Before Nicea


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Before Nicea

  1. 1. Before Nicea_____________________________________________________________________ BEFORE NICEA The Early Followers of Prophet Jesus__________________________________________________________________ 1 SalafiManhaj 2005
  2. 2. Before Nicea_____________________________________________________________________ © Copyright SalafiManhaj 2005 URL: E-mail: admin@salafimanhaj.comImportant Note:The following document is an on-line book publishing This book was formatted and designed specificallyfor being placed on the Web and for its easy and convenient distribution. Atthe time of this e-book publishing, we are not aware of any other booksimilar to it, in terms of its translation from its original Arabic source. Sincethis book was prepared for free on-line distribution we grant permission forit to be printed, disbursed, photocopied, reproduced and/or distributed byelectronic means for the purpose of spreading its content and not for thepurpose of gaining a profit, unless a specific request is sent to the publishersand permission is granted.__________________________________________________________________ 2 SalafiManhaj 2005
  3. 3. Before Nicea_____________________________________________________________________ Contents4. Introduction12. The Crucifixion19. Early Christianity28. Is Jesus God?31. The Trinity37. The Bible59. Later Christianity and its Parallels in the wider world76. Where Does This Leave Us?__________________________________________________________________ 3 SalafiManhaj 2005
  4. 4. Before Nicea_____________________________________________________________________ 1 IntroductionWhilst seeking the truth, the honest investigator wantsfacts and this short work is intended for the sincere fewwho seek to know the original belief of the people thatfollowed the teachings of Jesus, peace be upon him.Before Nicea should not be viewed as Muslim propagandaor bias, rather as an honest look at the evidence thatqualified scholars have provided. This work also wants tomove away from relying on the bible and blindly quotingfrom it in order to prove the true teachings of Jesus. Eventhough there is obviously some truth in the gospels, it isnot the pure Injeel that is mentioned in the Quraan as beinggiven to Jesus.In assessing the comparisons between early Christianityand Islam, the facts have been made accessible to thereader and presented in a manner that does not wish toantagonize. It is for the readers to make up their own1 This book, Before Nicea, originally completed in 1998 by Paul Addae and T im Bowes (Abdul-Haqand Abdur-Rahmaan), has been revised for the Da’wah section at www.salafimanhaj.com__________________________________________________________________ 4 SalafiManhaj 2005
  5. 5. Before Nicea_____________________________________________________________________minds and come to a conclusion about the evidencepresented.Conducted over the last three hundred years, such researchis not a new phenomena. John Toland for example hadwritten his book The Nazarenes in 1718 wherein he hadalready noticed the similar beliefs and practices of the earlyfollowers of Jesus and Muslims. Furthermore, John Biddlewrote The True Opinion Concerning the Holy Trinity (TwelveArguments) in 1653, Joseph Priestly wrote eight booksincluding A General History of the Church, published in 1802and A History of the Corruption of Christianity, published in1871. A.C. MacGiffert wrote A History of Christianity in theApostolic Age published in 1897, The Apostles Creed publishedin 1902 and The God of the Early Christians in 1924.The discovery of the Codex Sinaiticus, the earliest almostcomplete manuscript (fourth century), brought with itmore evidence for scholars to utilize. Using both theseolder sources and the recent research based upon thediscoveries of early Christian manuscripts the reader will besupplied with that which is accepted as sound.__________________________________________________________________ 5 SalafiManhaj 2005
  6. 6. Before Nicea_____________________________________________________________________During conversations whilst compiling this work, it wasnoted that many evangelical Christians would argue thatthe Christian scholars quoted in this work for example are‘not really Christian.’ One of the ‘Hyde Park Speakers CornerChristian Fellowship’2 even went so far as to say that there isnot a single theologian who could be called a Christian,because he felt that theology is an enemy of Christianity. Itis certainly true that most theologians do not understandthe Bible to be ‘divine revelation,’ rather a combination ofinspiration, commentary and interpretation. In many cases,these theologians will say that it was Jesus himself who wasthe ‘divine revelation’ and will feel perfectly free to rejectthe idea that the Bible is unadulterated.Therefore, it is understandable that Christians who believein the Bible as an uncorrupted whole, become hostile tosuch scholars. Nevertheless, Christian evangelicaldisapproval of theologians is quite contradictory andunreasonable.2 This is a well known and peculiar group that comprises a broad range of fundamentalist Christianevangelists of the London area who are active in propagating evangelical Christianity at London’sHyde Park Speaker’s Corner__________________________________________________________________ 6 SalafiManhaj 2005
  7. 7. Before Nicea_____________________________________________________________________Contradictory, because it was on the grounds of theologythat ‘Christian’ doctrine grew and unreasonable, as mostChristians would be grateful that theology ‘explained’ forthem many aspects of their belief.Most of the scholars whom we have quoted are, to the bestof our knowledge, practicing Christians. For exampleJames Dunn’s book Christology in the Making is illustrative ofthis fact. While he says at one point that “there is no realevidence in the earliest Jesus tradition of what couldfairly be called a consciousness of divinity,” (page 60),he makes no attempt to apologize for his conviction inTrinitarian Christianity. It is simply the fact that he is aChristian. Likewise, the New Testament scholar, the lateMichael Ramsey, was an Archbishop in the Anglicanchurch. We are fully aware that some of the writers whomwe have quoted from are Christians so people shouldaccept their dedicated research.__________________________________________________________________ 7 SalafiManhaj 2005
  8. 8. Before Nicea_____________________________________________________________________We note also Heikki Räisänen, a Christian interested inChristian-Muslim dialogue, who writes “Today it is clearto New testament scholarship that there is hardlyanything in the New Testament even remotely like thedoctrine of the Trinity. This realization may in itselfbe a fresh starting point for a dialogue.”3We are not going to judge whether they are really Christianor not, nor should an unqualified and emotional evangelicalChristian make such judgements. We have put this booklettogether simply as a basis of research for the sincereinvestigator.Most of the writing of these historians, researchers andscholars is well referenced and we have been careful, whenquoting from more controversial sources, to ensure thatthey have given references as evidence of authenticity.For example, we discovered in The Holy Blood and the HolyGrail, by Lincoln, Baigent and Leigh (1982), a reference toa text in the Nag Hammadi Scrolls. While it is obvious that3 Heikki Räisänen, The Portrait of Jesus in the Quran, 1980, p.127__________________________________________________________________ 8 SalafiManhaj 2005
  9. 9. Before Nicea_____________________________________________________________________their book is overflowing with unacceptable conjecture, itwas possible to make further investigations to discover thatthe text in question within the Nag Hammadi Scrolls doesindeed exist.There are a number of sources which we have used whosebooks contain subjective and objective opinions. In suchcases we have largely ignored their conjecture and theoriesand have only quoted from that which may be calledestablished fact. For example, we have made reference toThe Five Gospels (1993) by the ‘Jesus Seminar.’ While the mainbody of their work is concerned with demythologizing thegospels and using a consensus of ‘opinion’ to determinethe authenticity of the sayings of Jesus, which may beunacceptable, we have quoted from their book that whichis attested to by historical evidence.More importantly, Allaah mentions in the Qur’aanThey follow only conjecture and what their souls desire – even thoughthere has already come down to them guidance from their Lord{an-Najm (53): 23}__________________________________________________________________ 9 SalafiManhaj 2005
  10. 10. Before Nicea_____________________________________________________________________In some cases, the sources that we have used may beunsympathetic towards Islam, but what is most striking isto discover that parallels do exist between the earlyChristianity of these studies and Islam. Often this appearsto be unapparent to the writers, but on occasions, some arequite ready to admit this parallel. For example, Hans Künget al write that the, “traditional and historical parallelsbetween Judaic-Christianity and Islam areinescapable.”4Hans-Joachim Schoeps5 comes to a similar conclusion asdoes Professor Eisenman. Indeed, as we stated earlier, theknowledge of the similarities between early Christianity andIslam has been studied thoroughly.Writers such as Francis David (1510-1579), MichaelServetus (1511-1553), Adam Neuser (circa 1570) and JohnToland (in 1718) were describing such parallels severalhundred years ago!64 Christianity and the World Religions – Paths of Dialogue with Islam, Hinduism & Buddhism, 1986,p. 1245 Theology and History in Jewish Christianity, 1949, p. 3426 See Adrian Reland, Treatises Concerning the Mahametons, (18th century), pp. 215-22; also W.CGarnett, Francis David – Founder of Unitarianism (1914); R.H. Bainton, The Hunted Heretic (1953);D.B. Parke, The Epic of Unitarainism (1957), pp. 5-6__________________________________________________________________ 10 SalafiManhaj 2005
  11. 11. Before Nicea_____________________________________________________________________Obviously we are writing as Muslims, but we have tried ourbest not to present the wrong information. Having gonethrough the process of ‘coming to Islam’ ourselves, weunderstand the difficulties in knowing exactly who is tellingthe truth. When speaking with Christians prior tobeginning this compilation of quotations, we wereinterested that few were aware of the historical materialabout the early followers of Jesus, as studies by manyscholars, historians and theologians, and the origins anddevelopment of Christianity.We have therefore sifted through the speculation of manybooks and articles about early Christianity, to present thereader with factual evidence, as it stands in light of Islam.Thus we invite the reader to sincerely reflect and by the willof Allaah, they will come to understand and Inshaa’Allaahknow the truth.__________________________________________________________________ 11 SalafiManhaj 2005
  12. 12. Before Nicea_____________________________________________________________________ The Crucifixion7They said (in boast), “We have killed the Messiah,Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allaah” – Butthey did not kill him, nor did they crucify him; but(another) was made to resemble him to them. Andindeed, those who differ over it are in doubt about it.They have no knowledge of it and follow onlyconjecture. And they did not kill him, being certain (ofhis identity){an-Nisaa (4): 157}The Quraanic statement that Jesus was neither slain norcrucified and that another was killed whom they assumedwas Jesus, stands very much in favour of the divine originof the Quraan. Many argue that had Muhammad been aforger, the crucifixion would be the last detail he wouldchange. However, further study reveals that Christiansduring the pre-Islamic era followed just as diverse doctrinesas they do today. Amongst these beliefs were that Jesus was7 A chapter from the unpublished Dawah book Before Nicea by Tim Bowes (Abdur-Rahmaan) andPaul Addae (Abdul-Haq) written by the two during their studies at the School of Oriental and AfricanStudies, University of London__________________________________________________________________ 12 SalafiManhaj 2005
  13. 13. Before Nicea_____________________________________________________________________not crucified and many early Christian sects denied that thecrucifixion even occurred. This begs the question as to whythey denied the crucifixion of Jesus?H.M. Gwatkin in Early Church History states "Thestumbling block of the age of early Christianity wasnot so much Jesus divinity, but his crucifixion."8Some of the first groups that followed the way of Jesus andalso several other historical sources other than the Quraanconfirm that Jesus did not die on the cross. John Toland inhis work The Nazarenes mentions that Plotinus who lived inthe 4th century stated that he had read a book called TheJourneys of the Apostles which related traditions of Peter,John, Andrew, Thomas and Paul. Among other things, thebook stated that Jesus was not crucified, but rather anotherin his place, and therefore Jesus and the apostles hadlaughed at those who believed Jesus had died on the cross.9Also similar to the belief of Basileides and hisfollowers/students who were known as the Basildians.108 Volume 1, p.119 John Toland, The Nazarenes (1718), p.18 - It can be found at the British Library10 J. Stevenson (ed.), A New Eusebius - Documents Illustrative of the History of the Church to AD 337(London: SPCK, 1957), p.82__________________________________________________________________ 13 SalafiManhaj 2005
  14. 14. Before Nicea_____________________________________________________________________H. Lincoln, Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh in theircontroversial and critically acclaimed The Holy Blood and theHoly Grail11 mention an historical text, The Nag HammadiScrolls12 and state that these manuscripts contain amanuscript entitled The Treaties of Seth. Here it ismentioned that Jesus was not crucified even though acrucifixion did take place, Simon of Cyrene was the victimand not Jesus.J. Stevenson, a Cambridge University lecturer of divinity,notes that Irenaeus describes the teachings of Basileides.While Basileides and his followers believed that Jesus wasthe god of the Jews and other strange things about thecreation of the universe, with regards to the crucifixion ofJesus they said "He appeared, then, on earth as a man, tothe nations of these powers, and wrought miracles.Wherefore he did not himself suffer death, but acertain Simon of Cyrene, being compelled, bore thecross in his stead. Simon was transfigured by him, so11 (1982), p.409__________________________________________________________________ 14 SalafiManhaj 2005
  15. 15. Before Nicea_____________________________________________________________________that he might be thought to be Jesus, and wascrucified, through ignorance and error."13Cerinthus14, a contemporary of Peter, Paul and John, alsodenied that Christ died on the cross and that Christ did notsuffer because he was a spiritual being.15 The ‘Carpocratians’also believed that Jesus did not die on the cross butanother person that resembled him.Also the early community of Christians called the ‘Docetae,’held that Jesus never had a real physical body, only anapparent or illusory body. Therefore, the crucifixion wasapparent, not real.16In the Gospel of Mark (15: 21), the Greek word translated as‘to carry,’ where Simon of Cyrene ‘carried’ the cross, shouldactually be translated as ‘to bare.’ There are some who argue12 Discovered in December 1945 in the town of Nag Hammadi in the cliffs that skirt the Nile throughUpper Egypt by an Egyptian farmer named Muhammad Ali. The scrolls were studied by the Frenchscholar and antiquities dealer Jean Doresse who was working in Cairo for an antiquities dealer13 A New Eusebius, pp 81-8214 His followers were known as the Cerinthians’15 A New Eusebius, p.9616 Leonard George, The Encyclopedia of Heresies and Heretics (1995) and A New Eusebius, pp. 47-48,96, 101-102 and 152__________________________________________________________________ 15 SalafiManhaj 2005
  16. 16. Before Nicea_____________________________________________________________________that this indicates that Simon of Cyrene bore the cross andwas crucified not Jesus in fact.This of course puts it in agreement with the beliefs of theother early groups that followed the way of Jesus. Simon ofCyrene is not mentioned anywhere else in Biblical traditionand a study of Greek is therefore necessary.All of these notions of the crucifixion differ from the‘orthodox’ Christian understanding, illustrating that therewere indeed varied beliefs amongst the early followers ofJesus. These would later be deemed as ‘heretics,’ by‘orthodox’ Christians with beliefs much further away fromthe teachings, belief and practice of Jesus, peace be upon him.Another interesting piece of evidence from the Gospel ofMark, chapter 15, is the passage that informs of PontiousPilate, finding no fault with Jesus, saw fit to release him.“Following a Passover custom unknown outside thegospels, Pilate offered to free a Jewish prisoner andsuggested Jesus, but the crowd…demanded thatPilate release Barabbas and crucify Jesus.”1717 Bruce Metzger and Michael D. Coogan (eds.), The Oxford Companion to the Bible (OxfordUniversity Press: 1993), p.7418 ibid__________________________________________________________________ 16 SalafiManhaj 2005
  17. 17. Before Nicea_____________________________________________________________________In the earliest Greek manuscripts, Barabbas was referred toas ‘Jesus Barabbas.’ This is particularly interesting asGregory Shaw writes: “Outside the Gospels nothing isknown of Barabbas. His name is Aramaic and means“son of the father” (*Abba), ironically denoting thestatus given exclusively to Jesus.”18From this then, it is unclear as to who was actuallycrucified, since both characters had exactly the same name!In fact, the one who was released could more strongly beidentified with the one whom Christians insist wascrucified. As if this was not enough, it would otherwiseindicate that “son of the father” was not an exclusive title, assome Christians claim with reference to the word ‘Abba.’There has been the argument that because the crucifixion ismentioned by the historians Josephus and Tacitus thistherefore proves that Jesus was crucified. However, itshould be noted that Josephus and Tacitus merely statethat a pious worshiper of God called Jesus lived, taughtand was later crucified. Their accounts are not eye-witness__________________________________________________________________ 17 SalafiManhaj 2005
  18. 18. Before Nicea_____________________________________________________________________accounts but most probably hearsay accounts due to themassive uproar in the area at the time from the impact ofJesus with the Jews and Romans. It is in fact the case thatJosephus was only born circa 38 CE indicating that he wasan historian and not an eye witness. Geza Vermes ofOxford University has shown that the works of Josephushave been altered by the later Christians who inserted theirown version of events into the writings of Josephus.__________________________________________________________________ 18 SalafiManhaj 2005
  19. 19. Before Nicea_____________________________________________________________________ Early ChristianityOh you who have believe! Be the helpers of Allaah assaid Jesus Son of Mary to the disciples, "who are myhelpers (in the cause) of Allaah?" The disciples said"we are Allaahs helpers." Then a group of thechildren of Israel believed and a group disbelieved. Sowe gave power to those who believed against theirenemies, and they became the victorious.{as-Saff (61): 14}At his ascension, Jesus, peace be upon him, left behind amultitude of followers relying on what he had taught themfor the worship of God.19 According to the Quraan, henever said anything about God or himself which he had noright to say. He was a man and a Prophet who told hisfollowers to worship One God, as Muslims. However, tothe Christians, all of this is of no consequence for they donot consider the Quraan to be the word of God.19 The Unitarian concept of God and the prophetic human nature of Jesus, was held by many earlycommunities basing their way of life on the teachings of Jesus, such as the Ebionites, the Nazarenes,the Cerinthians, the Basilidians, the Carpocratians, the Hypsistarians, the Symmachians and theElkesaites.__________________________________________________________________ 19 SalafiManhaj 2005
  20. 20. Before Nicea_____________________________________________________________________Therefore, the objective of this section is to present theinformation of researchers on this subject.Around 90 CE, the Shepard of Hermas was considered to bea book of revelation by the church, according to EJGoodspeed and is one of two books found in the CodexSinaiticus, which have not been included in the modernBible.20 In it are twelve commandments and the first is:"believe that God is One and that He created allthings and organized them, and out of what did notexist made all things to be, and He contains all thingsbut Alone is Himself uncontained. Trust Himtherefore and fear Him, and, fearing Him, be self-controlled. Keep this command and you will cast awayfrom yourself all wickedness, put on every virtue ofuprightness, and you will live to God if you keep thiscommandment."Here God is One and He is uncontained, comparatively,the Anglican affirmation of faith (the Nicene Creed) howevergoes: “I believe in One God, the father almighty,Maker of the heaven and earth, and of all things20 The Apostolic Fathers (1950)__________________________________________________________________ 20 SalafiManhaj 2005
  21. 21. Before Nicea_____________________________________________________________________visible and invisible; and in one Lord Jesus Christ, theonly-begotten Son of God, begotten of his fatherbefore all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, veryGod of very God, begotten, not made, being of onesubstance with the Father, by whom all things weremade...And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord, theGiver of Life, who proceedeth from the Father and theSon, who with the Father and the Son together isworshipped and glorified, who spoke by Prophets...”21According to Theodore Zahn in Articles of the ApostolicCreed22 until around 250 CE the article of faith was simply,“I believe in God, the Almighty,” which today is only oneelement of the Anglican creed. J.R. Harris quotedAristedes, an early Christian apologist as saying that “theChristian worship in the beginning was more purelymonotheistic than that even of the Jews.”23During the early history of the Christian church thereexisted a prospering group called the ‘Ebionites.’ On theorigin of the term Robert Wilken says that this Hebrew21 Alternative Service Book, (1980)22 (1899), pp. 33-3723 J.R. Harris, Celsus and Aristedes (1921)__________________________________________________________________ 21 SalafiManhaj 2005
  22. 22. Before Nicea_____________________________________________________________________word means ‘poor persons’ and continues to explain thatthere is no evidence to support the claim of some Christianwriters that it is derived from a person called ‘Ebion,’ hehighlights: “The origin, history and distinct characterof the Ebionites has been subject to intense debate inrecent years. It is possible that the Ebionites go backto the earliest period of Christian history, where mostChristians were Jews and some continued to observethe Jewish law. If so, they would be the earliestexample of a Christian movement within Judaism thatwas eventually left behind as Christianity adapted tothe influx of gentile converts. These Christianseventually became a distinct group that, along withother groups (e.g. the Gnostics) was rejected asheretical by the emerging ‘great’ church. They aresometimes identified with the Minim (heretics)mentioned in the Talmud. The Ebionites were Jewswho accepted Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah(Christ) while continuing to maintain their identity asJews. They cultivated relations with Jews as well asChristians though they were welcomed by neither.They followed the Jewish law, insisting oncircumcision, keeping the Sabbath and celebrating the__________________________________________________________________ 22 SalafiManhaj 2005
  23. 23. Before Nicea_____________________________________________________________________Jewish festivals (Yom Kippur, Passover etc.) andobserving the dietary laws (e.g. abstention from pork)and other Jewish customs. They repudiated theapostle Paul because of his denigration of the Jewishlaw. They saw Jesus as a prophet, an exceptional manin the line of Jewish prophets (as described inDeuteronomy 18: 15) and denied the virgin birth. Theyjustified their way of life by appealing to the exampleof Jesus’ life. He was circumcised, observed theSabbath and celebrated the Jewish festivals, andtaught that all the precepts of the law should beobserved. They celebrated Easter on the same daythat the Jews celebrated the Passover, and they heldthe city of Jerusalem in high esteem.”24Furthermore, there were other Jewish Christian sectsaccording to Wilken, including the Nazarenes25,theSymmachians and the Elkesaites.Because it is difficult to distinguish one from another, hesuggests that ‘Ebionite’ may have been used to characterizeany form of Jewish Christianity which stressed observanceof the law. The Ebionites had their own gospel and ancient24 The Encyclopedia of Religions, p. 57625 They believed in the virgin birth and that Jesus was a Prophet and the Messiah of the Jewish peoples__________________________________________________________________ 23 SalafiManhaj 2005
  24. 24. Before Nicea_____________________________________________________________________writers, according to Wilken, mention three JewishChristian gospels. Wilken writes: “There was aresurgence of Jewish Christianity in the late fourthcentury, encouraged by Jewish messianism…after thisperiod little is known about the Ebionites.”According to Compton’s Encyclopedia the early JewishChristians were persecuted because they recognized thatJesus was the expected Messiah, while the Jewishauthorities considered him as an imposter and traitor:“The early Christians were all Jews. They remained inJerusalem and partook in the religious observances inthe Temple. They differed from their fellow Jews onlyin that they believed that the Messiah had come. Hadthey kept quiet about their conviction, they might wellhave remained a sect within Judaism. However, theyinsisted on preaching to all who would listen that theJesus whom the Jewish authorities had persecuted wasthe one Israel had long awaited. This preachingaroused great hostility on the part of religious leadersand the early Christians were persecuted…these__________________________________________________________________ 24 SalafiManhaj 2005
  25. 25. Before Nicea_____________________________________________________________________Christians had no thought of venturing beyond theconfines of Israel with their message.”26The Unitarian concept of God and the prophetic humannature of Jesus, was held by many early communitiesbasing their way of life on the teachings of Jesus, such asthe Ebionites, the Nazarenes, the Cerinthians, the Basilidians,the Carpocratians, the Hypsistarians, the Symmachians and theElkesaites.Trinitarian Christians point out that these groups have‘always been seen as heretical by the early Church,’ by thisthey mean the prevailing Church without attempting toestablish whether that Church followed authenticteachings. To repeat Wilken, the Ebionites for example were“eventually left behind as Christianity adapted to theinflux of gentile converts. These Christians eventuallybecame a distinct group that, along with other groups(e.g. the Gnostics) was rejected as heretical by theemerging ‘great’ church.”2726 Compton’s Encyclopedia, ‘Christianity,’ (CD – ROM Home Library, 1997)27 The Encyclopedia of Religions, p. 576__________________________________________________________________ 25 SalafiManhaj 2005
  26. 26. Before Nicea_____________________________________________________________________This shows that the so called ‘heretical’ church was rejectedby an ‘emerging’ Christianity. In other words, the earlierfollowers of Jesus’ teachings were to be condemned bylater followers of an adopted faith.In Theology and History of Jewish Christianity, Hans-JoachimSchoeps taking up the research of Harnack and Schlatterand completing it with studies by C. Clemen, T. Andraeand H.H. Schaeder comes to the following broadlysubstantiated conclusion: “Though it may not bepossible to establish exact proof of the connection, theindirect dependence of Muhammad on sectarianJewish Christianity is beyond any doubt. This leavesus with a paradox of truly world historical dimensions:the fact while Jewish Christianity in the Church cameto grief (disappeared) it was preserved in Islam and,with regard to some of its driving impulses at least, ithas lasted till our own time.”2828 Hans-Joachim Schoeps, Theology and History of Jewish Christianity (1949), p.342__________________________________________________________________ 26 SalafiManhaj 2005
  27. 27. Before Nicea_____________________________________________________________________Hans Küng et al. note that “the traditional and historicalparallels between early Judaic-Christianity and Islamare inescapable.”29John Toland writing in 1718 concluded: “Since theNazarenes, or Ebionites, are by all the Churchhistorians unanimously acknowledged to have beenthe first Christians, or those who believed him fromamongst the Jews, who were his own people andapostles, with which he lived and died and witnessedhis actions, considering this, I say how was it possiblefor them to be the first of all others (for they weremade to be the first heretics), who should form wrongconceptions of the doctrines and designs of Jesus?And how did the Gentiles, who only believed in Jesusafter his death from the preaching and information ofpeople that never knew Jesus, have truer notions ofdoctrine and Jesus, or whence could they have theirinformation but from the believing Jews.”3029 Hans Küng (ed.), Christianity and the World Religions – Paths of Dialogue with Islam, Hinduismand Buddhism (1986), p.2430 John Toland, The Nazarenes (1718), p.73-76 – The book can be found at the British Library__________________________________________________________________ 27 SalafiManhaj 2005
  28. 28. Before Nicea_____________________________________________________________________ Is Jesus God?Hasting in The Dictionary of the Bible says: “It is doubtfulwhether Jesus used the expression ‘Son of god’ to refer tohimself.”Adrian Thatcher wrote: “There is scarcely a singlecompetent New Testament scholar who is prepared todefend the view that the four instances of the absolute useof “I am” in John, or indeed most of the other uses, can behistorically attributed to Jesus.”31David Brown stated that: “There is good evidence tosuggest that Jesus never saw himself as a suitableobject of worship,” it is “impossible to base any claim forChrist’s divinity on his consciousness once we abandon thetraditional portrait as reflected in a literal understanding ofSt. John’s Gospel.”32 But, he says, “It is incoherent tosuppose that a human mind could be conscious of its owndivinity.”3331 Adrian Thatcher, Truly a Person, Truly God (London: SPCK, 1990) p.7732 David Brown, The Divine Trinity (1985) p. 10833 ibid. p. 106__________________________________________________________________ 28 SalafiManhaj 2005
  29. 29. Before Nicea_____________________________________________________________________The late Archbishop and New Testament scholar, MichaelRamsey, wrote: “Jesus did not claim deity forhimself.”34 He also stated: “The title ‘Son of God’ need notof itself be of high significance, for in Jewish circles itmight mean no more than the Messiah or indeed the wholeIsraelite nation, and in popular Hellenism there were manysons of God, meaning inspired holy men.”35James Barr argues that the expression abba, commonly usedto illustrate Jesus’ ‘divine sonship,’ did not have theintimate sense that is often attributed to it, but simplymeant ‘father.’36James Dunn mentions both arguments, for and against, forthe nature of the use of ‘Abba.’ Dunn also says: “There isno real evidence in the earliest Jesus traditions of whatcould fairly be called a consciousness of divinity.”3734 Michael Ramsey, Jesus and the Living Past (1980) p. 3935 ibid. p. 4336 James Barr, ‘Abba, Father’ in Theology Journal – Vol. 91, no. 741; 198837 James Dunn, Christology in the Making, p.60__________________________________________________________________ 29 SalafiManhaj 2005
  30. 30. Before Nicea_____________________________________________________________________Brian Hebblewaite admits, “It is no longer possible todefend the divinity of Jesus by reference to the claimsof Jesus.”38Sanders writes: “The oft-repeated claim that Jesus “puthimself in the place of God” is overdone. He is often saidto have done so in forgiving sins, but we must note that heonly pronounced forgiveness, which is not the prerogativeof God, but of the priesthood.”3938 Brian Hebblewaite, The Incarnation (1987), p. 7439 Sanders, Jesus and Judaism (1985), p.240__________________________________________________________________ 30 SalafiManhaj 2005
  31. 31. Before Nicea_____________________________________________________________________ The TrinityO People of the scripture, do not commit excess inyour religion (by attributing divine qualities to thecreations of Allaah and worshiping them excessivelyor say about Allaah except the truth. The Messiah,Jesus, the son of Mary, was but a messenger of Allaahand His word which he directed to Mary, and a soul(created by a command) from Him. So believe inAllaah and His messengers. Do not say “Three,”desist – it will be better for you. Indeed, Allaah is OneGod, glory be to Him, exalted is He above having ason. To Him belong all things in the heavens and onthe earth. And sufficient is Allaah as a Disposer ofaffairs{an-Nisaa: 171}For the majority of Christians today, the trinity is a keyconcept, but for the early followers of Jesus it was unheardof. The New Catholic Encyclopedia, officially approved by theCatholic Church, explains that the concept of the Trinity:was introduced into Christianity in the fourth century__________________________________________________________________ 31 SalafiManhaj 2005
  32. 32. Before Nicea_____________________________________________________________________“There is the recognition on the part of exegetes andbiblical theologians, including a constantly growing numberof Roman Catholics, that one should not speak ofTrinitarianism in the New Testament without seriousqualification. There is also the closely parallel recognitionon the part of historians of dogma and systematictheologians that when one does speak of an unqualifiedTrinitarianism, one has moved from the period of Christianorigins to, say, the last quadrant of the 4th century. It wasonly then that what might be called the definitiveTrinitarian dogma ‘One God in three persons’ becamethoroughly assimilated into Christian life andthought…it was the product of three centuries ofdoctrinal development.”40The Oxford Companion to the Bible which has entries fromover two hundred and sixty scholars and academics fromleading biblical institutes and universities in America andEurope states: “Because the Trinity is such animportant part of later Christian doctrine, it is strikingthat the term does not appear in the New Testament.Likewise, the developed concept of three co-equal40 The New Catholic Encyclopedia – Volume 14, p.295__________________________________________________________________ 32 SalafiManhaj 2005
  33. 33. Before Nicea_____________________________________________________________________partners in the Godhead found in later creedalformulations cannot be clearly detected within theconfines of the canon.”41:John McKenzie in The Dictionary of the Bible notes“The Trinity of God is defined by the Church as the beliefthat in God is three persons who subsist in one nature.That belief as so defined was reached only in the 4thand 5th centuries AD and hence is not explicitly andformally a biblical belief.”42David Lyle Jeffrey, writing in the Dictionary of BiblicalTradition in English Literature mention: “According toorthodox Christian doctrine, God is one nature in threepersons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. No one of themprecedes or created the others or stands above them inpower or dignity. In precise theological terms, they are onein substance (or essence), coeternal and co-equal. Thedoctrine so stated does not appear in scripture, theorthodox doctrine of the Trinity was hammered outgradually over a period of three centuries or more.41 Bruce Metzger and Michael D. Coogan (eds.), The Oxford Companion to the Bible (OxfordUniversity Press, 1993) pp. 782-78342 John McKenzie, The Dictionary of the Bible, p899__________________________________________________________________ 33 SalafiManhaj 2005
  34. 34. Before Nicea_____________________________________________________________________Unsurprisingly, perhaps, the coeternity and coequality ofthe divine persons remained a matter of theologicaldispute, and are thus frequently discussed in the context ofheresy. In 381 the bishops convened again atConstantinople and set forth the orthodox doctrine in itsfinal form.”43F.J. Wilken, the Australian Baptist, wrote inChristadelphianism: “In the Old Testament, the Unity ofGod, was clearly affirmed. The Jewish creed, repeatedin every synagogue today was ‘Hear, O Israel, theLord our God is One Lord (Deut. 6:4). This was thefaith of the first Christians, so Paul writes, ‘There is onegod and Father of all, Who is above all and through all andin you all” (Eph. 4:6). But gradually some addition ormodification of this creed was found necessary.”44Regarding textual evidence of the Trinity, The Interpreter’sDictionary of the Bible highlights: “The text about the three43 David Lyle Jeffrey, Dictionary of Biblical Tradition in English Literature, p.78544 F.J. Wilken, Christadelphianism__________________________________________________________________ 34 SalafiManhaj 2005
  35. 35. Before Nicea_____________________________________________________________________heavenly witnesses (1 John 5: 7 KJV) is not anauthentic part of the New Testament.”45“1 John 5: 7 in the King James Version reads: ‘There arethree that bear record in heaven, the father, the Word andthe Holy Ghost, and these three are one’ but this is aninterpolation of which there is no trace before the latefourth century.”46The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary reports: “1 John 5: 7 in theTextus Receptus (represented in the King James Version)makes it appear that John had arrived at the doctrine of theTrinity in explicit form (‘the Father, the Son and the HolyGhost’), but this text is clearly an interpolation sinceno genuine Greek manuscript contains it.”47Edward Gibbon also recognized that this was a fabricationand while this fact is now widely accepted as fact and hasbeen removed from most translations of the Bible, suchacceptance took time. Richard Porson defended Gibbon,later publishing devastatingly conclusive proof that the45 The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible – Volume 4, p.71146 ibid. p. 87147 The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary, p. 1020__________________________________________________________________ 35 SalafiManhaj 2005
  36. 36. Before Nicea_____________________________________________________________________verse was first inserted by the Church into the Bible at theend of the fourth century. Regarding his finding, Porsonconcluded:“His structures are founded in argument, enriched withlearning, and enlivened with wit, and his adversary neitherdeserves nor finds any quarter at his hands. The evidenceof the three heavenly witnesses would now be rejectedin any court of justice; but prejudice is blind, authorityis deaf, and our vulgar bibles will ever be polluted bythis spurious text.”4848 James Bentley, Secrets of Mount Sinai, pp.30-33__________________________________________________________________ 36 SalafiManhaj 2005
  37. 37. Before Nicea_____________________________________________________________________The Bible: Its Alteration, Compilation and TranslationWoe (destruction) to those who write the “scripture”with their own hands, then say “This is from Allaah,”in order to exchange it for a small price. Woe(destruction) to them for what their own hands havewritten and woe (destruction) to them for what theyearn{Baqarah: 79}Kenneth Cragg states about the New Testament, “Thereis condensation and editing, there is choiceproduction and witness. The Gospels have comethrough the mind of the church behind the authors.They represent experience and history.”49Similarly, Dr Von Tishendorf, one of the most resoluteconservative defenders of the Trinity, admitted that theNew Testament had “in many passages undergonesuch serious modification of meaning as to leave us in49 Kenneth Cragg, The Call of the Minaret, p.277__________________________________________________________________ 37 SalafiManhaj 2005
  38. 38. Before Nicea_____________________________________________________________________painful uncertainty as to what the Apostles hadactually written.”50The purpose of this section is to bring together the factsabout the Bible, as presented by many Christian scholars. Itis interesting that the author of the Old Testament book,Jeremiah, recognized the same facts all those many yearsago: “How can you say, “We are wise, we have the law ofthe Lord,” when scribes with their lying pens have falsifiedit? The wise are put to shame; they are dismayed andentrapped. They have spurned the word of the Lord, sowhat sort of wisdom is theirs?”51Alteration and Transmission of the BibleTheologians recognize that the Bible contains manycontradictions and prefer not to explain them away assome do. Simply, they accept this fact, often without arejection of their belief. It is such honesty that accounts forthe large number of Christian scholars looking into theorigins of their religion.50 James Bentley, Secrets of Mount Sinai, p.11751 The Book of Jeremiah 8: 8-9__________________________________________________________________ 38 SalafiManhaj 2005
  39. 39. Before Nicea_____________________________________________________________________After listing many examples of contradictions in the Bible,Dr Frederic Kenyon says: “Besides the largerdiscrepancies, such as these contradictions, there isscarcely a verse in which there is not some variation ofphrase in some copies (of ancient manuscripts fromwhich the Bible has been collected). No one can saythat those additions or omissions or alterations arematters of mere indifference.”52It is in the preface of the Revised Standard Version of theBible, 1978, that thirty-two Christian scholars “of thehighest eminence,” backed by fifty Christiandenominations, wrote of the authorized version, alsoknown as the King James Version, that: “The King JamesVersion has grave defects, so many and so serious asto call for revision.”In 1957, the Jehovah’s Witnesses published the headline“50,000 errors in the Bible” in their AWAKE magazine52 Frederic Kenyon, Our Bible and the Ancient Manuscripts__________________________________________________________________ 39 SalafiManhaj 2005
  40. 40. Before Nicea_____________________________________________________________________writing: “There are probably 50,000 errors in the Bible,errors which have crept into the Bible text.”53 Nevertheless,they go on to say, “as a whole the Bible is still accurate.” ?!In The Story of the Manuscripts, the Reverend George E.Mernil quotes Professor Arnold as stating: “There are notmore than 1500 to 2000 places in which there is anyuncertainty whatever as to the true text.”The Five Gospels written by the ‘Jesus Seminar,’ a group ofseventy four renowned Christian scholars from biblicalstudies institutes and universities all over the world,54was the result of six years of dedicated study.Deciding to produce a translation of the gospels whichwould not be biased by their personal Christian faith, theyendeavored to discover the true words of Jesus in theBible. From the whole text they selected those passagesthat they believed were the valid sayings of Jesus, andcolour-coded them.53 8th September 195754 Jesus Seminar, Robert W. Funk and Roy W. Hoover (translators and eds.), The Five Gospels (1993),pp.533-537__________________________________________________________________ 40 SalafiManhaj 2005
  41. 41. Before Nicea_____________________________________________________________________Although we have reservations about their elimination oflonger passages which ignores the oral cultures’memorization ability, as well as the Jesus Seminar’s tendencyto equate the miraculous with myth, their conclusion wasthat: “82% of the words ascribed to Jesus in thegospels were not actually spoken by him.”55They go on to say: “Biblical scholars and theologiansalike have learned to distinguish the Jesus of historyfrom the Christ of faith. It has been a painful lessonfor both the church and scholarship. The distinctionbetween the two figures is the difference between ahistorical person who lived in a particular time andplace and a figure who has been assigned a mythicalrole, in which he descends from heaven to rescuemankind and, of course, eventually return there.”The quotes above are merely the authors’ opinions, thesecond quote about the mythical role can be understoodfrom the fact that the concept of Jesus in Christianity islargely based on pagan Roman mythical characters and thiswill be addressed in a following chapter.55 ibid. p.5__________________________________________________________________ 41 SalafiManhaj 2005
  42. 42. Before Nicea_____________________________________________________________________From the Jesus Seminar is an archaeological fact that is farmore important than what can be regarded as ‘theiropinion’:“In fact we do not have original copies of any of thegospels. We do not posses autographs of any of thebooks of the entire Bible. The oldest surviving copiesof the gospels date from about 175 years after thedeath of Jesus, and no two copies are precisely alike.And handmade manuscripts have almost always been“corrected” here and there, often by more than onehand. Further, this gap of almost two centuries meansthat the original Greek (or Aramaic) text was copiedmore than once, by hand before reaching the stage inwhich it has come down to us.”56“The oldest copies of any substantial potion of theGreek gospels still in existence – so far as we know –date to about 200 C.E. However, a tiny fragment of theGospel of John can be dated to approximately 125 C.E.or earlier, the same approximate date as the fragmentsof the Egerton Gospel (Egerton is the name of the56 ibid. p.6__________________________________________________________________ 42 SalafiManhaj 2005
  43. 43. Before Nicea_____________________________________________________________________donor). But these fragments are too small to affordmore than tiny apertures onto the history of the text.Most of the important copies of the Greek gospelshave been “unearthed” – mostly in museums,monasteries, and church archives – in the 19th and 20thcenturies.”57They finally sum up this issue by saying: “…the starktruth is that the history of the Greek gospels, fromtheir creation in the first century until the discovery ofthe first copies at the beginning of the third century,remains largely unknown and therefore unmappedterritory.”Peake’s Commentary of the Bible notes: “It is well known thatthe primitive Christian Gospel was initiallytransmitted by word of mouth and that this oraltradition resulted in variant reporting of word anddeed. It is equally true that when the Christian recordwas committed to writing, it continued to be the57 ibid. p.9__________________________________________________________________ 43 SalafiManhaj 2005
  44. 44. Before Nicea_____________________________________________________________________subject of verbal variation, involuntary andintentional, at the hands of scribes and editors.”58Encyclopedia Brittanica highlights: “Yet, as a matter of fact,every book of the New Testament, with the exception ofthe four great Epistles of St. Paul is at present more orless the subject of controversy and interpolations(inserted verses) are asserted even in these.”59After listing many examples of contradictory statements inthe Bible, Dr Frederic Kenyon states: “Besides the largerdiscrepancies, such as these, there is scarcely a versein which there is not some variation of phrase in somecopies (of the ancient manuscripts from which theBible has been collected). No one can say that theseadditions or omissions or alterations are matters ofmere indifference.”60Ehrman mentions: “In any event, none of the originalmanuscripts of the books of the Bible now survive.What do survive are copies made over the course of58 Peake’s Commentary on the Bible, p.63359 Encyclopedia Brittanica, 12th Edition, Vol. 3, p.64360 Kenyon, Eyre and Spottiswoode, Our Bible and the Ancient Manuscripts, p.3__________________________________________________________________ 44 SalafiManhaj 2005
  45. 45. Before Nicea_____________________________________________________________________centuries, or more accurately, copies of the copies ofthe copies, some 5366 of them in the Greek languagealone, that date from the second century down to thesixteenth. Strikingly, with the exception of thesmallest fragments, no two of these copies are exact.No one knows how many different, or variantreadings, occur among the surviving witnesses, butthey must number in the hundreds of thousands.”61Toland observes: “We know already to what degree,imposture and credulity went hand in hand in the primitivetimes of the Christian Church, the last being as ready toreceive as the first was ready to forge books. This evil grewafterwards not only greater when the Monks were the soletranscribers and the sole keepers of all books good or bad,but in the process of time it became almost absolutelyimpossible to distinguish history from fable, or truthfrom error as to the beginning and originalmonuments of Christianity. How immediate successorsof the Apostles could so grossly confound the genuineteaching of their masters with such as were falselyattributed to them? Or since they were in the dark aboutthese matters so early, how came such as followed them by61 Bart Ehrman, The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture, p.27__________________________________________________________________ 45 SalafiManhaj 2005
  46. 46. Before Nicea_____________________________________________________________________a better light? And observing that such Apocryphal bookswere often put upon the same footing with the canonicalbooks by the Fathers. I propose these two questions: Whyshould all the books cited genuine by Clement ofAlexander, Origen, Tertullian and the rest of suchwriters not be accounted equally authentic? And whatstress should be laid on the testimony of those Fathers whonot only contradict one another but are also ofteninconsistent with themselves in their relations of the verysame facts?”62Ehrman states further that: “Nonetheless, there aresome kinds of textual changes for which it is difficultto account apart from the deliberate activity of atranscriber. When a scribe appended an additionaltwelve verses to the end of the Gospel of Mark, thiscan scarcely be attributed to mere oversight.”63Peake’s Commentary on the Bible: “It is now generallyagreed that 9-20 are not an original part of Mark. Theyare not found in the oldest Manuscript, and indeed62 John Toland, The Nazarenes (1718), p.7363 The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture, pp.27-28__________________________________________________________________ 46 SalafiManhaj 2005
  47. 47. Before Nicea_____________________________________________________________________were apparently not in the copies used by Matthewand Luke. A 10th century Armenian Manuscript ascribesthe passage to Aristion, the Presbyter mentioned by Papias(ap.Eus. HE III, xxxix, 15).”Kenyon et al note that: “Indeed an Armenian translation ofSt. Mark has quite recently been discovered, in which thelast twelve verses of St. Mark are ascribed to Aristion, whois otherwise known as one of the earliest of the ChristianFathers; and it is quite possible that this tradition iscorrect.”64M.A. Yusseff observes: “As it happens, VictorTununensis, a sixth century African Bishop related inhis Chronicle (566 AD) that when Messala was consulat Constantinople (506 AD), he “censured andcorrected” the Gentile Gospels written by personsconsidered illiterate by the Emperor Anastasius. Theimplication was that they were altered to conform tosixth century Christianity of previous centuries.”6564 Our Bible and the Ancient Manuscripts, pp.7-865 M.A. Yusseff, The Dead Sea Scrolls, the Gospel of Barnabas and the New Testament, p.81__________________________________________________________________ 47 SalafiManhaj 2005
  48. 48. Before Nicea_____________________________________________________________________Godfrey Higgins: “It is impossible to deny that theBenedictine Monks of St. Maur, as far as Latin and Greeklanguage went, were very learned and talented. In Cleland’sLife of Lanfranc – Archbishop of Canterbury, is the followingpassage: “Lanfranc, a Benedictine Monk, Archbishop ofCanterbury, having found the Scriptures much corruptedby copyists, applied himself to correct them, as also thewritings of the fathers, agreeably to the orthodox faith,Secundum Fidem Orthodxum”.”66Higgins goes on to say: “The same Protestant divine hasthis remarkable passage: “Impartially exacts from me theconfession, that the orthodox have in some placesaltered the Gospels…(the New Testament) in manypassages has undergone such serious modification ofmeaning as to leave us in painful uncertainty as towhat the Apostles had actually written.”67In all, Tischendorf uncovered over 14,800 “corrections” tojust one ancient manuscript of the Bible, the Codex66 Sir Godfrey Higgins, History of the67 James Bentley, Secrets of Mount Sinai, p.117__________________________________________________________________ 48 SalafiManhaj 2005
  49. 49. Before Nicea_____________________________________________________________________Sinaiticus (one of the two most ancient copies of the Bibleavailable to Christianity today), by nine (some say ten)separate “correctors,” which had been applied to this onemanuscript over a period from 400 C.E. to about 1200C.E.Tischendorf strove in his dealings with his holy textsthemselves to be as honest and was humanly possible. Forthis reason he could not understand how the scribes couldhave to reason he could not understand how the scribescould have so continuously and so callously “allowedthemselves to bring in here and there changes, which werenot simple verbal changes, but materially affected themeaning,” or why they “did not shrink from cutting out apassage or inserting one.”In the preface of the New Revised Standard Version of theBible68 we read: “Yet the King James Version hasserious defects. By the middle of the nineteenthcentury, the development of biblical studies and thediscovery of many biblical studies and the discovery ofmany biblical studies and the discovery of many68 Oxford Press__________________________________________________________________ 49 SalafiManhaj 2005
  50. 50. Before Nicea_____________________________________________________________________biblical manuscripts more ancient than those onwhich the King James Version was based, made itapparent that these defects were so many as to call forrevision.”In the introduction to the same ‘version’ they say:“Occasionally it is evident that the text has suffered inthe transmission and that none of the versionsprovides a satisfactory restoration. Here we can onlyfollow the best judgement of competent scholars as tothe most probable reconstruction of the originaltext.”69The great luminary of Western literature, Edward Gibbon,explains the tampering of the Bible with the followingwords: “Of all the manuscripts now extant, abovefourscore in number, some of which are more than 1200years old, the orthodox copies of the Vatican, of theComplutensian editors, of Robert Stephens are becominginvisible; and the two manuscripts of Dublin and Berlin areunworthy to form an exception. In the eleventh and69 Here then we observe that even in the introductions to copies of the Bible, learned Christians areactually admitting that the transmission of the Bible is not trustworthy!!__________________________________________________________________ 50 SalafiManhaj 2005
  51. 51. Before Nicea_____________________________________________________________________twelfth centuries C.E. the Bibles were corrected byLanfranc, Archbishop of Canterbury, and by Nicholas, aCardinal and librarian of the Roman Church, SecundumOrthoxum Fidem. Not withstanding these corrections, thepassage is still wanting in twenty five Latin manuscripts, theoldest and fairest; two qualities seldom united, except inmanuscripts. The three witnesses have been established inour Greek Testaments by the prudence of Erasmus; thehonest bigotry of the Complutensian editors; thetypographical fraud, or error, of Robert Stephens in theplacing of a Crotchet and the deliberate falsehood, orstrange misapprehension of Theodore Beza.”70Thiede’s First Century FragmentsThere are some who claim to hold early Christian texts,notably the German scholar, Carsten Thiede. Thiedeclaimed to have discovered three papyrus fragments ofMatthew’s Gospel from the first century, one hundredyears earlier than previously thought. Thus, these70 Edward Gibbon, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Volume 4, p.418__________________________________________________________________ 51 SalafiManhaj 2005
  52. 52. Before Nicea_____________________________________________________________________fragments could be viewed as ‘eye-witness’ accounts of thelife of Jesus. This opinion was popular with EvangelicalChristians such as Joseph ‘Jay’ Smith, who relies heavily onThiede’s work.Graham Stanton one of Britain’s most eminent NewTestament scholars and a leading specialist on Matthew’sGospel refuted the claims of Thiede. Criticism was alsogathered from ten other prominent scholars in thefield. The following, along with Stanton, also refute theerroneous claim made by Thiede that a fragment of Mark’sGospel has been found amongst the Dead Sea Scrolls:Professor Hartmut Stegemann, a leading Qumran specialistwho teaches at the University of Göttingen; Professor Hans-Udo Rosenbaum of the University of Münster; Dr R.G.Jenkins of Melbourne and Dr Timothy Lim, the Qumranspecialist from Edinburgh.71Thiede’s extremely radical claims were discredited by theJewish scholar Hershel Shanks in the May/June 1997 issue71 Graham Stanton, Gospel Truth (1997) pp.200-202__________________________________________________________________ 52 SalafiManhaj 2005
  53. 53. Before Nicea_____________________________________________________________________of Biblical Archaeological Review and Thiede’s work was alsoreferred to in the same journal as “Junk Scholarship.”72Professor Keith Elliot of the University of Leeds published avery critical review of The Jesus Papyrus, Thiede’s book, inNovum Testamentum, a leading journal which publishesspecialist articles on the New Testament writings andrelated topics. January 1997 saw the publication of T.C.Skeat’s research, The Oldest Manuscript of the Four Gospels, inNew Testament Studies, another important academic journal.Recognised as a leading specialist on Greek manuscriptsfor sixty years, Skeat shows that beyond reasonable doubt,the fragments of Matthew and Luke belonged to theearliest surviving four gospel codex. On page 30 of hisresearch, Skeat says: “If I say that I prefer to keep Robert’slate second century dating, it is because I feel that circa 200C.E. gives an unwarranted air of precision.”Stanton’s own research on the origin and theologicalsignificance of the fourfold gospel was published in NewTestament Studies in July 1997.73 He mentions that the72 Biblical Archaeological Review (January/February 1997)73 New Testament Studies, Vol. 43 (July 1997), pp.317-346__________________________________________________________________ 53 SalafiManhaj 2005
  54. 54. Before Nicea_____________________________________________________________________earliest Christian writer who seems to have known andused four gospels is Justin Martyr who wrote his Apologyand his Dialogue shortly after the middle of the secondcentury. Stanton says: “There is no earlier evidence…inthe period shortly before 150 AD Christians began toinclude the four gospels in one Codex. This practiceencouraged acceptance of the fourfold Gospel, i.e. theconviction that the four gospels – no more, no less – arethe Church’s foundation writings.”74Stanton also stipulates that his conclusion is somewhatmore cautious than the generally accepted view that thefourfold gospels were an innovation when Irenaeus wrotein about 180 C.E.Other important studies that have ruled out Thiede’sclaimsinclude: 1. Dr Klaus Wachel’s work published in Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik75 2. Peter M. Head in ‘The Date of the Magdalen Papyrus of Matthew – A Response to C.P. Theide.’7674 Gospel Truth, p.19775 Vol. 107, (1995) pp.73-8076 In Tyndale Bulletin, Vol. 46 (1995), pp.251-285__________________________________________________________________ 54 SalafiManhaj 2005
  55. 55. Before Nicea_____________________________________________________________________ 3. D.C. Parker in ‘Was Matthew Written Before 50 C.E.? – The Magdalen Papyrus of Matthew.’77 4. In a special issue devoted to the Gospels, the popular German news magazine, Der Spiegal, noted in May 1996 that a famous contemporary papyrologist, Peter Parsons, Regius Professor of Greek at Oxford University, has also presented evidence that flies in the face of Carston Thiede’s hypothesis.Translation of the BibleWe would like to bring the reader’s attention to the scholarWilliam Tyndale and his students who were persecuted andbranded as heretics in the 16th century for translating theBible into the English language for the benefit of themasses of English people who could not read Latin. (!?)Up until this time, it was illegal for the “layman” to evenlook at the Bible, one had to be a fully qualified priest orclergyman!? So it actually took the established Churchwhich claims today to be for all of humanity, 1600 years77 Expository Times, Vol. 107 (1995), pp. 40-43__________________________________________________________________ 55 SalafiManhaj 2005
  56. 56. Before Nicea_____________________________________________________________________before they realised that the Bible( the so called ‘word ofGod’) should be made accessible in other languages!Tyndale is sometimes referred to as the “Father of theEnglish Bible,” he was born in Gloucestershire andeducated at Oxford (B.A. in 1512 and an M.A. in 1515) andat Cambridge where he studies Greek.Tyndale’s translation, which was done in exile in Germany,was the first printed New Testament in English translatedfrom Greek.Cuthbert Tunstall, Bishop of London at the time, boughtcopies of Tyndale’s translation in huge numbers in orderfor them to be burnt in public.Thomas Moore published a dialogue in which hedenounced Tyndale’s translation as being “not worthy tobe called ‘Christ’s testament,’ but rather ‘Tyndale’sown testament’ or the testament of his master – theAntichrist.”__________________________________________________________________ 56 SalafiManhaj 2005
  57. 57. Before Nicea_____________________________________________________________________During his time in Antwerp, many attempts were made tolure him back to England. He was arrested by agents ofEmperor Charles the 5th and taken to Vilvorde, six milesnorth of Brussels, where he was imprisoned in a fortresson 21 May 1535.In August 1536 he was tried, found guilty of heresy (forhaving the nerve to even translate the Bible!!) and turnedover to the secular power for execution. On 6 October1536, William Tyndale was strangled and burned at thestake.78John Wycliff and his students, known as the Lollards, alsosuffered similar persecution for translating the Bible intoEnglish.The evangelical Christians would say that the people whopersecuted the two characters, Tyndale and Wycliff, werenot “real Christians,” yet at the same time the EvangelicalChristians denounce and brand as “heretical” the originalfollowers of Jesus who had similar beliefs to Islaam. Thelack of tolerance in Christianity is demonstrated in the way78 Bruce Metzger and Michael D. Coogan (eds.), The Oxford Companion to the Bible (OxfordUniversity Press: 1993), pp.758-759__________________________________________________________________ 57 SalafiManhaj 2005
  58. 58. Before Nicea_____________________________________________________________________it has always treated “heretics” and this kind ofdemonisation is actually endemic to Christianity ofwhatever brand.The detailed histories of John Wycliff and William Tyndalecan be found in most history books about the Church inEngland.__________________________________________________________________ 58 SalafiManhaj 2005
  59. 59. Before Nicea_____________________________________________________________________ Later Christianity and its Parallels in the Wider WorldWhen it is said to them: “Follow what Allaah has revealed” theysay: “No, rather we will follow that which we found our fathersdoing.” Even though their fathers understood nothing nor were theyguided, they were void of wisdom{al-Baqarah: 170}James H. Baxter, Professor of Ecclesiastical History at St.Andrews University says in Christianity in the Light of ModernKnowledge: “If Paganism had been destroyed, it was lessthrough annihilation than through absorption. Almostall that was pagan was carried over to survive under aChristian name…local pagan statues were labelledwith Jesus’ name, transferring him to the cult andmythology associated with the pagan deity.”Arthur Findlay in Rock of Truth made the point that: “Itwas not until the year 527 C.E. that it was decidedwhen Jesus was born, and various monks equippedwith astrological learning were called in to decide thisimportant point. Ultimately, the Emperor decided that__________________________________________________________________ 59 SalafiManhaj 2005
  60. 60. Before Nicea_____________________________________________________________________the 25th of December, the date of birth for the paganRoman god, Mithra, be accepted as the date of birthfor Jesus. Up to 680 C.E. no thought had been given tothe symbol of Jesus crucified on the cross and prior tothat date veneration was accorded to the Mithraicsymbol of the lamb. From this time onwards it wasordained that in place of the lamb the figure of a manattached to the cross should be substituted.”Sir James G. Frazier in his famous work The Golden Boughnoted: “In respect both of doctrines and of rites, thecult of Mithra appears to have presented many pointsof resemblance to Christianity. Taken all together, thecoincidences of the Christian with the Heathenfestivals are too close and too numerous to beaccidental. They mark the compromise which thechurch in its “hour of triumph” was compelled tomake with its vanquished and yet still dangerousrivals.”In Robertson’s Pagan Christs we read that Mithra wasbelieved to be a great mediator between man and God. Hisbirth took place in a cave on December 25th. He was born__________________________________________________________________ 60 SalafiManhaj 2005
  61. 61. Before Nicea_____________________________________________________________________of a virgin and he travelled far and wide and had twelvedisciples (that represent the twelve zodiacal signs). He diedin the service of humanity, he was buried but rose againfrom his tomb and his resurrection was celebrated withgreat rejoicing. His great festivals were the Winter Solsticeand the Equinox (Christmas and Easter?). He was called thesaviour and sometimes figured as a lamb and peopleinitiated themselves into this cult through baptism andsacramental feasts were held in his remembrance.79Mithraism was a religion of “salvation.”80It is worth noting that in the English language all of thedays of the week are actually named after Pagan deitiesfrom Northern European cults. For example, Monday, isfrom ‘Moon’ as some of the northern European Pagansused to worship the Moon on this day. Thursday is fromthe Nordic god Thor; Friday is from the Nordic god Freyr;Saturday is derived from the Roman god Saturn andpossibly Saturnalia which was another Roman “celebration”which involved debauchery and inebriation. But the mostimportant pagan naming for a week day is with Sunday79 Robertson, Pagan Christs, p.33880 Chambers Compact Reference, Mythology (1991), p.132__________________________________________________________________ 61 SalafiManhaj 2005
  62. 62. Before Nicea_____________________________________________________________________derived from the Roman sun god Solis Invictus, not from“son of god.” This is why later Christians, accommodatingRomans and their culture, hence ‘Roman Catholicsim,’worship on ‘Sunday,’ s-u-n, not s-o-n. The 25th of Decemberwas also the birthday of Sol and was known as Natalis SolisInvicti which was a time of rejoicing, games, public frolicsand inducement in slaves. Remember, these same Romanswould later preside over the Council of Nicea, headed by thePagan Roman Emperor, Constantine, who was himselfconsidered to be an incarnation and embodiment of thesun god!! The Council of Nicea and other “councils” lead tothe “official” and “orthodox” doctrines of which booksshould be placed into the Bible, the trinity and Jesus’ dateof birth being fixed to the 25th of December.Edward Gibbon in The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empiresays: “The Roman Christians ignorant of his (Jesus’)birthday, fixed the solemn festival to the 25th of__________________________________________________________________ 62 SalafiManhaj 2005
  63. 63. Before Nicea_____________________________________________________________________December, the Brunalia or Winter Solstice, whenPagans annually celebrated the birthday of Sol.”81Groliers Encyclopedia notes: “Christmas is the feast of thebirth of Christ, celebrated on December 25. Despitethe beliefs about Christ that the birth storiesexpressed, the church did not observe a festival for thecelebration of the event until the 4th century. Up to thistime Rome had celebrated the feats of the InvincibleSun on December 25, and even from 274 C.E. underthe Emperor Aurelian the feast was still celebrated.”Sons of God?In ancient societies there were many people who werereferred to as son of god, sons of god, son of the gods andso on. James Dunn, a Trinitarian theologian, summarisesthe various positions and their contexts:“Those familiar with the wider circles of Hellenistic culturewould know that:(1) Some of the legendary heroes of Greek (and Roman)myth were called sons of God – in particular, Dionysus andHeracles were sons of Zeus by mortal mothers.81 Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire; Volume 2, p.383__________________________________________________________________ 63 SalafiManhaj 2005
  64. 64. Before Nicea_____________________________________________________________________(2) Oriental rulers, especially Egyptian, were called sons ofgod. In particular, the Ptolemies in Egypt laid the claim tothe title ‘sons of Helios’ from the fourth century BConwards, and at the time of Jesus, ‘son of god’ was alreadywidely used in reference to Augustus.(3) Famous philosophers also, like Pythagora and Plato, weresometimes spoken of as having been begotten by a god(Apollo).(4) and in Stoic philosophy Zeus, the supreme being, wasthough of as father of all men.Even those whose cultural horizons were more limited tothe literature and traditions of Judaism would be aware that‘son of god’ could be used in several ways: (5) angels orheavenly beings(6) Regularly of Israel or Israelites(7) The king, so called only a handful of times in the OldTestament.In intertestimental Judaism these uses of “son of God”were developed.(8) In 1 Enoch, angels are called “sons of heaven” and“sons of the God of heaven”(9) Philo in his unique blend of Stoic and Jewish thoughtcalls God “the Supreme Father of Gods and men” and__________________________________________________________________ 64 SalafiManhaj 2005
  65. 65. Before Nicea_____________________________________________________________________frequently talks of God as Father in relation to thecreation, referring to the cosmos as “God’s son” and theLogos as “God’s first born.”(10) Individual Israelites, specifically the righteous man, theMaccabean martyrs or those who do what is good andpleasing to nature.(11) In particular, attention has recently been drawn to twoJewish charismatics remembered in Rabbinic literature –one Honi, the “circle drawer” (first century C.E.), whoaccording to tradition prayed to God “like a son of thehouse” and had the reputation of enjoying a relationship ofintimate sonship with God which ensured the success ofhis petitions…the other Hanina ben Dosa, from thegeneration following Jesus, who a heavenly voice was saidto have addressed as “my son.”(12) Finally, the Dead Sea Scrolls have thrown up threeinteresting fragments: one speaks of the time “when(God?) will have begotten the Messiah among them.” Inthe second, the hoped for Davidic Messiah is describedspecifically in the language of divine sonship using II Sam7.11-14…and possibly associating it with Ps. 2.7…theother says of one who apparently is to be a mighty king__________________________________________________________________ 65 SalafiManhaj 2005
  66. 66. Before Nicea_____________________________________________________________________(Messiah?) – “He shall be hailed as the son of God, andthey shall call him Son of the most High…82The degree of similarity between the use of “son ofGod” with Jewish writings and its use in the widerHellenistic world is noticeable. In particular, it wasobviously a widespread belief or convention that the kingwas a son of god either as descended from God or asrepresenting God to his people. This is known as DivineKingship and is seen in the tribal cultures of the world. So toboth inside and outside Judaism human beings could becalled “sons of God” either as somehow sharing the divinemind or as being specially favoured by God or pleasing toGod.”83Dunn goes on to note:“The language of divine sonship and divinity was inwidespread and varied use in the ancient world andwould have been familiar to the contemporaries of82 About this occurrence, Geza Vermes writes: “4Q246 with its intriguing phrases, “son of God” and“son of the Most High,” recalling Luke 1, 32, 35, has been the centre of learned and popularspeculation for the last twenty years. Four competing theories were proposed before the photograph ofthe document reached the public.” (Vermes, The Dead Sea Scrolls in English, 1995)83 Dunn, Christology in the Making, p.14-16__________________________________________________________________ 66 SalafiManhaj 2005
  67. 67. Before Nicea_____________________________________________________________________Jesus, Paul and John in a wide range ofapplications.”84Isis – Mother of God?The ‘Black Madonnas’ of Europe, which can be seen in 7thcentury C.E. French art, Eastern Europe, Russia,Switzerland and Montserrat, have enormous similaritieswith Isis.Isis was an African goddess of Nile Valley civilisations,whose worship eventually diffused to most of the ancientwestern world. The infant Horus was the begotten son ofthe resurrected god Osiris and the goddess Isis. The legendof Isis became an ancient international phenomena, JocelynRhys states “statues of the goddess Isis with the childHorus in her arms were common in Egypt and wereexported to all neighbouring and to many remotecountries, where they are still to be found with newnames attached to them – Christian in Europe,Buddhist in Turkestan, Taoist in China and Japan.Figures of the virgin Isis do duty as representations of84 ibid. p.17__________________________________________________________________ 67 SalafiManhaj 2005
  68. 68. Before Nicea_____________________________________________________________________Mary, of Hariri, of Juan-Yin, of Kwannon and of othervirgin mothers of gods.”85Another interesting fact is that in the pre-Islamic times, theArabs in Makkah used to worship a goddess called al-‘Uzza,who was a black woman and her idol was destroyed by thecompanion of the Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhiwassallam), Khaalid bin Waleed (radi Allaahu anhu). Thepagan Arabs worshiped other goddesses such as al-Lat andal-Manaat.In the aspect of ‘mother with child,’ Isis was pictured as awoman with dark brown skin and this image was dispersedthroughout Europe. By the late 3rd century C.E. the cult ofIsis worship was the biggest, even over the Roman andGreek goddess cults.86Isis was known as the “Great Mother,” the“Immaculate Virgin,” “Our Lady” and the “Mother ofGod.”85 Jocelyn Rhys, Shaken Creeds – The Virgin Birth Doctrine (1922), pp.115-116 (Chapter 3)86 R.E. Witt, Isis in the Graeco-Roman World (New York: Cornell University Press, 1971) p.81__________________________________________________________________ 68 SalafiManhaj 2005
  69. 69. Before Nicea_____________________________________________________________________During the 4th century C.E. there was discussion in theEuropean Christian Churches concerning the doctrinalstatus of the Virgin Mary.In 428 C.E., Nestorius patriarch of Constantinople, putforward the belief that he Virgin Mary was a mother to thedivine Jesus, differing from the ruling Church factionwhich insisted that the Virgin Mary was the “Mother ofGod.”In 430 C.E. Cyril of Alexandria, called a synod whichincluded the major Christian leaders of Europe. The 431C.E. official declaration of the Virgin Mary as the “Motherof God” was the result of this synod, known as the ‘Councilof Ephesus.’Cyril’s faction of the Christian Church formed theEuropean Orthodox Churches, which eventually separatedinto the Roman Catholic Church and the EasternOrthodox Church.The absent Nestorius was ousted from Constantinople andhis writings were burned as a result of the Council of Ephesus.__________________________________________________________________ 69 SalafiManhaj 2005
  70. 70. Before Nicea_____________________________________________________________________The attributes and titles which catapulted the Virgin Maryinto the realm of goddesshood were borrowed from Isis.87Despite the official suppression of the worship of Isis inEurope, it survived in the veneration of the EuropeanBlack Madonnas, which are the Orthodox Christian imagesof Mary.Steven C. Cappannari and Leonard W. Moss state that “theBlack Madonnas are powerful images, miracleworkers…implored for intercession in the variousproblems of fertility. Pilgrimages covering hundreds ofkilometres are made to shrines of the BlackMadonnas…pilgrims journeying to the shrine at MountVergine would climb the steps of the Church on theirknees, licking each step with their tongues. The attitude ofthe pilgrim approaches not reverence but worship.”88The worship of the European Black Madonnas clearlydemonstrate the diffusion of the cult of Isis worship intoEurope. This diffusion can be investigated through the87 Danita Redd, “Black Madonnas of Europe – Diffusion of the African Isis” in Ivan Van Sertima (ed.),African Presence in Early Europe (Transaction Publishers, 1996) p.11788 Cappannari and Moss, “Mother Worship – In Quest of the Black Virgin, She is Black Because She isBlack” in James J. Preston (ed.), Mother Worship – Theme and Variation (Chapel Hill: University ofNorth Carolina Press, 1982) pp.53-74__________________________________________________________________ 70 SalafiManhaj 2005
  71. 71. Before Nicea_____________________________________________________________________early development of Byzantine Christian iconography andthe adoption by the European Orthodox Christians ofvarious Black goddesses to represent the Virgin Mary.89The Black Madonnas of Europe have a tradition whichgoes back hundreds of years, before the advent ofestablished Christianity. Isis was the prototype for theblack Madonnas of Europe, and was absorbed into theOrthodox Christian Churches of Europe.Furthermore, Cappannari and Moss state that during theFrench revolution, engineers destroyed several images ofthe Virgin Mary. These images and relics were examinedand found to be black basalt statues of Isis and Horus.Thus, it is evident that the idols of Europe were convertedinto statues of Mary.90Similarities with Buddha?T.W. Doane in his book Bible Myths and Their Parallels inOther Religions went as far as dedicating an entire chapter onassessing the comparison between Buddha and later89 Danita Redd90 Stephen C. Cappannari and Leonard W. Moss, “The Black Madonna: An Example of CulturalBorrowing” in Scientific Monthly, (Vol. 73, 1953) pp.319-24__________________________________________________________________ 71 SalafiManhaj 2005
  72. 72. Before Nicea_____________________________________________________________________Christian concepts of Jesus as God, God incarnate and“Son of God” etc.Doane has included a forty-eight point side-by-sidenarration and detailed analysis from their births until theend of their lives on earth as recorded in the Bible and inBuddhist scriptures.Their conception, birth, missions, miracles,temptation, preaching, worship, prophesies, death,ascension, divine-ness, judgment of mankind andmany other matters recorded in their orthodoxscriptures are almost word for word exact carboncopies of one another.Dr. Muhammad Ansari records the following words froman eminent Christian scholar, S.M. Melamed: “Yet the factremains, the Buddhist canons were already known to theWestern world before the coming of Jesus. Today hardlyany Indologist of note denies the organic connectionbetween the two redemptive religions. So close is theconnection between them that even the details of themiracles recorded in the “orthodox” scriptures of both__________________________________________________________________ 72 SalafiManhaj 2005
  73. 73. Before Nicea_____________________________________________________________________religions are the same. It is said that Buddha fed fivehundred people with one loaf of bread, that he cured lepersand caused the blind to see.”91In 1884 C.E. a German historian of religion by the name ofRudolph Seydel published a very detailed studydemonstrating that all of the tales, miracles, theirastounding similarities with the much more ancientBuddhist scriptures and accounts.T.W. Doane observes that even though today Buddha hasbeen elevated to the position of a god, “there is no reasonto believe that Buddha ever claimed to be a higherauthority than that of a teacher of religion, but, as inmodern factions, there were followers of Buddha afterhis death who carried out his teachings further thanBuddha did himself. These people, not content withpraising him during his lifetime, exalted him to thelevel of a god, and thus within a quarter of a centuryafter his death, Buddha found a place amongst theother deities.”9291 Islam and Christianity in the Modern World92 Due to the popularity and fashionable trend of people in the West entering into Buddhism, as analternative to the modern consumer industrial complex and its spiritual void, we realise the need to cite__________________________________________________________________ 73 SalafiManhaj 2005
  74. 74. Before Nicea_____________________________________________________________________The Word of GodIn the Qur’aan, Jesus (peace be upon him) is referred to as ‘theword,’ as he came into being by the word of Allaah, “Be”(Soorah Alee Imraan: 59).In Christianity however, the adoption of the pre-Christianconcept of ‘the word’ in the gospel according to John, hasbeen to signify his divinity. The Greek term used in thegospel (John 1:1, 1:14) for ‘word’ is ‘logos,’ also meaning‘reason’ or ‘plan.’ Thus, Jesus is identified in the gospelwith the pagan logos of Greek philosophy who was thedivine reason implicit in the cosmos, ordering it and givingit form and meaning. In the sixth century C.E. thephilosopher Heracletius proposed that there was a logos inthe cosmic process equivalent to the reasoning power ofman.some realities of the “Buddha path.” Even though Buddha never asked people to worship him andnever claimed to be the One True God worthy of worship, most Buddhists all over the world worshiphim and make colossal temples, aesthetic shrines and gigantic statues of “Buddha.” Many of the rites ofworship involved at such sites include bowing, prostrating and praying, in an attempt to seek help from“the Buddha.” Meanwhile, most Buddhists will say that they do not worship Buddha and that theirway is the “way of true inner peace and spirituality.” Even though many young people and Westernuniversity students are now getting into Buddhism, with films highlighting the craze such as SevenYears in Tibet, Buddhist realities are not really know. For example in the 20th century the Tibetan!Buddhists even outlawed the bicycle!? Totally against any kind of progress__________________________________________________________________ 74 SalafiManhaj 2005
  75. 75. Before Nicea_____________________________________________________________________Philosophers following the teachings of Zeno of Citicumin the third and fourth centuries C.E. known as Stoics, laterdefined the logos as an active, rational and spiritual principlethat permeated all reality.Judaeus Philo of Alexandria, a Greek-speaking Jewishphilosopher (d. 45 C.E.) taught that the logos was theintermediary between God and the cosmos, being both theagent between God and the cosmos, and both the agent ofcreation and the agent through which the human mind cancomprehend God.9393 Dr Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips, The True Message of Jesus Christ (Dar al-Fatah, 1996) pp.60-61__________________________________________________________________ 75 SalafiManhaj 2005
  76. 76. Before Nicea_____________________________________________________________________ Where Does This Leave Us?And say: “Truth has now come and falsehood has passed away.Indeed, falsehood, (by its nature) is bound to pass away.”{Soorah 17 al-Israa: 81} 1. Does the Qur’aan have the same problems?As we have seen, the Bible suffers from a number ofproblems. Therefore, being honest and fair, we should alsoapply similar research criteria in evaluating the authenticityof the Qur’aan. In other words, we will discover what hasbeen written about it and the manuscript evidence of theQur’aan. However, where we relied upon Christian sourcesin order to understand the problems of the Bible, we willnot rely primarily on Muslim sources to view the Qur’aanas we might then be accused of bias. Nevertheless, we shallquote studies by Muslims and the research of non-Muslimevidence in favour of the Qur’aan and its authenticity. Toavoid any bias we shall look at what the majority of non-Muslim scholars have said about the Qur’aan and itsauthenticity. Firstly, however, let us get a brief history of__________________________________________________________________ 76 SalafiManhaj 2005
  77. 77. Before Nicea_____________________________________________________________________the Qur’aan and some of the charges that have been madeagainst it.The Qur’aan was recited by the Prophet Muhammad(sallallaahua alayhi wassallam) who, being illiterate himself,used scribes to write down the verses of the Qur’aan oncloth, stones, saddles, date-palm leaves etc. to aid people’smemorisation of it. Al-Bukhaaree mentions the following:“When it was revealed,“Not equal are those believers who sit at home andthose that strive in the cause of Allaah…”{an-Nisaa: 95}The Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wassallam) said “Call Zayd ibnThaabit for me, and tell him to bring the ink-pot and the scapulabone (i.e. paper and pen).” When Zayd came, the Prophet toldhim “Write: “Not equal are those believers who sit at home andthose (to the end of verse)”. The parchments on which theQur’aan was written were so common that Zayd ibnThaabit reported, “During the lifetime of the Prophet, we used tocompile the Qur’aan from scraps of cloth.”94These written verses were sometimes given to visitingtribes who would take them away to learn. After the death94 Al-Haakim__________________________________________________________________ 77 SalafiManhaj 2005
  78. 78. Before Nicea_____________________________________________________________________of the Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wassallam),many of the Huffadh (those who had memorised the wholeof the Qur’aan) were killed at the Battle of Yamamahagainst the apostates. ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab (radi Allaahuanhu) who was the second rightly guided Caliph suggestedto the first Caliph, Aboo Bakr as-Siddeeq that they shouldgather the whole Qur’aan into one written book to keep itsafe from being lost.Zayd ibn Thaabit (radi Allaah anhu) who was one of themain scribes, took the task of writing down the Qur’aan.Zayd referred to all those who had memorised the Qur’aanand those who had written copies, verifying them withother witnesses.The other companions of the Prophet who helped Zayd towrite down and compile the Qur’aan were the four Caliphsthemselves as well as ‘Ubayy ibn Ka’ab, Abdullaah ibnMas’ood, Mu’aadh ibn Jabal, Aboo Moosaa al-Ash’aree,Mu’aawiyah ibn Abee Sufyaan, ‘Uqba ibn ‘Aamir,Abdullaah bin Arqam, Khaalid bin Sa’eed and others, mayAllaah be pleased with them.__________________________________________________________________ 78 SalafiManhaj 2005