Sunday, 31 January 2010
In fact some people find me utterly offensive and suggest either that I become more objective or strive for the unity of all faiths and philosophies.
In other words my life and work is seen as a battle against each and all who differ from the Christian faith and hence my ambition and effort to attack or debate is by many considered as a negative element in our multireligious and multi-philosophical world community.
But why and how did I become an apologist?
In all honesty I would rather spend my time in Africa or India helping out those who are less fortunate.
Believe it or not I often ask God why he has guided me to take up the role as an apologist in God’s Kingdom.
When I became a Christian I knew nothing of the issues and questions related to apologetics.
However, since my decision to be a Jesus follower at the age of 15 I have been exposed to the views and arguments of many opponents who attacked the faith and life that I loved so dearly: that is the faith and connection with God, which virtually transformed my life from teenage rebellion and gang activity into a mindset and lifestyle that aimed at loving God and my fellow human being.
I grew up with atheists continually attacking and mocking my faith and the Bible in the news papers. I witnessed atheists virtually propagating and evangelising the teenagers in my church. Secondly, I witnessed my own Christian home-community being unable to adequately reply to these attacks and accusations, simply because apologetics and polemics was not the tactic or approach of these Christians, and because they neither possessed training or experience in apologetics or debating.
This is when I realised how weak the Christian community in the West stands in dealing with their critics, which is why I have (today) devoted my life to study and provide the training and answers they need in confronting their opponents on a intellectual basis.
In my teenage years I quickly involved myself in Christian youth work, preaching and Bible teaching as well as discipleship training.
Mission was my passion. I developed a great interest in theology and Bible knowledge and read the Bible from cover to cover a number of times and began memorizing passages.
In my first year in Bible College in the UK in 1992 I memorized all the epistles of Paul. I read extensively the Bible and additional theological and Christian literature until late night time.
In addition I joined several evangelistic teams and organisations in Europe and involved myself in a variety of missionary campaigns and projects.
The breakthrough into a ministry of apologetics was nevertheless not triggered by the dialogues and conversations with typical Europeans or hanging around in the slums or homeless shelters.
It was not until I stayed for a while in the city of Bradford in UK in 1992 that I experienced for the first time the Muslim community and the necessity of developing my apologetics skills.
The Muslims I encountered eagerly attacked and undermined my faith.
These relied heavily upon liberal theology and the claims that the Bible is changed and fabricated. Particularly I became familiar with the Ahmed Deedat and his literature.
I realised that I had to begin considering apologetics; also I was convinced that if Islam felt obliged to attack Christianity in this manner, I and other Christians logically possessed the same right to criticise, expose and debunk the Islamic faith.
After my experience I began looking into literature dealing with Bible background, the canon of Scripture, criticism, etc. I particularly enjoyed the books of F.F. Bruce ‘The Canon of Scripture’ and ‘The Bible and the Parchments’. Also I got hold on Philips Comfort ‘The Origin of the Bible’ and Josh McDowells’ two heavy volumes of ‘Evidence that Demands a Verdict’ and another heavy work of McDowell: ‘He walked among us’. Other books that greatly impacted me at this time were George Eldon Ladd’s ‘The New Testament Criticism’, Ralph P. Martins two excellent volumes: ‘New Testament Foundations: A Guide for Christian Students’ and Gleason Archer’s: ‘A Survey of Old Testament Introduction’.
Despite my sudden interest in apologetics, I moved back home and my involvement in church work resulted in my apologetics study to halt.
Later in 1995 I moved to Birmingham. Never in my whole life had my faith been as challenged to the extent as in Birmingham 1995.
The Muslims I met tore me apart with their arguments against the Bible and well prepared apologetics. From an intellectual point of view this was not surprising. I had very little back-up. In these days Christians were hardly prepared for these Muslim apologists. There was no Answering-Islam.org, few books, Jay Smith had just entered the scene; and it seemed as if Islam was gaining ground.
For several months I was considering becoming a Muslim. I used to spend hours meeting Muslims, experience my faith and view of the Bible to be demolished and then head off for the library to find answers to solve my doubts.
At that time I had not the slightest clue where to look for answers. I knew nothing about the Talmud, Galen, Lucretius (books that reveal early Qur'anic plagiarism) and there were hardly any books out there dealing effectively with Biblical criticism or Islamic polemics.
Thanks God today things have changed, and changed significantly.
What probably overwhelmed me the most was this sudden move into a different culture, the frequent debates, in which I lacked basic knowledge, and particularly the street debates.
In Birmingham 1995 the radical Islamic student organisation Hizb ut-Tahrir had taken the streets by surprise. I found myself constantly in fiery street debates, often being the only Christian surrounded by 20-30 Muslims.
I realised the tactic these Muslim street apologists utilized by simply having ten guys bombarding you with questions, all ten in one go, not permitting you to respond and quickly and continually changing topic, which appeared to me as a way to protect themselves from the replies but also the means to manipulate and confuse your mind. After an hour you actually felt that you brain had been twisted, virtually out of your control; think about it: by nature this is a method that corresponds to typical cultic brainwashing techniques upon their new members; I had already read a number of books describing these methods and its dreadful effect upon the victims.
After one to two hours of that experience, I dreaded to think about the effects of such manipulation if exercised over a couple of days.
I had other co-workers who had similar experiences being surrounding by a Muslim mob and in one particular case been held physically in the middle while question after question was pounded from several individuals at the same time. One Christian described that after a while he literally fell to the ground in exhaustion trying to repel the pressure of the intimidation, shouting and the arguments.
It was in this sort of situations I was exposed to the variaty of claims e.g. that the Qur’an predicts modern science, the full list of Biblical contradictions and textual criticism, the Jesus myths (Jesus being a plagiarised version of Mithra, Osiris among others), and the claim that everyone even Christian scholars were renouncing Christianity and the Bible and becoming Muslims.
It was only later that I discovered the fallacies, deception, lies and misconceptions behind all these claims.
What convinced me against the religion of Islam, in favour of Christianity were my own personal studies on Bible backgrounds, my reading about early manuscripts and the New Testament Canon (thanks God for Bruce and Comfort), and of equal importance was my own personal experience of a supernatural nature when I became a follower of Jesus.
After my experience in the UK I actually headed for the mission field for several years.
I travelled through several third-world countries, of these several Muslim countries. I spent entire months in these Muslim countries, met Muslim preachers, spent time in mosques doing dialogue, evangelised, got persecuted, abducted, arrested, and was occasionally forced to escape or hide from military, fundamentalists and the secret police. Yeah I should write a book.
I also met and spent months with the Christian communities in these countries and lived among them; I saw firsthand the persecution and the pain wrought upon them and their families by their Islamic rulers. This one Christian brother of mine had been held in jail for months due to his faith. He had been continually beaten, burned, suffered torture by freezing and had his belly opened. I will never forget standing in an abandoned church building in which a number of Christians had been butchered. The blood and body parts were still scattered all over the church. I also entered an area secretly in which Muslims were encouraged every day, through the mosque loud-speaker, to kill at least one Christian prior to breakfast; Christians had already been killed and those remaining lived in horrible conditions.
It also caught my attention how much these brothers and sisters of mine needed training in apologetics.
These Christians who by the Muslim communities are reduced to dhimmis and which the Western media (due to political correctness) has willingly neglected had not only been exposed to the Islamic polemics and its intimidation their entire life; in addition, by Islamic law, they were not even permitted to defend their faith.
I have to say that these years moulded and shaped my personality, my ambition and my plan for life.
Returning back to Europe I began my studies, I completed a BA degree in theology from USA and a second in the UK. At the same time I worked with a Christian organisation; it was hard life and busy, but worth it.
When finishing my BA Honour in theology I continued theological studies on MA level. This is when things became really exciting. I did extensive studies on source criticism, the synoptic Gospels and Q, the historical Jesus, Gnosticism, early Christian succession and oral transmission and the contribution of the church fathers. I spent considerable time studying New Testament Greek, palaeography, New Testament textual criticism, Christology and church history.
In addition I expanded my knowledge significantly in studying the scholars of theology and Biblical studies from both extremes of the spectrum; from the fringe liberal and critical scholars to the actual believers in the Bible.
I would say that most of my time went reading and studying liberal scholarship, such as Barth Ehrman, Bultmann, Ludemann, Kasemann, Burton L. Mack, Sanders and many others.
I decided to be as objective as possible in my study of the Bible and its background and not base my academic studies upon my faith but upon the historical sources and data.
At the same time I decided to consider the theories of all these critical scholars (and that is what liberal-critical scholarship is: theory), but I decided that as an historian neither faith nor theory would determine the conclusions based upon the actual historical data.
I can only say the study has been revolutionary. The reliability of the Gospels and the New Testament is outstanding evidence that the apostles and their successors together with the earliest Christian community preserved the facts: the account and teachings of Jesus effectively.
This fact certainly debunks the conjecture of critical scholarship, atheism and the inconsistent claims of Muslim apologists.
This is an exciting time in my life; I am currently building up my ministry to expand my work in apologetics.
I expect in future to engage myself in public debating, seminars and writing, defending the truth of the Gospel and the accuracy of the Christian writings and the Christian faith, while at the same time to expose the lies of opposing ideas of false religion and atheism.
Neither have I forgotten my passion to provide support and training for my brothers and sisters who need the basic training and are living their lives in world communities in which their freedom to study, speak out and defend themselves is not right provided.
Hence being an apologist, I do not deem my work futile. In fact strengthening Christians in their faith, I am not only confirming the Christian faith but by the grace of God I support and build up Christians who will enter the mission field or promote Christianity in their everyday life and who will make a difference in the world spiritually, politically and socially.
Saturday, 9 January 2010
Mustafa Mlivo, Quran and Science , The Qur’an prior to Science and Civilisation; see: http://www.preciousheart.net/Main_Archives/Links_Folder/SUPER_List_Islam.htmAnd
Muhammad Assadi, in his book: The Unifying Theory of Everything: Koran and Nature’s Testimony; see http://www.amazon.com/Unifying-Theory-Everything-Natures-Testimony/dp/0595129048
And Zakir Naik; see http://www.scribd.com/doc/18926563/Quran-and-Modern-Science-EnglishBy-Dr-Zakir-Naik
These among others claim that the Qur’an is miraculous in its prediction of the sub atomic world (that is sub atomic particles).
Let's assess the claim:
The particular Qur’anic (Sura 34: 3) passages reads:
‘...by him who knows the unseen,—from who is not hidden the least little atom in the heavens or on earth; nor is there anything less than that, or greater, but is in the record of perspicuous ’
See also Sura 10: 61:
‘He [i.e., Allah] is aware of an atom’s weight in the heavens and on the earth and even anything smaller than that...’
Firstly we need to consider that there is a debate whether the Qur’an is literally referring to atoms or insects or possibly dust.But let us for a moment assume that the Qur’an does refer to atoms and the sub-atomic particles, are we then correct to presume that this reference is miraculous or is possible that the Qur’an only makes a lucky guess or even that sub-atomic particles were already a common idea flourishing in the time of Muhammad?
The theory of atoms was founded by Leucippus (440 BC) and Democritus (432 BC), who proposed that atoms constituted and composed everything in existence even heaven and earth.
The theory perceived the atoms as physical particles, which are in constant motion; being indivisible, indestructible and infinite in number and varieties.
All this is slightly correct indeed, expect of course that the number of atoms and their varieties are infinite.
Indeed the early atomists predicted a range of up-to-date details, such as Democritus’ ‘moving at random’, which according to Russel in his book: 'History of Western Philosophy' suggests denotes the kinetic theory of gasses; and furthermore the collisions of atoms which collected them and formed vortices and later material bodies (Russell, 82-84); all this was in agreement with the latter theory of Lucretius (Lucretius, The Nature of the Universe, p. 185).
Yet Democritus and many early atomists seem to have committed the fallacy of considering atoms to contain no void, which made them impenetrable and indivisible (Russell, History of Western Philosophy, p. 88).
This error excluded the existing reality of e.g. the neutrons, protons and electrons, and the newly proposed theory of the quarks.
That is of course unless we move Democritus’ understanding as a theory of the Quark world and what preceded it.
Hence according to certain Muslim writers, e.g. Mlivo and Muhammad Assadi and Zakir Naik, this suggests that the Qur'an solely gets the information right and must therefore be of divine origin.
However, there are serious flaws within this Muslim proposition.
Its primary failure is the failure to grasp that atomic science developed through the centuries.
The emphatic claim of Democritus, that atoms were the first cause-particles which could not be further divided appears to be slightly diminishing at the time of Lucretius (approximately 50 BC); Lucretius seems to refer to new ideas in his time which suggests that atoms could be divided (at least he alludes to ideas quite different from those presupposed by Democritus); Lucretius writes in 50 BC:
‘It is with a mass of such parts, solidly jammed together in order, that matter is filled up. Since they cannot exist by themselves, they must stick together in a mass from which they cannot by any means be prized loose. The atoms therefore are absolutely solid and unalloyed, consisting of a mass of least parts tightly packed together. They are not compounds formed by the coalescence of their parts, but bodies of absolute and everlasting solidity. To these nature allows no loss or diminution, but guards them as seeds for things. If there are no such least parts, even the smallest bodies will consist of an infinite number of parts, since they can always be halved and their halves halved again’ (Lucretius, The Nature of the Universe 45)?
What are these least parts of which the atoms consist? And how about the opposite position, but otherwise proposed impossibility, that atoms can be halved and halved again?
This idea seems to have been raised 600 years prior to Islam. And there are further indications, that even the Epicurean's postulated particles smaller than atoms.
Epicurean theory theorized that our body throws off thin films, which travel to touch the soul-atoms to create sensation; if these were considered to operate between atoms, then we might assume they are smaller (Russell, History of Western Philosophy, p. 255).
If however, atoms are the principle of matter and thus life, why is it that the Qur’an, being a divine revelation does not provide further insight into the world of atoms or quantum? Why is the Qur’an making no reference to atoms in relation to compounds or the combination of atoms to form a greater mass, as was expounded upon by Lucretius more 600 years prior to Islam (Lucretius, The Nature of the Universe, p.41); Lucretius writes:
‘At that time the sun’s bright disc was not to be seen here, soaring loft and lavishing light, nor the stars that crowd the far-flung firmament, nor sea nor sky, nor earth, nor air nor anything in the likeness of things we know nothing but a hurricane raging in a newly congregated mass of atoms of every sort’ (Lucretius, The Nature of the Universe, 184).
This completely refutes Zakir Naik in his debate with William Campbell, in which he admitted the similarity between Qur’anic and Greek science but then claimed that Qur’anic science is more specific and even corrects Greek science.
The Qur’an does not explain that the atoms are the fundamental building blocks and existed prior to cosmological expansion and the accretion of the earth, nor does it describe their existence as prior to the galactic dimension the pre-stellar material existed.Lucretius’ description of a primordial congregated mass of atoms in the writings of Lucretius is fairly accurate and presents an idea that is much more advanced and explicit than the Qur’anic simple reference to the world of atoms and lesser matter.
‘...they (the atoms) began, in fact, to separate the heights of heaven from the earth, to single out the sea as a receptacle for water detached from the mass and to set apart the fires of pure and isolated ether. In the first place all the particles of earth, because they were heavy and intertangled, collected in the middle and took up the undermost stations. The more closely they cohered and clung together, the more they squeezed out the atoms that went to the making of sea and stars, sun and moon and the outer walls of the great world’ (Lucretius, The Nature of the Universe, 184-5)?
While Lucretius’ postulate is outdated and contains a number of flaws, it does reveal a much more advanced insight into the atomic world than the Qur'an does and some details actually predicts modern science.
If the Qur’an is a miracle due to its reference to atoms and smaller matter, then certainly a number of Greek philosophers and indeed the atheist Lucretius were divinely inspired.
What is much more logical however is that the Qur’an simply describes the ideas that were flourishing within its time and era; unfortunately for the Muslim position is the fact that these pre-Islamic sources provide a much more advanced and accurate picture of the atomic world than the Qur’an.
Friday, 8 January 2010
Careful some of the issues raised here are controversial.
From a modern angle, the ancient patriarchal and the later family system of Israel are often deemed suppressive and even barbaric. Yet, despite the alien structure of such a society and its family system, the modern mind needs to consider the circumstances in which the patriarchal structure developed. Additionally, it needs to consider some of its positive aspects, which currently may be lacking in and may improve the nuclear family. But is this possible and how is it possible?
Societal structure and the geographical family
Israel in every aspect functioned as a society based upon patrimonial authority; the God Yahweh ruled supreme (Deut.12: 1-3), kings as second (Deut.17: 14-20), followed by the tribes, the clans and finally the families ruled by the great grandfather (Jos.7: 16-8) (1 Sam.10: 20-1).
Moses selected the wise and leading men to serve as tribe officials, such as judges and leaders; these leaders and the family elders, frequently represented the tribes in front of Moses (Deut. 1: 9-17; 5: 23). This hierarchal structure permeated the entire fabric of Israelite social life, including the family. In a sense the whole Israelite nation was perceived as one house, despite multiple households such as the house of David (the Southern kingdom) and the house of Omri (the Northern kingdom).
Vaux points out that the number of family members within a household was probably reduced after the Canaan settlement as sons began moving out and built their own houses. Yet, the social structure of Deuteronomy still shaped the geographical settings of a village construction. Here Matthew points out that the earliest villages of the ancient Israelite society probably originated as multiple family compounds under the leadership of the great grandfather.
Mutual unity and procreation
The purpose behind such societal and family structure was caused by the circumstances, which formed the paradigm of the ancient mind; structure provided the basis for security, safety and work in which society and the extended family centred. Thus society and family was group oriented (Ex.20: 7-9); the family goal was mutual survival, which means that family was often extended and combined; the individual was not strictly excluded but neither emphasised; rather an individual was encouraged to benefit the entire group. It was on the basis of this mindset the Levitate system operated (Lev.25: 5-9) (Deut.25: 5-10).
In fact the whole nation of Israel, as one house, applying the same exclusive unity provided mutual support to each other (Deut.15: 7-11), and the family structure seems to have resembled this national-social structure.
Within this situation the survival of the family and community depended not only upon family unity but also upon the vitality of fertility and procreation (Deut.28: 1-14), very much like the pre-Mosaicpatriarchal family.
Procreation guarantied first and foremost that the various roles and responsibilities were secured and secondly that the group was able to expand and increase in strength and power. Due to the family system, only internal marriages were permitted, as any sexual relation outside the group reduced its survival. External marriages were perceived as compromising the strict boundary, which initially could jeopardize the security and survival of the whole group.
This explains why the Mosaic Law required marriage within one’s father’s tribal clan so as to retain the family unity, basically to avoid the loss of land (Num.36: 5-9). This was also consistent with Israel’s exclusive policy with other nations, in which cross-cultural marriage were strictly prohibited (Deut.7: 3-4).
All of these reveal that the family structure of ancient Israel emphasised survival rather than individual comfort, which stresses that the ancient structure is not as a whole applicable to a society where the situation differs.
In comparison, the social structure and benefits of the Western World present a very different situation and a different social and personal paradigm. This was caused by the industrial period which divided the extended family by migration and mobility and by the Renaissance which inaugurated the philosophy of individualism. Economy has however proliferated and from a modern Western mindset, where economy and benefits are currently thriving anyway, this historical process is often considered as having proved societal progress and maturity.
Certainly, several of the problems in the group-oriented family, such as the loss of individualism, internal family frictions and mobile inability have been excluded. But has it improved the stability of the family and marriage and has it enhance its survival? And if not, what can we learn from an ancient paradigm?
Marriage and family life made easier
David and Vera Mace confirm that despite some elements of complexity, the combined family structure gives stability, particularly as it excludes loneliness and provides security and economy. Unfortunately this is not always the case with the Western marriage and the nuclear family, despite its attraction and autonomy. The individualism of the West has caused social isolation, from which two unpredicted problems have erupted; firstly, the probability of poverty and secondly, the probability of loneliness and lack of companionship; this is mainly due to enforced necessity upon one of the spouses to work, while the other is pre-occupied with domestic responsibilities.
From this angle the marriage in a nuclear family where privacy is strictly included often turned into a prison where emotional and physical needs were not met. And currently, as economic pressure has forced both parental members to work, exhaustion and tiredness has caused parents to neglect their spouse and children. These have further jeopardized the families ‘quality time’ and turned the home into a place only to eat, rest and sleep, rather than being the social centre of communication and education as it was meant to be. In addition, mobility has merely increased these problems.
The Israelite social structure possessed the means to exclude these elements.
First and most, the family of ancient Israel was probably much larger and mainly locally busy. Hence it provided time and energy to focus on the home and make it into a place of social activity, enjoyment, and education; a place where children were prepared for the life-task ahead, particularly in matters of basing daily conduct and decisions in accordance with the law and standard of God (Deut. 6: 4-9; 11: 18-21; 32:7; Ex.12,24-7; 13:1-14; Deut.4:9; 6:20-5; 11:19; Josh.4:6,21-2; Psalm 78:3-7). In other words incorporating similar values would make it easier and less burdensome to be a spouse or parent.
Secondly in relation to the Law, the Israelite family had a clear understanding about values and consequences, that well-being was only granted if they yielded to the standard of Yahweh (Deut.12: 28) and honoured the parents (Deut.5: 16); basically a strict emphasis on religion and family. Hence stability of a family and society was determined by the effort to accomplish the common goal of a God-centred mindset and practice. Negatively however, an entire family was shamed in case of misconduct (Deut.22: 13-30).
Yet it was probably that shame which laid the ethical boundaries, whereas in a modern society shame and boundaries are virtually excluded, and misconduct and promiscuity are permitted to thrive.
As to the marriage this rendered several practicalities, first and most regulation and order; it provided unity in which parents and children in unity alongside the extended family worked toward a common goal. The shame and consequence factor caused personal concern about the risk of possible sexual promiscuity. Marriage therefore became less exhaustive, more joyful and serious and obedience from children was easier obtained.
The Law, family and economy
Concerning economy David and Vera Mace further point out that in East Asia the focus on family has excluded the need of welfare systems and orphanages. Similarly in the UK it has even been suggested that the Asian family is in less need of benefits than the average British white family; this same effect was evident within the Israelite social-family structure (Lev.25: 23-31, 35-43).
Furthermore, the combined family despite its mobile inadequacy and because of its size is often
far more successful as a settled community than a nuclear family; this might explain why the tribes of Israel were provided with their own territory (Num.33-4) (Deut.3: 12-20). In the West this is particularly observed in its educational opportunities, in which members of group-oriented families are often better supported in terms of education, career and profession than members of a nuclear family.
It has also been suggested that a primary reason for the high divorce rate is the economical burden in a family. If the extended family chose to unite it would lower this threat against the marriage significantly.
The Law, family and health issues
Yet the Israelite family took further steps than merely separating from evil; there was a certain fanaticism about food (14:1-21) and cleanliness (23: 12-14). The family strictly differentiated between clean and unclean meat, most probably for hygienic reasons; hence a family stressed healthy living. Again how do we apply this to a modern family and its effort to eat and live healthy? How many families are devastated because a spouse is effected by illness, caused either by lack of hygiene or unhealthy food habits.
The Law, family and manhood
Deuteronomy is male-centred, males had to be strong and brave; they were the protectors of their family; hence the male pride might have been essential. Yet again this Deuteronomic aspect also relates to the natural male psychology, which not necessarily proves to be harmful, and which currently is under severe attack by radical feminist forces. Lahaye points out that current research reveals the growing impotence in males is related to the loss of male dominance.
Another research reveals devastating results in the abilities and self-esteem in two thirds of American schoolboys as radical feminist ideas are being imposed upon them through education. Again we see how an ancient paradigm might dissolve current elements that are harmful to family and marriage.
However concerning marriage, current observation indicates that the structure of combined or blended families often jeopardizes or even excludes marriage relationships; often because husbands tend to retain their strong child-mother bond and thus fail to mature; the wife is then neglected in relation to the in-laws. In the Mosaic Law, forced marriages were indeed common (Deut.21: 10-14), and a girl married into a family typically became a daughter (Lev.21: 9) having to subject herself in honouring the new parents (Deut.5: 16), hence similar problems may have abounded. However, married women in ancient Israel would probably be closer associated with the other women in the family than their own husbands; in the same manner the males would mutually go on their own business. Despite its repulsiveness from a modern perspective, then perhaps within the ancient situation in which families were forced to unite, this lack of relationship between husband and wife might have provided great stability as it excluded the friction between wife and mother-in-law.
Christians, who value the principles of Genesis 2: 24, need however to realise that the situation in Deuteronomy is significantly different. Yet comparing the situation of Deuteronomy and the original marriage principle of Genesis two, it might not be entirely wrong to propose a combination.
This is what Goldthorpe suggests and what he defines as the modified extended family. Here the autonomy of the couple and the nuclear family is included as well as a geographic proximity of the extended family. Also the benefits are obvious, the marriage relationship and its responsibilities are less exhaustive, it is retained and autonomous, and grandparents and needy family members are cared for; basically members can help, encourage and support each others.
The Law, Christianity and the hard issues
How about divorcing women in case indecency was discovered? Here the husband could write a bill and send her off (Deut.24: 1-4). It is possible that the Law might have permitted this to protect the women from domesticated oppression, and certainly the bill would later have protected her and enabled her to remarry. Verse four is however a matter of significance, as it prohibits her from marrying her previous husband if she did remarry and divorce a second time. Here the Law might have intended to discourage the misuse of an easy divorce and remarriage which initially could culminate in a trend of promiscuity and fornication, and secondly, the economical aspect, that the women or the third couple might burden the previous families through greed by requiring unnecessary bridal prices mainly to accumulate wealth. In other words despite the outcome of a marriage, whether divorce or remarriage, then any attempts to gain material gain, if the solemn motive is greed, is prohibited.
Obviously the divorce of Deut.24: 1-4 does not apply to New Testament standards (1 Cor.7: 10-1). Yet what applies to a modern Christian setting is that the Law despite of the situation took measures to lay a strong foundation for marriage (Deut.24: 5).
However, if the divorce in Deut.24: 1.4 solved a matter of domicile abuse, we might assume that the passage somehow applies to 1 Cor.7: 10-1, as it recognised that a woman might for some reason have separated from her husband. Here the divine standard does not condemn her; neither does it permit her to remarry or enforce her to return to her husband; however she has a choice whether to remain single or to reconcile.
Yet how easily are all these elements applied in a modern nuclear family? And if they are applied how do they impact each family member?
To summarize it, it should be notable that the Mosaic family retained the unity and was cautious about any external influence, whereas in a Western nuclear family the opposite is true; the influence, the decisions the mindset is decided by external forces!
The emphasis of such a family would be that of unity, separation and involvement. The price of such a paradigm would be a slightly lesser emphasis on individualism, and the mindset would be first and most a focus on God, and secondly mutuality, lifestyle, values and restriction of external influence.
As to marriage, a modified extended family system would exclude many burdens and the exhaustion. Parents would retain their authority and be backed up by the internal family paradigm, not external influence. A couple would gain quality time with each other and as a nuclear family home life would benefit everyone in every direction.
Barret, Michèle & Mcintosh, Mary, The Anti-Social Family, London: Verso Editions, 1982
Blood, Peter R (ed.), Afghanistan-Family, U.S. Library Congress, (http://www.countrystudies.us)/, 1997
Clements, R.E (ed.), The World of ancient Israel, Cambridge: University Press, 1991
Closson, Don, The Feminization of American Schools, Probe Ministries 14 July 2002
Craigie, P.C, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament: The Book of Deuteronomy, London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1976
Mace, David and Vera, Marriage East and West, London: Macgibbon & Kee, 1990
Fee, Gordon D, The New International Commentary on the New Testament: The First Epistle to the Corinthians, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1987
Goldthorpe, J.E, Family Life in Western Societies: A Historical Sociology of Family Relationships in Britain and North America, Cambridge: University Press, 1987
Hafizur Rahman, Go Out Young Man, The International News, Internet Edition, May 14, 2005
Jagger Gill & Wright Caroline (ed.), Changing Family Values, London and New York: Routledge, 1999
Kaiser, Walter C, Toward Old Testament Ethics, Academic Books, USA, Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1983
King, Philip J & Stager, Lawrence E, Life in Biblical Israel, UK, Westminster John Knox Press, 2001
Knight, Barry, Gibson, Miriam, Grant, Simone, Family Groups in the Community, London: London Voluntary Service Council, 1979
Lahaye, Tim & Beverly, The Act of Marriage, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 1998
Mace, David R, Hebrew Marriage, London: the Epworth Press, 1953
Macquarrie, John, Issues in Ethics, New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1970
Mayes, A.D.H, The New Century Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publ. Co, 1987
Matthews, Victor H, Manners and Customs in the Bible, USA, Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 1991
Rogerson, W (ed.), The Pentateuch, Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1996
Traditional Kinship Patterns, allfer – Reference – Country Study and Country Guide – Pakistan (no author mentioned), 1994
Vaux, Roland De, Ancient Israel Its Life and Institutions, London: Darton, Longman & Todd, 1976
http://www.divorcereform.org/ (no date or author mentioned)
 Philip J. King & Stager E. Lawrence, Life in Biblical Israel, UK, Westminster John Knox Press, 2001: 4-5
 Roland De Vaux, Ancient Israel Its Life and Institutions, London: Darton, Longman & Todd, 1976:3-8
 King & Lawrence, 2001:4-5
 Vaux, 1976:22-3
 Victor H. Matthew, Manners and Customs in the Bible, USA, Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 1991:68
(see also King & Lawrence, 13-5)
 King and Lawrence, 2001:4-5
 John W. Rogerson, W (ed.), The Pentateuch, Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1996:265
 David R. Mace, Hebrew Marriage, London: the Epworth Press, 1953:201
 King and Lawrence, 2001:17
 Rogerson, 1996:266-7
 J.E. Goldthorpe, Family Life in Western Societies: A Historical Sociology of Family Relationships in Britain and
North America, Cambridge: University Press, 1987: 9, 17, 19
 John Macguarrie, Issues in Ethics, New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1970:60-7
 Peter R. Blood (ed.), 1997,Afghanistan-Family, U.S. Library Congress, (http://www.countrystudies.us)/
 Mace, 1953:39
 Barry, Knight, Miriam, Gibson, Simone, Grant, Family Groups in the Community, London: London Voluntary
Service Council, 1979:5-8
 Michèle, Barret & Mary Mcintosh, Mary, The Anti-Social Family, London: Verso Editions, 1982: 56
 Barret & Mcintosh, 1982:62
 Mace, 1953:48-9
 Mace, 1953:215
 David & Vera Mace, Marriage East and West, London: Macgibbon & Kee, 1990: 34
 Caroline Wright and Gill Jagger (ed.), End of Century, end of Family?: Shifting discourses of family in crises, in
Changing Family Values, London and New York: Routledge, 1999:27
 Goldhtorpe, 1987:74
 http://www.divorcereform.org/ (no authorship mentioned)
 Craigie, 1976:230-2
 Tim & Beverly Lahaye, The Act of Marriage, Zondervan Publishing House, 1998: 242
 Don Closson, The Feminization of American Schools, Probe Ministries 14 July 2002
 Traditional Kinship Patterns, 1994, allfer – Reference – Country Study and Country Guide – Pakistan (no author)
 Hafizur Rahman, Go Out Young Man, The International News, Internet Edition, May 14, 2005
 Goldthorpe, 1987:74
 P.C. Craigie, P.C, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament: The Book of Deuteronomy, London:
Hodder and Stoughton, 1976:304-5
 Craigie, 1976:304-5
 A.D.H. Mayes, The New Century Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publ. Co,
 Gordon D. Fee, The New International Commentary on the New Testament: The First Epistle to the Corinthians,
William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1987
Thursday, 7 January 2010
I noticed a number of arguments being brought up by Kunde as a reply to Sunil.
Again as usual when we read Muslim argumentation for Islam or against the Christian faith, we quickly discover the high number of inconsistencies, and I intend to assess some of these here; not because I intend to attack Kunde personally or single him out to expose him publically but rather because these lines of arguments are so frequently used in modern islamic apologetics:
1) Muslims/Qur'an does not attempt to follow earlier revelations or prophets.
a) This is absolutely false. The Qur'an, in multiple instances, asks Christians and Jews to look to what is still contained within their books for guidance towards the Qur'an and Islam.
I assume you are referring to the Gospel in Muhammad’s time! But can you then explain what the Gospel was in Muhammad’s time and what did it still contain? Could you please elaborate on this?
In the sixth and seventh century we know that Christians utilized the ‘Four Gospels’, hence based upon your wording here, the book of the Christians or the Gospel would be the ‘Four Gospels’, which Christians commonly referred to as ‘the Gospel’ and which would contained doctrines and narratives such as Jesus’ death and resurrection, which clearly contradict the Qur’an.
But now comes the real puzzle, because later in your replay to Sunil you state that the Gospels are not reliable. I find your view of these matters highly inconsistent; firstly your phrase ‘what is still contained within their books’ and secondly that these books are unreliable, and thirdly that Jews and Christians are still to seek their guidance.
This third claim (that Jews and Christians are to look to what is still contained) is indeed confirmed by the Qur’an:
“Say, O people of the book! You are not founded on anything until you PERFORM the TORAH and the GOSPEL, and what was revealed to you from your Lord” (Sura 5:68-71)
But you forgot to mention the third faction, the Qur’an encourages even Muslims and Muhammad to believe in and to consult the content of these previous writings:
Be courteous when you argue with People of the Book except with those among them who do evil. Say: “ We believe in that which is revealed to us and which was revealed to you. Our God and your God is one”. (Sura 29:46)
“If you Muhammad are in doubt regarding that which we have revealed to thee, ask THOSE who READ the BOOK from BEFORE YOU” (Sura 10:94).
“O ye who believe! Believe in Allah and his Messenger, and the SCRIPTURE WHICH HE SENT TO HIS MESSENGER, AND the SCRIPTURE WHICH HE SENT TO THOSE BEFORE (HIM). Any who denieth Allah, His angels, His BOOKS, His messengers, and the day of judgement, hath gone fare astray” (Sura 4:136)
I would assume if the author of the Qur’an believed the Gospel to be corrupted, he would have worded these passages quite differently and have revealed passages that explicitly confirmed the corruption of the Gospel (Injeel), yet such passages are no where to be found in the Qur’an.
The author of the Qur’an was either a deceiver or just plain ignorant!
If as you assume that these previous revelations are no longer reliable, why are the Christians, the Jews and the muslims asked to seek guidance from these books, and if it only refers to specific passages in these books which are devoid of corruption, where does the Qur’an differentiate explicitely between these corrupted passages and the intact passages?
I ask this question in particular since I would assume that this matter would demand explicit reference in the Qur’an, if this indeed was the author’s view.
In fact, we see in the Gospels a clear and progressive steering away from the earlier message. In Mark (12:29) we find Jesus saying the greatest commandment is "Hear, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One.", yet in the parallel passage in Matthew (23:36) states: "Love God with all your heart, soul and mind." Why? Possibly developing Christian theology?
No this is not developing Christian theology, the phrase of Jesus in Matthew 22: 36-37 (not 23: 36) is taken from Deuteronomy 6: 5 which records the phrase of Jesus in Matthew 22 and that of Jesus in Mark 12: 29-30; in fact both phrases are from Deuteronomy 6: 5, which makes it likely that Jesus quoted both of them, but Matthew simply omits the first part. It puzzles me how this is steering away from an earlier message, could you please elaborate on this?
Kunde seems to think that this is Matthew removing the focus of worshipping one God. All I can do is, is to encourage Kunde to read through Matthew, is this really the context of Matthew? Can you elaborate on, based upon the enterity of Matthew’s Gospel that Matthew’s omission of one single phrase reveals that Matthew is attempting to change the theology?
Furthermore, if this was the case then you would have to admit that the Qur’an is also steering away from the previous revelations and a development in theology. The Qur’an indeed claims to be united with the previous revelation, but a comparison of the contents of these writings reveals that the Qur’an is the book that deviates.
2)All the disciples/followers of Jesus were also mislead by the fake crucifixion.
a) This is only if you assume the Gospel accounts are accurate, which I do not, and as I argue, it is completely reasonable to question the validity of them (at the very least).
Again I find your conclusion highly inconsistent
Firstly, the Gospels are according to the Gospels not revelations they are the transmitted testimony of the eyewitnesses. The disciples are commanded to transmit Jesus sayings (Matthew 28: 20) and the narrative (Luke 24: 45-48) (Acts 1: 8).
Luke 24: 48 and Acts 1: 8 confirms that the disciples were commanded to be witnesses.
In the Gospel of John 15: 26-27 Jesus says:
‘When the Counsellor comes, whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of Truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me. And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning’.
Having been with Jesus from the beginning and be elected was to be a fundamental and authoritative witness, and this was indeed vital as we see from the selection of Matthias to join the category of the twelve (Acts 1: 23-26).
What am I saying here: I am saying that the Gospels are eyewitness testimony of the apostles and their transmission of the Gospel account and the sayings of Jesus, not revelation. Hence the Gospel is a witness of those who were commanded by Jesus to transmit this information.
Indeed the Qur’an seems to confirm this
When Jesus found unbelief on their part, he said: ‘who will be my helpers to (the work of ) Allah?’ Said the disciples: ‘We are Allah’s helpers: we believe in Allah and do you bear witness that we are Muslims. Our Lord! We believe in what you have revealed, and we follow the messenger, then write us down among those who bear witness’ (3: 53-4)
If the disciples of Jesus failed, and they must have if the Gospel suffered the corruption you are proposing, then the Qur’an is conveying a false picture of these followers of Jesus as being superior and victorious and doing the work of Allah:
O you who believe! Be you helpers of Allah: as said Jesus the son of Mary to his disciples, “who will be my helpers (to the work) Allah?” Said the disiciples, “We are Allah’s helpers!” Then a portion of the children of Israel believed, and a portion disbelieved: but we gave power to those who believed, against their enemies, and they became the ones that prevailed (Sura 6: 14)
I will make those who follow you superior to those who reject the faith to the day of resurrection (Sura 3: 55)
3)What Paul did isn't deception.
a)I'm pretty sure I didn't say, "Paul lied", but I did say something along the lines of deception. I was asked a similar question on the night to which I replied: "If it were modern times, would Paul come into a mosque and pray as we pray, etc, in order to present Christianity? Thats what it seems he did.
This is exaggerating the matter, I doubt Paul would have recognised any resemblance between Islam and first century Judaism! Paul would not have bowed toward a Gentile city like Mecca and a pagan shrine with a black stone kissed by its followers, I guess Paul would have recognised such practice as paganism. Paul at least realised that parts of Judaism and the religion of Israel was part of the progressive revelation of Yahweh, which Islam is not. This is why Paul and early Christians did not view it problematic to enter the temple or a synagogue; I don’t think they would have been equally sympatetic with a mosque.
You do realise that by being a 'Gentile to the Gentiles' that means he possibly worshiped their gods while with them? Do you think God needs to be presented in this way?"
You are in fact misrepresenting the passage here, Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 9: 20-22:
‘To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the Law I became like one under the Law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the Law. To those not having the Law I became like one not having the Law (though I am not free from God’s Law but under the Law of Christ), so as to win those not having the Law’.
It never says Paul became like a Gentile or that he adopted Gentile pagan practice. All the passage points is that Paul did not practice the Mosaic while in the presence of those not having this Law. Yet he emphasises that he is not free from the Law; meaning the Law of Christ, e.g. the Sermon on the Mountain and the Gospel information.
I am amazed how you even read the possibility of pagan worship into this context.
If you say 'yes', thats a very interesting belief system.
I also find it interesting that the Qur’an refers to the previous revelations as intact despite the rejection of its doctrine; is that misleading or was the author of the Qur’an so human that he failed to consider the content of these previous revelations?
Monday, 4 January 2010
Interestingly, while secular science right up to the 20th century viewed the universe in accordance with Aristotles' philosophy that the universe was simply eternal the Bible presented the scientific reality that the universe began, all a long.
The first passage of the Bible correctly states: 'In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth' (Genesis 1: 1).
Notice that the passage does not include particular ridicolous statements such as God separating heaven and earth, which was a common understanding among the ancient thinkers (as seen in the Gilgamesh writings, the Talmud, Lucretius and the Qur'an) and which is entirely unscientific in accordance to observation such as cosmological development and accreation.
Genesis simply records the beginning of the universe we live in.
We need however to consider the words 'heaven' and 'earth' in Genesis 1: 1; these are often recognised by the modern reader as references to the actual heaven and earth. Yet in accordance with the understanding of the ancient mind these terms combined ussually denoted a definition of the universe as a whole not a seperation of two entities.
But in the OT, as well as in Egyptian, Akkadian and Ugaritic, "heaven and earth" may also be used to denote the universe...Genesis 1: 1 could therefore be translated: "In the beginning God created everything" (Gordon J. Wenham, Word Biblical Commentary 1: Genesis 1-15, p.15)
This agrees with the modern scientific view that the universe once began.
The Bible also predicted another scientific factor, namely the very recent discovery of cosmological expansion. In Isaiah 40: 22: '...He stretches out the heavens like a canopy'.
At the same time God in his revelation to Isaiah also denotes the very end of the universe, something which in modern scientific theory is referred to as the Big Crunch, basically the universe being brought together into nothing:
"All the stars of the heavens will be dissolved and the sky rolled up like a scroll; all the starry host will fall" (Isaiah 34: 4)
This probably describes the total vanishing of the first earth and heaven in the Book of Revelation prior to the arise of a new universe:
'Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away...' (Revelation 21: 1)
This obviously speaks of a universe with different laws, eternal laws.
Saturday, 2 January 2010
On 22 September Yahya Snow posted on his blog a thread assessing from an Islamic perspective a phrase of Jesus from Mark 3: 35. Yahya attempted to prove that Jesus’ teaching by nature includes those who adhere to the Islamic and Qur’anic teaching, since Muslims who adhere to Islamic teaching naturally do the will of God.
In this rebuttal I intend to respond to Yahya Snow’s assessment of the passage in Mark and a number of additional related points, which he raised on his blog.
Yahya’s post and the related topic can be read on these two threads on his blog: ‘The Facts about Islam’
On 22 September Yahya Snow posted on his blog a thread assessing from an Islamic perspective a phrase of Jesus from Mark 3: 35. Yahya attempted to prove that Jesus’ teaching by nature includes those who adhere to the Islamic and Qur’anic teaching, since Muslims who adhere to Islamic teaching naturally do the will of God.
In this rebuttal I intend to respond to Yahya Snow’s assessment of the passage in Mark and a number of additional related points, which he raised on his blog.
Yahya’s post and the related topic can be read on these two threads on his blog: ‘The Facts about Islam’
Yahya Snow wrote:
‘The Bible Confirms: Muslims are the Brothers and Sisters (and Mothers) of Jesus by Yahya Snow
This may come as a surprise to those who are unaware of the contents of the Bible as well as unaware of whom the Muslims are but rest assured it comes as no surprise to those who are familiar with Prophetic Monotheism.
In order to explain the title let us look into the statement attributed to Jesus within the Gospel of Mark (3:35). Herein Jesus teaches us that his brothers, sisters and mothers are those who follow the Will of God.
Mark 3:35 says "For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother."
The uninformed may ask; how does this relate to the Muslims? Well, the word ”Muslim” simply means one who has submitted to the Will of God, so we come to know that “whoever does the Will of God” is a Muslim.
Thus we realise that Jesus is referring to Muslims in this passage so we should pass on these glad tidings to the Muslims as Muslims are indeed the brothers, sisters and mothers of Jesus’.
Hogan Elijah Hagbard responds:
Now let’s assess Yahya’s interpretation of Mark 3: 35:
Yahya presumes that Jesus’ wording in Mark 3: 35: ‘for whoever does the will of God, he is my brother, sister and mother’ establishes the Muslim claim that Jesus was a Muslim and that every Muslim is joined into the original religion of Jesus.
Yet, as I will pinpoint in this rebuttal, such a use of this passage is neither fair to its Markan context; neither does it do justice to the teaching of the Qur’an itself.
First and most we need to clarify that basing this particular debate on Mark’s Gospel may nevertheless prove futile since Mark’s Gospel is not a teaching Gospel but primarily a narrative Gospel. Hence if the Gospel of Mark is the earliest and the most reliable, as Yahya assumes, it simply eliminates the claim of the Qur’an that the original Gospel was a revelatory book of from heaven, it rather seems that the earliest writing focused much more on the narrative part.
However, let’s consider from the teachings of Jesus in Mark whether a Muslim can adhere to the teachings of the Qur’an and still do the will of God according to the words of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark.
An excellent example is Jesus teaching on divorce. In Mark 10: 11-12 Jesus says:
‘Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another women commits adultery with her. And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery with here’
Yet in the Qur’an we find its author conveying to his readers a very different regulation:
‘And if ye wish to exchange one wife for another and ye have given unto one of them a sum of money, take nothing from it’ (Sura 4: 20)
And if he hath divorced here (the third time), then she is not lawful unto him thereafter until she hath wedded another husband. Then if the (other husband) divorces her it is not sin for both of them that they come together again if they consider that they are able to observe the limits of Allah (Sura 2: 230).
According to the teaching of Jesus in Mark, if someone was to adhere to this teaching in Qur’an he would be categorized an adulterer; hence adhering to the teaching conveyed by the author of the Qur’an is not abiding by the will of God according to Jesus.
Another example if Jesus’ prediction of his own death in Mark 8: 31:
‘He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and teachers of the Law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. He spoke plainly about these this and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter: “Get behind me, Satan!” he said: “You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”’
Now I here am getting slightly puzzle about the Muslim interpretation of our scripture here! The Gospels clearly teach that Jesus died physically, while the Qur’an openly denies the death of Jesus (Sura 4: 157). Yet in Mark 8: 31 Jesus clearly describes his death as the will of God.
Hence my question to Yahya and other Muslims at this point is: How can you do the will of God in heaven (based upon Mark 3: 35) if you openly reject the ‘things of God’?
Notice here that Jesus even refers to Peter as Satan, since Peter had the audacity to oppose the will of God in heaven in terms of Jesus’ death and crucifixion.
In case of Yahya’s interpretation of Mark 3: 35, anyone who holds to the Muslim position and rejects the death of Jesus hardly describes a follower of Jesus; hence the faithful follower of the Qur’an is according to Jesus teaching in Mark not adhering to the will of God nor is he the Mother, brother or sister of Jesus, but rather as we read in Mark 8: 31 a devil or someone who represents the cause of Satan.
Hence considering Yahya’s conclusion of Mark 3: 35 in its proper context we find that quite the opposite conclusion is more bearing and accurate.
The flipside of the matter is also worth consideration, that is: Peter changed and embraced the will of God in terms of Jesus death; which means that Peter is no longer a representative of the devil---This same option is left open for every Muslim who wants to embark unto the true path of God.
There were also a number of other points raised by Yahya, which I feel we need to respond to.
Yahya Snow wrote:
We should also acknowledge that this verse is from the Gospel of Mark, this Gospel is thought to be the most reliable of the four as it is the earliest but it is also clear that even this Gospel has been adulterated (or changed) by the scribes; this is seen through the footnotes in the NIV Bible (indicating manuscript differences) especially the last ten verses of the Gospel of Mark (16:9-19) which are forged additions by a scribe(s).
There are a number of fallacies within this paragraph of Yahya.
Firstly he assumes that Mark being the earliest Gospel presumes that Mark is the more reliable of the four. Now Mark is indeed an early Gospel, if we consider the writings of Eusebius, Mark was written in Rome and was brought by Mark to Alexandria fairly early, possibly AD 45-50. I say this because the first bishop of Alexandria was Anniasus who came after Mark and became a bishop in the eight year of the emperor Nero, prior to the persecution (Eusebius, The History of the Church, Book 2, 15, 24). In that case Mark’ Gospel might have been written only 15-20 years after the ascension of Jesus. I am fully aware that many scholars date Mark 60-65, however, the earliest data we possess suggests 50 AD or a date even earlier.
However, Yahya is correct Mark is a reliable Gospel, in fact Mark’s Gospel proves to be a devastating problem for those seek to undermine the Christian faith.
I have spent months studying the nature, order, style and origins of Mark, and it is an incredible piece of literature based upon a dictation, which according to the early Christians was an oral transmission passed on from the apostle Peter to his disciple Mark.
Yahya claims that the gospel has been adulterated. This is quite an exaggerated and unattested claim. You only come anywhere such a possibility if you adhere strictly to the individual theories of source critics; yet these methods are conjecture only and if Yahya is to consider these claims he needs to reject Jesus’ miracles (after all one can only consider e.g. Koester and others who saw the supernatural aspect of Jesus as that very adulteration)
Yet there are good evidences that Mark has been well preserved. How do we know that? There are a number of pointers, both logical, historical and textual. Firstly, Mark’s Gospel is not very good literal piece of reading material, the author or its source had good but limited Greek, but knew Aramaic well, this is very obvious from the text and does not render it a very professional piece of literature. Furthermore, the text is written as sermon, lively and wordy and repetitive, etc; the grammatical side is also an issue.
Now try to ask yourself, does that render Mark unreliable or reliable?
Think of it this way, the very reason why the Gospel of Mark has been preserved in this style without any proper amendment or textual polishing reveals that later Christians knowing this transmission to be conveyed by an apostle were unwilling to make any necessary polishing or amendments; they preserved it in its original style and order. This refutes the allegation that Mark has suffered corruption. If Christians intended to corrupt Mark either to elevate Jesus Christ or some other doctrine they would also amend the literary style of the writing---yet they didn’t.
As to the variants caused by later scribes (which Yahya refers to), we are now moving from a speculative field of study into the field of textual criticism, yet the picture Yahya is presenting is a serious misinterpretation of this field of study and even a misinterpretation of e.g. Ehrman and Metgzer (whose books I love dearly).
I do not mind do an extensive debate on this in a later post, but the so called variants found in the Markan apparatus does not reveal the type of corruption so often exclaimed by the Muslims. The typical variants are typical scribal errors caused by faulty hearing or tiredness. These are typical categorized as spelling mistakes, grammatical mistakes, omitted words or sentences, or repeated words or sentences. If the reader wants to studies these issues may I recommend: Bruce Metzger, The Canon of the New Testament: Its Origin, Development, and Significance (Oxford Clarendon Press, 1987) and Bart D. Ehrman Misquoting Jesus.
Interestingly changes were made even of theological nature, yes! You will find the explanation of these in the books cited above.
However since a Muslim is bringing these up we need to consider them in that context. Some errors are indeed of theological significant such as certain corruptions of words in Luke’s Gospel mainly to protect the doctrine of the virgin birth (some local scribes sought to remove any wording in the three first chapters of Luke in Luke which were revealing any parental link between Jesus and his adoptive father Joseph; these passages despite the clear teaching of the virgin birth in Luke were potential lines misused by certain heretics who rejected the virgin birth, hence some scribes in their best intention, changed the wording ‘parents’ to Mary and Joseph).
Now before Muslim exclaim that this is sign that the Bible was changed, he has to consider firstly, that these were local not overall changes. Furthermore, they were detected and do not appear in the majority mainstream manuscripts nor in the Bible we read today (as far as I know). In fact early Christian successors were trained to detect such changes both in the written and oral transmission.
Furthermore, if the Muslim wants to push this matter, that is, if the local corruption of the text to support the teaching of Jesus’ virgin birth was an original fabrication, would that would not refute the reliability of the Qur’an as well since the Qur’an refers to this the virgin birth as factional (this is why Muslims ought to do their homework before they use textual criticism as a method of questioning the Bible).
In fact textual criticism does not support the Muslim view, on the contrary it confirms the accuracy and preservation of the New Testament manuscripts:
‘Most changes are careless errors that are easily recognised and corrected. Christian scribes often made mistakes simply because they were tired or inattentive...In spite of the remarkable differences among our manuscripts, scholars are convinced that we can reconstruct the oldest form of the words of the New Testament with a reasonable (though not 100 percent accuracy) (Barth Ehrman, Lost Christianities: The Battle for the Scripture and Faith We Never Knew, pp. 220-21).
Ehrman agrees in his later book Misquoting Jesus:
‘For my part however, I continue to think that even if we cannot be 100 percent certain...that it is at least possible to get back to the oldest and earliest stage of the manuscript tradition...This oldest form of the text is no doubt closely (very closely) related to what the author originally wrote’ (Barth Ehrman, Misquoting Jesus, p. 62)
This backfires upon the Muslim use of textual criticism. While the Muslim focuses on these minor textual issues, which generally are of no significance and typically a local deviation, the fact is that textual criticism has only managed to support the fact that the New Testament was well preserved. If textual criticism is utilized by the Muslim to point out our ignorance of a tiny portion of the New Testament text, then the Muslim also needs to recognise that the majority of the New Testament text has been proven intact and preserved by the methods and discovery of textual criticism; hence if we apply e.g. Ehrman, then the New Testament writings are fairly reliable and consequently the Qur’an needs to be rejected based upon historical investigation. This is why textual criticism backfires against the Islamic religion.
As to Yahya’s reference to the end of Mark 16, it hardly renders any support to the modern Muslim position either. Muslims tend to postulate that because the passage was not part of the remaining Mark or the original Mark, it renders entire Mark as a document of corruption. However, this is overstating a matter in which Muslim apologists lack even the most basic insight. The bottom line is: it does not render the passage as non-canonical or even secondary to the rest of Mark just because the passage is not Markan, this is often the typical misunderstanding of the common reader including some scholars.
We have to understand firstly that Mark’s Gospel is Peter’s own personal transmission of a two-genre Gospel tradition, which was common type of transmission in those days.
However, based upon the Triple-tradition it is obvious that Peter is not simply conveying an entirely different tradition, he is handing over to Mark his own personal transmission of a fixed oral transmission. This was also a common practice, yet a free transmission would naturally vanish due to the fixed transmission, unless of course the free transmission was written down and Mark was indeed written down; a free apostolic transmission (Mark’s Gospel) was therefore preserved with the fixed transmission. This fixed transmission is what you find when you start comparing the three synoptic gospels.
What am I saying here? I am saying that in 50-60 AD Mark’s Gospel, due to the presence of the apostles and the oral transmission, would still be rated as secondary. Who cared if the end was missing? The Christians at this time were reciting the entire Gospel in its two genres and the end of it (found in Mark 16, which Mark summarizes), orally and under the control of eyewitnesses anyway.
So where did the end come of Mark originate? There is one explanation only: if we consider the role of succession and transmission in first century Christianity, the end of Mark came from the oral transmission, hence it is as authoritative and apostolic in nature as the rest of Mark.
Yahya Snow further elaborates:
‘As a side note, this verse from the Gospel of Mark does reinforce the view that the followers of Jesus thought of Jesus as a Prophet rather than God as God would not declare people to be his mothers, sisters or brothers. It also shows that Jesus did not view himself to be God as this is not a statement one would expect of God but one would have expected a statement like this from a Prophet, hence Jesus thought himself as a Prophet.’
I think Yahya is misunderstanding the two natures of Jesus, the divine and the human; this is very typical Muslim fallacy. Jesus looks at his followers here as those who follow his teaching and example, hence in his human dimension it is fair to say that they have a close connection. Notice however, that the point is metaphorical, whether Jesus is God or not, the language is still metaphorical; they are not naturally the family of the human Jesus or divine Jesus anyway. This argument is totally futile.
Yet Yahya somehow derives from this that his followers must from, language such as this, have understood Jesus to have been anything but divine. However, this is not the picture we get from Mark’s Gospel at all. The reader of Mark is on the contrary introduced to Jesus as someone who in his very nature is extraordinary. In Mark chapter 1 God announced no less than twice in the Old Testament prophets his coming (the prophets Isaiah and Malachi). Isaiah in Isaiah 40:3-5 predicts the coming of John the Baptist who prepares the way for the Lord; this Lord is no one else but Jesus Christ. From Malachi we have another interesting description, a messenger who is preparing the way for the Lord who comes to his temple. It is interesting that this same individual is also the messenger of the covenant; what is this but God revealed in an inferior form (Malachi 3: 1). This same Lord and messenger who comes to the temple will also refine and judge the world (verse 2).
In Mark 1: 4-8 John confirms: 1) that he is the prophet who made way for this Lord and messenger of the covenant (now why would God send a human prophet to make the way for a human prophet? The answer lies in the passage itself: this is not a prophet arising among the people, but the Lord arriving in a inferior form); 2) that this Lord is much superior and powerful than John the Baptist himself, even to the extent that John is not worthy of untying the Lord’s sandals (why would a human prophet sense such inferiority because another human prophet?).
What is of greater significant is John’s statement that Jesus is the one who will baptise with the Holy Spirit, a privilege and ability not ascribed to human agents and which according to the Old Testament prophets is the ability and eschatological action ascribed to God only.
Hence my question is: does this Jesus depict just a human being?
Obviously not. Hence the Gospel of Mark refutes Yahya’s conclusion that the disciples of Jesus were unaware of his true nature. There was certainly a time of ignorance, and when Jesus utilized the family metaphor in Mark 3: 35 they were probably still ignorant, but initially as Mark chapter One reveals they were enlightened about the true nature of the one who metaphorically described them as brothers, sisters and mothers.
Yet to remain in this category, as we have seen from the Gospel of Mark requires quite the opposite of what Yahya presumes it would take to make a metaphorical family member of Jesus.
A response and challenge to those who oppose the Christian faith.