the 19th century. Scholars like Michael Heiser have complicated earlier assumptions that different voices can be easily extracted from the Bible. Any literary analysis is speculative.)

Inexplicable

There are parts of the Qur’an that, if they occurred in the Masoretic Text of the Hebrew Bible, would be described as “corrupted” or “interpolations.” This does not mean that they actually are written by different writers — T.S. Elliot used such elements intentionally. Here, for example, Elliot’s poem includes a paragraph with a middle section that also would appear to be “corrupted” or “interpolated”:

On a summer midnight, you can hear the music of the weak pipe and the little drum And see the dancing around the bonfire The association of man and woman In daunsinge, signifying matrimonie — A dignified and commodius sacrement. Two and two, neccesarye coniunction, Holding eche other by the hand or the arm Whiche botokeneth concorde. Round and round the fire Leaping through the flames, or joined in circles, Rustically solemn, or in rustic laughter
T.S. Elliot, East Coker I

Yet, to maintain the comparison between the Qur’an and Elliot’s poetry, at times the English poet does use earlier texts. Consider the phrase (which I myself mis-remembered as “All is well, and all manner of things shall be well”), and its 600 years of history in Christian prophesy and poetry:

One time our good Lord said: All thing shall be well; and another time he said: Thou shalt see thyself that all MANNER of thing shall be well; and in these two the soul took sundry understandings. One was that He willeth we know that not only He taketh heed to noble things and to great, but also to little and to small, to low and to simple, to one and to other. And so meaneth He in that He saith: ALL MANNER OF THINGS shall be well. For He willeth we know that the least thing shall not be forgotten.
Julian of Norwhich, Revelations of Divine Love, AD 1393

C.S. Lewis, in both private letters and his published apologetics, slightly alters this phrase:,

I have been reading this week the ‘Revelations’ of Mother Julian of Norwich (14th century); not always so profitable as I had expected, but well worth reading… Christ tells her again and again ‘All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.; She asks how it can be well, since some are damned. He replied that all that is true, but the secret grand deed will make even that ‘very well.’ ‘With you this is impossible, but not with Me.’
C.S. Lewis, “On reading The Revelations of Divine Love“, AD 1940

And, presumably via either Lewis’s published works or private conversations, Elliot adopts it too:

Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half-heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea.
Quick now, here, now always —
A condition of complete simplicity
(Costing not less than everything)
And all shall be well and-
All manner of things shall be well

When the tongues of flames are in-folded
Into the crowned knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one.
T.S. Elliot, Little Gidding, AD 1942

So what to make of bizarre referencing, those that make no sense have no known meaning and are untranslatable, like the very first words:

Alif, Lam, Meen
Qur’an 2:1

The same occur in larger passages. Is the below reference to Exodus merely corrupted? Is it a play on a lost homily on Jerusalem? A reference to either a lost book, such as The Book of the Wars of the Lord or oral tradition, perhaps maintained by desert dwellers to the south and east of the Kingdom? We do not know.

We shaded you with clouds and sent down to you manna and quails: ‘Eat of the good things We have provided for you,’ And they did not wrong Us, but they And when We said, ‘Enter this town, and eat thereof freely whencesoever you wish, and enter while prostrating at the gate and say, ‘Relieve,’ so that We may forgive your iniquities and soon We will enhance the virtuous. But the wrongdoers changed the saying other than what they were told. So We sent down on those who were wrongdoers a plague from the sky because of the transgressions they used to commit.
Qur’an 2:57-58

Christian

Yet the clearest and longest voice in the Koran is clear – it is clearly Christian. The Christian writer of the Qur’an is particularly fond of Moses, Mary, the Holy Spirit, and Jesus:

Certainly We gave Moses the Book and followed him with the apostles, and We gave Jesus, the son of Mary, clear proofs and confirmed him with the Holy Spirit. Is it not that whenever an apostle brought you that which was not to your liking, you would act arrogantly; so you would impugn a group, and slave a group?
Qur’an 2:57-58

The faithful await the return of the Lord in a cloud. This will be the future sign that ends all speculation, after God’s repeatedly signs given to all sons of Israel:

Do they await anything but that God should come to them in the shades of the clouds, with the angels, and the matter be decided? To God all matters are returned. Ask the Children of Israel how many manifest a sign We had given them. Whoever changes God’s blessing after it has come to him, indeed God is severe in retribution.
Qur’an 2:210-211

This is a clear reference to the Gospel of Matthew:

“Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
Matthew 24:29-31

Referencing Biblical texts can slide into expanding on them. This may be for high-minded reasons, or just for curiosity. John Chrysostom’s homily on Cain and Abel is something I feel deeply, but it reads into the order of God’s interrogation of Cain meaningfully pauses and an intentionality that is not explicitly there. On the other end, the The Protoevangelium of James has no particularly deep meaning, but elaborates the story of Christ’s early family to provide models for the faithful to imitate. The Qur’an has these too. One example is the elaboration of the Book of Numbers about the Cow. Another example is the Qur’an’s explication of God’s promise to Moses. In the original text, Abraham’s response to God is not recorded:

Then the Angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time out of heaven, and said: “By Myself I have sworn, says the Lord, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son— blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies. In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.” So Abraham returned to his young men, and they rose and went together to Beersheba; and Abraham dwelt at Beersheba.
Genesis 22:15-19

While the conversation continues in The Heifer:

When his Lord tested Abraham with certain words, and he fulfilled them, He said, “I am making you the Imam of mankind,’ said he, ‘And from among by descendants?” He said, “My pledge does not extend to the unjust.”
Qur’an 2:57-58

The idea of Abraham’s fatherhood being potentially lost exists within Christianity. As the father-in-faith to Christians, those who lose faith logically lose lose him as a father. van’t Veer and other Reformed Christians go a step further, arguing that even the Jews (except for Mary and Jesus) had lost their inheritance by the time of the Incarnation.

With Other Voices

There seem to be at least two other voices in the Koran, though perhaps they are intended to be the same author .

Anti-Catholic

The Christian voice in The Heifer clearly has a bone to pick with the Catholic Church.

A number of teachings are directly criticized, such as the Intercession of the Saints:

O Children of Israel, remember My blessing which I have bestowed upon you, and that I gave you an advantage over all the nations. Beware of the Day when no soul shall compensate for another, neither will any random be accepted from it, nor will any intercession benefit it, nor will they be helped.
Qur’an 2:48

and Purgatory:

And they say, ‘The Fire shall not touch us except for a number of days.’ Say, ‘Have you taken a promise from God? If so, God will never break His promise. Or do you ascribe to God what you do not know?’ ‘Certainly whoever commits misdeeds and is besieged by his iniquity — such shall be inmates of the Fire, and they will remain in it.’
Qur’an 2:80-81

and the procession of the Trinity:

“Who is it that may intercede with Him except with His permission? He knows what is before them and what is behind them, and they do not comprehend anything of His knowledge except what He wishes. His seat embraces the heavens and the earth and He is not wearied by their preservation, and He is the All-exalted, the All-supreme
Qur’an 2:255

What could be the context of this voice, this anti-Catholic Christian? One possibility is that the author is an Arian, a believer that Christ and the Holy Spirit are created God-persons that God has made in order to provide intermediaries between Him and the human race He loves so much. Arianism was widespread in much of the Roman Empire — indeed, most bishops at one point seem to have been Arian (including Achbishop of Constantinople Eusebius of Nicomedia, who baptized the first Emperor Constantine). Further, the Qur’an’s focus on man’s ignorance echoes an Arian assertion, that the precise Christology of the Nicaean Fathers was simply inappropriate given’s man’s limited knowledge of the unseen realm:

And nobody is unaware that this is catholic doctrine, that
there are two Persons of the Father and the Son, and that
the Father is greater, and
the Son is subjected in common with all the things which the Father subjected to him; that
the Father has no beginning, is invisible, immortal, and impassible; but that
the Son is born from the Father,
God from God,
Light from Light,
whose generation as Son, as has been said already, no one knows except the Father;
Second Cirmian Creed, AD 357

Or perhaps the author was a proto-Calvinist! Amusingly, the author sharks one tic with a contemporary anti-Catholic writer, William Dumbrell. Dumbrell creates his own list of Patriarchs, using a formula found nowhere in the Bible:

Thus the book of Genesis ends with Israel preserved and populous. Curiously, blessing, or the promise of it, comes to each of the three patriarchs (Abraham Jacob, Joseph) outside of the promised land, but with reference to the land.
William Dumbrell, The End of the Beginning, p. 133

The same category of innovation — changing the formula to describe the Patriarchs — occurs here, but instead of subtracting Jacob, Ishmael is added!

Were you witnessed when death approached Jacob, when he asked his children, ‘What will you worship after m?’ They said, ‘We will worship your God, and the God of your fathers, Abraham, Ishmael, and Isaac, the One God and to Him do we submit
Qur’an 2:133

The Post-Christian

While one voice appears to specifically challenge the Catholic church’s teachings on Christianity, another seems to abandon identification as Christian altogether. For instance, like Mormonism, this voice views the canon as still open:

For any verse that We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, We bring another better than it, or similar to it. Do you not know that God has power over all things? Do you not know that to God belongs the kingdom of the heavens and the earth? And besides God you do not have any friend or helper.
Would you question your Apostle as Moses was questioned formerly? Whoever changes faith for unfaith certainly straits from the right way.
Qur’an 2:106-108

This voice also refers to Christians in the third person, along with Jews and a group called the “Sabeans” (some speculate that “Sabeans” are followers of St. John the Baptist who thought following Christ wasn’t such a good idea):

Indeed, the faithful, the Jews, the Christians, and the Sabeans — those who have faith in God and the Last Day and act righteously — they shall have their reward near their Lord, and they will have no fear, nor will they grieve.
Qur’an 2:62

A New Law

The other voice provides what appear to be reasonable practical guidance, and is something between wisdom literature that provides solid advice:

O you who have faith! When you contract a loan for a specified term, write it down. Let a writer write with honesty between you, and let not the writer refuse to write as God has taught him. So let him write, and let the one who incurs the debt dictate, and let him be wary of God, his Lord, and not diminish anything from it. But if the debtor be feeble-minded, or weak, or incapable of dictating himself, then let his guardian dictate with honesty, and take as witnesses two witnesses from your men, and if there are not two men, then a man and two women — from those whom you approve as witnesses — so that if one of the two defaults the other will remind her. The witnesses must not refuse when they are called, and do no consider it wearisome to write it down, whether it be a big or small sum, until its term. That is more just with God and more upright in respect to testimony, and the likeliest way to avoid doubt, unless it is an on-the spot deal you transact between yourselves, in which case there is no sin upon you not to write it down. Take witnesses when you make a deal, and let no harm be done to the writer or witnesses, and if you did that, it would be sinful of you. Be wary of God and God will teach you, and God has knowledge of all things.
Qur’an 2:282

… and a law code basic on Moses:

O you who have faith! Retribution is prescribed for you regarding the slain: freeman for freeman, slave for slave, and female for female .But if one is granted any extenuation by his brother, let the follow up be honorable, and let the payments to him be with kindness. That is a remission from your Lord and a mercy; and should anyone transgress after that, there shall be a painful punishment for him.
Qur’an 2:178

Conclusion

I have spoken of the voices of the Koran. But as with the Bible and the mysterious “redactors,” at time the voices intertwine in the same paragraph. David’s last words to Solomon, for instance, combine the ruddy faith of the Shepherd-King with the high-minded theology of the Deuteronomist:

Now the days of David drew near that he should die, and he charged Solomon his son, saying: “I go the way of all the earth; be strong, therefore, and prove yourself a man. And keep the charge of the Lord your God: to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, His commandments, His judgments, and His testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn; that the Lord may fulfill His word which He spoke concerning me, saying, ‘If your sons take heed to their way, to walk before Me in truth with all their heart and with all their soul,’ He said, ‘you shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.’

“Moreover you know also what Joab the son of Zeruiah did to me, and what he did to the two commanders of the armies of Israel, to Abner the son of Ner and Amasa the son of Jether, whom he killed. And he shed the blood of war in peacetime, and put the blood of war on his belt that was around his waist, and on his sandals that were on his feet. Therefore do according to your wisdom, and do not let his gray hair go down to the grave in peace.
1 Kings 2:1-6

In the same way, who can untangle the first paragraph of The Heifer. What is the “book” mentioned? Who is the “we”?

This is the book, there is no doubt in it, a guidance to the God-wary, who believe in the Unseen, maintain the prayer,and spend out of what We have provided for them; and who believe in what has been sent down to you and what was sent down before you, and are certain of the Hereafter. Those who follow their Lord’s guidance and it is they who are felicitous.
Qur’an 2:2-5

I read the second chapter of the Qur’an, The Heifer, in Gabriel Said Reynolds’ translation.