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ISLAMIC SPAIN

ANDALUSI SOCIETY

THREE FAITHS, ONE LAND

ARTS & SCIENCE

TIMELINES

FILM & OUTREACH

FOR TEACHERS

God, Prophets and Revelations Over Time

Revelations
Prophets
The Scriptures
The Messiah

Revelations

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 human history.

Jews, Christians, and Muslims believe that God communicated five main messages:

  1. The nature and qualities of the One God

  2. The purpose and nature of the universe created by God

  3. The need to worship One God

  4. The purpose of human life; the need to live a righteous life; judgment after death; and reward or punishment in the afterlife

  5. Morals and laws which people are told to follow

Adherents of these Abrahamic faiths also believe that angels are God's messengers to human beings and that the angel of revelation is named Gabriel.

Prophets

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.)

The Scriptures

Believers 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 Torah
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 Jewish worship.

The Bible
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 believe that God inspired these authors. There are 66 books in most versions of the Christian Bible.

The Qu'ran
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 revelations.

The Messiah

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 Messiah.

  • 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.

  • Christians 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.

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DISCLAIMER: This purpose of this website is to provide supplemental information to the Cities of Light film and is not intended as a scholarly or academic resource. For scholars' sources, see the Recommended Readings section on this site. Articles reprinted from other sources reflect the views and opinions of the authors, and may not necessarily mirror those of UPF.