|Thoughts On Abrogation? Think About It!|
|Written by mquran.org|
|Monday, 20 November 2006|
There are some very strange claims on abrogation of a few verses in the Qur'ân made by some people.
The criticism is as follows:
When one studies the Hebrew and Greek scriptures, it becomes clear that omnipotent and omniscient God did make mistakes and repented. This means that the God did not know his own actions and the outcomes of the actions. Now for some fine examples. Let us first start with Old Testament. In the story of Noah(P), it is mention that:
And in the story of Moses(P), we read
Oh no! that is Old Testament, cries the Christian. The New Testament has replaced all that. Yes, in the New Testament, the monotheistic and henotheistic God of Israel, Yahweh, suddenly starts to be interpreted as Trinity. So, the concept of monotheistic and henotheistic God itself got abrogated in the New Testament as the Christians allege! So we have to assume that the monotheistic and henotheistic God of Israel did not know that he was Trinity and made a serious mistake or he simply changed his mind or in the worst case scenario, he cheated the People of Israel.
The problem just does not end here. Let us also see what are the problems of the Christian cry; The New Testament has replaced all that. The following essay is intended to show evidence of the concept of abrogation in the Bible both between the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) and Greek Scriptures (New Testament) as well as internally in the Greek Scriptures themselves.
To begin - what is meant by the term "abrogation"? The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines the word Abrogate as:
In the context of the will and law of God (Holy is He above all that is attributed to Him) as expressed in Scripture, it refers to the nullification of an older Law or concept in favour of a newer and more appropriate one.
We might ask whether an omniscient God, if He is the one who sent Torah and Injeel, might employ such a concept as abrogation? Surely an all-knowing God would be able to impart His will in entirety without recourse to change? Doesn't the idea of abrogating, or nullifying, a previous law in light of a better one suggest that the Author is not all-knowing?
What these questions don't take into account, is that whilst God is all-knowing, unchanging (e.g., Malachi 3:6, with lots of problems with the concept of Trinity), His audience, humanity, is not. The very concept that Christianity holds so dear, of the difference between the old covenantal relationship of law, as opposed to the new covenantal relationship of grace relies on the understanding that human beings as individuals and in human societies are in fact subjected to change in condition.
According to Matthew, Jesus(P) said:
And surprising, Jesus(P), the omniscient Yahweh incarnate (allegedly!) suddenly had to change the Laws of Divorce, Justice and Oaths apart from changing his own mind!
Abrogation Of Divorce
The best examples of Jesus(P) abrogating parts of Old Testament law concern a number of statements recorded in the gospel according to Matthew. The most prominent of them would be the Law concerning Divorce.
In the Old Testament we find the following law concerning divorce:
Now without going into the minute of this particular law of divorce, one thing becomes immediately clear. Not only is divorce permitted by God, it is legal for her to remarry.
However in the time of Jesus(P), the rules of divorce seem to have taken a U-turn.
Here Jesus(P) abrogated the former permission to divorce according to the husband's displeasure and strictly allowed it under one condition - adultery. He even went so far as to legislate that divorcees were not permitted to remarry, clearly abrogating the former permission. But what is the reason given for this abrogation? Had God changed His mind? Is this evidence of God not being omniscient? Or more importantly, is this evidence that in fact God was never the author of these laws? Well Jesus(P) himself explains:
Jesus(P) points to the fact that God designs laws that are suitable to the needs and exigencies of the time and audience.
Law Of Absolute Justice
In the Hebrew Scriptures it is written:
Quite a harsh law of absolute justice that was necessary due to the conditions of Moses'(P) age. But Jesus(P) was inspired by God to reveal a softer code for the believers to practice in individual relationships. By abrogating the harshness of absolute justice, Jesus(P) was inspired to encourage the believers to employ forgiveness and mercy. It is recorded he said:
It is a different story that many Christians do not practice what Jesus(P) has told them to do.
Law Of Oaths
That is, it is permissible to make an oath for various reasons, however, the swearer must fulfil the oath he makes. In Jesus' time it became necessary for him to abrogate this permission so that the swearing of oaths became forbidden. In Matthew it is recorded:
Jesus(P) Abrogating His Own Commandments
A nice example of Jesus(P) asking his disciples to preach the lost sheep of Israel is:
This prohibition is reinforced by Jesus'(P) own practice:
Even though because of his mercy Jesus(P) healed the sick daughter, he made it clear that his mission was to the Jews, not to the Gentiles. Later on this was abrogated and Jesus(P) commanded his disciples to reach out to all peoples. It is recorded he said:
It is clear that the concept of abrogation: the nullifying of an older commandment or practice in favour of a newer law, is nothing new and it has been practiced by God for aeons. What we know is that the laws governing the mankind (i.e., Shariah) changes according to the needs of the society. But the concept of monotheism (i.e., Tawheed) remains the same. The Creator knows very well that his creation, the humans, need time and discipline to grow and mature, He reveals commandments and practices that help them develop both as individuals and as members of society. All Praise be to the God, Lord of the Worlds.
And Allah knows best!
Maryam Buston & M S M Saifullah
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