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The Story of Joseph in the Bible and the Koran

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The Story of Joseph in the Bible and the Koran

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  • November 2008
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Joseph: From the Hebrew Bible and the Koran
The Bible and the Koran are both glorious books of the world’s most flourishing religious cultures, Christianity and Islam respectively. At first glance, when you read the story of Joseph from the Hebrew bible and the Koran, they fundamentally seem to talk about similar ideals and storylines. They, however, have some deep seated differences, that may be a little philosophical in nature or might depend on the particular paragraph that we’re comparing. The story of Joseph in the Bible begins with explanations of Joseph’s youth and innocence and how his brothers were jealous of him because he was the “blessed son”. It involves a lot of specifics, like it mentions that Joseph was seventeen years old, he was a shepherd, and it involves paragraphs where we see him interacting with his brothers and letting them know about his gift of interpreting dreams. The Koran version of the story of Joseph on the other hand, begins somewhere in the middle, when Joseph is seen conversing with his father about the power of his interpretation of dreams. It does not mention any more details. Another contrast I noticed in both the texts is the way in which they’re written. The Hebrew bible seems more like a story, a narrative with a meaning at the end, or with little moral lessons on the way. The Koran focuses more on glorifying “God”. As we see at the beginning of the story of Joseph, it starts with the phrase, “in the name of god, the compassionate, and the merciful”. This emphasizes the fact that all beginnings must be made with the holy name of god in mind. And we see this throughout the text; the reference to god in the Koran is much more frequent, much more powerful and much more stressed on. We can see that clearly in the following lines, “better is the reward of the life to come for those who believe in God and keep from evil”, “But God is the best of guardians:...

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