This seminar will compare and contrast the methods and results of the extensive historical work that has been done on ‘the historical Jesus’ with the somewhat less thorough scholarly exploration of 'the historical Muhammad’. Concerning Jesus it will aim to demonstrate two things: first, that what we can know about Jesus using historical criteria is much more than we can ever know about Muhammad. And second, it will demonstrate that the Jesus set forth in the Qur’an and the Muslim sources is utterly unhistorical. The seminar will help delegates to engage with the latest in New Testament Jesus-scholarship and demonstrate how it can be applied to outreach to Muslims.

The Historical Jesus vs. The Qur’anic Jesus

Concerning Muhammad, because of the importance of Muhammad today as a paradigm for all Muslims everywhere, it is important that we look at his life and teachings, and ascertain whether or not he was a true prophet, whether he can be acknowledged as a paradigm for today, and whether there are any references to him in the previous scriptures, as so many Muslims (and the Qur’an) claim. We will also look at some of the newest historical critical work being researched on Muhammad in Europe today.

1. Introduction

  1. What do we mean by ‘the historical Jesus’?
  2. Earlier quests for the historical Jesus — giving history a bad name?
  3. The Third Quest for the historical Jesus and its hallmarks

2. What can the Third Quest for the historical Jesus reveal?

  1. How Jesus understood his messianic vocation
  2. An insight into ‘the Kingdom of God’in the preaching of Jesus
  3. The eschatological agenda behind Jesus’ miracles and exorcisms
  4. Why it was that Jesus was crucified
  5. A Jewish-shaped answer to the question ‘what did Jesus think he was doing?’

3. A contrast with the Jesus of the Qur’an

  1. No first century context
  2. A Jesus of polemic, not history
  3. No understanding of Jesus’ mission, miracles or messiahship
  4. Result: confusion in the early hadith and exegetes
  5. No serious Jesus-scholar would use the Qur’an or Islamic sources

4. The ‘Jesus of history’ and the ‘Muhammad of hagiography’

  1. No comparable 7th century equivalents to Josephus, the Dead Sea Scrolls, etc.
  2. The late dating problem
  3. Muhammad needs the Qur’anic Jesus to prop him up

5. Conclusion

The Historical Muhammad

1. Introduction

  • Why is Muhammad so Important?

2. Islamic traditions (Sira, Hadith, Tarikh, Tafsir)

  1. Late dates
  2. Credibility
  3. Contradictions
  4. Proliferation
  5. Isnad’
  6. Storytelling

3. Historical difficulties

  1. Jews
  2. Mecca
  3. Qibla
  4. Dome of the Rock
  5. Nevo’s Inscriptions

4. Christian position on Muhammad

  1. Qualities of a true Prophet
  2. Questions Concerning Muhammad’s Prophethood
  3. Prophecies Concerning Muhammad

5. Conclusions

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