Earlier I mentioned a conference on historical criticism and the Qur’an taking place at Notre Dame this week. In today’s New York Times Nicholas Kristof describes some of the topics the conference will cover:
At Notre Dame, scholars analyzed ancient texts of the Koran that show signs of writing that was erased and rewritten. Other scholars challenged traditional interpretations of the Koran such as the notion that some other person (perhaps Judas or Peter) was transformed to look like Jesus and crucified in his place, while Jesus himself escaped to heaven.
One scholar at the Notre Dame conference, who uses the pseudonym Christoph Luxenberg for safety, has raised eyebrows and hackles by suggesting that the houri promised to martyrs when they reach Heaven doesnt actually mean virgin after all. He argues that instead it means grapes, and since conceptions of paradise involved bounteous fruit, that might make sense. But suicide bombers presumably would be in for a disappointment if they reached the pearly gates and were presented 72 grapes.
I know I would be. But as my colleague Amanda pointed out, they would probably be good grapes.
We launched the First Things 2023 Year-End Campaign to keep articles like the one you just read free of charge to everyone.
Measured in dollars and cents, this doesn't make sense. But consider who is able to read First Things: pastors and priests, college students and professors, young professionals and families. Last year, we had more than three million unique readers on firstthings.com.
Informing and inspiring these people is why First Things doesn't only think in terms of dollars and cents. And it's why we urgently need your year-end support.
Will you give today?