Six Reasons Why "The Law" and "The Gospel" Are Not the Old and New Testaments
The most common argument against Islam I’ve heard from Christian missionaries and apologists is that the Koran validates the Bible, and the Bible (in many of the epistles by St. Paul the Innovator) deifies the blessed Jesus and speaks of his alleged death and resurrection as our only salvation. To support this claim, they cite verses of the Koran which say that it confirms the Law and the Gospel, and add to this claim the claim that the Law is the Old Testament and the Gospel is the New Testament. In this paper I am going to outline, in detail, why that interpretation of these words is incorrect.
1. Put simply, “There is no evidence of any parts of the Bible having been translated into Arabic before Islam” (1) Even so, the Koran repeatedly says or implies that the Gospel was known to the local Jews and Christians in Arabia at the time of the Koran’s writing (c.f. 3:65, 5:47, 5:63-68, 7:157).
2. There are events recorded in the Koran which involve biblical characters but are not found in the Bible, such as the account in 3:49 of the blessed Jesus making a bird out of clay and bringing it to life. This is paralleled in the Infancy of Thomas but not in the New Testament. Don’t you think it would be a little odd that “the Gospel” is confirmed in the Koran and the Koran contains this story, if “the Gospel” is the New Testament?
3. Nowhere in the New Testament is the phrase “the Gospel” used to refer to scripture. The only verse you could even make a case for in that respect is Mark 1:1, where the phrase stills seems to go by its literal meaning of “good news”.
4. In the book of Romans, the distinction between “Law” and “Gospel” is about the following of the Old Covenant and the preaching of the supposed salvation through the blessed Jesus's supposed death. Both terms refer to religious abstractions, not tangible scriptures. For example, Romans 2:15 says, “They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts.” And since this is the only place in the Bible where “the Law” and “the Gospel” are made distinct from each other, therefore there is no biblical evidence for these terms being used together to refer collectively to the older and newer scriptures.
5. Christians today do not refer to the New Testament as “the Gospel”, and as far as I know, they never have in all of history.
6. While the phrase “the Gospel” has a single, definite meaning, the phrase “the Law” is a little more ambiguous, when you take into account the information in #4 and the fact that in both Hebrew and Arabic the terms for “Torah” are the same terms used for the word “law”.
It would be too easy for a Christian to be able to refute the Koran simply by citing their own scripture, wouldn’t it? But as I have shown, such is not the case. The Koran does not claim to confirm the Bible at all, but only certain parts of it, and “the Gospel” isn't necessarily one of the canonical Gospels (see http://understanding-islam.com/). It might be nice if life would always give us definite answers and have everything drawn in black and white, but such is not the case, here or elsewhere. The Koran does not confirm the Bible as a whole.
(1) Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, edited by James Hastings, with the assistance of John A. Selbie, M.A., D.D. and Louis H. Gray, M.A., Ph.D., Volume X (Picts-Sacraments), page 540. New York, Charles Scribner’s Sons.