18. Jewish scriptures and the Bible
18.1 Jewish Scriptures (Hebraic Bible)
The Old Testament – or the Hebrew Bible – is a collection of works of differing lengths, written over a period of more than nine-hundred years. They were written in several languages and, like the Hadith literature, were based on materials collected from oral traditions. The contents of the Hebrew Bible is the same as Protestant Old Testament, but in a different order. The Catholic Old Testament includes extra books ejected from what became the Protestant version.
To get an overview of the contents, let us look at the contents of the Protestant version: the first five books, called the Torah in Hebrew and Pentateuch in English are: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. These books are traditionally attributed to Moses and deal with events from the beginning of the world to the death of Moses. These are the five primary elements of a collection of thirty-nine volumes that make up the Old Testament. Next come the twelve ‘historical’ books (Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings, 2 Kings, 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles) and the five ‘poetical’ books (Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastics and The Song of Solomon). These are followed by five recorded accounts of the ‘major prophets’ (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel and Daniel) and twelve ‘minor prophets’ (Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi).
The additional books belonging to the Catholic Old Testament are: Tobit, Judith, Esther, The Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach, or Ecclesiasticus, Baruch, Susannah, and The Prayer of Azariah.1
The five books of the Torah convey what remains to us of the original monotheism of the Biblical Israelite communities such as the Samaritans. Judaism, which evolved from the original Israelite monotheism, however, not only accepts all the thirty-nine books but also other traditional Jewish teachings written down in the early centuries of the Christian era. The latter is collectively known as the Talmud. Judaism does not accept any revelation subsequent to its own. It therefore, precludes the part of the Bible called the New Testament, as well as the Qur’an.
18.2 The Bible
The Protestant version accepts the thirty-nine books of the Jewish Scriptures as the Old Testament. The New Testament, comprising twenty-seven books, has been added to the Old Testament. Of these twenty-seven books, four are accounts of the career of Jesus called the Gospels (attributed to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John), and one is a report of the activity and the preaching of the early followers of Jesus, which is called Acts of the Apostles (usually referred to as Acts). Then there are twenty-one Epistles (correspondence of various apostles concerning religious instructions), thirteen of which are attributed to Paul, who is the real founder of what we now call Christianity. Finally, there is the book of ‘prophecy’ called Revelations. Christianity does not accept any revelation subsequent to Jesus and his Apostles. It, therefore, precludes the Qur’an.
18.3 History of the texts
There were at least three forms of Hebrew text around the third century B.C. They were the Masoteric text, the text used in part for the Greek translation, and the Samaritan Pentateuch. If all three forms of texts were available today a comparison would be possible and a decision could be reached as to what might have been the original text. Unfortunately, what is available is the Dead Sea Scrolls (Cave of Qumran), dating from not much before the arrival of Jesus; and a papyrus of the Ten Commandments of the second century C.E., which does not even fully agree with the classical text – the oldest Hebrew text of the Bible which dates from the ninth century C.E. The first Greek translation dates from the third century, and we can also mention the Latin version of the fourth century C.E., the Aramaic version, and the Syriac version, the last two being incomplete. The specialists have used all these versions to piece together in a multitude of revisions and versions the texts that we know today.
In the early days of Christianity, the foremost authority was oral tradition and the teachings of the Apostles.Â The first writings to circulate were Paul’s letters. In fact, before 140 A.D. people were not aware that a collection of Gospel writings existed. For about thirty or forty years, the Gospel had existed as an almost exclusive oral tradition. The ‘Evangelists, each according to his own outlook have collected and recorded in writing the material handed down by the prevailing tradition. Modern biblical scholars are agreed that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are not the authors of the four Gospels but rather titles attributed to compilations of diverse materials already collected by others. It was not until 170 A.D. that the four Gospels acquired the status of canon.
There were also many writings on Jesus in the early days of Christianity (see Luke 1.1) which the New Testament has excluded. Mention can be made of the Gospel of the Nazarenes, the Gospel of the Hebrews, the Gospel of the Egyptians, the Gospel of Thomas, and the Gospel of Barnabas. These are a few of the many which were in circulation but later burned and banned by order of the Church, from whence their name – Apocrypha – or hidden is derived. In C.E. 367 Bishop Athanasius of Alexandria compiled the list of works which were to carry Church approval. This list was ratified by the Church Council of Hippo in 393, and again by the Council of Carthage four years later. The question can easily be raised as to what arbitrary process was used to select the four Gospels used today out of the many that were in circulation, especially when some of the excluded books have a perfectly valid claim to historical authenticity. Moreover, the New Testament even in the highly questionable form we know it, has also been subjected to fairly drastic editing, censorship, revision, and creative translation, a process which continues to this day.
Thus, the human interference in both the Old and the New Testament is evidently considerable. Different versions of the same description can be found in the Old and the New Testament, as well as contradictions, historical errors, and incompatibilities with firmly established scientific data throughout.
18.4 Authenticity of the Jewish and Christian Scriptures
In the West, the critical study of the Scriptures is a recent development. Even today many people are content to accept the Bible – the Old and New Testaments – as it is, without questioning its authenticity or veracity. Only certain of the clergy has a comprehensive knowledge of the Bible, whereas the majority of the laity hears only selected readings as part of a sermon. One only needs to read some of the specialist studies of the Bible to be aware of the improbabilities and contradictions that exist in the Biblical texts. We have listed the reference of a typical case at the end of this chapter to which the interested reader may refer for further information.
However, quite aside from the contradictions in the Biblical texts, there are other serious issues which also cannot be ignored. We refer, in particular, to the blatant blackening of the character of the prophets, of barbaric social laws, immoral laws in warfare, and the condoning of outrageous practices such as incest, and other issues which conflict with our basic sense of morality and human values. In this chapter we discuss some of these questions, as well as point out some of the glaring inconsistencies within the text as a whole. In particular cases references are given. Further, we have outlined the Qur’anic views in cases where a contrasting parallel exists. In particular, we have discussed Abraham for the reason that he provide the most obvious common link between the Qur’an and the Bible.Â In the Bible, for example, God says that He made him ‘the Father of a Multitude of Nations’, and in the Qur’an Allah says that he (Abraham) had been given the title of ‘the Leader of All Mankind’.
18.5 Biblical character of some of the great Prophets2
The Biblical portrayal of Abraham takes the following form: Abraham married his sister Sarah who was the daughter of his father but not his mother. As such, this constituted an incestuous marriage between brother and step-sister. Sarah was very beautiful. When the land in which they were living was afflicted by famine, Abraham decided to go to Egypt with his wife. However, since Sarah was a beautiful woman, Abraham was afraid that he would be killed if the Egyptians knew that Sarah was his wife. So, he told his wife to declare that she was his sister. When Pharaoh heard of Sarah’s beauty he took Sarah into his household presumably taking her to be his wife. As a favour, he gave Abraham menservants and maidservants, and many cattle. But by taking Sarah into his household he incurred the displeasure of God who inflicted his household with plague. When Pharaoh became aware of the true nature of things, he chastised Abraham for misleading him by declaring his wife to be his sister. He then asked both of them to leave, but in kindness he did not take back the wealth that he had showered on Abraham because of Sarah (Genesis 12:10-20).
Abraham uses the same ploy with King Abim’elech of Gerar who took Sarah into his household on the understanding that Sarah was Abraham’s sister. But before the king could touch Sarah God warned him in a dream that he would pay with his life for taking a man’s wife into his household. So Abim’elech released Sarah and gave Abraham sheep, oxen and male and female slaves (Genesis 20:1-16).
Abraham was now a rich man because of the gifts he got from Pharaoh and King Abim’elech. As Sarah was barren, she tells Abraham to take Hagar the Egyptian maid as his wife.Â Abraham went in to Hagar, and she conceived (Genesis 16:1-4). Abraham called his son Ish’mael. When Abraham was ninety-nine years old, God made a covenant with him, the condition of which was that he and his household would have to be circumcised in the flesh of their foreskins, a command which Abraham carried out without delay. God also made him the father of a multitude of nations. At that time, Ish’mael was thirteen years old. God then promised Abraham that he would return in the spring and Sarah would have a son and his name will be Isaac (Genesis Chapters 17 & 18).
The Lord visited Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did to Sarah as he had promised. And Sarah conceived, and bore Abraham a son […] (Genesis 21:1,2)
Abraham named him Isaac. After Isaac was weaned Sarah said to Abraham:
Cast out this slave woman with her son; for the son of this slave woman shall not be heir with my son Isaac. (Genesis 21:10)
The Lord advised Abraham to do as Sarah suggested. After all, his descendants would be named through Isaac. However, He also promised that he would make a nation of the son of the slave woman. Abraham rose early in the morning, gave Hagar bread and a skin of water and sent her away with Ish’mael. She departed and wandered in the wilderness of Beer-sheba. When the water in the skin was finished Hagar cast her son under a bush. God heard the voice of the lad. An angel of the Lord called and asked Hagar to lift up the lad. God then opened Hagar’s eyes and she saw a well of water; and she went, and filled the skin of water, and gave the lad a drink. They lived in the wilderness of Paran; and his mother took a wife for him from the land of Egypt (Genesis 21:12-21).
After these things God wanted to test Abraham. He said:
Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Mori’ah, and offer him there as a burnt offering upon one of the mountains of which I shall tell you. (Genesis 22:2)
So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his ass, and took two of his young men, and his son Isaac to the place of which God had told him. He built an altar and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar, upon the wood. Then Abraham took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said:
Do not lay your hand on the lad; for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son from me. (Genesis 22:12)
Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and found behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horn. So Abraham took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. The angel of the Lord called a second time and said that because of his obedience to the Lord’s command, the Lord promised to multiply his descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand on the seashore. And by his descendants all the nations of the earth should be blessed. So Abraham returned and dwelt in Beer-sheba (Genesis 22:13-19) .
Note: See section 7.5 as to what the Qur’an has to say on Abraham.
According to the Qur’an both Ishmael and Issac were Abraham’s sons and both became prophets in their own right. Abraham was tested by Allah, and because he passed all the tests he was made ‘the Leader of Mankind’. As a further test, he was asked to sacrifice his son (Ish’mael) and when he was at the point of carrying it out, Allah redeemed him with a ‘momentous sacrifice’. The sacrifice was not a ram (and this is not stated in the Qur’an) but a covenant between him and Allah, which was to build the KABA, the House of Allah, purify the House (the Kaba) for those who came to perform their rites, and to work for the cause of Allah. He was given the same book of guidance as were all other prophets who followed him, and according to the Qur’an: ‘he was neither a Jew nor a Christian but a true Muslim’ i.e. submitting from the heart to the laws of God. The way of life prescribed for mankind through him, as through all the prophets, is Islam, and all the followers of this path are to be called Muslims. Abraham had an impeccable character and stories about deceptions, as described in the Old Testament, are in direct contradiction to his respected place a great prophet of God. Moreover, how could God say Abraham’s ‘only son Isaac’ – since there was never a time at which Isaac was Abraham’s only son? And again, why did not GodÂ give Sarah a child before Abraham had to have a child with Hagar? These points, and many others, impress themselves upon the careful reader of the Bible text.Â The Qur’an, however, shows no such inconsistencies: all the prophets are shown to be persons of high moral conduct – genuinely true to their calling as messengers of Allah.
18.5.2 Examples of immorality in other Biblical Prophets and kings
And he (Noah) drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he lay naked within his tent. (Genesis 9:21)
And he (Saul) stripped off his clothes also, and prophesied before Samuel in like manner, and lay down naked all day and all that night, wherefore they say, is Saul also among the Prophets? (1 Samuel 19:24)
How glorious was the king of Israel (David) today, who uncovered (became naked) himself today in the eyes of the handmaids of his servants, as one of the vain fellows shamelessly uncovered himself ! (2 Samuel 6:20)
And David sent messengers, and took her (Bath-sheba); and she came in unto him, and he lay with her […] (2 Samuel 11-4)
David wickedly caused the death of Uriah, the husband of Bath-sheba. ( 2 Samuel 11:6-25)
Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines. (11-3).
He murdered his own half-brother Adonijah with all his supporters because he had wanted to marry just one of Solomon’s many women. (1 Kings 2:13-25))
And the Lord said, like as my servant Isaiah hath walked naked and barefoot three years […] young and old, naked and barefoot, even with their buttocks uncovered, to the shame of Egypt. (Isaiah 20:3-4)
18.5.3 Examples of Mosaic Law
Some of the Mosaic laws given below reflect badly on Moses, if one is to maintain, against all reason and logic, that Moses was in fact the writer of the first five books of the Bible.
And Moses was angry with the officers of the army, the commanders of thousands and the commanders of hundreds, who came from the service in the war. Moses said to them, ‘Have you let all the women live? Behold, these caused the people of Israel, by the counsel of Balaam, to act treacherously against the Lord. Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known man by lying with him. But all the young girls who have not known man by lying with him, keep alive for yourself.” (Numbers 31:14-18)
When you draw near a city to fight against it, offer terms of peace to it. And if its answer to you is peace and it opens to you, then all the people who are found in it shall do forced labour for you. But if it makes no peace with you, but makes war against you, then you shall besiege it; and when the Lord your God gives it into your hand you shall put all its males to the sword, but the women and the little ones, the cattle and everything else in the city, all its spoil, you shall take as a booty for yourself; and you shall enjoy the spoils of your enemies, which the Lord your God has given you. Thus you shall do to all the cities which are very far from you, which are not cities of the nations here. But the cities of these people that the Lord your God gives you for an inheritance, you shall save alive nothing that breathes. (Deuteronomy 21:10-16)
If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son, who will not obey the voice of his father or mother, and, though they chastise him, will not give heed to them[…] Then all the men of the city shall stone him to death with stones […] (Deuteronomy 21: 18, 21)
If a man takes a wife, and goes in to her, and then spurns her […] because he did not find the tokens of virginity in her […] And if the thing is true that the token of virginity was not found in the young woman, then they shall bring out the young woman to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her to death with stones […] (Deuteronomy 22:13, 20, 21)
If a man is found lying with a wife of another man, both of them shall die […] (Deuteronomy 22:22)
If there is a betrothed virgin, and a man meets her in the city and lies with her, then you shall bring both of them out to the gate of the city, and you shall stone them to death with stones, the young woman because she did not cry for help though she was in the city, and the man because he violated his neighbour’s wife […] (Deuteronomy 22:23)
However, if a man meets a virgin who is not betrothed, and seizes her and lies with her, and they are found, then the man who lay with her shall give to the father of the young woman fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife, because he has violated her […] (Deuteronomy (22:28)
He whose testicles are crushed or whose male member is cut off shall not enter the assembly of the Lord. No bastard shall enter the assembly of the Lord; even to the tenth generation none of his descendants shall enter the assembly of the Lord. (Deuteronomy 23:1,2)
Incest is very common in the whole of the Old Testament often involving the characters of the prophets and their families. Following are a few references:
Between father and daughters: (Genesis 19:33-35)
Between mother and son: (Genesis 35:22)
Between father-in-law and daughter-in-law: (Genesis 38:15-18)
Incest and rape between brother and sister: (2 Samuel 13:14)
Incest and rape between son and mothers: (2 Samuels 16:22)
Other kinds of incest (Leviticus 18:8-18, 20:11-14 and 17-21)
According to ‘Matthew’ Jesus was sent to the Jews:
And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. And behold a Canaanite woman from the region came out and cried, ‘Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely possessed by a demon.’ But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, ‘Send her away, for she is crying after us’. He answered, ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.’ But she came and knelt before him, saying ‘Lord, help me.’ And he answered, ‘It is not fair to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.’ She said, ‘Yes, Lord, yet even dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.’ Then Jesus answered her, ‘O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.’ And her daughter was healed instantly. (Matthew: 15:21-28)
These twelve [disciples] Jesus sent out, charging them, ‘Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. And preach as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. (Matthew 10:5,6)
However, ‘Matthew’ appears to contradict himself when he goes on to say:
And Jesus came and spoke to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations […]
(Here Matthew contradicts what he said earlier, that Jesus was sent for the lost sheep of Israel only)
[…] baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo I am with you always, to the close of the age.’ (Matthew 28:18-20)
The Qur’anic verse 3:49 when translated literally, appears to agree with the Bible that Jesus was given the powers to perform miracles, such as power to heal the blind and the lepers, and bring the dead back to life. However, this literalistic interpretation comes into direct contradiction with the following verses in which Allah claims the power of any command to be His alone.
(18:26) […] They have no protecting friend beside Him, and He maketh none share in His command.
(40:12) […] But the command belongeth only to Allah, the Sublime, the Majestic.
There is no physical evidence that a human being can bring the dead back to life, and Jesus after all, according to the Qur’an, was a man and not a ‘son’ of God. The verse 3:49, therefore, seems to be allegorical where the most likely explanation of the ‘raising of the dead’ by Jesus is that it is a metaphorical description of his giving new life to a people (the Jews) who were spiritually dead. The ‘healing of the blind and the leper’ has a similar significance: namely, an inner regeneration of people who were spiritually diseased and blind to the truth.
The Bible, however, claims that Jesus did perform miracles in the simple sense of the word. The Qur’an does not refute this, but makes the point that whatever he did was performed only by the permission of God and not as the result of his own will. This point is explicitly made by the Bible too, but conveniently de-emphasised by many of today’s churches.
I can do nothing on my own authority; as I hear, I judge; and my judgement is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me. (John 5:30)
But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out the demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. (Luke 11:2 […]
Father I thank thee that thou hast heard me. I knew that thou hearest me always, but I have said this on account of the people standing by, that they may believe that thou didst send me. When he had said this, he cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out.’ The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with bandages’ and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Unbind him and let him go.’ (John 11: 41-44)
It is interesting to note that Acts gives many examples of miracles performed in the name of Jesus, not only by the apostles but also by their later disciples. The master, Jesus, had said that the power to do such things was not his own. Logically, therefore, the inference must be that anyone who became a disciple of Jesus automatically received powers similar to those Jesus himself received from God.
According to ‘Matthew’, Jesus was sent only to ‘the lost sheep of Israel’. Unfortunately, today, the nation-specific and monotheistic nature of Jesus’ mission is glossed over and concealed by the so-called ‘evangelical Christian’ movements of which there are many. However, the Trinitarian, man-god creeds of modern Christology are by no means the founding blocks of the religion which has developed into what we today understand by the word ‘Christianity’. The historical fact is that in the early part of ‘Christianity’ there was a struggle between two main factions. The former was Judeo-Christianity, staunch monotheism of the kind recognised by both Jews and Muslims, which recognised Jesus as a messenger, sent by God.Â The latter was what one might call Pauline Christianity that is, Christianity as preached – and largely invented – by Paul. It was only slowly that the former was supplanted by the latter, and it should be remembered that Pauline Christianity’s eventual triumph over Judeo-Christianity came about for reasons of temporal political expediency only.
Bucaille notes that, for Paul, the circumcision, Sabbath, and the form of worship practised in the Temple were henceforth old fashioned, even for the Jews. Christianity was to free itself from its political-cum-religious adherence to Judaism and open itself to Gentiles.3
It is important to note that the original teaching of Jesus does not exist and the Bible that exists today is based on oral traditions – corrupted ones at that.
According to the Qur’an Jesus was sent as a messenger to the Children of Israel. The book he received from Allah was the Injeel (Gospel). He confirmed the Taurah (law) and brought the good news of a messenger to come after him whose name should be Ahmad (another name for Muhammad, derived from the same three root letters H-M-D). When the Qur’an states that the same book was given to all the prophets, what it means is that the book given to all the Prophets contained the same law. Therefore, the law as revealed in the Taurah and the Injeel (Gospel) in its original form is preserved in the Qur’an which is the Word of Allah but, unlike the previous scriptures, free from all human interference. The Qur’an firmly rejects the proposition that Jesus was the ‘son’ of God.
The quotations below refer to two types of gospels: ‘narrative gospels’ and ‘sayings gospel’. One of the major contradictions in the narrative gospels is that out of the four gospels in the modern Bible only ‘Matthew’ and ‘Luke’ contain some semblance of the teachings and the sayings of Jesus. These sayings and teachings of Jesus are referred to as the ‘sayings gospel’ which according to Burton L. Mack is the ‘lost gospel’ as practised by the early Christians, before it was superseded by the ‘narrative gospels’.
The mythology that is most familiar to Christians of today developed in groups that formed in northern Syria and Asia Minor. There, Jesus’ death was first interpreted as a martyrdom and then embellished as a miraculous event of crucifixion and resurrection. This myth drew on Hellenistic mythologies that told about the destiny of a divine being (or son of God). Thus, these congregations quickly turned into a cult of the resurrected or transformed Jesus whom they now referred to as the Christ, or the Lord, as well as the Son of God. The congregations of the Christ, documented most clearly in the letters of Paul from the 50s, experienced a striking shift in orientation, away from the teachings of Jesus and toward the spirit of the Christ who had died and was raised from the dead. It was this myth that made the narrative gospels possible.4
The first followers of Jesus could not have imagined, nor did they need, such a mythology to sustain them in their efforts to live according to his teachings. The sayings gospel was quite sufficient for the Jesus movement as they understood it. Even after the narrative gospels became the rage, the sayings gospel was still intact. It was still being copied and read with interest by ever-widening circles. And it was available in slightly different versions in the several groups that continued to develop within the Jesus movement. Eventually, the narrative gospels prevailed as the preferred portrayal for Christians, and the sayings gospel finally lost to the historical memory of the Christian church. Were it not for the fact that the two authors of narrative gospels incorporated sizeable portions of the sayings gospel into their stories of Jesus’ life, the sayings gospel of the first followers of Jesus would have disappeared without a trace in the transitions taking place. We never would have known about the Jesus movements that flourished prior to the Christian church. But Matthew and Luke each had a copy of the sayings gospel, and the material each copied from it largely overlapped. It was this fortuitous coincidence that made it possible in recent times to recover the book, even though the sayings now sound like the pronouncements of the Son of God instead of the teachings of Jesus.5
Further evidence of the sayings Gospel come from the discovery in 1946 of a cache of twelve Coptic codices and fragments near Nag Hammadi in upper Egypt. The collection, which was deposited about 400 CE, contains approximately fifty works. Amongst these important collections is the Gospel According to Thomas. This is a remarkable text that may tell us a great deal about the historical Jesus. The title at the beginning reads ‘These are the sayings of Living Jesus’. Thus the Gospel of Thomas is a sayings text i.e. it is a gospel that has sayings of Jesus, without any particular narrative context. In fact, there is only one reference to a cross, and that is in the context of a proverb that ‘you have to bear the cross’ meaning that you have to bear your burden. We repeat, this is the only reference to a cross of any kind. There is also no mention of the resurrection whatsoever. The original manuscripts are kept in the Coptic museum in Egypt, forming a challenge to the imaginative mythology which has become orthodox Christianity. Mark Tully in a recent television series called The Lives of Jesus, (Dec. 1996) discussed the implication of this hidden gospel with some experts in the field, and found the Gospel according to Thomas to be an important collection of 114 sayings attributed to Jesus.6
The distortion of Christianity from the original teachings of Jesus as contained in his sayings, is entirely due to Paul. A similar comparison can be made of Islam which, as practised today, is governed by the writings of Bukhari and Muslim which distort both the spirit and the letter of the Qur’an. The only qualitative difference between the two groups is that the Qur’an has remained both intact and in its original form. The Bible, on the other hand, is based on oral traditions of comparable quality to the writings of Bukhari, Muslim and others. That humanity is so divided today is the result of the writings of the likes of Paul, Bukhari, and Muslim who ignored the fundamental values of life, as taught by the prophets. Instead, they based their writings totally on oral traditions, collected over a period of time and, let us not forget, leaned heavily on their own imaginations.
Finally, the reason here for bringing out some of the many anomalies found in the Old and the New Testaments is to prove the point which the Qur’an clearly indicates in many of its verses, namely, that the Old and the New Testament, as they exist today, are not the texts as originally revealed.
The Qur’an is free from all such anomalies. It is the Word of God without the influence of human interference, and contains a message completely consistent with all that the prophets received prior to the Qur’anic revalation. The Qur’an claims this quite categorically when it reminds Muhammad that nothing has been given to him that was not given before (41:43). One reason for the revelation of the Qur’an is simply that the previous books do not exist in their original form. One can make an exhaustive comparison of the Biblical texts and the Qur’an with regard to points, which on the face appear to be similar and yet hold fundamental differences due simply to the human element in the Biblical texts. Where modern scientific investigation has been able to contribute any light, it has consistently found in favour of the Qur’anic presentation.
- Making the Christian Bible by John Barton. Published by Darton, Longman and Todd, Ltd.Â Spencer Court, 140-142 Wandsworth High Street, London SW18 4JJ
- All Biblical quotations are from “The Holy Bible“: Revised Standard Version.1952.
- The Bible The Qur’an and Science, by Dr. Maurice Bucaille. Publisher Seghers, 6 Place Saint-Sulpice 75006 Paris. p. 67, 68.
- The Lost Gospel (The Book of Q and Christian Origins), by Burton L. Mack. Published in Great Britain by Elements Book Ltd. Longmead, Shaftesbury, Dorset. p. 2.
- Ibid,. p. 3.
- The Lives of Jesus, A BBC television series presented in December 1996 by MarkÂ Tully. This paragraph is a selection from the last programme of that series.