Having been a Muslim for most of my life, I now have been a Christian for nearly two decades, following a lengthy exploration of the gospel’s credibility. What struck me during that exploration—and still strikes me—is Christianity’s Easternness and Middle Easternness. On every page of both the Old and New Testaments, I hear the Levantine accents of those speaking.
As a Middle Easterner, every time I read Bible stories, a smile crawls across my face because its aphorisms sound so much like those my relatives use. I can almost smell the spices of dishes I came to love as a child. My heart warms at the examples of hospitality. After all, Jesus and his disciples were not sharing apple pies, french fries, or hot dogs as they ministered to those around them. The Bible’s Eastern tang is so pungent that one wonders how Christianity has come to be viewed as a Western, white religion.
Reading the Bible through my Western lenses, I see also how Jesus appeals to Western minds. If the East is based on communal conformity, the West is based on individualism and countercultural nonconformity. Jesus was countercultural, despite his Easternness. While he naturally expressed the communal culture of the Middle East, Jesus often extolled the virtues of the individualism that Westerners have come to value so much. In a patriarchal and often misogynistic society, Jesus shocked those around him by lifting women to their rightful status as equals. He bucked the ethnocentrism of his day as well.
Somehow all of that had escaped my attention. When I was a Muslim, I thought that the Bible whitewashed Jesus, while the Qur’an depicted his Middle Eastern quality. When I read the Bible to really explore it, however, I discovered ...1
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