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BIK01 - Biblical Investigations of the Koran
A Ministry Course on Biblical Content in the Koran
STAGE 1 - INTRODUCTION
UNIT 02 - INNER LIMITS: Comparing the Bible and the Koran as BOOKS

043 - DIFFERENCE 4: The Order of the Content of Bible and Koran


Another major difference between the Bible and the Koran concerns the internal order of the content in these two books.

In the Bible we have a more or less historical and thematic order reflected in the arrangement of its 66 books: it starts in the Old Testament with news about earliest events (the beginning of the world at the time of creation in the book of Genesis) and ends with latest events (the end of the world after Judgment Day in the book of Revelation). All other books are arranged according to God's history of salvation between these two boundary events:

the origin and constitution of the people of God in the Torah up till around 1400 BC (in the books Genesis to Deuteronomy);
then the history of the people of God until their exile in 722 BC for the northern kingdom of Israel and after 597 BC for the southern kingdom of Judah (in the books Joshua to Esther);
then the thematic books (Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon compiled up till around 900 BC);
then the books of the prophets of the people of God who prophesied up till around 400 BC (Isaiah to Malachi);
then in the New Testament the Gospels that relate events of the life of Jesus Christ from 5 or 4 BC to 33 AD (Matthew to John);
then the earliest history of the church up till 60 AD (the Acts of the Apostles);
then the letters of the Apostles of Christ up till around 67 AD (Romans to Jude);
and finally the visions of John the Apostle about the end of the world, concluded before 100 AD (the book of Revelation). (NOTE: Some scholars date the last book of the NT to before 70 AD)

The content of the Koran does not follow this biblical order of history and subject. Also, the Suras of the Koran cannot be arranged according to the dates of their first proclamation by Muhammad, because Muslims do now know when each Sura came into being. Rather the 114 Suras of the Koran are arranged more or less according to the length of each Sura (with the exception of the seven verses of Sura 1, al-Fatiha, part of the standard prayer liturgy of Muslims, which begins each of the 17 daily prayer cycles of Salat prayer).

Thus, the longest Sura of the Koran is Sura 2, al-Baqara (with 287 verses);
and one of the shortest Suras of the Koran is the concluding Sura 114, al-Nas (with 6 verses).
All other Suras are arranged in between these two extremes in a more or less order of diminishing length for each Sura.

If you would arrange the Bible according to this formal rule used in the Koran, then the first chapter of the Bible would be Psalm 119 (with 176 verses) and the final chapter of the Bible would be Psalm 117 (with just 2 verses) and all other chapters of the Bible would be arranged more or less according to their length between these two extremes. The result would be a complete disruption of the historical and thematic order of the content of the Bible as we have it, a sort of “fruit salad” of its message. But this is the situation in the Koran. This is why many people find it difficult to read the Koran from beginning to end, for its verses jump from one subject and event to another over sometimes vast periods of time that are not explicitly dated resulting in a challenging situation for a reader, who is used to reading the Bible with its chronological order.

For Christians the Koran therefore resembles much more a prayer manual or a hymnbook, where you do not expect the prayers or hymn verses to follow a historical order or a strict thematic order. By the way, this is why the Koran is called “Koran”, which literally means “that which must be recited”, being closer to a prayer book than to a historical or systematic book like the Bible.

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