2.4 When is a book an "inspired" book?:
"Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God." Deuteronomy 4:2
Adi ibn Hatim al-Tai'i was a Christian who embraced Islam during the time of Muhammad (pbuh). One day, the verse of the Qur'an, Al-Tawba(9):30-31 was recited before him: "And the Jews said: Ezra is the son of Allah, and the Christians said: The Messiah is the son of Allah. That is their saying with their [own] mouths. They imitate the saying of those who disbelieved of old. Allah's curse be upon them. How deluded are they! They took their rabbis and their monks as lords besides Allah, and the Messiah son of Mary, but they were not commanded but to worship One God. There is no God but Him. Be He Glorified from all that they associate with Him!" When Adi heard this verse, he commented: "O messenger of Allah, we did not worship them." The prophet Muhammad (pbuh) replied: "Did they not make matters lawful and unlawful for you?" (He was referring to the power the monks and Rabbis gave themselves because of their claimed divine inspiration to change laws and regulations). Adi replied "Yes, they did!" Muhammad (pbuh) said: "That, then, is the worshipping of them in association with Allah."
If we were to ask a Christian layman: "Where did the Bible in your hands come from?," they would more than likely tell us "from God!"
If you were now to ask him: "How do you know it is from God? He will reply, "He inspired it to many people who then wrote it down and preserved it for us."
If we now ask: "Are all of these inspired people prophets?" He will answer: "No, they include both prophets and other faultless 'saints', etc.."
"So these prophets and 'saints' signed their names to these documents?" we would ask. They would respond "No. But the Church knows who wrote them, and when they were written, and has irrefutable proof regarding this matter."
If we were to now ask: "would it be possible for any unscrupulous person who had access to the Bible in the past to modify its books?" They would reply: "Of course not! The church has told us that even the much older Old Testament was preserved with such diligent guardianship that they even counted and recorded every single word and every single letter in it. Thus, the church has justly reassured us that these words never have, and never could be, changed by mankind, even by scribal error or by accident."
"Let us now ask a different question" we would continue. "Are the 'New and Old Testaments' in your hands today the same "New and Old Testaments" available to the apostles of Jesus (pbuh) till the present day?" They would answer "Of course! There has always been only one Bible!"
This is the general gist of any such conversation that is held between a Muslim and a Christian layman regarding their Bible, its composition and preservation. However, if we were to ask their scholars the same set of questions we would be amazed to find a tremendous chasm in the responses supplied by the Christian laypeople as compared to their own Christian scholars. If we were to go to a Western library and look up the history of the Bible as recorded by their own eminent Christian scholars throughout the ages, we would find that they tell us that the books of the "New Testament" in our possession today were not officially approved into the New Testament "canon" of "inspired" books until many centuries after the departure of Jesus. Tens of generations of Christians literally lived and died after the departure of Jesus (pbuh) never having known nor seen such a "New Testament" or "Bible" as the one in our possession today.
After the departure of Jesus (pbuh), some apostles and many other people began to write "gospels." Each one of these authors would travel to other lands and be followed by a number of people who would adopt this man's gospel as his "Bible." Even the unscrupulous would write or modify "gospels" and to claim they were from a given apostle or that they themselves were receiving divine inspiration. Many new and innovative teachings began now to be introduced into the religion of Jesus (pbuh). Enmity, hatred and war began to break out between these groups. Each person claimed that they alone held the "true" Gospel of Jesus (pbuh) and no one else. Their beliefs now ran the gamut, from those who believed Jesus (pbuh) to be a mortal messenger of God and nothing more, to those who claimed partial divinity for Jesus (pbuh), to those who claimed Jesus (pbuh) to be a true god, but independent of God himself, to those who called for a "Trinity," to those who claimed that Mary (pbuh) too was a god, to those who believed in two gods, one good and the other evil, and even those who believed in more that three hundred Gods. This is when the war of the gospels began.
Everyone now cursed and damned everyone else. Christian sects were at one-another's throats. There would be over the next few centuries more great debates and councils between them than you could shake a stick at. However, at the present time, none of these groups had sufficient might to totally dominate and silence the others for good. They needed an undefeatable ally, a mighty champion for their cause, someone who could force the other 'lying' sects to recognize their errors and conform to 'correct' beliefs, so they began to look to the Roman empire for support.
"Christianity in the second and third centuries was in a remarkable state of flux. To be sure, at no point in its history has the religion constituted a monolith. But the diverse manifestations of its first three hundred years - whether in terms of social structures, religious practices, or ideologies - have never been replicated. Nowhere is this seen more clearly than in the realm of theology. In the second and third centuries there were, of course, Christians who believed in only one God; others, however, claimed that there were two Gods; yet others subscribed to 30, or 365, or more. Some Christians accepted the Hebrew Scriptures as a revelation of the one true God, the sacred possession of all believers; others claimed that the scriptures had been inspired by an evil deity. Some Christians believed that God had created the world and was soon going to redeem it; others said that God neither had created the world nor had ever had any dealings with it. Some Christians believed that Christ was somehow both a man and God; others said that he was a man, but not God; others claimed that he was God but not a man; others insisted that he was a man who had been temporarily inhabited by God. Some Christians believed that Christ's death had brought about the salvation of the world; others claimed that his death had no bearing on salvation; yet others alleged that he had never even died. Few of these variant theologies went uncontested, and the controversies that ensued impacted the surviving literature on virtually every level. The New Testament manuscripts were not produced impersonally by machines capable of flawless reproduction. They were copied by hand, by living, breathing human beings who were deeply rooted in the conditions and controversies of their day. Did the scribes' polemical contexts influence the way they transcribed their sacred Scriptures? The burden of the present study is that they did, that theological disputes, specifically disputes over Christology, prompted Christian scribes to alter the words of Scripture in order to make them more serviceable for the polemical task. Scribes modified their manuscripts to make them more patently 'orthodox' and less susceptible to 'abuse' by the opponents of orthodoxy"
The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture, Bart Ehrman, pp. 3-4
The Roman empire was a pagan empire, however, it was the dominant "superpower" of the time. Anyone who could enlist its aid would have an unconquerable ally at their side and would themselves be undefeatable. On the Roman side, Emperor Constantine was greatly troubled by the swelling ranks of his Christian subjects and the great division among their ranks which did not bode well for the continued stability of his empire.
Most of these fringe sects now began to fade into insignificance and the matter was now left between those who believed in the Unity of God and those who believed in a "Trinity." The Roman empire's support fluctuated between these two groups for a long time until the Trinitarian's finally gained the upper hand and all but wiped the Unitarians off the face of the earth. Over the next centuries they slowly selected and collected the "truly inspired" gospels into one volume which later became the "New Testament." They burned all other gospels. Many sweeping campaigns if "Inquisition" were launched. Everyone found possessing any of these "false" Gospels was put to death and his Gospel burned.
"The classical understanding of the relationship of orthodoxy and heresy met a devastating challenge in 1934 with the publication of Walter Bauer's Rechtgläubigkeit und Ketzerei im ältesten Christentum, possibly the most significant book on early Christianity written in modern times. Bauer argued that the early Christian church in fact did not comprise a single orthodoxy from which emerged a variety of competing heretical minorities. Instead, early Christianity embodied a number of divergent forms, no one of which represented the clear and powerful majority of believers against all others. In some regions, what was later to be termed 'heresy' was in fact the original and only form of Christianity. In other regions, views later deemed heretical coexisted with views that would come to be embraced by the church as a whole, with most believers not drawing hard and fast lines in demarcation between the competing views. To this extent, 'orthodoxy,' in the sense of a unified group advocating an apostolic doctrine accepted by the majority of Christians everywhere, did not exist in the second and third centuries. Nor was 'heresy' secondarily derived from an original teaching through an infusion of Jewish ideas or pagan philosophy. Beliefs that were, at later times, embraced as orthodoxy and condemned as heresy were in fact competing interpretations of Christianity, one of which eventually (but not initially) acquired domination because of singular historical and social forces. Only when one social group had exerted itself sufficiently over the rest of Christendom did a 'majority' opinion emerge; only then did the 'right belief' represent the view of the Christian church at large."
The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture, Bart Ehrman, p. 7
This state of affairs continued for many centuries and many people were convicted of heresy and burned to death at the stake for a great variety of reasons. Yet others had their land and property confiscated and were imprisoned. Physical torture was casually used in order to extract a confession of guilt which would then be used to justify a verdict of death by burning. Some of the methods used to extract a confession of guilt were the stretching of limbs on the rack, burning with live coals, and the strappado (a vertical rack). Denial of the charges without counterproof or refusal to confess resulted in the most severe punishments such as life imprisonment or execution and total confiscation of property. The number of those who fell victim to these inquisitions are far to numerous to list here. Examples of these people include the philosopher Giordano Bruno, Galileo, Joan of Arc, and the religious order of knights called the Templars among countless hundreds of thousands of others. If the Trinitarians did not have the power to burn these people at the stake during their lifetime, then they would exhume their bodies after their death and burn them after their death (e.g. John Wycliffe). In the end, over twelve million people were put to death by the Church inquisitions (Apology for Muhammad and the Qur'an, John Davenport).
The inquisitions reached their height around the middle of the fifteenth century in a massive and vicious persecution campaign the major targets of which were the Marranos (converts from Judaism) and Moriscos (converts from Islam), many of whom were suspected of secretly adhering to their original faiths. When things began to quiet down a little, the victor's historians and philosophers wrote their history books explaining how they managed to overcome the wicked, to defeat the blasphemers, and to burn the devils, sorcerers, and witches at the stake. These are the books which have had the greatest influence on the Western history books we have in our hands today.
Whenever a scholar of Christianity would stumble upon the truth and begin to write about it his works would invariably be destroyed (e.g. Sir Isaac Newton, the 16th century Spaniard Michael Servetus, etc.). In all cases, it was recognized that there was no need to disprove the author's evidence or refute it, rather, it was sufficient to muzzle the opposition, burn their books, extract a confession from them under duress, and expel them from society or kill them.
Even the Popes themselves would sometimes recognize the falsehood of the "Trinity" and the fact that it was a later fabrication of mankind. One of these popes, Honorius, summoned the courage to declare the truth and was subsequently officially cursed forty eight years after his death by the Synod which was held in Istanbul in 680 C.E.
Sometimes it is an individual's own silence which proves to be the most deafening proclamation. As we saw in the previous chapters, for the period of a century and more the only "Scriptures" used by the first Jewish followers of Jesus were the Greek Septuagint translations (commonly designated LXX) of the Hebrew Old Testament, "the Law and the Prophets", supplemented by various Jewish apocrypha and the Sibylline Oracles (150 BC to AD 180); these were the only "authorities" appealed to by the early "Church Fathers" when preaching their new faith. Nowhere do they quote the books which we know today as the "New Testament."
Naturally, if the "history" of the Trinitarian Church regarding their chosen Gospels and what are claimed to be the inspired writings of Jesus' first Apostles were true, and these writings had indeed been accepted as authoritative at that time, then they would have been the most precious and potent documents of preaching for their doctrine. Undoubtedly, they would have spoken of nothing else, but would have quoted them and appealed to their authority at every turn as they have been doing through the centuries since. But, for some 150 years, little or nothing besides the Old Testament and these Oracles were known or quoted. As said by the great critic, Solomon Reinach,
"With the exception of Papias, who speaks of a narrative by Mark, and a collection of sayings of Jesus, no Christian writer of the first half of the second century (i.e., up to 150 C.E.) quotes the Gospels or their reputed authors."
Orpheus a General History of Religions, Solomon Reinach, p. 218
But let us back up a little and study how and when the "inspired" books of the Bible were incorporated into the Christian "canon" of the Bible. We have already given a brief introduction in section 1.2.5 onwards of how the current Gospels of the Bible were introduced as "authentic." Let us now have a very brief look at some of the details. The following was obtained from the book "Izhar ul Haqq" among other references:
In the city of Nicea (modern: Iznik, Turkey), in the year 325 AD, a great conference of Christian theologians and religious scholars was convened under the order of the Emperor Constantine to examine and define the status of these countless Christian Gospels. After a thorough investigation it was decided that the Epistle of Jude was genuine and believable. The rest of our current books of the Bible were declared doubtful. This was explicitly mentioned by Saint Jerome in the introduction to his book. St. Jerome, of course, was a Christian scholar and a great philosopher. He was born in 340 AD He translated the Bible into Latin. He was a famous bibliographer and wrote many books on the Bible. Before the year 325 C.E., it is known that the Gospel of Barnabas was accepted as canonical in the churches of Alexandria. It is known to have been circulated in the first two centuries after Christ (pbuh) from the writings of Irenaeus ("Jesus Prophet of Islam"). After this council, four Gospels were selected out of a minimum of three hundred available and the rest, including the Gospel of Barnabas, were ordered utterly destroyed. All Gospels written in Hebrew were also ordered destroyed.
In the year 364 AD, another council was held in Laodicea for the same purpose. This conference of Christian scholars and theologians not only confirmed the decision of the council of Nicea regarding the authenticity of the Epistle of Jude but also declared that the following six books must also be added to the list of genuine and believable books: The Book of Esther, The Epistle Of James, The Second Epistle of Peter, The Second and Third Epistles of John, The Epistle of Paul to the Hebrews. This conference pronounced their decision to the public. The book of Revelations, however, remained out of the list of the acknowledged books in both the councils.
In 397 another great conference was held called the Council of Carthage. Augustine, the celebrated Christian scholar, was among the one hundred and twenty six learned participants. The members of this council confirmed the decisions of the two previous Councils and also added the following books to the list of the divine books: The Book of the Songs of Solomon, The Book of Tobit, The Book of Baruch, Ecclesiasticus, and The First and Second Books of Maccabees.
At the same time the members of this council decided that the book of Baruch was a part of the book of Jeremiah because Baruch was the deputy of Jeremiah. Therefore they did not include the name of this book separately in the list.
Three more conferences were held after this in Trullo, Florence and Trent (1545-63). The members of these meetings confirmed the decision of the Council of Carthage. The last two councils, however, wrote the name of the book of Baruch separately.
After these councils nearly all the books which had previously been doubtful among Christians were now included in the list of acknowledged books.
The status of these books remained unchanged until the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century. The Protestants repudiated the decisions of the councils and declared that there are only 66 truly "inspired" books of God, and not 73 as claimed by the Catholics. The following books were to be rejected: The Book of Baruch, The Book of Tobit, The Letter of Jude, The Songs of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus, and The First and Second Books of Maccabees. They excluded these books from the list of acknowledged books.
The Protestants also rejected the decision of their forbears regarding some chapters of the book of Esther. This book consists of 16 chapters. They decided that the first nine chapters and three verses from chapter ten were to be rejected. They based their decision on the following six reasons:
1 These works were considered to be false even in the original Hebrew and Chaldaean languages which were no longer available.
2 The Jews did not acknowledge them as revealed books.
3 All the Christians have not acknowledged them as believable.
4 Jerome said that these books were not reliable and were insufficient to prove and support the doctrines of the faith.
5 Klaus has openly said that these books were recited but not in every place.
6 Eusebius specifically said in section 22 of his fourth book that these books have been tampered with, and changed. In particular the Second Book of Maccabees.
It now becomes apparent that books which had been lost in the original and which only existed in translation were erroneously acknowledged by thousands of theologians as divine revelation. This state of affairs leads a non-Christian reader to distrust the unanimous decisions of Christian scholars of both the Catholic and the Protestant persuasions. The followers of Catholic faith still believe in these books in blind pursuance of their forebears.
It is a prerequisite of believing in a certain book as divinely revealed that it is proved through infallible arguments that the book in question was revealed through a prophet and that it has been conveyed to us precisely in the same order without any change through an uninterrupted chain of narrators. It is not at all sufficient to attribute a book to a certain prophet on the basis of suppositions and conjectures. Unsupported assertions made by one or a few sects of people should not be, and cannot be, accepted in this connection.
We have already seen how Catholic and Protestant scholars differ on the question of the authenticity of some of these books. There are yet more books of the Bible which have been rejected by Christians. They include the Book of Revelation, the Book of Genesis, the Book of Ascension, the Book of Mysteries, the Book of Testament and the Book of Confession which are all ascribed to the Prophet Moses. Similarly a fourth Book of Ezra is claimed to be from the Prophet Ezra and a book concerning Isaiah's ascension and revelation are ascribed to him. In addition to the known book of Jeremiah, there is another book attributed to him. There are numerous sayings which are claimed to be from the Prophet Habakkuk. There are many songs which are said to be from the Prophet Solomon. There are more than 70 books, other than the present ones, of the new Testament, which are ascribed to Jesus, Mary, the apostles, and their disciples. In this day and age, some Christian scholars are even making the case for the authenticity of the Gospel of Thomas as the "fifth" Gospel (see "The Five Gospels," written over six years by 24 Christian scholars from some of the USA and Canada's most prestigious universities)
The Christians of this age have claimed that these books are false and forgeries. The Greek Church, Catholic church and the Protestant Church are unanimous on this point. Similarly the Greek Church claims that the third book of Ezra is a part of the Old Testament and believes it to have been written by the Prophet Ezra while the Protestant and Catholic Churches have declared it false and fabricated.
Groliers encyclopedia says under the heading "New Testament, canon":
"The process by which the canon of the New Testament was formed began in the 2d century, probably with a collection of ten letters of Paul. Toward the end of that century, Irenaeus argued for the unique authority of the portion of the Canon called the Gospels. Acceptance of the other books came gradually. The church in Egypt used more than the present 27 books, and the Syriac-speaking churches fewer. The question of an official canon became urgent during the 4th century. It was mainly through the influence of Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria, and because Jerome included the 27 books in his Latin version of the Bible called the Vulgate, that the present canon came to be accepted.."
Notice, as mentioned in the previous chapters, how the writings of Paul were the first to be accepted by the Trinitarian church. All other gospels were then either accepted or destroyed based upon their conformance to the teachings of Paul.
As mentioned previously, Lobegott Friedrich Konstantin Von Tischendorf was one of the most eminent conservative Biblical scholars of the nineteenth century. One of his greatest lifelong achievements was his discovery of one of the oldest known Biblical manuscripts know to mankind, the "Codex Sinaiticus," with the monks of Saint Catherine's Monastery in Mount Sinai. In this oldest known copy of the Bible known to humanity we find contained two gospels which would later be discarded by a more enlightened generation. They are "The Epistle of Barnabas" (not to be confused with the Gospel of Barnabas), and "The Shepherd of Hermas." Today, of course, neither of these two books is to be found in our modern Bibles. As also seen in section 1.2, many later "insertions" of the church were exposed through the study of this manuscript. However, following in the tradition of true conservative Christian scholars before him, Tischendorf managed to apply 12,000 "corrections" to this manuscript's 110,000 lines before he was through "transcribing" it (see "secrets of Mount Sinai", James Bentley, Doubleday, NY, 1986, p. 95)
We have already seen in chapter one how "St. Paul" all but totally obliterated the religion of Jesus (pbuh) based upon the authority of his alleged "visions". We then saw how his teachings were based more upon his personal philosophy and beliefs than any attempt to cite words or actions of Jesus (pbuh) himself (e.g. Galatians 2). We further saw how his followers slaughtered all Christians who would not forsake the teachings of the apostles for his teachings and how he was later made the "majority author" of the Bible and countless authentic gospels were burned and labeled apocrypha by his followers. Remember, "St. Paul" is claimed to be the author of Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Phillippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, and Hebrews.
"All the evidence indicates that the words of Jesus were authoritative in the Church from the first, and this makes it the more remarkable that such scanty attention is paid to the words or works of Jesus in the earliest Christian writings, Paul's letters, the later Epistles, Hebrews, Revelation, and even Acts have little to report about them... Papias (ca. AD 130), the first person to actually name a written gospel, illustrates the point. Even though he defends Mark's gospel (Euseb. Hist. III.xxxix.15-16), and had himself appended a collection of Jesus tradition to his 'Interpretation of the Oracles of the Lord' (Euseb. Hist. III.xxxix.2-3), his own clear preference was for the oral tradition concerning Jesus, and the glimpses that Eusebius provides of Papias' Jesus tradition give no hint of his dependence on Mark. Neither do the more frequent citations of Jesus in the APOSTOLIC FATHERS, largely 'synoptic' in character show much dependence on our written gospels"
The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible, Supplementary Volume, p. 137
The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible contains much more revealing information in this regard, far too much to reproduce here. The reader is strongly encouraged to locate a copy in their local library and read the details.
The popularly accepted dates for the authorship of the current books of the Bible are approximately as follows:
Approx. AD Event / Document
30 Crucifixion (Ascension) of Jesus
50 First Epistle of Paul
62 Last Epistle of Paul
65-70 Mark's Gospel
70 Epistle to Hebrews
80 Luke's Gospel
85-90 Matthew's Gospel
90-100 John's Gospel and First Epistle
100 I & II Timothy and Titus
Uncertainty about James I & II, Peter, John and Jude does not allow historians to estimate their origin dates. (See "The Early Church And The New Testament," Irene Allen, 1953). We begin to see the degree to which our current religion of "Christianity" is based more on the teachings and writings of Paul than anything else. The Gospels which are popularly believed to have been written first were in actuality written long after the writings of Paul. Now Christian scholars are even beginning to uncover extensive evidence that these Gospels were not even written by their claimed authors. The more Christian scholars study the Bible, the more it becomes painfully apparent that what is popularly referred to today as "Christianity" should more appropriately be named "Paulanity."
As mentioned in section 2.1, even when a book is claimed to be truly "inspired" we still find that the Church cannot say with 100% assuredness who wrote this "inspired" book. As mentioned there, the authors of the RSV Bible by Collins say that the author of "Kings" is "Unknown," the book of Isaiah is "Mainly credited to Isaiah. Parts may have been written by others." Ecclesiastics: "Author. Doubtful, but commonly assigned to Solomon." Ruth: "Author. Not definitely known, perhaps Samuel." and on and on. Is this how a truly unbiased mind defines "inspired by God"? You be the judge.
"Verily, those who conceal that which Allah has sent down of the Book and purchase a small gain therewith, they eat into their bellies nothing but fire. Allah will not speak to them on the Day of Resurrection, nor will He purify them, and theirs will be a painful torment. Those are they who purchase error at the price of guidance, and torment at the price of pardon. What boldness (they show) for the Fire!"
The noble Qur'an, Al-Baqarah(2):174-175
For additional answers regarding this so called "Inspiration" check out "Did Paul's Men Really Hear A Voice"