I’m just a few pages in, although I’m reading around in it at the same time. Thought for the moment: the cultural context makes all the difference – – the fish doesn’t realize it lives in water. We don’t realize how much of the Old and New Testaments we live “in.” Not just religion, something similar could be said for Shakespeare. But we learn or pick up bits and pieces of the Bible throughout our lives – – so, for example, we know we don’t have to make sense of those begats, but we all encounter the Ten Commandments somewhere along the line.
Picking up the Koran as a text it all has the same “tone” for me. I know that’s not how it functions in the lives of people who have known it from the cradle. And I also know it will never be an intimate element/cultural touchstone of my life in the way the Bible is. I’m not a church-goer, more of a cultural Christian who grew up knowing hymns, Bible stories, some prayers and Psalms and later a whole realm of art historical reference.
Just gave to my students in History of Christianity class and on my blog an excerpt from the Koran where Gabriel comes first to Zachariah and then to Mary to tell them of the conceptions of John and Jesus and how Jesus as a child makes birds of clay and breathes on them which come to life and where it also says those who live the Torah, the Gospels, the Koran shall have nothing to fear. There was a splendid exhibition at the British Library quite recently called ‘Sacred’ on the sacred books of the Peoples of the Book. Utter beauty.