God, Prophets and Revelations Over Time
Jews, Christians, and Muslims share a
belief that God, their Creator, has "spoken" to humankind over
time. The word for this pine communication is
"revelation." It comes from the word "reveal," which means
"to make visible or apparent."
All the monotheistic faiths believe that God revealed Himself to
certain individuals, called prophets, over the course of
Jews, Christians, and Muslims believe that God communicated
five main messages:
The nature and qualities of the
The purpose and nature of the
universe created by God
The need to worship One God
The purpose of human life; the
need to live a righteous life; judgment after death; and
reward or punishment in the afterlife
Morals and laws which people are
told to follow
of these Abrahamic faiths also believe that angels are God's messengers
to human beings and that the angel of revelation is named Gabriel.
According to the Abrahamic
faiths, prophets are human beings chosen by God as bearers of
revelation to other human beings. The monotheistic faiths believe major
prophets received revelations that have been memorized, recited, and
written down in holy books or scriptures over the centuries, while
other prophets were inspired to teach people.
While Abraham is a key figure
in all monotheistic faiths, he is not the first individual of faith:
Adam and Eve are the first human beings mentioned in the scriptures as
receiving revelation from God. Other prophets mentioned in the
scriptures include: Elijah, Isaiah, Noah, Jonah, Abraham, Jacob, Moses,
David, and Solomon.
The Abrahamic religions
differ, however, over two of these individuals: Jesus and Muhammad, who
lived about 600 years apart. Among the three Abrahamic faiths, only
Muslims believe that Muhammad was a prophet and that he was born in
Makkah in about the year 570 C.E. They believe that he received the
final revelation from God: the holy book called the Qur’an.
Historically, Christians and Jews did not accept Muhammad as
a prophet. Similarly, Jews do not accept Christian or Muslim
beliefs about Jesus. (See The Messiah section below.)
in the Abrahamic faiths have preserved scriptures and traditions of the
prophets, and the story of their unfolding in human history. They
continue to write, recite, and study the words of revelation that were
first communicated orally, then later recorded in books.
The three main scriptures include the Torah, Bible, and Qu'ran.
The scripture of Judaism is the Torah, which is the
first part of the Tanakh. The Torah contains the
revelation that was given to Moses. The Tanakh includes
the Torah and the books of the Prophets, the Psalms,
Proverbs, and other writings. It includes 24 books in
all and contains history, law, poetry, and song. It is
written on a scroll and recited in Hebrew as a part of
The scripture of Christianity is the Bible,
including the Old Testament and the New Testament. The
Old Testament is the Hebrew Bible of Judaism, which
includes the first five books, called the Pentateuch by
Christians. The New Testament includes the books that
describe the life and teachings of Jesus and the history
of the early Church. The Bible is comprised of writings
compiled by many authors over time, as the titles of
sections within it indicate. Christians
that God inspired these authors. There are 66 books in
most versions of the Christian Bible.
The scripture of Islam is the Qur’an. It consists of
114 chapters called surahs, and over 6,000 verses
called ayat. Muslims believe that God revealed
the Qu'ran to the Prophet Muhammad through Angel Gabriel
over a period of 23 years. The Qur’an describes and
affirms the basic spiritual and moral messages of the
Torah and the Bible. The Qur’an text states that it is a
continuation of God’s message to humankind from earlier
Another concept common to the
Abrahamic faiths is the Messiah. The word means one who is
chosen by God for a specific holy task. Literally, it means
one "upon whom oil is rubbed or poured to signify their
appointment to a high honor and mission."
Adherents of the Abrahamic faiths have varying views of the
Jews believe that a Messiah is
still awaited, and coming at some future time. Jews do
not believe that Jesus was the Messiah. Some Jews
believe that Jesus was a spiritual leader.
believe that Jesus was the Messiah. They also believe that Jesus was
the son of God, who came to redeem human beings from sin or wrongdoing.
Christians believe he compensated for all human sins with his suffering
and death. This salvation -- or being saved and given eternal life --
is the central teaching of the New Testament.
Muslims also believe
that Jesus was the Messiah, but they do not believe that he was the son
of God. Muslims believe that God did not allow him to die at the hands
of human beings.
Both Christians and Muslims
believe that Jesus was raised up to God, but Christians
believe that Jesus was raised from the dead, or
resurrected. Muslims believe that Jesus was one of the
greatest prophets. Muslims also share the belief with
Christians in the Second Coming of Jesus Christ near the
end of time.