David Bertaina, PhD, doctor of Semitic language and literature, paid a visit to Concordia Village recently for a discussion comparing the Bible with the Koran — specifically the two holy books’ different perspectives on the life of Christ.
“It’s not easy to make comparisons between the two books,” says Bertaina, an assistant professor in the History Department at the University of Illinois – Springfield. “The New Testament consists of 27 books written over the course of half a century by as many as 10 authors. The Qur’an is a single book written by a single author over 22 years. So it’s difficult to compare them due to their makeup and historical context.”
But Bertaina did walk Concordia Village residents through some of the key differences. “I think a lot of folks at the talk were not aware that the Qur’an contains stories about Jesus,” he says. In fact, the Islamic holy text touches on the story of Jesus’ birth, tales of His miracles, and various conversations He had with different individuals, but often relates them in unfamiliar ways. “For example, there’s a story where Jesus speaks from the cradle while he’s an infant – a story found nowhere in the Bible,” Bertaina says.
Discussion following Bertaina’s lecture was lively, as residents were eager to learn about the Qur’an, its historical context, and the depth of the similarities between the two books. “I think they enjoyed our time together, and I had a good discussion with people afterward,” he says. “I hope I can come back and meet with them again sometime soon.”