Part 8: The 'Proof'
CHAPTER XXIX:EXAMINING SOME EVIDENCE
Some Early Tabi'un and Tab Tabi'un Evidence - A Backup Source
That not only these four Gospel records but also Epistles (letters) of the Companions were highly revered is obvious in the testimony of six Tabi'un and Tab Tabi'un who became spread across the expanse of the Greco-Roman Empire [see Map on page opposite].
They are Clement (bishop of Rome; c. 30- c. 100 AD), Ignatius (bishop of Antioch; c. 70- c. 116 AD), Justin Martyr (c. 100- 165 AD), Polycarp (bishop of Smyrna; c. 69- c. 155 AD), Papias (bishop of Hieropolis; c. 80- c. 155 AD), Irenaeus (raised in Asia Minor and later was bishop of Lyon, Gaul; c. 125- c. 180 AD).
Four of these, Ignatius, Justin Martyr, Polycarp and Papias, died as martyrs in Rome for confessing all that we believe today from the Scriptures rather than giving it up by acknowledging the Roman Emperor as a ‘god’. [Note: some of these men were made bishops (i.e. overseers) by the Companions of Jesus - they are reliable witnesses]
This persecution of the Christians for refusing to sacrifice to other gods and denounce their Faith in Jesus was a circumstance which caused the content of the Companion and Tabi' Gospel records, the Companion Epistles, as well as the general Beliefs of the Christian Faith as expressed in the Gospel records, to be written up and widely known. This occurred through various letters (epistles) written by these six Tabi'un and Tab Tabi'un to one another and also from them to the various churches.
Aside from letters some wrote larger works to the Roman authorities to declare the unworthy attitude which treated moral and honourable Christian citizens with death simply because of their faithfulness to their beliefs in Christ.
[NOTE: The letters of these 6 men are not included among the New Testament Epistles although in the regions which received such letters they were cherished and sometimes were appended after Revelation (Apocalypse - the last Companion book of the New Testament) because of the honour given to these men and their counsel.]
We begin with the Tabi’ Clement (c. 30- 100 AD) who was one of the first bishops of Rome. [It must be understood that this is long before the existence of what is now known as the Roman Catholic Church over which ‘Popes’ rule and which gradually rejected the Gospel -see Appendix D.]
(APPENDIX D: SEE END OF CHAPTER)
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Clement is acknowledged as being the bishop at Rome before the end of the first century AD, and he wrote an epistle [letter] to the Corinthians, an assessment of the contents of which states:
‘... So much use is made of Paul’s Ep. [letter] to the Corinthians that we cannot lay much stress on the fact that one of the topics of that epistle is fully treated.... the deaths of Peter and Paul, described as men of their own generation, are referred to as then recent, and some of the presbyters appointed by the apostles are spoken of as still surviving.... He expressly mentions Paul’s Ep. to the Corinthians; and twice reminds his hearers of words of our Lord. The way in which he uses the quotations implies the existence of written records recognised by both parties. Besides these, without any formal citation he makes unmistakable use of other N.T. [New Testament] books, chiefly Heb., but also of Rom. And other Pauline, including the Pastoral epistles, Acts, James, and 1 Peter. ...
The letter does not yield any support for the theory of 1st century disputes between a Pauline and an anti-Pauline party in the church. No such disputes appear in the dissentions at the Corinthian church... Clement holds both SS [i.e. saints] Peter and Paul in the highest (and equal) honour." (A Dictionary of Christian Biography, ed. Wace and Piercy, article on Clement of Rome, p. 173f; emphasis added)
This type of evidence cannot be ignored by Those Who Seek Truth. It gives clear testimony that a respected Christian leader (died 100 AD) in Rome (Italy), quoted words of Jesus, as well as Companion Epistles (letters), in a way which alludes to written records which both he and his intended audience possess.
Among his citations noted here are numerous Epistles (letters) of the Companions of Jesus such as James, Peter, and the writing called ‘The Acts of the Apostles’ (Frakis) which was written by Luke who travelled with the Companion/Tabi’ whose Epistles are also mentioned, namely Paul.
[NOTE: We say Companion/Tabi’un for although he might be considered to be of the second generation of Believers, Paul also saw and spoke with Jesus. As such he was recognised by the other Companions as an apostle of Jesus and showed the signs and wonders associated with the men chosen by Jesus for such a task.]
Others have noted that Clement’s letters contain portions of Matthew, Mark and Luke’s Gospel records.
It must be observed that, having lived in Rome, Clement was thus personally acquainted with Paul and Peter whose deaths he mentions (see above quotation). They spent their last years in Rome. The death of Peter is placed at about 67 AD.
Another writer has commented on a letter which the Tabi’ Clement wrote to the Church at Corinth:
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"Forty years later in about 96 AD, a man named Clement, a bishop in Rome, wrote a letter to the church at Corinth just as Paul had done. In that letter he writes,
"Read your letter from the blessed Apostle Paul again."
What letter is Clement referring to? He is referring to 1 Corinthians ... and he quotes from 1 Corinthians 15:20 saying,
"He (God) has made Jesus the first-fruits by raising him from the dead". [The footnote here states: Epistle of Clement to Corinth, Early Christian Writings, op. Cit., p 36, section 24]
In addition to other quotations from 1 Corinthians, he paraphrases or quotes from the Judeo-Christian Gospel of Matthew, and five other New Testament books: 1 Peter, James, Hebrews, Paul’s letters to the Romans, and Ephesians.
It is natural that he would know about the letter to the Romans since it had been written to Clement’s own church in Rome. But the other letters had been written to churches in Greece and what is now Turkey. This shows that they were quickly circulated among the early Christians..." (The Qur’an and the Bible ..., Campbell, p. 148; italics added)
Next we note the Tabi’ Ignatius (70 - d. 116 AD) who while being transported by the Romans from Antioch to Rome for trial on account of his faith in Jesus, stopped at, among other places, Smyrna where he visited Polycarp (whom we will note next) and the church there. He next went to Troas where he wrote a letter to each of the Philadelphians, Smyrna and the Tabi’ Polycarp. He then went to Philippi and at his next stop wrote a letter to the Philippians, which also is extant.
In one writing of his to the Romans he said:
"I am the bread-corn of Christ, to be ground by the teeth of beasts, that I may be pure bread" (Ignatius, ad. Rom. iv. 1; as cited from A Dictionary of Christian Biography, article on Ignatius, p. 508)
In the same work he wrote of Jesus Christ:
"My love was crucified" (Ignatius ad Rom. vii. 2; as cited from A Dictionary of Christian Biography, article on Ignatius, p.508)
The same writer mentions that Ignatius has called Christ (i.e. Jesus) "the Son of God" 29 times. He goes on to assess the epistles of Ignatius with the words:
"The epistles lay vast stress upon the Godhead of the Lord [i.e. Jesus]; it is because of this that His birth is the entrance of the New Man, and His death the resurrection of the faithful. To them He stands in a personal and practical relation which makes Him their God. ... But He [i.e. Jesus] was always God. .. The three mysteries loudest in proclamation of truth to those who can hear, are the Incarnation, Birth, and Death of Christ, hid in their real significance from the devil and the unbelieving." (A Dictionary of Christian Biography,
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article on Ignatius, p.514f)
We must realize that this was a man raised in Antioch, a city not 300 miles from Jerusalem where Jesus and his Companions had lived. It was this same Antioch to which the Believers fled from the persecution of Bani Israel in the days immediately after Jesus arose to Heaven.
Not only did Ignatius know the original Gospel Message, but so did those he knew, visited, and had correspondence with along the entire route to Rome!
This same Tabi’ Polycarp (c. 69- 155 AD) who Ignatius visited and wrote to, himself later wrote a letter to the Philippians (c. 110 AD) enquiring after Ignatius. An assessment of the content shows:
"Polycarp wrote immediately after receiving the epistle of the Philippians. He speaks of the death of Ignatius, knowing that the sentence in Antioch made it certain, probably also knowing the date of the games at which he was to die. But he is not acquainted with any particulars, since he asks for news concerning the martyr and those with him (Ep. Pol. Xiii), and at the request of the Philippians forwards all the epistles of Ignatius to which he had access, viz. those to the Asiatic churches" (A Dictionary of Christian Biography, article on Ignatius, p.513)
We see clearly the interrelationship between these Tabi'un and between the churches everywhere. In this letter Polycarp also mentions not only that he knew that the apostle Paul had written a letter to the Philippians, but much more:
"Though Polycarp’s epistle is remarkable for its copious use of of N.T. [New Testament] language there are no formal quotations but it is mentioned that St Paul had written to the church at Philippi to which Polycarp’s epistle is addressed. The language in which Paul’s letters are spoken of, both here and in the epistles of Ignatius, decisively refutes the theory that there was opposition between the schools of John and Paul. ...
Polycarp’s Pauline quotations include distinct recognition of Eph. and I & II Tim. And other passages clearly shew a use of Rom., I Cor., Gal., Phil., II Thess. The employment of I Peter is especially frequent. There is one unmistakable coincidence with Acts." (A Dictionary of Christian Biography, article on Polycarp, p. 84f)
Polycarp’s testimony to the content of many Companion Epistles is indicative of the early evidence upholding the content of the present New Testament. In this same letter we find the Tabi' Polycarp declaring:
"Every one who doth not confess that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is antichrist; and whosoever does not confess the testimony of the Cross is of the devil."(ibid.)
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Remember, this is the confession of a Tabi’ who had personally heard the Companion John! In fact his words, "Every one who doth not confess that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is antichrist" can be seen to be the statement contained in one Epistle attributed to the Companion John:
"Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist." (2 John 7)
It has also been noted of this same letter of the Tabi’ Polycarp to the Philippians:
"Sometime around 107 AD, he wrote a letter to the church at Philippi - a church started by Paul in 49 or 50 AD.
In his letter he refers to "the apostles who brought us the Gospel, and the prophets who foretold the coming of the Lord (the Messiah)". At least three times he mentions Paul by name, as well as stressing the fact that Paul had preached to the Philippians and then written to them. He calls Paul’s letter to the Ephesians "scripture" - the same title used for the Torah of Moses - as we see in the following Quotation:
"I have no doubt you are well versed in Holy Scripture... it says there, ‘Do not be angry to the point of sin; do not let the sun go down on your indignation’. [Quoted from Ephesians 4:26] The happy man is he who keeps this in mind ... May the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the eternal High priest Jesus Christ himself, the Son of God, help you to grow in faith and truth.4
"In him (Jesus the messiah), endurance went so far as to face even death for our sins ... Though you never saw him for yourselves, yet you believed in him ...well knowing that it is by grace you have been saved, not of your own doing. [quoted from Ephesians 2:8]5
The sections in boldfaced type show that he firmly believed in the Doctrinal Gospel, and in this short letter of seven pages, he quotes from the Gospel according to Matthew, Acts, Romans, 1 Corinthians, Galatians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 1 Peter and 1 John, as well as Ephesians, for a total of 10 of the 27 New Testament books.
These ten book, originating in places as far apart as Palestine, Turkey, Greece, and Rome, were well-known to Polycarp only ten or 15 years after the death of John the Apostle, again demonstrating the early and wide dissemination of the New Testament Scriptures." (The Qur’an and the Bible ..., Campbell, p. 149; underlining added)
Polycarp was also a companion of the Tab Tabi’ Justin Martyr (c.100- 165 AD) whose writing called Apology was written at Rome in approx. 138 AD in the midst of the severe persecution and martyrdom of the Christians by the Roman (not Roman Catholic) Empire.
Concerning the content of his Apology we find the following assess
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"And so he tells his heathen readers that he is quoting from ‘memoirs’ of our Lord which are called ‘Gospels’, and which were composed by the Apostles and by those who followed them. Observe how accurately this agrees with our present Gospels - two being composed by Apostles, two by their immediate followers.
Justin adds that these memoirs were read along with the writings of the prophets at meetings of Christians on each Sunday." (Introduction to the New Testament, Salmon, p. 58f; emphasis added)
Here Justin testifies that the four Gospel records were considered as worthy to be read as the writings of the Prophets. This is exactly how they are treated today.
He was martyred in Rome in approx. 165 AD, at which time Irenaeus of Ephesus (born c. 125 AD - whom we will speak of next), a Tab Tabi’ who had been taught by Polycarp, was attesting to the four Gospel records which we possess today. [We will note his attestation shortly.]
In Justin’s Dialogue With Trypho he is noted as asserting in a detailed manner such topics as:
"In cc. 48-108 he expounds the absolute divinity of Christ, his pre-existence, incarnation, passion, resurrection, and ascension, by virtue of which belief in Him is proved consistent with belief in God alone." (A Dictionary of Christian Biography, article on Justin Martyr, p. 622)
It is also noted of Justin:
"According to Justin man has been imprisoned in sin since the fall of Adam, the first man, deceived of the devil who fell greatly by deceiving Eve." (Ibid., p. 629)
b lived in the region of Jerusalem before he went to Rome. He knew the Gospel and its doctrines as it was originally proclaimed and found the same Gospel and doctrines cherished among the Christians at Rome.
The Tab Tabi’ Justin also cites the four Gospel records. Yet some assert that Justin’s citations are not absolutely identical to the Gospel records which we possess. Before we examine two examples, it is well to read some comments as to the general mode of his writings as assessed from the content of his 3 extant writings, Apology I, Apology II and Dialogue With Trypho:
"Evidently he must have written a great deal, and the three undoubted works still extant perhaps account for this voluminous character of his writings. For these three pieces are written loosely and unsystematically, and read like the outpouring of a mind that had ranged widely in heathen literature and philosophy, and had massed a large store of general knowledge, which could be easily and effectively brought to bear upon current topics, without any scrupulous regard to the artistic or sym
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metrical appearance of the result." (A Dictionary of Christian Biography, article on Justin Martyr, p. 619)
Let us, then, examine two examples for ourselves and see how ‘great’ the ‘discrepancy’ actually is.
The context of our first quotation is something of which Salmon says:
"... in order to show how pure was the morality taught by our Lord, Justin devotes three consecutive chapters to quoting his precepts.".
From this passage we take the following quotation into which we have introduced asterisks ** to divide the text into sections for examination:
"He [Jesus] said, "Give to him that asketh, and from him that would borrow turn not away;**for if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive what new thing do ye? Even the publicans do this. ** Lay not up for yourselves treasure upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where robbers break through; but lay up for yourselves treasure in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt. ** For what is man profited if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for it? ** Lay up treasure, therefore, in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt." (Introduction to the New Testament, Salmon, p. 59)
For anyone who is not familiar with the content of the Gospel records it is easy to accept another’s word that this wording is ‘quite different’ from that in the Gospel records. However, we invite our reader to examine for himself the following comparison with the present Gospel records and decide for himself:
Justin "Give to him that asketh, and from him that would borrow turn not away"
Justin "for if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive what new thing do ye? Even the publicans do this."
Justin "Lay not up for yourselves treasure upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where robbers break through; but lay up for yourselves treasure in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt."
Justin "For what is man profited if he shall gain the whole world and
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lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for it?"
[Note: The last sentence of Justin’s "Lay up treasure, therefore, in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt." is obvious as a repetition of the thoughts in Matthew 6.]
It seems quite plain that Justin was putting together the precepts of Jesus’ teachings as they came to mind; two from Luke, and one each from Matthew and Mark. This dissecting of Justin’s text shows that indeed he was just ‘pouring out’ what he knew, putting it all together without concern for ‘orderliness’. This we observed was his way of writing in all three extant writings.
It is impossible to ignore the fact that these sentences occur in the Gospel records almost word for word.
We give another example to show that this haphazard arrangement is not simply a one of a kind occurrence:
"Be ye kind and merciful, as your Father also is merciful,** and maketh His sun to rise on sinners, and the righteous and the wicked. ** Take no thought for what ye shall eat or what ye shall put on; are ye not better than birds and the beasts? and God feedeth them. ** Take no thought, therefore, what ye shall eat or what ye shall put on; for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. But seek ye the kingdom of heaven, and all these things shall be added to you. ** For where His treasure is, there also is the mind of a man." (Introduction to the New Testament, Salmon, p. 59)
Again we compare these texts with the present Gospels:
Justin "Be ye kind and merciful, as your Father also is merciful"
Justin "and maketh His sun to rise on sinners, and the righteous and the wicked"
Justin "Take no thought for what ye shall eat or what ye shall put on; are ye not better than birds and the beasts? and God feedeth them."
Justin "Take no thought, therefore, what ye shall eat or what ye shall put on; for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. But seek ye the kingdom of heaven, and all these things shall be added to
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Matt. 6:31f "Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewith shall we be clothed? For the gentiles seek all these things; and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well."
Justin"For where His treasure is, there also is the mind of a man"
Luke 12:34 "For where your treasure is there will your heart be also."
In everything we find a combination of sayings of Jesus as found in two places in Luke and from two in Matthew. Justin was indeed combining his recollections and his accuracy is really quite good considering his trend to gush out his vast knowledge.
In Justin’s work named Dialogue With Trophu, we find his acknowledgement of another New Testament book:
"Justin mentions the Apocalypse by name attributing it to St John. (Dial. 81, Sec. 308 A)" (A Dictionary of Christian Biography, article on Justin Martyr, p. 634)
The Apocalypse is also known as ‘Revelation’. It is the last book in the New Testament and by concensus it is received as from the Companion John.
We have already mentioned the name Irenaeus (c. 125 - 180 AD) above. This Tab Tabi’ spent his early life in Asia Minor and was later bishop of Lyon in Gaul. We note again that he was a man who knew the Tabi’un Polycarp. He wrote of his recollections:
"I can recall the very place where Polycarp used to sit and teach, his manner of speech, his mode of life, his appearance, the style of his address to the people, his frequent references to St. John, and to others who had seen our Lord; how he used to repeat from memory their discourses, and the things which he had heard from them concerning our Lord, His miracles, and His teachings; and how, being instructed himself by those who were eyewitnesses of the life of the Word, there was in all he said a strict agreement with the Scripture. (Epistle to Florinus, ap. Euseb. H. E. V, 20)" (Introduction to the New Testament, Salmon, p. 32; emphasis added)
Irenaeus also wrote in a letter to Victor the bishop of Rome concerning the martyrdom of Polycarp:
"Anicetus could not persuade Polycarp not to observe what he had always observed with John the disciple of our Lord and the other Apostles with whom he had associated." (Introd. To The N.T., Thiessen, p. 165)
Irenaeus had received the True Gospel Message and openly accepted the four Gospel records which we possess today. In his Against Heresies
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(Vol. 3, 11:9), Irenaeus wrote of the apostolic Gospels as those which "alone are true and reliable" (See Origins of the Synoptic Gospels, Stonehouse, p. 7).
These Gospel records in Irenaeus’ possession agreed wholeheartedly with what the Tabi’ Polycarp related from the Companion John and other Apostolic witnesses!
Irenaeus wrote also of the Tab Tabi’ Papias (c. 80 - 155 AD), whom we note from our Map lived in Hierapolis where he was the bishop:
"Papias is described by Irenaeus as a companion of Polycarp." (A Dictionary of Christian Biography, article on Papias, p. 802)
Furthermore, of what Papias wrote we read:
"His name is famous as the writer of a treatise in five books called Expositions of the Oracles of the Lord... The object of the book seems to have been to throw light on the Gospel history, especially with the help of oral traditions which Papias had collected from those who had met members of the apostolic circle. ... We give at length the first and most important of these fragments, a portion of the preface preserved by Eusebius (iii, 39)... "And I will not scruple also to give thee a place along with my interpretations to whatsoever at any time I well learned from the elders and well stored up in memory, guaranteeing its truth. For I did not, like the generality, take pleasure in those who have much to say, but in those who teach the truth; nor in those who relate strange commandments, but in those who record such as were given from the Lord to the Faith and come from the Truth itself. And if ever any one came who who had been a follower of the elders, what was said by Andrew, or what by Peter, or what by Philip, or what by Thomas or James, or what by John or Matthew or any other of the disciples of the Lord; and the things which Ariston and the elder John, the disciples of the Lord say. " (A Dictionary of Christian Biography, article on Papias, p. 799)
It is self-evident that the testimony of these six Tabi'un and Tab Tabi'un of Jesus upholds entirely the present Gospel records and Epistles as being authentic and reliable, transmitting the religion of Jesus accurately!
It is for this reason that the following comment has been mde:
"All the Fathers at the close of the second century agree in appealing to the testimony of antiquity as proving the authenticity of the books which they used as Christian Scripture. And the appeal was made at a time when it was easy to try its worth." (Introduction To The New Testament, Thiessen, p. 9)
But, men like Yusuf Ali are not ignorant of the content of this ‘back-up source’ and so seek to ignore these important facts and distort the writings
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of such men for their own purposes.
Consider, for example, the following declaration by Yusuf Ali concerning two of the Beliefs of two of the Tabi'un we have just mentioned:
"Clement of Rome (about 97 A.D.) and Polycarp (about 112 A.D.) quote sayings of Jesus in a form different from those found in the present canonical Gospels. Polycarp (Epistle, vii) inveighs much against men "who pervert the sayings of the Lord to their own lusts," and he wants to turn "to the Word handed down to us from the beginning," thus referring to a Book (or a Tradition) much earlier than the four orthodox Gospels." (Appendix III; underlining added)
This is quite an assertion by Yusuf Ali since we recall that Polycarp was a Tabi’ who was acquainted with apostle (Companion) John and other Apostles! However, what shows absolutely clearly the distorting purpose (‘outwitting’) of Yusuf Ali is the inspection of the few words he uses from Polycarp in their context in the letter which is still extant! The full text states:
"Everyone who doth not confess Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is anti-Christ; and whosoever doth not confess the testimony of the Cross is of the devil; and whosoever perverteth the oracles of the Lord to his own lusts and saith that there is neither resurrection nor judgement is a first-born of Satan." (A Dictionary of Christian Biography, ed. Wace and Piercy, article on Polycarp, p 848)
Yusuf Ali plucked eleven words from a context in which Polycarp declares him both "anti-Christ" for denying Jesus’ Incarnation, and "of the devil" for denying the testimony of the cross!!! As a follower of Islam he couldn’t possibly have missed the context!
We note that the only original intent of the words he chose was to point to people who perverted the truths concerning the Resurrection and the Judgement as they are found in the oracles of the Lord Jesus!! Of course this also includes Yusuf Ali, for the followers of Islam pervert these too.
While the Tabi' Polycarp’s Beliefs about the Incarnation of Jesus and the Cross are hard words for anyone raised in Islam, this is something the apostle (Companion) John wrote in his first letter (Epistle) to the Churches, and in all the teachings passed along by the Companions and Tabi'un this is a reference to the Incarnation. This is clearly not "in a different form" than the Scripture (Gospel records)!
Thus Polycarp believed in and used the Message of the four Gospels which we possess, and that is "the Word handed down from the Beginning" that he was trying to ‘turn people back to’! And it is no wonder since it is acknowledged:
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"Irenaeus states (III. Iii.4) that Polycarp had been instructed by apostles and sconversed with many who had seen Christ." (Ibid., article on Polycarp, p 846)
In complete agreement with the doctrinal content of the Tabi' Polycarp is the declaration of the Tabi’ Ignatius (c. 70- d. 116 A.D.):
"There is only one physician of flesh and spirit, generate and unregenerate, God in man... [the] Son of God."
"Await Him that is above every Season, the Eternal and Invisible, Who became visible for our sake, the Impalpable, the Impassible, Who suffered for our sake." (History of Christian Doctrine, Fischer, p. 44-45; as cited from Christ or Muhammad..., Copleston, p. 118)
What we can perceive is that the doctrine of all these Tabi'un was identical, and that because of Polycarp’s being a disciple (Tabi’) of the Companion John, there is every possibility that the reason some of what he relates is not "exactly" as in John’s writings may well be because he learned it directly from John even before John wrote his ‘memoir’ (Gospel)! It is not really surprising at all to find some ‘sayings’ were not exactly ‘word-for -word’ with the memoir (Gospel) text.
Therefore, all that the Islamic ‘scholars’ such as Yusuf Ali are trying to do is create an illusion that the Tabi'un actually believed in ‘something else’, when they didn’t, by saying:
"he [Polycarp] wants to turn "to the Word handed down to us from the beginning," thus referring to a Book (or a Tradition) much earlier than the four orthodox Gospels."". (Appendix III)
The reality is that Polycarp was one man in a chain of faithful witnesses who was propagating the Beliefs of the very Scriptures which we still use. Obviously all such Islamic ‘outwittings’ are only intended to mislead Those Who Seek Truth.
This is also evident in that Polycarp is recorded as having translated these very Gospel records:
"into Syriac for Philoxenas, Bishop of Mabug." (Christ or Muhammad, Copleston, p. 104)
Also in complete contradiction to Yusuf Ali’s allegation (distortion/outwitting) concerning Clement, we noted already that he quoted the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke. Further, he wrote of Jesus with the words:
"the scepter of the majesty of God, who came not in pomp or arrogance or of pride though He might have done so, but in lowliness of mind." and "To whom be the glory and majesty for ever and ever."
These Tabi'un and Tab Tabi'un of Jesus declare Yusuf Ali to be a blasphemer, a servant of Satan.
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Conclusions On This Backup Source
As can plainly be seen, the existence of early Tabi'un and Tab Tabi'un epistles (letters) and their other writings proves the existence and authoritative use among the early churches of the four Gospel records as contained in the New Testament.
It is quite natural that this should have happened, what with letters such as that of the Tabi' Clement of Rome and the Tabi' Polycarp circulating. Through such means the Believers of that time universally came to acknowledge the four Gospel records and many Companion Epistles.
Through such means the Gospel records and their content stand upheld as unassailable, truly shown to be preserving the life and teachings of Jesus for all who wish to know THE WAY.
Two Gospels Constitute A Complete ‘Backup’ Source - The ‘Oral Tradition’ Recorded By Tabi'un
We have just noted one Backup source. But the fact is that the content of both the Tabi' Luke’s ‘memoir’ as well as that of the Tabi’ Mark, having admittedly been based upon ‘oral reports’ (they were not eye witnesses but heard from the Companions they travelled and preached with who were eye witnesses), constitute the earliest written record of the ‘Oral Tradition’. They were in a complete written form since they were written in Greek.
The content of these two Gospels when compared against that of the eye witness accounts of Matthew (a Companion), and John (a Companion), plainly shows that consistency exists between the records as set out by Jesus’ Companions and the records by those Tabi'un who recorded the ‘Oral Tradition’.
Thus there is a complete written source of evidence inside the ‘Last Testament’ which proves that the Message of the Injil (Gospel) has remained the same from the beginning.
A Comparison With Islam’s Best ‘Backup’ Sources
It needs to make a comparison of the Tabi'un and Tab Tabi'un records and complete Companion and Tabi' Injil (Gospel) records - the backup source - with what Islam asserts as its similar backup sources.
Does Islam possess any comparable records, things from its Companions or Tabi'un which are so all-encompassing that they not only uphold the text of the Qur’an but give life to that text?
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We note in this regard that Islam does claim to possess some records attributed to its Companions and Tabi'un. In regard to the importance of these, and remembering the lifeless text of the Qur’an without them, let us look at some comments by Von Denffer who writes:
"Interpreting The Text
TAFSIR, ITS KINDS AND PRINCIPLES
Tafsir (exegesis) of the Qur’an is the most important science for Muslims. All matters concerning the Islamic way of life are connected to it in one sense or another since the right application of Islam is based on proper understanding of the right guidance from Allah. Without tafsir there would be no right understanding of various passages of the Qur’an." (Ulum, p. 130; underlining added)
Islam, being without a clear understanding in the Qur’an, requires not only a vast amount of other material to explain away the confusion of the Qur’an’s text in general, but in order to show the ‘what’, ‘where’, ‘how’ and ‘why’ of the Qur’anic passages it must also rely on the late Tafsir records ‘about’ what the Companions and Tabi'un said - and in this way it ‘finds’ what it asserts is a ‘revelation’!
Thus, for Islam, Tafsir is not ‘Backup’ - this is all Islam has - EVERYTHING!! Without it the Qur’an is dead.
But what are the oldest acknowledged reliable records of comprehensive Tafsir?
When writing concerning the sahaba Von Denffer relates two examples from ibn `Abbas, yet not from a book written by ibn `Abbas, but from the Hadith of Sahih Bukhari, one of the late (3rd century AH) collections of Hadith!
Again, when referring to the sources Islam has from the Tabi'un he writes:
"Tafsir by Tabi`un. There are many more persons from among the tabi`un known for their preoccupation with tafsir...
Of the mufassirun from among the tabi`un one distinguishes three groups, according to their origin and area of activity:
- Those from Makka.
- Those from Madina.
- Those from Iraq.
The Makkan Group. According to many scholars, this group of mufassirun from among the tabi`un are the most knowledgeable in tafsir, because they learnt about it from `Abdullah b. Abbas. They are many in number, and among the best known out of many others are Mujtahid (d. 104/722), `Ata (d. 114/732) and `Ikrimah (d. 107/H).
Mujahid, the best known among them is reported to have gone through the Qur’an thrice with ibn `Abbas and to have asked him about the ‘when’ and
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‘how’ of each verse that had been revealed.
A complete book of tafsir by Mujahid has been published. It is based on a manuscript from the 6th Hijra century and is edited by Surti." (Ulum, p. 130)
If this EDITED 6th century A.H. manuscript is the earliest representation of this best ‘extra-Qur’anic’ commentary on the "right understanding" of the Qur’an and its ‘circumstances for the revelation’ by a Tabi`, then Islam forages in very late copies, as well as getting bits and pieces from the ‘Sahih’ Hadith collections of Bukhari and Muslim (3rd century) and the Sirah as the means to get understanding of its Qur’an, etc.!
But, elsewhere Von Denffer makes these matters more clear when he writes:
"Some Important Books on Tafsir
Numerous books have been written by Muslim scholars on the subject of tafsir. The oldest text available is attributed to Ibn `Abbas (d.68/687) although some doubt its authenticity. Other old books of tafsir, still available to us, include the works of Zaid bin `Ali (d.122/740) and Mujahid, the famous tabi` (d.104/722).
However it is generally accepted that the magnus opus among the early books of tafsir, which have come down to us is the tafsir al-Tabari.
Tafsir al-Tabari. This book was written by Ibn Jarir al-Tabari (d.310/922) under the title jami` al-bayan fi tafsir al qur’an....It belongs to the class of tafsir bi-l-riwAyaand is based on the reports from the Prophet, the sahAba and the tAbi’Un giving the various chains of transmission and evaluating them ...
Other Well-Known Books of Tafsir
-Tafsir al Samarqandi, by Abu al-Laith al-Samarqandi (d.373/983)...." (Ulum, p. 137; emphasis added)
It is obvious that no comparison can be made between the complete records of the Companions and Tabi'un of Jesus, and those which Islam puts forward as its ‘earliest’ Companion and Tabi'un records, even though this is Islam’s BEST ‘illumination’ on the Qur’an.
And, when we read from Von Denffer as to why "In some cases the mufassirun do not agree on the interpretation of a given verse of the Qur’an.", we find the following list of reasons:
"-External: Disregard of isnad. Use of unsound materials, such as isra’iliyat. Conscious misrepresentation, based on a preconceived belief or other ulterior motives.
-Internal: Genuine mistake in comprehension. Interpretation based on unconscious preconceived notion. Multiplicity of meanings in the revelation from Allah.
The main cause however is, in the view of Ibn Taimiya, that the people introduced innovation (bid`a) and ‘twisted the speech (of God) from its actual position, and interpreted the speech of Allah and His apostle(s) other than it
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is meant, and explained it other than it should be explained." (Ulum, p. 134f)
Thus Islam actually admits that its absolutely essential tafsir is also in disarray, being corrupt for various reasons - including deliberate acts. [Of course, the majority in Islam think that this is precisely what ibn Taymiyya did.]
But, what about a backup source for the actual text of the Qur’an itself? It is admitted that these are indeed slim:
"Evidence for the text of the Qur’an from other than textual copies of the Qur’an is slender, and a couple of examples will illustrate the point. Conflationary misquotations of the Qur’an are found in some early texts (e.g. Risala of al-Hasan al-Basri, the KitA b of Sibawayhi), but they must be treated with some caution as they can be found in some Qur’an manuscripts themselves.
The Qur’an citations on the Dome of the Rock are another example. ... the extent of the agreement of the inscriptions with the text of the Qur’an is far more impressive, and strongly suggests that the text must, in fact, have already been fixed." (The Value..., Brockett, p. 32, ft. 5; emphasis added)
We need not comment on this. ‘Conflationary misquotations’ even in the Qur’an manuscripts; and in the literature, for example the Risala (epistle or letter written to caliph Malik) of al-Hasan al-Basri (d.110 AH) the man Von Denffer declared as the leading tafsir expert in Kufah!
In a recent conversation the topic of the Qur’anic quotations on the Dome of the Rock was raised and it was asserted that these do not even remotely match the present Qur’anic texts!
And somehow the fact that the degree of this variation between the Qur’an quotations on the Dome of the Rock being more in agreement with the present Qur’an text than they oppose it is asserted by Brockett to indicate that the Qur’an’s text was already ‘fixed’?! This sounds like an Orientalist turned follower of Islam.
The point is really that while Islam shouts at others about not possessing ‘perfection’ it is only bluster - ‘outwittings’. Islam not only has little ‘perfection’, but little ‘extra-Qur’anic’ evidence to back up the text and the meaning of it! And what it does possess often contradicts the present ‘eternal, preserved’ version(s)!
Yet, at the same time it is assailing Christianity’s much earlier comprehensive Companion and Tabi' Gospel records disdainfully as only ‘mixtures’ of ‘the Words of God, Hadith’, etc., or ‘not original copies’. And this despite the extensive Tabi'un and Tab Tabi'un writings which are extant to back them up.
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Islam doesn’t have anything that is ‘early’, either manuscripts of the Qur’an, ‘Oral Traditions’ which give full accounts of the reading systems (for this it is ad-Dani’s al-Muqni and he died 444 AH!), or even books of Tafsir (commentary) which illuminate the Qur’an’s text - AT ALL. To say nothing about the fact that the Arabic manuscripts don’t agree with one another, nor is there agreement about the ‘correct’ Sunnah or about what they mean..........!
‘Originals’ In A Fixed Written Language - Many Manuscripts
We recall that earlier we spoke of the completeness of the written Greek language in the time of Jesus and his Companions and Tabi'un.
Knowing, then, that the Greek language in which Matthew (a Companion), Mark "the interpreter of Peter" (a Tabi’), Luke who was familiar with many Companions and travelled with Paul (a Companion/Tabi') and John (a Companion) wrote had a complete written form, it becomes obvious that the texts of these 4 Gospels had to have a fixed content, and were not something that could be altered "with the tongue", nor with a short stroke or a change in dots, nor by ‘overriding’ the text - like with the Qur’an.
Thus, both the eyewitness accounts as well as the ‘oral tradition’ were set down in a ‘fixed’ written form in less than 50 years from the events by the best of witnesses and their close followers.
It is for this reason that the vast number of ancient manuscript copies in a complete written language [not incomplete like ancient Arabic], besides early copies in many languages, is attacked by men like Ahmad Deedat - what else can they do when they don’t want their readers to know that others possess something superior:
"They [Christians] now boast of being in possession of over 5000 "originals" of which no two "originals" are identical. Amazing!"
"The "cultists" are now claiming 24 thousand Manuscripts; to which of course the same stricture will apply."(Crucifixion..., p. 7, 25)
As those of knowledge in Islam well know, such a vast source of manuscripts confirming the personal records of the Companions and Tabi'un of Jesus [and so the ONE MESSAGE] is the very thing Islam is without. That is why we can "produce them as our proof" for exclusive rights to salvation [that and our having a relationship and peace with the True God]:
"When confronted by the extravagant and conflicting claims of the Jews and the Christians and their exclusive rights to salvation, Allah subha nahu
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wa-ta aalacommands us to demand for proof. He says SAY: "PRODUCE YOUR PROOF IF YE BUT SPEAK THE TRUTH". And they have produced the only proof they have; in over fifteen hundred languages! Eleven different dialects of the Bible for the Arab’s alone! Are we going to swallow them hook line and sinker? No! It is presupposed that when Allah commands us to demand for proof, that we would be in a position to analyse the proof, once it is produced. Otherwise, it makes no sense to demand for proof; it would be nonsense!" (Crucifixion or Cruci-Fiction, Ahmed Deedat, p. 6; emphasis added)
Here indeed is where Islam puts its foot in its mouth for it can no longer tell us that the Qur’an is such ‘Proof’ and instead it is left humbled by the records we possess. We have analysed Islam’s ‘Proof’ and found it to be utter "nonsense".
Did The Companions Of Jesus Issue False Gospel Records?
We have seen how the Tabi'un and Tab Tabi'un cherished the four Gospel records of the Companions and Tabi'un of Jesus. Also, that great authority was given to the letters which were recognised as having been written to the local churches by various Companions, and Paul who was considered to be a Companion/apostle because he had seen Jesus.
Yet many in Islam accuse both the apostle Paul and the other Companions of Jesus of gross wickedness. They claim Paul persuaded the Companions to turn Jesus’ teachings upside down! They claim that it was Paul who initiated the belief in a Blood Atonement and many other Beliefs! This would mean that the Companions were even willing to write lies about what Jesus taught!!
However, all the materials which were accepted by the early Christians who themselves were taught by the Companions testify against such alterations to Jesus’ teachings.
The Tabi’ Luke states in his Gospel record that Jesus had said he would suffer and die for the sins of the people, and that this is the Message that would be preached "to all nations beginning at Jerusalem." (Luke 24:47).
In his Acts of the Apostles, the Tabi' Luke also records that Peter preached of Jesus to the Jews "you put him to death by nailing him to the cross"!!
Again Luke records that Paul persecuted those who believed in this Blood Atonement! He was against such a belief! He was a witness in agreement with the stoning to death of Stephen, believing him to be a blasphemer for such a belief!! The Tabi’ Luke notes Stephen’s words of rebuke to the Jewish leaders and his martyrdom as:
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"You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit! Was there ever a prophet your fathers did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him - you who have received the law that was put into effect through angels but have not obeyed it."
When they heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. "Look", he said, "I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God."
At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul.
While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." Then he fell on his knees and cried out, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." When he had said this, he fell asleep.
And Saul was there, giving approval to his death.
On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison." (Acts 7:51 - 8:3)
The Tabi’ Luke continues:
"Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found anyone there belonging to the Way he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem." (Acts 9:1-2)
Saul (later re-named Paul) was so enraged against the belief in Jesus’ Blood Atonement that he "breathed murderous threats" and travelled to Damascus to do what many followers of Islam would do today to one of their own who changed his beliefs - persecute them, and drag them to jail for them to be tormented or killed!
It was on this very journey to Damascus (we note from our map that Damascus is not far from Jerusalem) that Jesus appeared to him, as Luke records:
"As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, "Saul. Saul, why do you persecute me?"
"Who are you, Lord? Saul asked.
"I am Jesus whom you are persecuting." he replied. Now get up and go into the city and you will be told what to do." (Acts 9:3-6)
Paul was blinded by seeing the glory of Jesus. He came at that encounter to understand that he had been opposing God’s truth, just as
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those in Islam do! Paul was taken by his companions into Damascus where Jesus spoke to another of his disciples, Ananias, and sent him to place his hands upon Paul and pray for him so that he could receive the Holy Spirit and get his sight back. Paul was then baptised in water:
"In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord [i.e. Jesus] called to him in a vision, "Ananias".
"Yes Lord," he answered.
The Lord told him, "Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for man named Saul, for he is praying. In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight."
"Lord," Ananias answered, "I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem. And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who all on your name."
"But the Lord said to Ananias, "Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name."
The Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, "Brother Saul, the Lord - Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here - has sent me so that you may be filled with the Holy Spirit." Immediately something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptised, and after taking some food, he regained his strength.
Saul spent several days with the Disciples in Damascus. At once he began to preach that Jesus is the Son of God. All those who heard him were astonished and asked, "Isn’t he the man who caused havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn’t he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?" (Acts 9: 10-21)
In the Epistle to the Galatians, a letter which we have seen all the early churches accepted as coming from Paul, we read his testimony to what had occurred to make him believe in the Blood Atonement:
"I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preach is not something that man made up. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.
For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it." (Galatians 1:11- 13)
Concerning, then, the false accusation that Paul influenced the Companions to proclaim that Jesus was the Son of God and to believe in the Blood Atonement, it is clearly seen from all the testimony to be another ‘outwitting’. Paul killed those who believed the Blood Atonement of the cross long before he himself was converted from his hatred of this doctrine to a personal belief in it - by Jesus appearing to him!!
PAUL HAD COME TO BELIEVE IN WHAT HE HAD SPENT
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MUCH EFFORT TRYING TO DESTROY!!!!
Thus the entire argument that Paul corrupted the Companions’ Beliefs is an out right lie, a distortion for the purpose of ‘outwitting’ the followers of Islam by those who lead them.
Is it not rather the truth that such leaders of Islam are guilty of being filled with the same spirit of rebellion as the Jewish leaders of Jesus' day, and that this why they too despise the Righteous One and rail against his people like the Jews did then!? We see evidence for this all over the world today in the vilest of behaviour.
Were The Gospel Records Altered Later? Tawatur - Many Earlier Transmissions
It is not surprising that with such flimsy arguments others in Islam should have to fabricate quite different ‘outwittings’ as to why the Gospel records do not agree with the Qur’an. They accuse the later Christians.
For example, one Islamic scholar asserts:
"During the first three centuries after the death of Prophet Isa his followers could read the details of the incident as to how Juda (sic) Ascariots (sic) was crucified in place of Christ and how God’s angels carried away the body of Prophet Isa before the time fixed for crucifixion. It was only when the council of the Bishops at Nice (sic) banned the Gospel by St. Barnabas declaring it as apocryphal and prohibited that the people used to remain in the dark about the authentic details..." (Deep, p. 294)
It is not worth addressing such an assertion concerning the so-called ‘Gospel of Barnabas’. Rather, we encourage our readers to examine the short comments concerning the content of that so-called ‘Gospel of Barnabas’ in Appendix C and discover for themselves if it is an ‘original’.
We do note, however, that in total, more than 32,000 quotations agreeing with the four Gospel records and the Epistles [the ‘Last Testament’)] are known from before the Council of Nicea (325AD). All of them uphold the same doctrine concerning the death of Jesus for Sin.
What our Islamic scholar has written about the Gospel content in the first three centuries is an outright distortion. Was he ignorant of the truth or was his assertion an ‘outwitting’?
For those who wish to blame the Christians after Nicea (325 AD) yet before Muhammad (632 AD), we can find in the British Museum a 16 volume work of Dean Burgen in which are contained 86,489 quotations of the ‘Last Testament’ (New Testament) from among the writings of the church leaders of this period. This scholar concluded that the entire
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‘Last Testament’ (New Testament) could be assembled from these. [statistics from Evidence That Demands A Verdict, McDowell)
What we find is that the quotations in these statistics represent the Manuscript content known in the diverse parts of the world of those early times. Herein are references, then, to the many transmissions of the Gospel records and Epistles which existed throughout the centuries! They come from Italy, Gaul (France), North West Africa, Egypt, Asia Minor and Israel!
This is neither a sign of ‘collaboration’, nor of ‘battle is an outwitting’. These are verifiable facts. There is no question that the Gospel records of Muhammad’s day contained the same story of Jesus’ death for Sin as did the Gospel records in the earlier centuries (the ‘originals’) and that this is why it is in the Gospel records we possess today.
We have ‘Proof’ that neither the Companions and Tabi'un of Jesus nor the later generations were the wicked men the followers of Islam allege they were. They are not guilty of corrupting the Message and Scripture.
What the followers of Islam need to recognize is that all of the arguments which have been presented to them by their fellows have had one purpose - ‘battle is an outwitting’. The purpose has been to turn Those Who Seek Truth away from examining honestly the reliable Gospel records which the True God has provided as His Testimony to all men so that they can be Saved from Judgement.
However, the observant mind can see that once they find they cannot blame the Apostle Paul and Jesus’ Companions and Tabi'un, they then turn their arguments to new heights. They try to blame the later Christians and Jews of collaboration, of agreeing to corrupt their Scriptures though they don’t agree!!
This is the paranoid mentality which they nurture in the followers of Islam. They create the illusion that everyone else is out to create ‘outwittings’ that will trip them up from ‘The Way’ when it is they who are being tripped up by their own "priests and monks"!
Please, consider how impossible it would be for Bani Israel, who deny that Jesus is al-Masih, and the Christians who declare he is, to have agreed to corrupt their Scripture! Consider also that copies of their Scripture filled the earth - to bring them in and corrupt them would be impossible!!
And, don’t the followers of Islam accept Hadith which tell how the Jews and the Christians differ over the Book, not agree on it? Even the all
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important Hadith which tells of ‘Uthman having new Qur’ans made and burning the ‘originals’ declares this!
The followers of Islam have fallen into an endless pit of listening to the lies of their own people!! They must either admit that the Scriptures of the People of the Gospel are right and Islam is wrong, or continue to fight blindly. Their confusion will only end in Hellfire - for Eternity.
[NOTE: while it is acknowledged that the various strains of manuscript transmissions (e.g. - from North Africa, Greece, Israel, etc) contain variant 'readings', aside from a few instances, this affects only individual words, not 'huge chunks' of the Message. The Message of the Gospel has also been transmitted through so many early extra-biblical and also non-religious sources, that it is impossible to accuse Christians of 'possessing another Message' than 'the original' because of these variant readings. Furthermore, since the late 1800's the Christian scholars HAVE been united in their purpose to establish as clearly as possible the 'original' text - and not anything less, as some followers of Islam assert.]
It is necessary to understand exactly what importance any differences in the manuscripts of the Gospel records make when such a great array of manuscripts in various languages, as well as Tabi'un and Tab Tabi'un attestations is available certify the text.
Of course, with the entire record, ‘Words of God’, Hadith, Sirah, Tarikh being there, the most predominant discrepancies to be dealt with prove themselves able to be confirmed by the rest of the evidence.
In the case of any discrepancy between the Manuscripts of one Gospel, the detailed account transmitted in each of the other Gospel records, since they contain the same historical reality and all having originated in a complete written language (Greek), provide clear evidence on the point in question.
Take for example the most extreme cases of differences in the Gospel manuscripts, those which the followers of Islam will note in the the N.I.V. (New International Version -i.e. translation) which has certain verses ‘isolated’ or relegated to footnotes.
However, for arguments sake, let us examine the largest example from different perspectives, including the way Islam considers things to be divided into "the Words of God", the Hadith, Sirah and Tarikh.
The Ending Of Mark’s Gospel Record
We find that this is a portion of the Gospel of Mark, namely Chapter 16 verses 9-20.
Here is contained the account of Jesus going up to heaven in the sight of his apostles. He tells them to go into all the world and preach the Gospel. They watch him go up to heaven and it is noted that he sat down at the right hand of God. We are then told that the apostles went and preached.
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It is important to note that the Tab Tabi’ Irenaeus (d. 180AD) and many other early Christians actually acknowledged the ending to Mark’s Gospel.
We note this in the following:
"The disputed verses are expressly attested by Irenaeus in the second century, and very probably by Justin Martyr, who incorporates some of their language, though, as usual without express acknowledgement of quotation. The verses are found in the Syriac version as early as we have any knowledge of it; in the Curetonian version as well as in the Peshitto. On the other hand, the earliest witness against the verses is Eusebius, in the fourth century whose testimony is to the effect that some of the copies in his time contained the verses, and some did not; but that those which omitted them were the the more numerous, and, in his opinion, the more trustworthy. There is no reason to doubt his testimony; but Eusebius stands strangely alone in it. ...
On the other hand, the disputed verses were used in the West by Irenaeus, and were in the Curetonian version, which has many affinities with the old Latin. And that a version containing them circulated in Africa contemporaneously with the shorter version, appear from the fact that a bishop at one of Cyprian’s councils quotes as words of our Lord, ‘In my name lay on hands, cast out devils’ (mark xvi. 17, 18). ... The presence of the verses in all later MSS., and the testimony of writers who lived within a century of Eusebius, prove that the scribes of the generation next to him found copies containing the verses, and that not withstanding his great authority, they gave them the preference." (A Historical Introd. to the Books Of The New Testament,1892, Salmon, p. 144)
So why are they treated as ‘uncertain’ in the NIV? Of course, it means first that these particular translators ignored all this early testimony.
(b) The Content Of Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus
Since the main complete Bible manuscripts which these translators chose to believe were the Codex Sinaiticus and the Codex Vaticanus, it also means that they ignored the Christian scholars, such as Salmon (see his p. 146ff), who since the late 1800’s have noted irregularities in both the handwriting and spacing of the ending of Mark’s Gospel in both of these manuscripts.
These same scholars also noted that this irregularity in handwriting was noticeable in the page which formed the other portion of that particular ‘leaf’ in each of Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus which carries the ending of Mark's Gospel record. Their conclusion was that these ‘leaves’ were replacements which showed evidence of the removal of the ending of the Gospel of Mark!
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[NOTE:We will attempt to explain this evidence clearly and have provided diagrams on the page opposite which it is hoped will aid in this. As the first diagram indicates, these MSS (manuscripts) are composed of leaves constituted of two pages, each page being of four columns of text. Such ‘leaves’ are then sewn together in the middle and when folded form a book. One can perceive that one page of a ‘leaf’ will be earlier in the book and the other will appear later. The remaining diagrams represent the book opened and so the view is of the later page of the ‘leaf’ in relation to the later page of another leaf which is bound next to it.]
In Codex Sinaiticus the letters in the first column, which contains what the scribe retained of the text of the Gospel of Mark, have been spread out so as to overflow into what would otherwise be an empty column. The Gospel of Mark thus ends with only 560 letters and 37 letters respectively in each of the last two columns (i.e. 597 letters altogether). Compared to that, the next page, which contains the beginning of Luke’s Gospel, can be seen to embody 678 letters. Had the 597 letters which were spread over the preceding 2 columns been spaced in like manner to this, there would have been one empty column - something found nowhere else in this entire manuscript. The space left empty would allow the end of Mark’s Gospel.
In Codex Vaticanus the column is indeed left blank, again indicating that something was there originally for nowhere else does such an empty column occur in this entire MSS.
However, other irregularities have also been documented concerning this particular portion of Mark, these being that in both these MSS these particular leaves were written in a different handwriting than the rest of the MSS.
They also show certain peculiarities of the new scribe’s way of forming certain letters and spelling certain words which are consistent in these additions in both Sinaiticus and Vaticanus but not elsewhere in these MSS.
Finally, since the entire ‘leaf’ is in the same scribe’s handwriting, we can see clear evidence that the entire ‘leaf’ has been replaced in each case for one page occurs early in the MSS and one occurs later.
Concerning, then, the modern translators of the NIV and Mark 9:16ff, they obviously decided to make their translation reflect one side of early testimony and coupled it with manuscript content which ignored all
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scholarship on those manuscripts! Even their declaration is untrue:
"The most reliable early manuscripts and other ancient witnesses do not have Mark 9:16-20"
Having seen the evidence, we can see that they made a great blunder. For, although they did not footnote Mk 9:16ff they placed the above note between this portion and the rest of Mark’s text.
[NOTE: Having seen, as we have, the many times in the Samarqand MSS where someone has ‘added’ a verse or number of words to the text by writing them in the margin, or where the word in one text is different from that in the other, one can perceive that if Islamic translators approached the Qur’anic manuscripts as these men have the Bible manuscripts, they would be forced to delegate quite a few portions of the ‘eternally Preserved’ Qur’an to ‘footnotes’ or set them apart from each Surah with the note "not in the earliest manuscripts"!! Add to this the differences as transmitted in the "ancient witnesses" concerning the divergences of text which ‘Uthman eliminated, and the number of such texts grows considerably!]
However, for arguments sake, let us consider what actual influence this piece of the Tabi’ Mark’s Gospel record would have if indeed it were not in the original.
Almost every detail (we will examine this) is found in the other Gospels, for example in Luke 24:45-53. A portion of the content is also at the end of Matthew’s Gospel, namely chapter 28:16-20.
We find that the only difference in the details of this event between these Gospel records (i.e. Matt., Luke and Mark) is that Mark’s Gospel ending mentions that Jesus is declared to have sat down at the right hand of God.
But this is something that is recorded elsewhere in the writings of the Companions and Tabi'un of Jesus. For example in Matt. 22:44; Acts 2:34 and also Acts 7:54-58; the Letter to the Ephesians 1:20; and the Letter to the Hebrews 1:3. In some of these occurrences Jesus himself is making the declaration. Each of these citations follows:
Matt. 22:44 - the Companion Matthew recorded the words of Jesus concerning the Messiah (al-Masih, ‘the Christ’ in Greek) - the very person whom Islam acknowledges Jesus is:
"While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, "What do you think of the Christ, whose son is he?"
"The son of David" they replied.
He [Jesus] said to them, "How is it then that David speaking by the Spirit calls him ‘Lord’? For he says,
‘The LORD said to my Lord:
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"Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a stool for your feet."
If then David called him Lord, how then can he be his son?"
No one could say a word in reply, and from that day on no one dared to ask him any more questions." (Matt. 2:41-46)
Acts 2:34 - the Tabi' Luke recorded the same thing in Acts:
"God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact. Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. For David did not ascend to heaven and yet he said,
‘The LORD said to my Lord:
"Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies stool for your feet."’
Therefore let all Israel know that God has made this Jesus whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ."
When the people heard this they were cut to the heart..." (Acts 2:32-37)
Acts 7:55-56 - the Tabi’ Luke records that Stephen saw Jesus when he was being stoned to death:
"When they heard this they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. "Look," he said, "I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God."" (Acts 7:54-56)
Eph. 1:20 - the apostle Paul wrote:
"That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted when he raised Christ Jesus from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come." (Ephesians 1:19, 20)
Heb. 1:3 - finally, the Letter to the Hebrews records:
"To which of the angels did God ever say,
"Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a stool for your feet"?" (1:13)
All of these confirm the one firm Belief of the Companions and Tabi'un of Jesus. Thus, even if it had been a ‘corruption’ to Mark’s Gospel, the content is found to be a truth related in the other Gospels and in the Acts and Epistles. It was a teaching coming from Jesus through the Companions and Tabi'un, something accepted by the later Followers as such.
(d) Is This "Words Of God", Hadith, Sirah...?
Viewing the entire content of these verses in Islamic terms, one would consider this to be one small bit of Sirah or Hadith. Of course it is also a small part of the "Word of God" (revelation), but this only means that Mark’s Gospel record is thought by some to have not included one small piece of the entire "Word of God", a small piece which the other writings relate and attest to.
Part 8: The 'Proof'
(e) Shall We Think This Is Like The Qur’an’s Problems?
After seeing all the problems of the Qur’an’s imperfections and lack of ‘Divine Protection’ - despite its claims to the contrary - and its lack of guidance - also despite its claims to the contrary - one cannot think this to be very important.,
Or, shall we compare it to the ‘yes’/‘no’ discrepancies between the manuscripts (let alone between the Manuscripts and the translations!), or to the fact that not one Command or Prohibition finds agreement on it because of the seeking of knowledge from outside the Qur’an? Not at all.
It becomes obvious that when the Source of knowledge is complete, like the Gospels / New Testament, both in its original written language as well as in its information content, and that several original accounts exist from those who were alive, then any variations in manuscript content can easily and openly be examined. They need not be hidden because there is so much other evidence by which the point in question can be addressed.
Confusions Over Other Early Writings
As for the other Gospels, Epistles, even Acts which existed they were various. We have already mentioned the Tabi’ Luke’s acknowledgement of many in his day seeking to make records of Jesus’ life and teachings.
Some note that certain of the Companion Epistles found universal acceptance only over time, Christians in various regions around the Mediterranean viewing them variously.
Yet the fact is that so many books had been written by Christians and others which used the name ‘Acts’ or ‘Epistle’ that in certain cases uncertainty was the result.
Yusuf Ali mentions the use of some of the others:
"An Epistle of St. Barnabas and an Apocalypse of St. Peter were recognised by Presbyter Clement of Alexandria (flourished about 180 AD)."
But, we note concerning the same Clement:
"Clement of Alexandria (c. 155 - c. 215) has left us three great works, The Exhortation to the Greeks, The Pedagogus, or Instructor, and The Stromata, or Miscellanies. He was exceedingly well read. Clement accepted all the books in out present New Testament, not passing by the books that were disputed by some..." (Introd..., Thiessen, p. 17)
Why, then, should his acceptance of an extra epistle or even an apocalypse have any importance? It does not change his Beliefs nor does it reflect on the present New Testament content - for he accepted it all.
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