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THE BIBLE AND THE KORAN.
The God of
The tendency of the Semitic mind to turn to matters of conduct and morals in the advance of religion, rather than to an intellectual explanation of the world, may be appreciated in the Koran, another sacred book of the Semitic race. The God of the Bible is seen to be also the God of the Koran, the book which loudly proclaims the unity and indivisibility of the Deity. Allah and Yahveh only differ in name. It is always the God the Bible the of the Wanderer, found by tribes in the desert, conceived of under a star-lit, oriental Heaven, by a people who developed a strong family tie, the basis of the social organization. We, as Indo-Europeans, with our race tendency for physics and metaphysics, may not always do justice to the progress of the Semites in matters of morals. To the Arabs no less than to the Jews, God was the Maker of all things, since he was their Maker, the guide of their best conduct, as to which all else in nature was of inferior value. When we consider the advantages which Mohammedanism gave to the Arabs, and the greater satisfaction which it brought to their daily lives, we may say that not falsely does the Koran speak of its delivery: "Verily we sent down the Koran
Difference between the ArSemitic Theol
in the night of Al Kadr. And what shall make thee understand how excellent the night of Al Kadr is? The night of Al Kadr is better than a thousand months. It is peace until the rising of the morn." Yet, breaking the perfect quiet, sounds from time to time the hollow muttering of the lion in the distance, as the voice of Sin threatening the soul.
In the Koran we meet with the same scrupuof the Koran lous definitions of right conduct as in the Bible. with the Bible. It is filled with the same ruling idea; it is, above all, a revolt against idolatry, and Nature-worship. Like the Jews, the Arabs were Sabaeans or star worshipers, and to them the revelation of Mohammed came with the force which the messages of Amos, Micah and Isaiah had aforetime carried to the Israelites. To a nation of Idolaters came again the saying: "God is one God, the eterual God; He begetteth not, neither is He begotten: and there is not any one like unto Him." The Bibles of the Indo-European races deal with Nature and the intellectual and physical struggles of Man to understand and overcome Nature. We look up from Nature to Nature's God. The Semite looks up from his passions and feelings, from his loves and his hatreds, from his friends and his enemies, to the God of Righteousness. From the family and the tribe went up prayer for strength to deal rightly and to act with purity. The value of altruism, to balance the selfishness of man, became gradually revealed. The sacred books of the Semitic races, armed with a supernaturalism which gave them penetrance, show us the development of natural ethics during superstitious ages. The final monotheism of the Israelites is more especially a development on the side of morality.
Yahveh is the High and lofty One, whose name is Holy. A broken and contrite heart He will not despise. By giving Yahveh the character of supremacy, the first steps towards a pure monotheism were slowly made. This is the strength of the Semitic Religions. They have sprung from the hearts of men rather than from their brains. With all their short-comings they are the Religions of Humanity. They tend to the perfection of human conduct. Their immortal part may be found in such a text as this: "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the widows and fatherless in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world."
We can thus, from a study of the principal points of the Semitic Scriptures, find where their main value lay which endeared them to mankind; nor has time deprived them of this importance. In our examination it is needful to discriminate between what is subordinate and a matter of detail, dependent on the locality and the epoch, and what is really superior, and a stroke of genius for the good of mankind forever. Supernaturalism deprives us of this tact, and prevents us from appreciating the true value of both the Koran and the Bible.
Classification of the State
If we, then, divesting ourselves of the idea that the Bible is of a solid piece and the work of a supernatural author, directly or indirectly, attempt a classification ments of the of its statements we find that they fall into two divisions, they are either intellectual or moral. As to the first they are either historical or scientific. The Bible contains a narrative of events in the life of a tribe or nation, and the question for the historian to consider is, did these events actually happen as here recounted.
The criticism and sifting of these historical portions is a work requiring great tact, knowledge and reasonableness. The progress of the Hebrew conceptions of morality must be taken into account by the critic of the ethical portions of Scripture. We see at once that for the theologian to destroy the natural perspective and bring the whole of these undigested matters into the foreground with our modern ideas of things shining full upon them, is to utterly mistake the true posit and value of the Bible statements. As we are here should think of considering more especially the scientific statements of
the Bible as to the origin of things, let us briefly consider what course is pursued by the theologian and what we should really think about Bible science. The theologian who "reconciles" the statements of the Bible with modern scientific discoveries, is in the same position which he would occupy, were he to try and make the conduct of the ancient Jews fit in with what to-day we consider is right for us to do. The scientist is sure to see the falsity of the proposition that men in the old Semitic epochs were able geologists, or biologists, or at all comprehended the real sequence of Nature as we see it to-day. And this part of the Bible and its attempted defence is, indeed, the weakest part of the whole matter. The scientific parts of the Scriptures are so open to attack, that they are used for an assault upon the whole question of Religion, not only among the Semites, but ourselves, not only in the times of Moses, but in our own. But we have seen that the natural sciences were not the forte of the Semites, Jews or Arabs. Their God was a moral God with the natural world the creature of his pleasure. They themselves elevated a moral man above the universe