Sunday, April 08, 2007
Two years ago I posted about the mysteries of Christ, and another Easter has come and I am not much clearer on some of the questions I had back then.
It's interesting to note that Muslims believe that Jesus was a prophet, was born of a virgin mother, that he healed the blind and lepers, and raised the dead -- although the Koran states several times that Jesus was not the son of God, but simply a man. There is some controversy among Muslims as to whether Jesus actually died on the cross -- only a minority Islamic view believes in the resurrection.
The view of Jesus helps to highlight the interesting relationship between Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. Islam, unlike Judaism, accepts Christ as a prophet. However, Islam, as with Judaism, and against Christianity, does not accept Christ as the son of God. In some ways, just as Christianity appeared as a corrective of a sort to Judaism, Islam appears to see itself as a corrective to Christianity -- accepting Jesus as a prophet, but attempting to revert the focus from worship of the figure of Jesus to God himself, through the message of Mohammed, who the Koran clearly states is simply a man, and not to be worshipped.
Neil Gaiman suggests in his brilliant American Gods, and many others believe, that the timing of the Christian Easter holiday was coordinated to supplant and build upon pagan holidays celebrating spring, or the vernal equinox. This would make sense, just as the timing of Christmas was apparently coordinated to supplant pagan winter solstice festivals, or the Saturnalia.