Saturday, 30 September 2017

Notes Part 1: Cambridge Companion to Jesus Edited by Markus Bockmuehl – Cambridge University Press – 2001

Cambridge Companion to Jesus Edited by Markus Bockmuehl – Cambridge University Press – 2001

“Jesus was an Asian and an infant refugee in Africa” - Bockmuehl

Craig A Evans

Archeological evidence shows people of Galilee were scrupulous in their observance of purity laws. Examples: Non Jewish pottery was limited to non Jewish sectors whilst non Jewish sectors contained Jewish pottery. Also virtually no pig bones were found dating to before AD 70 (after a sizeable growth in the non Jewish population)

Revolts that took place after Herod’s death (4 BCE), after the removal of Archelaus and the Roman census (6CE) and the riot in Jerusalem that instigated the great revolt (66-70) all pointed to deep-seated Jewish resentment of pagan presence in Israel (inc. Galilee).

Dating Jesus' birth

“Conventional to date the birth of Jesus to 4 BC or a bit earlier.This date is based n the Matthean evangelist, whose narrative suggests that Jesus was born shortly before the death of Herod the Great (cf. Matt 2.1,19). However, the evangelist’s association of Jesus ‘ birth with the final days f the reign of Herod may reflect a Moses-Jesus typology. Just as Pharaoh tried to destroy the promised saviour of the Hebrew slaves, so the wicked Herod – infamous for the execution of family members, including his elder so Alexander only days before the king himself would die – tried to destroy the saviour of Israel (Matt 2.1-18; cf. Exod 2.1-10). It has been suggested that Jesus may have been born near the end of the reign of Herod Archelaus (Luke 1.5), at the time of the controversial census ‘when Quirinius was governor of Syria’ (Luke 2.1-2). Given the accuracy of the Lucan evangelist in other matters pertaining to chronology and figures in office, this alternative suggestion should not be dismissed too hastily” 13-14 Evans

Matthean rephrases (lies?) about Jesus’ parentage and occupation.

“During his ministry, Jesus returns to Nazareth, where some of the residents wonder: ‘Is not this the carpenter [ho tekton], the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?’ (Mark 6.3). To be referred to as the ‘son of Mary’ raises questions about Jesus’ paternity . It hardly comes as a surprise then that Matthew rephrases the insultijng question.: ‘Is not this the carpenter’s son [ho tou tektonos huios]?’ (Matt 13.55). Jesus is here identified as the son of Joseph the carpenter. Not only is the stigma of his doubtful birth removed, Jesus has been distanced from his lowly occupation.” 14 Evans

Jesus family did not endorse his ministry?

“There are signification indications tat Jesus’ family did not endorse his ministry. The open hostility between Jesus and his family is barely masked in the Marcan account (Mark 3.20-35;cf.6.1-6; John 7.5), which the Matthean and Lucan evangelists take pains to mitigate” 14 Evans

[How can he believe they thought Jesus was God? Same with Mark! – Evans believes in all probability the resurrection claims (1 Cor 15.7) altered his family’s opinion]

Could Jesus read?

Deductive reading arguing Jesus could read, “according to Philo and Josephus, approximate contemporaries of Jesus, Jewish parents taught their children Torah and how to read it” 17

Perhaps they were only talking about affluent families? Evans sides with the opinion Jesus could read.

Some of the members of the North American Jesus Seminar do not think Jesus could read (Funk 1998:274). The Seminar also tends to think that quotations of and allusions to Scripture are the work of the early church, not of Jesus. 15

Disciple of John?

“The admission in the gospels that Jesus was baptised by John is one of the most certain data of the tradition (Mark 1.9-11; Matt 3.13-17; Luke 3.21-22; John 1.29-34). It suggests that Jesus was for a time a disciple of John” 21

Peter J Tomson

The phrase not worthy to bow down and unite his sandal is thought to be the kind of task a Jewish disciple did for his teacher.

Secretive about being the Messiah (Mark 9.2-8)

Jesus began his own career accepting the rite of repentance and forgiveness at the hands of John, which later devout Christians found hard to believe (cf. Matt 3.14; John 1.29-36; the Gospel of the Nazarenes as quoted by Jerome, Against Pelagius 3.2) 30

Jesus’ interpretation of the law was notably stricter than that of the Pharisees on the prohibition of divorce.

Predictions of the destruction [of the Temple - mine] were not unique in Jesus’ time, as we know from Josephus; and of course there is the ancient precedent of Jeremiah (Jer 7.14). 37

Pharisees believed in resurrection, Sadducess did not.

Marianne Meye Thompson

“For some scholars who pursue historical reconstructions of Jesus, the goal of this quest is to strip away the creedal accretions and affirmations of faith that have shaped the gospels and subsequent Christian belief in order to discover the ‘genuine’ historical figure of Jesus beneath layers of confession” 41

Adolf Von Harnack, a German scholar of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuriesasserted that ‘The Gospel , as Jesus proclaimed it, has to do with the Father only and not with the Son’ (Harnack 1957:144). 41

Geza Vermes speaks of Jesus as a ‘lover and worshipper of his Father in heaven’ , whose transformation into an object of worship ‘would have filled this Galilean Hasid with stupefaction, anger and deepest grief’ (Vermes 1983:13) 41

Jesus distinguished between blasphemy of the Son of Man and blasphemy of the Spirit indicating he believed himself and his mission answerable to and driven by the Spirit of God (Matt 12.31-32) ref 44

“Jesus refuses to manipulate God or to ask for demonstrable proofs of God’s protection” when asked to thrown himself off the Temple. He refused signs to those who asked to see them as proofs that God had sent him (Mark 8.11-12; 11.27-33) ref 45

Going beyond creeds

Robert Funk, the founder of the Jesus Seminar, contends that because Christianity is not the religion of Jesus, but the religion about him, if falls upon those who truly seek to follow Jesus to find him behind the creeds and gospels (Funk 1996: 304). 53

Earliest Christian preaching as recorded in Paul’s letters and Peter’s speeches in Acts are proclamations about Jesus rather than simply continuing the proclamation of Jesus. This shift is due to the church’s belief that Jesus had been raised and exalted by God to the right hand of the Father.

Graham Stanton

Miracles were not accepted without question in antiquity. Graeco-Roman writers were often reluctant to ascribe ‘miraculous’ events to the gods, and offered alternative explanations. Some writers were openly sceptical about miracles (e.g. Epicurus, Lucretius, Lucian). So it is a mistake to write off miracles of Jesus as the result of naivety and gullibility of people in the ancient world. In his own lifetime follower and foe accepted that Jesus had unusual healing powers. Ref 66

Some suggest many of the illnesses and disabilities had psychosomatic roots.

Joel B Green

When it came to the act of crucifixion, the Romans were slaves to no standard technique 90

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Sam Shamoun and David Wood Cursed by Paul of Tarsus!

Paul of Tarsus cursed all Trinitarians in Galatians 1 as Paul of Tarsus never knew about the Trinity doctrine and never preached or believed in this doctrine. Thus for Paul of Tarsus, the Trinitarians preach a different Gospel to him, meaning they are cursed according to Galatians 1.

Even if folks like Sam Shamoun and David Wood  decide to give up the Trinity doctrine they will still be considered to be cursed by Paul of Tarsus as they are suspected of rejecting Penal Substitution. Here's what Brandon Hines writes about Michael Gungor in this regard:

By denying Penal Substitution, Gungor is rejecting the true Gospel and embracing another gospel, which is no gospel at all. What does the Bible say we are to do with those who bring another Gospel? Galatians 1:8 (ESV) tells us, “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.” [Brandon Hines]

For the Muslim, Paul of Tarsus has no authority whatsoever. Muslim don't care who he cursed. Can Christians say the same?

How Jay Smith, Nabeel Qureshi, Sam Shamoun and David Wood Contribute to the Apostasy of Christians

Geza Vermes on How Jesus Would Have Reacted to Trinitarian Christians

Is Limited Atonement Doctrine Taught Clearer than the Trinity Doctrine in the New Testament?

For Christians who say Allah is a Deceiver- a Message from James White


The Link Between Anti-Semitism and Islam

John L Esposito: Gallup data revealed a link between anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, that contempt for Jews makes a person "about 32 times as likely to report the same level of prejudice toward Muslims"

Tovia Singer: Does the New Testament Teach Jesus is God?

Armenian Genocide Was A Secularist Genocide Not an Islamic Genocide - Karen Armstrong

During the First World War, in order to create a purely Turkic state, the Young Turks ordered the deportation and ‘resettlement’ of Armenian Christians from the empire on the pretext that they were conniving with the enemy. This led to the first genocide of the twentieth century, committed not by religious fanatics but by avowed secularists. Over a million Armenians were slaughtered: men and youths were killed where they stood while women, children and the elderly were driven into the desert where they were raped, shot, starved, poisoned, suffocated or burned to death [Karen Armstrong, Fields of Blood]

African Children and the Harm of White Jesus Imagery - Umar Johnson

Geza Vermes on How Jesus Would Have Reacted to Trinitarian Christians

Hinduism and Polygamy

Muslim Rule in India: No Evidence of Forced Mass Coversions of Hindus

For Christians Who Call Muslims Rag-Heads...
Christians having dreams and converting to Islam

Learn about Islam


Tuesday, 26 September 2017

African Children and the Harm of White Jesus Imagery - Umar Johnson

Umar johnson Associating White Jesus with White People
Also uploaded here

“ The brain is an associating organism...If you force feed an African child that Christ is white, because the brain associates, as that child begins to grow the brain will associate white Christ with white people. And so if white Jesus is [considered] God then white people must also be the gods of humanity. So guess what? The power in that painting [of white Jesus] is transferred to the people who resemble that painting. So it is difficult to pray to a white Jesus and not in some way feel inferior to white people” – Umar Johnson

Geza Vermes on How Jesus Would Have Reacted to Trinitarian Christians

For Christians Who Call Muslims Rag-Heads...

Are Evengalicals Ignoring Sola Scriptura When Talking About Prophecies in the Bible?

Tovia Singer: Does the New Testament Teach Jesus is God?


Geza Vermes on How Jesus Would Have Reacted to Trinitarian Christians

Geza Vermes speaks of Jesus as a ‘lover and worshipper of his Father in heaven’ , whose transformation into an object of worship ‘would have filled this Galilean Hasid with stupefaction, anger and deepest grief’ (Vermes 1983:13) [Cambridge Companion to Jesus Edited by Markus Bockmuehl – Cambridge University Press – 2001]

 Is Limited Atonement Doctrine Taught Clearer than the Trinity Doctrine in the New Testament?

Does Jesus use Violence and Force According to Trinitarian Christianity?

Analysing Richard Lucas' Heretical Understanding of Trinity

Synoptic Gospels and the Idea of a Pre-Existent Jesus?

Paula Fredriksen: Paul was NOT a Trinitarian

Wayne Grudem Shoe-horning Partial Trinitarianism into the Old Testament

Edgar G Foster: Trinity Came After the Council of Nicea

Tovia Singer: Does the New Testament Teach Jesus is God?

Why Islam

Monday, 25 September 2017

Hinduism and Polygamy

“Polygamous marriages were not uncommon in Hindu society. Ancient texts speak of both polygyny (multiple wives) and polyandry (multiple husbands). In the Ramayana epic, king Dasaratha fathers four children through his three wives. In the Mahabharata epic, princess Draupadi married the five sons of king Pandu, and bore their children. Certain Himalayan tribes still practice polyandry today.” [Introducing Hinduism, Hilary P. Rodrigues, p 96]


Muslim Rule in India: No Evidence of Forced Mass Coversions of Hindus

The Ummayad Islamic Caliphate, whose capital was Damascus, had expanded to establish a kingdom in the lower Indus River valley as early as 711 CE. These were Arabic-speaking Muslims, many of whom also traded along India’s Malabar Coast. However, /islam’s major push into the subcontinent began with the Turkish ruler Mahmud of Ghazni, who had his Afgha armies move into Northwest India. By the time of his assassination in 1206, he had established a Turko-Afghan state bordering on Delhi. His successor, Qutb u’d-din Aibak, conquered Delhi, making it his capital, and became the first in a series of Delhi Sultans, Turko-Afghan rulers whose empire eventually stretched from the Punjab to Bengal.

It may be misleading to characterize the region of this empire as under “Muslim” or “Islamic” rule, because the ruling styles of the Hindu and Muslim kingdoms of these states were fairly similar. Furthermore, it conveys the sense that obligatory mass conversions to Islam had occurred, which current historical analyses reject. From studies in regions where Islamic populations grew, such as Western Punjab and Bengal, conversion was often driven by desires for upward mobility through intermarriage, and by teachings of charismatic religious leaders. Historians also reject a prevailing popular view of systematic wholesale destruction of non-Muslim holy places, such as Buddhist monasteries and Hindu temples. While some such were definitely sacked for their wealth, and many religious centers were destroyed by zealous Muslim rulers, such as Firuz Tughluq (14th century CE), Islam and non-Islamic spiritual and philosophical life generally coexisted and interacted peacefully. [Introducing Hinduism, Hilary P. Rodrigues, Routledge, 2nd Edition p28]

Russell Brand Exposes Muslim Terrorism Percentage

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Yes, Muslims Used Taqiya FAO Christian Islamophobes

Yes Muslim did do Taqiya! Let the Islamophobes know some Muslims pretended to be Christians to save themselves from persecution in Spain. From Karen Armstrong's Fields of Blood

Karen Armstrong, Fields of Blood, Religion and the History of Violence. The Bodley Head, 2014

Truth about Taqiyyah (Takiya, Taqiyya)

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Was David Wood Using Nabeel Qureshi's Death for Hatred?

We had to rebuke David for a video which he made using Nabeel Qureshi's last recorded words to attack the Prophet Muhammad, I hope serious-minded Christians will rebuke David too.

In David Wood's video he cited a hadith of Prophet Muhammad cursing people who take the graves of Prophets as places of worship. He misrepresented this. This is obviously out of concern for keeping Monotheism intact. This shows the value the Prophet had for pure Monotheism. He used some of his last words to remind people of the importance of pure Abrahamic Monotheism and help them keep away from shirk (a departure from pure Abrahamic Monotheism) - making places of worship over the graves of Prophets could be seen as leading to shirk.

The Prophet Muhammad's (pbuh) curse on the Jews and Christians was not his last words (just some of his last words), it was not done out of hatred or rancour for them (and it was not directed at all of them), but instead he was relating to those around him his utter rejection of people worshiping prophet's graves. (i.e. indirectly telling them not to worship his grave.)

The Jews (and Christians!) are taught about pure Monotheism and its importance in the Bible. First Commandment that all Jews accept: Ex 20:3 “You shall have no other gods before[a] me".

The Prophet, amongst his last words, also reminded people to be spiritual and never forget the prayer: “The prayer, the prayer! And fear Allaah with regard to those whom your right hands possess.”
As for the Prophet's grave, here is a link to what the scholars say on this - it is clearly not a curse against Muslims who pray in that mosque!:

David also mentioned Jesus and his purported last words. Firstly, as Christian scholars admit that the Gospel authors are not reliable and the Gospel of John puts words into Jesus' mouth that he never actually said it's highly dubious for David Wood to talk like he knew what Jesus' last words. See this video of a Christian scholar admitting this about John's Gospel:

David also makes out he believes in a Jesus who is all about peace and love. Actually, Trinitarian Christians believe Jesus allowed the severe beating of female slaves as long as they got up in a couple of days and they believe he used and will use violence, David Wood's Hypocrisy on Jesus' Violence According to the Bible:

For the David Wood refutation section see here for over 70 rebukes, refutations and responses to him (scroll down and go to older posts to see the earlier ones):

Despicable David Wood Rebuked For Using Nabeel Qureshi's Death for Hatred

This video has also been uploaded here and here

David Wood may think he was just going toe-to-toe with trolls who were winding him up about Nabeel Qureshi with insensitive comments but he just played right in to their hands. Trolls exist on the internet. Don't play their game of hate and mockery.

James White Questions David Wood's Wisdom

Does Surah Al Fateha Curse Jews and Christians? Christian Missionary Claim Refuted!

Synoptic Gospels and the Idea of a Pre-Existant Jesus?

Tovia Singer: Does the New Testament Teach Jesus is God?

Why Islam

Thursday, 14 September 2017

For Christians Who Call Muslims Rag-Heads...

Image may contain: 1 person, standing and text

When Christian Islamophobes call Muslims "Rag-Heads" in reality not only are they insulting the majority of all the Jews and Prophets in the Bible (including Jesus), but also they are insulting Yahweh Himself. Since it was Yahweh that ordered the Jews to wear Turbans while performing their religious duties in the Tabernacle. (i.e. meaning that this is the dress Yahweh preferred.) Exodus 28:36-38New International Version (NIV):

36 “Make a plate of pure gold and engrave on it as on a seal: holy to the Lord. 37 Fasten a blue cord to it to attach it to the turban; it is to be on the front of the turban. 38 It will be on Aaron’s forehead, and he will bear the guilt involved in the sacred gifts the Israelites consecrate, whatever their gifts may be. It will be on Aaron’s forehead continually so that they will be acceptable to the Lord.

This interesting post and picture was posted on the Simply Seerah FB page.

[Original source of the picture is here]

Christians having dreams and converting to Islam

Learn about Islam


Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Are Evengalicals Ignoring Sola Scriptura When Talking About Prophecies in the Bible?

This was a one one-line response by Reverend Samuel Green to one of Tovia Singer’s arguments against the idea Genesis 22 is a foreshadowing or prophecy of the Messiah being crucified.

Rev. Green partially quotes point 3 (he only cites the first sentence) and responds:

This is a straw man argument. They do not have to exegete the Old Testament.

Samuel stripped away the rest of the point which I will reproduce here:

If early Christians believed Genesis 22 was a foreshadowing of Jesus’ crucifixion why did Paul not mention this? This notion did not occur to any writer in the Bible. This notion is a fabrication which comes from the author of a forgery called the Epistle of Barnabas (non canonical book). This book almost made it into the canon. It was also advanced by a Catholic church father, Justin, in the 2nd century. The key point is why is this idea not in the NT? Why didn’t one of the authors not put this into the Bible? Aren’t these protestants who believe in sola scriptura? There seems to be an evolution of thought as time progressed.

The point the rabbi is making here, how can Sola Scriptura Christians conclude Genesis 22 is a foreshadowing or prophecy of the church crucifixion and atonement narrative? It’s a great point! Does Revered Green have any scriptural reference indicating he should believe this? If so, where is it? He does not have such. He’s clearly getting this idea from church tradition, Tovia Singer points out this idea came from a non canonical “forgery” (Epistle of Barnabas) and it was also advanced by the Church Father Justin ( I assume Justin Martyr, a non Trinitarian!). Are these authorities Reverend Green and other Trinitarian Christians should be relying on to get interpretations of the Bible from?

And the point of New Testament authors not mentioning Genesis 22 and using it in their writings is huge. Something Reverend Green should contemplate on. Philips Jenkins captures the zeal the evangelists had for drawing parallels between the Old Testament and the life of Jesus:

All evangelists, for instance, borrow from the Old Testament passages to shape their accounts of the crucifixion. Few stories in the Gospel accounts of Jesus lack an Old Testament parallel or precedent, and the resemblances are all the more apparent when we read the older text in the Greek translation that the evangelists would have known.

The rabbi’s argument is that one would expect at least one of the evangelists to raise Genesis 22 if they truly believed it was a foreshadowing of a crucified Messiah

Think about it in the light of some of the prophecies in Matthew’s Gospel:

...Matthew claims the Messiah was going to be called a Nazarene:

21 So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, 23 and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets, that he would be called a Nazarene. (Matt 2:21-23)

Like other prophecies quoted by Mathew, there is a serious problem with this prophecy: it does not occur anywhere in the Old Testament!

I had been suggested that the use of “prophets” instead of “prophet” in the passage above is Matthew’s way of indicating that he is giving “a paraphrase of the sense of more than one passage rather than a quotation of a specific verse” (Miller, 2003; 115; also Davies & Allison, 1988:275). There is no evidence that this is the case, as 2:23 is the only prophecy that Matthew attributes to the unidentified “prophets”. Of the remaining 12 alleged prophecies that Mathew quotes , 6 are attributed to Prophet Isaiah, 2 to Jeremiah, and 4 to an unidentified “prophet”. It is unclear which “prophets” Matthew meant, but there is no evidence that the use of this plural term indicates that Matthew paraphrased more than one Old Testament passage. [ See: The Mystery of the Messiah, Louay Fatoohi, Loc 2080]

Matthew links Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem to a prophecy:

As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”

4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:
5 “Say to Daughter Zion,
‘See, your king comes to you,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”[a]
6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. 8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road.9 The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,
“Hosanna[b] to the Son of David!”
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”[c]
“Hosanna[d] in the highest heaven!”
10 When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”
11 The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.” [Matt 21:1-11]

The Prophet that Matthew mentions in Zechariah:
Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!
Shout, Daughter Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you,
righteous and victorious,
lowly and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey. [Zech 9:9]

The Hebrew text for this Old Testament prophecy talks about one animal which is described twice, but its Greek translation uses “and”, meaning two animals instead. Matthew relied on the Greek translation of the Old Testament so he made Jesus ride on two animals. He had to change the earlier part of the story to make Jesus order his two disciples to bring a donkey and a colt. The fact that Jesus could not have ridden on two animals at the same time did not bother Matthew!

Significantly, the versions of this story in the other three Gospels, which are not influenced by the Zechariah prophecy, are different. According to Mark (11:2,7) and Luke (19:30, 35), Jesus wanted and rode a colt. John (12:14), on the other hand, states that Jesus found and rode a donkey. This is yet another example of how Matthew fine-tuned his Gospel to fulfil Old Testament prophecies.
It is also significant to note that, unlike Matthew, none of the other three Evangelists link Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on a colt to the prophecy in Zechariah, or indeed to any other supposedly Messianic passage.

...Matthew’s fascination with linking events in Jesus’ life to alleged Old Testament prophecies aims o show that Jesus was the fulfilment of those prophecies. This link, the Evangelist thought, would strengthen the believers’ faith and convince the Jews that Jesus is the awaited Messiah and would make them follow him. Matthew was so keen on pursuing his endeavour that he often distorted and misused Old Testament passages. He changed them and took them out of context to make them fit his purpose. He even made them up! [See: The Mystery of the Messiah, Louay Fatoohi, Loc 2114]

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Notes and Thoughts on Carl Ernst's "How to Read the Quran"

How to Read the Quran –Carl W Ernst – Edinburgh University Press – 2012
Image result for carl ernst quran

Carl Ernst theorises based on a literary approach underpinned by a non supernatural foundation so it’s important to note this if you come across anything he says which goes against the traditional Islamic narrative. Ernst uses  a chronological, literary and historical approach – which is a post orientalist and cosmopolitan approach. Literary investigation includes structural composition and principal themes of suras.
He’s not doing devotional reading nor is he reading the Quran in the way a Muslim would thus he will say things which are not in line with Islamic thought. Be wary of this.

However he does make some points which may be of interest for Muslim apologetics, some of which I will share here.

Unfair treatment of Islam and the Quran by hostile readers (this would include Islamophobes and Christian missionaries)

“Hostile readers of the Quran use a literary approach that is the equivalent of a blunt instrument. They make no attempt to understand the text as a whole; instead, they take individual verses out of context, give them the most extreme interpretation possible and implicitly claim that over 1 billion Muslims around the world robotically adhere to these extremist views without exception. This is, in effect, a conspiracy theory that has virally multiplied in significant sectors of modern Euro-American society. It is irrational, it is paranoid, and it is out of touch with the realities of the lives of most Muslims around the world today. It ignores the existence of multiple traditions of interpreting the Quran in very different fashions. Unfortunately, a small minority of extremists, who quote the Quran in support of terrorist violence, have been magnified by the media into a spectre that is now haunting Europe (and the United States) more intensely than Marxism ever did. In part because of these contemporary anxieties, it is difficult for most Europeans and Americans to read the Quran” 2

“Muslims are all too familiar with condescending Christian missionaries who propose to tell them what the Quran should actually mean” 210

“Most European intellectuals, even at the time of the Enlightenment, took it for granted that Mohammad was an impostor and the Quran a fabrication and a derivative work. There was theological prejudice and negativity in earlier studies of the Quran. “

Reliability and Revisionist Theories

“In comparison with the Bible, the Quran exhibits much greater textual stability, and variant readings found in different manuscripts are largely trivial in pronunciation or vocabulary.  A number of theories have been advanced in recent years by European writers, questioning the traditional account of its composition. Some have proposed that the Quran was actually assembled as long as two centuries after the time of Prophet Muhammad. This hypothetical argument has not gained much traction, because of a lack of supporting evidence. Other more bizarre theories have been advanced, claiming that the Quran is really based on Christian text, or that it is not written in Arabic at all, but in a form of Syrian that is badly understood. Scholars of biblical studies (and readers of The Da Vinci Code) are certainly familiar with breathless exposes that claim to overturn all of the history of Christianity. This kind of radical revisionism probably gets more of a hearing when it concerns Islam, in part because most people are less familiar with the subject, but also because of fantasy expectations about debunking the Quran, otherwise it is hard to understand why such eccentric publications would be featured on the front page of the New York Times”. 4

“The Quran is the source of enormous anxiety in Europe and America, for both religious conservatives, who are alarmed about a competitive postbiblical revelation...” 1

“In practice today, a single reading (that of Hafs via Asim) is predominant, because of the widespread acceptance of the 1924 printing of the Quran by the Egyptian government using that standard, though other readings are occasionally available in print or audio recordings. In general, it is widely assumed that the text of the Quran has remained remarkably stable and that it has been more or less free from scribal insertions of the kind that crept into the manuscripts of the New Testament.”29
Arabic language
“When one turns to the nature of the assembled Quranic text , the first point to be addressed is the character of the Arabic language and the script in which it is couched. Arabic is considered a West Semitic language, and it belongs to the family of languages with alphabetic scripts (such as Hebrew, Aramaic and Ethiopic), which all ultimately descend from ancient Phoenician. Old written forms of the Arabic language are found in rock inscriptions throughout the Arabian Peninsula, which employ several different scripts ultimately derived from South Arabia. Arabic speakers also used the Nabatean script from the second century BCE, notably in the city of Petra (in modern Jordan), and that became the basis for the distinctive Arabic script that emerged in Syria and northwest Arabia in the sixth century CE, sometimes in multilingual inscriptions that included Greek or Syriac.” 26-26
Some notable revolutionary approaches and the media
“But the most revolutionary approach to the Quran in recent scholarship came in the work of John Wansbrough, a literary specialist, who argued that the text of the Quran could not have been compiledin the present from, as the traditional account has it, shortly after the death of the Prophet Muhammad. He proposed that the oral sayings on which the Quran is based were in circulation for as much as a couple of centuries before they were assembled as a book. The codification of the Quran, in his view, was part of a larger historical process in which an originally Jewish-Christian religious movement outside of Arabia eventually turned into an Arab-Islamic polity, which then retrospectively created a fictional account of its origins n Arabia. Wansbrough’s  revisionist work was an extremely learned and complicated argument, and unsupported by direct external historical evidence. Parallel revisionist studies also emeerged  at the same time in the area of early Islamic history, in which Patricia Crone and Michael Cook argued that Muslim sources were completely unreliable and that therefore one can only reconstruct the early history of Islam through foreign sources. A couple of even more radical studies then appeared, which maintained that the text of the Quran was originally a Christian work later revised along Islamic lines (G. Lulling) or that it was originally written in Syriac and then completely misunderstood as an Arabic text (Christopher Luxenberg, a pseudonym). Both of these authors took the bold (and highly questionable) step of making significant alterations in the Arabic text of the Quran in order to make it fit their arguments. In literary terms, these later efforts overstate their case, by calling for the rejection of over a millennium of textual history and proposing completely new explanations previously unsuspected by anyone else. From a quite different perspective, John Burton also challenged the traditional account of the Quran, arguing that it was fully completed during the life of the Prophet. It is remarkable that all these revisionist theories of the origins and history of the Quran share a strong confidence in overturning centuries of the Islamic tradition yet offer dramatically different conclusions that clearly are in conflict among themselves.”  30-31
“A Wall Street Journal reporter published a lurid front-page account, strongly hinting that all the German scholars had been Nazis and suggesting that scholarly study of the Quran would provide shocking challenges to the Muslim faith in the authenticity og the Quran. In response Michael Marx, director of Corpus Coranicum Research Centre, wrote a scathing reply, poking fun at the newspaper article. Marx argued that this article was an example of the modern tendency to believe in vast conspiracy theories like that in The Da Vinci Code, imagining fanciful scenarios of romantic historical research (a la Indiana Jones) that would  call into question the entire history of a major religion, and which have certainly produced entire industries of publishing, film, and tourism. More seriously, Marx challenged the notion that all the German scholars were Nazis and also questioned the tendency of journalists to focus only on revisionist theories of the origins of Islam.”  30
Use of “We” in the Quran for Allah
“Some scholars have even suggested that the use of “We” implies a plurality of speakers, that is, the angels alongside God, but on closer inspection this proves to be a weak argument loosely based on biblical analogies. The Quran does not provide any example of angelic participation in the creation. Instead of overlaying such a simplistic theological interpretation onto the text, a literary approach will take seriously the different contexts and forms of expression of its different voices and personas found throughout the Quran. The shift from “I” to “We” for the principal speaker is very characteristic of the Quranic discourse, and the use of the plural is widely accepted as an example of the “plural of majesty” or the” royal we”, where the plural is used for respect.” 49-50
Tawil: more esoteric interpretation
“The commentary  al-Tabari (d. 923) is a milestone in the detailed explanation of the Quran in terms of the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad. Another important early interpreter is al-Thalabi (d. 1035), whose (still unpublished) commentary has drawn recent attention as a masterful achievement of intellectual synthesis. Other major commentaries were produced by theologians such as al-Razi (d. 1210), from a Sunni perspective, and al Tabarsi (d. 1153), from a Shi’i point of view.”  64
Why Saudi Arabia is not keen on Archeological investigation
A highly conservative religious establishment sees no reason why the traces of Judaism and Christianity should be celebrated in the homeland of Islam, and its views digging up and displaying pagan idols as even more repugnant. 84
On this topic see my notes on Ziauddin Sardar’s Book Mecca:
Stylistic based claims that the Quran has undergone stages of revision are mere speculation
“Obviously the notion that the Quran has gone through stages of revision raises questions about how, and whose authority, later additions could be made to the text. Admittedly, this observation is speculative, since it is based entirely on internal stylistic evidence rather than on any external proof; there are no manuscripts  that contain any earlier versions of these Quranic texts.” 97
Sleepers of Ephesus
“As usual , the Quran does not provide a fully detailed version of the story , assuming instead that listeners are familiar with it..” 123
[This is interesting as the Quran does not go into much detail about other people and events in the Quran, I would assume Carl Ernst believes the immediate audience or some of the people amongst the immediate audience of the Quranic Revelation were familiar with these topics – such as the virgin birth, Jesus’ life and miracles, the life events of Abraham and Moses]
Surah 116-117
“The interrogation of Jesus by God forms a dramatic parallel with the interrogations of Jesus by his opponents in the New Testament, where he is asked to declare whether he is “the Christ. The son of God” (Mathew 26:63) or “the king of the Jews” (John 18:33). In this case, Jesus firmly denies making any claim of divinity for himself or his mother Mary. While this charge does not precisely state Christian theological positions, since Mary is not technically considered divine, it does represent the logical consequences for monotheism of calling her “Mother of God” as was common in the Eastern Church. Moreover Jesus also refuses to claim to have any divine knowledge, saying, “You know what is in me, but I do not know what is in You” (5:116). He presents his teaching as the pure monotheism commanded by God, to which he is witness for humanity (5:117).” 198
Ernst is looking at this from a Protestant viewpoint rather than looking at it from the viewpoint of all known Christian understandings and practices with regards to Mary. There were people who worshipped Mary and in the minds of some Protestants Mary is worshipped/prayed to by Catholics as highlighted by the quote from James White and Taylor Marshall's citation of an ancient prayer found written on papyrus manuscript (p470), this manuscript is dated is dated to 250 CE.

 Brewer's dictionary on Mariamites:

Worshippers of Mary, the mother of Jesus. They said the Trinity consisted of God the Father, God the Son, and Mary the mother of God.
Why it’s difficult for non Muslims to read the Quran:
-Media inflated claims
-Nearly complete lack of acquaintance with the text itself
-Cultural barriers
“Given the blank slate of sheer unfamiliarity with the Quran among Americans and Europeans, it is perhaps inevitable that certain cultural habits have become obstacles to an understanding of it. In the mood of anxiety and fear of the post-9/11 era, it is perhaps understandable that one of these habits would be the temptation to find quick answers in this ancient text, to provide simple solutions to an urgent modern political problem. Unfortunately, nervous haste all too readily leads to serious problems or misrepresentation, as isolated phrases are made to stand in for a whole text, a single text is made o stand for an entire religion, and extremist individuals magnified by the media are taken to be representative of hundreds of millions of people in dozens of different countries. These are not trivial mistakes; weighty and unfortunate consequences flow from any distorted prejudice that substitutes real knowledge.” 4

Mid 1800s a newer approach emerged – chronological readings.
Printing did not take place on a large scale until the mid nineteenth century.
According to a tradition preserved by the Egyptian scholar al-Suyuti (d. 1505), no less a person than Ali had in his possession a copy of the Quran with the suras in some kind of chronological order. 73
Relying on appeals to authority is hardly a solution given the multiple authorities available today
Fairminded and reasonable approaches help understand the religious well springs of others

Friday, 8 September 2017

Is Genesis 22 a Messianic Prophecy?

Genesis 22 is the Biblical account of Abraham being tested in sacrificing his son. It begins:

After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 2 He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”

This video is also uploaded here and here

Some Christians think this account is a prophecy or foreshadowing of Jesus being crucified. A few points in refutation from rabbi Michael Skobac and rabbi Tovia Singer as per the video:

1. The Old Testament teaches nobody can die for somebody else’s sins and innocent person cannot die for the sins of the wicked. Ezekiel 18:13 and 18:20-23

2. Human sacrifice is not biblical. “It (human sacrifice) is forbidden and an odious abomination” – rabbi Tovia Singer.

3. If early Christians believed Genesis 22 was a foreshadowing of Jesus’ crucifixion why did Paul not mention this? This notion did not occur to any writer in the Bible. This notion is a fabrication which comes from the author of a forgery called the Epistle of Barnabas (non canonical book). This book almost made it into the canon. It was also advanced by a Catholic church father, Justin, in the 2nd century. The key point is why is this idea not in the NT? Why didn’t one of the authors not put this into the Bible? Aren’t these protestants who believe in sola scriptura? There seems to be an evolution of thought as time progressed.

4. In Genesis 22 it mentions, in the opening, that God tested Abraham. It announces clearly what this chapter is about, testing Abraham’s faith.

5. Michael Skobac mentions the way Christians view these passages is an approach which works backwards. Nobody reading Gen 22 prior to Christianity would have thought this was a prophecy about the Messiah.

6. It can’t be speaking about Jesus, it’s clear from the passage that this offering is meant to be a burnt offering. Obviously Christians don’t believe Jesus was burnt.

7. There’s no indication that this offering in Gen 22 was for sin.

8. When John (in his Gospel) announces Jesus as the Passover lamb it’s peculiar as this lamb was never brought for atonement of sin in Jewish practice. It was brought for commemoration of an event in Jewish history. The most appropriate analogue would have been the Yom Kippur scapegoat as this was the only animal which bore the sins of all the people (the others were limited) but this scapegoat is not said to be killed in the Bible (it’s sent off into the wilderness).

9. In verse 13 of Gen 22, this story is fulfilled. Abraham sacrifices the lamb. 13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son.

Did Jesus Die For The Sins Of Mankind? - Rabbi Tovia Singer

Is Islam to Blame for Grooming Gangs? Right Wing Refuted!

Can Church Father Quotations Reconstruct the New Testament?

Tovia Singer: Does the New Testament Teach Jesus is God?

Is Limited Atonement Doctrine Taught Clearer than the Trinity Doctrine in the New Testament?

Does Jesus use Violence and Force According to Trinitarian Christianity?

Analysing Richard Lucas' Heretical Understanding of Trinity

Synoptic Gospels and the Idea of a Pre-Existent Jesus?

Paula Fredriksen: Paul was NOT a Trinitarian

Wayne Grudem Shoe-horning Partial Trinitarianism into the Old Testament

Edgar G Foster: Trinity Came After the Council of Nicea

Tovia Singer: Does the New Testament Teach Jesus is God?

Why Islam

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Newcastle grooming gang 'did not target white girls because of their race', judge rules

Judge says victims not targeted 'because of their race, but because they were young, impressionable, naive and vulnerable'

A grooming gang that preyed on vulnerable girls and young women in Newcastle did not target their victims by race or religion, a judge has ruled.

The former director of public prosecutions, Lord McDonald, claimed the abuse of white women by predominantly Asian men was a “profoundly racist” crime after the scandal was revealed last month.

But while sentencing members of the gang at Newcastle Crown Court, Judge Penny Moreland said they picked out their victims “not because of their race, but because they were young, impressionable, naive and vulnerable”.


Is Islam to Blame for Grooming Gangs? Right Wing Refuted!

Jonathan Mclatchie: Gay Marriage is "Madness" but Terrorism is..

What the Jihadists Who Bought ‘Islam For Dummies’ on Amazon Tell Us About Radicalisation

Is Islam to Blame for Grooming Gangs? Right Wing Refuted!

If you're in the West the far right will throw this type of rhetoric your way. This was a tweet from a group trained by Jay Smith. The group is called DCCI Ministries and its run by Hatun Tash and Lizzie Schofield. The tweet reads:

Religion of Islam (its book and its prophet) has low view of women - we can't be surprise [sic] with application of it.[Link to a site which has ties with Tommy Robinson]
This tweet's argument is basically "Islam has a low view of women hence why a lot of these grooming gang members have Muslim names (they end with a link to a website which ahs ties to Tommy Robinson, the link features the names of people convicted of grooming)"

1. Islam does not allow rape or premarital sex and Islam does not have a low view of women (spiritually both genders are on equal footing)

2. The vast majority of paedophiles in this country are of Christian cultural backgrounds.

3. The stats for ethnic minority grooming are only higher for group grooming, white people come up top of the stats for grooming on an individual basis (which is expected as white people make up the majority of the population)

4. There's actually an explanation for why ethnic minorities may be represented disproportionately in grooming - night time economy. Vulnerable girls (and boys) tend to be out at night and interact more with people in the night time economy (takeaway workers, taxi drivers, etc.). Disproportionately ethnic minorities work in this economy.

5. These people part of grooming gangs are hardly people taking cues from Islamic texts - unless you think alcohol, drugs and premarital sex is Islamic.

6. This type of propaganda can be turned around just to show how absurd the type of thinking behind this polemic actually is. "In Numbers 31 and 1 Samuel 15:3 boys are ordered to be killed (in the case of 1 Samuel Trinitarians believe Jesus ordered this mass killing of boys) this shows Christianity has a low view of boys thus explaining why there are so many priests and church leaders fiddling and raping young boys - here's s link to s few media reports showing church leaders getting caught in child sex abuse scandals". (I don't support this line of argument - it's simply used to show how absurd the "Christian" propaganda in the tweet is!)

Muslim Scholars on Rape

A Refutation of the ISIS is Islam Rhetoric - Tommy Robinson Needs to Read This!

 Muslim Reacts to Jay Smith's Retirement From Pfander Films

Jay Smith Pfander Ministries' Theological Problem With Christian Countries and Domestic Violence

Christian Asks About Child Killing in the Bible - Lizzie Schofield of Pfander Blog and YouTube

Christian Evangelical Propagandizes Distortion of Bill in Turkey

1 Samuel 15:3: Lizzie Speakers Corner (Paul and Lizzie Schofield)

Christian Missionaries and Pakistan's Valentines Day Ban

Hashim Corrects Lizzie Schofield of Pfander Films Website

Christian Asks About Child Killing in the Bible - Lizzie Schofield of Pfander Blog and YouTube

A Reputation for Rudeness Is Difficult to Shake Off, Ask Pfander...

Jay Smith's Pfander Films Asked to Condemn Death Threat to Muslim Apologist

Hamza Myatt and Lizzie Schofield on Violence in Bible - Unbelievable and Pfander Films Take Note

Are Jay Smith and Beth Grove of Pfander Centre Radicalising People to Hate Muslims?

Adnan Rashid Racist Abuse Condemned - Jay Smith's Pfander Films' Radicalised Viewers

Jay Smith's Student Lizzie Schofield Believes Jesus Mistreats Women in Deut 21:10-14

Tovia Singer: Does the New Testament Teach Jesus is God?

Why Islam

Gunning for God – Why The New Atheists Are Missing the Target. John Lennox, Lion-Hudson, 2011

John Lennox is a careful and precise writer albeit pedestrian and lacking dynamism. A good rhetorician.  Most of this post features quotes from Lennox which stuck out to me at the time of reading. Keep in mind his book is a Christian missionary piece so he does have a strong emphasis on Christianity - something which I managed to navigate past and take the useful nuggets on offer.

Image result

The main concerns of the book are with arguments to with morality and the alleged dangers of religion. It’s a book which is the product of public engagement with Atheists (by the Christian apologist, John Lennox) – not a product of passive analysis.
New Atheists
New Atheists are not just content on denying the existence of God but they are more anti-theist and anti-theism characterised by a total lack of respect for religion. New Atheists are not a representation of all Atheists
New Atheists argue religions are the problem, listing in lurid detail the tragic history of horror and evil associated with religion. The solution, according to the New Atheists (NA) is to get rid of religion. Their stated goal is to weaken the hold of religion on society. A process of secularisation. The NA’s leading figures are looking to replace religion as the arbiters of what humans should believe – enthroning science as supreme.
More people are more comfortable in making the negative claim that they don’t believe in God than making a positive statement that they are Atheists.
Atheism: disbelief in or denial of the existence of God OED
Science and God
Big Bang model of the universe confirm Biblical and Quranic teachings of the Universe having a beginning. A theist (Georges Lemaitre 1894-1966)  had the idea which led to the current widely accepted Big Bang model of the origin of he Universe.
“God is the creator of the bits of the universe which we do understand and those bits we don’t understand”
Sir Isaac Newton hoped science would help persuade the thinking man to believe in God.
“The world of strict naturalism in which clever mathematical laws all by themselves bring the universe into existence, is pure (science) fiction”
Allan Sandage, widely regarded as the father of modern astronomy (discoverer of the quasars and winner of the Crafoord Prize, astronomy’s equivalent of the Nobel), is in no doubt about his answer: “I find it quite improbable that such order came out of chaos. There has to be some organizing principle. God to me is a mystery but is the explanation for the miracle of existence – why there is something rather than nothing.” [Gunning For God - John Lennox]

Multiverse: the idea that there are many universes that anything that can happen will happen. Thus it’s not surprising we have a universe like ours (i.e. one which appears to be designed/finely tuned). The Multiverse concept does not rule God out – God can create as many universes as he wants. Multiverse concept is speculation (no evidence). There’s no purely scientific reason to believe in an ensemble of universes. Believing in God is the more rational option.

New Atheism sits ill with rationality and science
“faith conceived as belief that lacks warrant is very different from faith conceived as belief that has warrant”
Evidence based faith. Little tidbits of evidence which all add up. Accumulation.
If human cognitive faculties were the product of unguided natural processes then how can one have confidence in any belief – including atheism.
Monotheism and violence?
Yet blaming monotheism for most wars in history is a widespread popular view, as German philosopher and theologian Klaus Muller observes: “The thesis that there is a connection between  monotheism and intolerance has been for a long time regarded as common sense even in prominent philosophical textbooks.” This thesis does not stand up to serious scrutiny. Religious persecution and intolerance are anything but peculiar to monotheistic cultures, as anyone with any grasp of world history should know. 69
There has been persistent violence against religion – in the French Revolution, in the Spanish Civil War, in the Soviet Union, in China. In three of these instances the extirpation of religion  was part of a program to reshape society by excluding certain forms of thought, by creating an absence of belief. Neither sanity nor happiness appears to have been served by these efforts. [Marilynne Robinson] 84
Morality and Atheism

Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot were cruel heads of officially Atheistic states.
Atheism does not provide an intellectual foundation to moral evaluations. Can you get moral absolutes without religion? Cannot have timeless values without invoking God.
If God does not exist, everything is permissible [Fyodor Dostoyevsky]
An atheist is a philosophical naturalist who *believes* there is nothing beyond the natural, physical world
Biologist Marc Hauser suggests morality is hardwired into human nature very much as language appears to be. [This hardwiring view is consistent with the religious view – all humans possess an innate sense of morality]
Evolution has found moral altruism difficult to account for, it makes it more difficult for an individual/race to survive.
New Atheists and Christianity

NA’s moral assessment of Christiantiy is characterised by a lack of balance. They do a hatchet job – they’d complain if the same was done to science. No even handed scholarly analysis, the net result is patent superficiality. An abandonment of thoroughness when examining topics outside of their competence.
Exaggeration hypothesis
“Joshua struck down all the inhabitants with the edge of the sword”. This does not actually mean all. Draws from Nicholas Wolterstorft’s interpretation that this means to score a decisive victory
Problem of evil, Caricatures and Miracles
Dealing with the problem of evil is easier when you believe in an afterlife. God is a God of compensation.
Dismissing ideas by caricature is the hallmark of lazy superficiality. Caricatures can help us pinpoint underlying misunderstandings.
NA’s oppose miracles because they are vehemently convinced they violate the principle of science. If there’s a God who created the universe then surely there is no difficulty believing that he could do special things.
Mockery is not an argument. It is an attitude, and it does no credit to the person who employs it in this connection
Lennox finishes off with the standard crucifixion and resurrection apologetics. Boring and unconvincing.