Christian St. Paul Vs James the Just

Most Christians are unaware that two followers of Jesus had sharply opposing views on theology. Many would be even more shocked to discover that, in fact, these two followers have written sections of the New Testament. And even more interesting is that these two often wrote with the purpose of disproving the other. These two followers I speak of are none other than James, the brother of Jesus, and paul of Tarsus.

From the beginning these two men, that is james and Paul, seemed to be complete opposites. Some differences to consider are as follows:

1. james followed Jesus from the beginning, whereas paul started off persecuting Christians and later became one.
2. james walked and talked with Jesus, whereas paul never did.
3. james was a relative of Jesus, and of course, paul was not.
4. james was a not a citizen of Rome and was, like many Jews, Persecuted by Rome, whereas paul was a citizen of Rome (Acts 22:23-29)

It will be attempted here to dissect the disagreement between these two men, to decipher what it was about, and let the reader draw their own conclusions about who was in the right. I will try to remain as neutral as possible.

PRE-CHRISTIAN paul AND HIS CONVERSION

Paul intensely persecuted Christians before his conversion. In Acts 7:61 (or 8:1 according to some translations) he presides over the stoning to death of Stephen, a Christian. According to Acts 8:3 he imprisoned churches and in Acts 9:1 it is said that he was “breathing out murderous threats” against the Disciples of Christ. He had a reputation for being thoroughly “evil and wicked” according to Acts 9:13.

Despite this, he is entranced with a vision of Jesus in Acts 9:7 and converts to Christianity. (It cannot go unmentioned that he gives another account of his conversion in Acts 22:9 which is contradictory in parts to the story given in Acts 9:7) The disciples of Jesus did not believe he was a christian at first, and according to the Life Application Study Bible translation of Acts 9:26

“When Saul (Paul) arrived in Jerusalem he tried to meet with the believers, but they were all afraid of him. They thought he was only pretending to be a believer!”

It is clear that the disciples of Jesus and other Christians felt that paul was an agent provocateur, and with good reason. He had, after all formerly been violently opposed to Christianity, but was suddenly a Christian, gave contradictory reports of his conversion story, and was a Roman citizen. (Rome, at this time was opposed to Christians, because the Christians and Jews at this time were opposed to the Roman occupation of Jerusalem.)

But another christian of some clout, named Barnabas, more or less vouches for paul in Acts 9:27 and all is well for a while. (It is important to note that paul and Barnabas later have a fight and, in the midst of some disagreement part ways in Acts 15:36-40) However, paul does avoid the Disciples of Christ by his own later admission in Galatians 1:17-18 for three years.

During this three-year period, paul is travelling everywhere setting up churches and amassing followers. He has complete flexibility to leave and enter Jerusalem at will because of his Roman citizenship, which the disciples of Jesus, who are opposed to Roman occupation do not have, and therefore are confined to Jerusalem. (This means that James, the brother of Jesus is stuck in Jerusalem, while paul is free to travel abroad at will and teach whatever he chooses without james or other disciples being clear on what it is he is actually teaching.)

JAMES THE JUST

James was the brother of Jesus (Matthew 13:55) and also a follower of Jesus. Early Church teachers such as Clementine and Esebius say that james was the step-brother of Jesus, because Joseph, the elderly husband of Mary had children from a previous marriage. james was a very important figure in early Christianity, and was probably the leader of the christian movement and head of the christian Church in Jerusalem. For example, when Peter, a disciple and fellow christian escapes from prison, he asks that james be notified in Acts 12:17. james is involved in decision making in Acts 15:13, and when paul returns to Jerusalem from a mission trip (which doubled as fund raising) it is to james that he speaks in Acts 21:18.

James was known as “the Just” because of his devotion to religion and his immense service to the poor. St. Jerome, quoting from Hegesippus’ account, describes james the just with the following words:

“After the apostles, james the brother of the Lord surnamed the just was made head of the Church at Jerusalem… This one was holy from his mother’s womb. He drank neither wine nor strong drink, ate no flesh, never shaved or anointed himself with ointment or bathed. He alone had the privilege of entering the Holy of Holies, since indeed he did not use woolen vestments but linen and went alone into the temple and prayed in behalf of the people, insomuch that his knees were reputed to have acquired the hardness of camels’ knees.”

James’ death is the source of much controversy and there are several conflicting accounts. According to one version documented by Josephus he was ordered stoned to death by the High Priest Ananus ben Ananus around 62. (Many Jewish High Priests were employed by Rome to persecute Christians in various ways, one example of this is paul before his conversion.)

According to another version by Eusebius, james was stoned out of the Jerusalem Temple by Pharisees, and then his skull was crushed by a much disputed individual with a club.

JAMES VS. paul -OPPOSING THEOLOGY

The origin of the dispute between james and paul involves theology. In Acts 15:1 some Christians come to teach that circumcision is necessary to “be saved.” Paul’s response is that circumcision is in fact not a necessary prerequisite to be a Christian. This causes an argument between paul and the Jewish Christians, according to Acts 15:2 it is a “sharp dispute.” Because of this, paul and Barnabas are designated (by who it is unclear) to go to Jerusalem and consult the Disciples of Jesus. As the Bible states, “some of the believers who were Jews” I.E. Jewish Christians, also known as Nazarenes, of which james the just was at the forefront of, “stood up and said, ‘The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to obey the law of Moses.’” (Acts 15:5). It seems that the overwhelming opinion is in contrast to Paul, until Peter comes to Paul’s defense by saying the following:

“Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. He made no distinction between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear? No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.” (Acts 15:7-11)

It is clear that there is a disagreement among the Christians on this point, and it is understandable. Imagine that you hold the true religion, but what is required of this religion is that one first be circumcised… how could you possibly win uncircumcised men over to this religion? This would likely be a huge stumbling block to non-Jews who wanted to convert to Christianity.

But then what of the view of the Nazarene Christians, or Messianic Jews, who strongly disagree with Paul’s belief that circumcision is not necessary for salvation? Circumcision was, after all, a part of the law of Moses, and did Christ himself not say to his followers: “Do not think that I have come to destroy the law…” (Matthew 5:17)? How then can Christians say that a convert to Christianity can escape upholding the law of circumcision? It was an enigma, a serious problem that required wisdom to answer. Enter James.

James, in his calm wisdom, offers a solution. His words are recorded in Acts 15:13-21 in which he says:

“It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood. For Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath.” (Acts 15:19-21)

His answer is clear. The law is necessary for Christians to keep, but they should not overburden new converts. Therefore, let us, that is, the Christians, inform them of the easy parts of the law, and let the synagogues teach them the rest. After all, as james says, “For Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath.” From there the new uncircumcised converts can move at their own pace. A wise answer from a wise man.

Since he is not abolishing the law of circumcision, it is clear he is in disagreement with paul on the matter. It is also clear that james is shocked at Paul’s lax view of the law, because James, along with other church elders orders paul to return to the churches he set up in Antioch and “correct” Paul’s teachings on the law. james sends a letter with Silas and Judas, and in the letter itself we see why Silas and Judas were to accompany paul and Barnabas. Silas and Judas were there to “confirm by word of mouth what we are writing.” (Acts 15:27) In other words, to make sure that paul actually delivers the decree of james and the Church elders. After Silas and Judas leave Antioch, paul stays there, preaching (Acts 15:30-35). This is understandable, because Antioch is Paul’s stronghold.

THE CONTROVERSY GETS WORSE

Later paul returns to Jerusalem. According to the Bible, james is happy that paul is winning new converts to Christianity, but yet warns him that he is in danger of being killed or handed over to Rome by Nazarene Christians who are upset that paul is still teaching against the law of Moses against James’ earlier direction in Acts 15:19-21. The message is clear, “You are teaching things that neither I nor the Jerusalem church has authorized you to teach. Your life is in danger, our brethren want to kill you.” Consider the words of the Church elders in Acts 21:20-25:

When they heard this, they praised God. Then they said to Paul: “You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews have believed, and all of them are zealous for the law. They have been informed that you teach all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to turn away from Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or live according to our customs. What shall we do? They will certainly hear that you have come, so do what we tell you. There are four men with us who have made a vow. Take these men, join in their purification rites and pay their expenses, so that they can have their heads shaved. Then everybody will know there is no truth in these reports about you, but that you yourself are living in obedience to the law. As for the Gentile believers, we have written to them our decision that they should abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality.”

Notice the last sentence of the above quote of the elders to Paul. They are restating to paul the decision that james made in Acts 15:19-21 concerning circumcision. The implication here is that paul paid no attention to James’ decree, and because of this, the Jerusalem Christians are furious.
He says in Acts 21:12-13 “Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” The implication here is that paul so firmly believes in his mission and message that he is a willing martyr. However when he is arrested, he changes tone, confesses that he is a Roman citizen and no further harm comes to him. (Acts 22:23-29) Not only that, but the suggestion of the Church elders (And James) that paul live “in obedience to the law” in Acts 21:24, is agreed to. So Paul, who was ready to die in Acts 21:12-13 to defend his belief that Christs’ blood nullifies the law, actually agrees to live in submission to the law. And as an outward sign of repentance, goes through the Jewish act of repentance which include shaving his head, (which he does in Acts 21:26) and making a sin offering of repentance (which he also does.)

In other words, paul agrees that he was teaching things that james and other Jerusalem Christians did not authorize him to teach, things which james and other Christians found not to be in accordance with the teachings of Christ.

While paul is in the temple in Acts 21:27-31 making his repentance for his anti-Mosaic law teachings, the Jewish Christians see him and are unable to control their rage (as they see him as a blasphemer against Jesus.) The Romans see the uproar and arrest paul (actually they save him whether knowingly or unknowingly) according to Acts 21:31-32. The intention appears to be to question him. paul requests that the soldiers escort him to the crowd so that he can explain to them his conversion story, which he does in Acts 22:1-21. Now this is important. If the angry mob were simply Jews angry at his teachings of the law there would be no reason for paul to reiterate the story of his conversion from Judaism to Christianity. After all, would he really think this would appease the raging crowd if they were entirely Jews? He had to know it would enrage them further. Therefore, it is doubtful that the mob was Jewish as Acts 21:27 states. It is more likely that they were Jewish Christians, and the reason for paul recounting his conversion for them was to placate their rage and ensure them that he was their brother, and not a blasphemer of Christ.

However, his conversion story does not please the crowd, and the Romans take him to the barracks. There he is questioned, but refuses to answer any questions, and is flogged (Acts 22:24). –However paul is able to conveniently escape further persecution by informing them he is a Roman citizen. (Under Roman law, a Roman citizen couldn’t be flogged.) Thus he is released. After a number of imprisonments, plots to kill him, and trials, paul is finally sent to the Roman governor Agrippa, and ordered to be released, and upon release paul sails to the churches he established outside of Jerusalem.

PAUL’S PROBLEMS AT HOME

Paul returns home to a less than warm welcome. Due to all the problems, his followers begin to question his discipleship and become apostates. paul addresses these apostates directly in Galatians 1:6. Therefore paul writes the book of Galatians in the hopes of keeping followers and winning back his lost sheep. He says that the apostates of his version of Christianity have followed a “different gospel” (in other words, the gospel that does not invalidate the Mosaic law, the version of Christianity to which james and Peter ascribed.) He calls these teachings (the teachings of James) “no gospel at all” in Galatians 1:7 and accuses james and the Jerusalem Christians of “perverting the gospel of Christ.”

In order to give assurance to his followers, he assures them that his message is more truthful than one an angel could produce (Galatians 1:8). He says that anyone who preaches a message other than his should be eternally condemned (Galatians 1:9) and says any other gospel is “made up.” (Galatians 1:11)

He refers to the Jerusalem christian leaders (this would include james and Peter) as those who “seem to be leaders…” (Galatians 2:2) He begins making arguments against James’ verdict on the circumcision controversy, saying that their arguments were so weak that the uncircumcised felt no need to circumcise themselves, citing his servant Timothy as an example (Galatians 2:3). He refers to the Christians in Jerusalem as “False brothers” and “infiltrators” who “spy” on them because of “the freedom” they have “in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 2:4). This is an obvious allusion to the fact that James, who has no Roman citizenship is confined to Jerusalem unlike Paul. paul claims to his followers that he “did not give in to them for a moment.” (Galatians 2:5) which is not true, because he did give in to them by going through the forced repentance that they demanded in Acts 21:26.

He calls out James, Peter, and John by name, and says that they are “those who seemed to be important” and that they “added nothing to” his “message.” (Galatians 2:6) He also says they are “reputed to be pillars.” (Galatians 2:9). He also says that all they asked of the Gentiles (non Jewish Christians) was that they “continue to remember the poor” (Galatians 2:10) which is not true, because james demanded that the Gentile Christians start keeping the law (recall Acts 15:13-21).

Paul goes on to say that when Peter came for a visit, paul “withstood him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong.” (Galatians 2:11) Paul’s complaint is that Peter catered to james and adhered to his version of Christianity (Galatians 2:12). He says that those who followed james and Peter’s example were “led astray” citing his former disciple Barnabas as an example in Galatians 2:13. (Recall that Barnabas was the one who vouched for paul when all of the other disciples considered him a secret agent for the Pharisees and/or Romans –Acts 9:27. The argument between Barnabas and paul is expounded upon in Acts 15:36-40, because Barnabas was a friend of John, who was a follower of James).

Oddly enough, paul seemingly feels the need to defend his view that Christ was crucified (Galatians 3:1). This would make it seem as though james and the other disciples held the belief of other early Christians, such as the Basilidians and the Carpocrations. The belief that Christ escaped the crucifixion and ascended to heaven whilst another was crucified in his place, thus being a divine miracle that fooled the Jews into thinking that Christ was dead. paul also is emphasizing his view that faith is more important that works in Galatians 3:6-9 (Which james later rebuts.)

Paul condemns observance of the Mosaic law (3:2) and says those who follow it are cursed (3:10). He criticizes his followers who, under the direction of James, uphold the law (4:9-11) and says he “wasted his efforts” on them. Referring to James, Peter and John he warns his congregation: “These people are zealous to win you over, but for no good. What they want is to alienate you from us, so that you may be zealous for them.” (Galatians 4:17). He then harshly condemns the circumcised (5:2-3) and says followers of the law are “alienated from Christ.” (5:4). He seems to threaten the one teaching this (James) in Galatians 5:10 and again, referring to James, John and Peter he says, “As for those agitators…I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!” (Galatians 5:12). He also accuses them of preaching the Mosaic law to “make a good impression outwardly” and to “avoid persecution” by the Romans. (Galatians 6:12)

JAMES RESPONDS TO PAULS LETTER TO THE GALATIANS

Recall that james cannot leave Jerusalem, because, as a non-citizen of Rome he cannot travel freely throughout the empire. Therefore he is left with a problem… how to respond to Paul’s claims against him, and Paul’s theology which he views as incorrect. In fact james does all that he can do. He writes a letter. It is now known as the book of James, and it is a direct response to Paul’s letter to the Galatians. Consider the following points.

While james never mentions the name of paul in his letter, it is clear he is referring to paul because there are so many counter-points to the book of Galatians. (It must be noted that paul did mention the name of james in Galatians 2:6) Consider what paul wrote in Galatians 3:6-9:

Consider Abraham: “He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham. The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.” So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

Here paul was emphasizing his belief that Faith is more important than works, and he cites the example of Abraham believing in God and it thus is credited to him as righteousness. Now consider James’ rebuttal found in james 2:20-24:

You foolish man! Do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.

It is also clear that james is addressing a specific individual, because in james 2:20 he addresses a “foolish man.” One can assume with much confidence that this “foolish man” is none other than Paul. james further criticizes Paul’s concept of faith over works in james 2:18-19:

“But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.”

The cynical tone cannot go unnoticed. It is a direct condemnation of Paul’s philosophy.

James further rebuts Paul’s letter to Galatians. Consider what paul wrote in Galatians 5:14

The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

And consider James’ rebuttal found in james 2:8-10:

If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.

It seems here that james sees Paul’s quoting of “love your neighbor as yourself” as hypocritical considering his favoritism to the Gentiles and his speaking harshly against the Disciples of Christ in Galatians 2:6.

In james 3:1 james issues an indirect warning to Paul, saying “Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” He goes on to condemn boasting in james 3:5, saying “Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.” This is probably in reference to Paul’s boasting in Galatians 2:6 that he “withstood” Peter “to his face.” It could also be a condemnation of Paul’s boasting in general, because paul freely admits his boasting in 1 Corinthians 15:9-10, 2 Corinthians 11:5, 2 Corinthians 11:16-12:1 (He admits in 21:1 that he is boasting for no reason) 2 Corinthians 2:11, and Galatians 1:15.

Paul is considered by james to be “corrupt and evil” in james 3:6 because of his “tongue” of “fire.” paul is further criticized for criticizing his christian brethren in james 3:9-10, which is in response to what paul wrote in Galatians 1:9. Consider Paul’s statement:

As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally cursed!

And consider James’ response:

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.

From here, the letter of james takes a different tone, one of preaching, perhaps to Paul, in the hopes that maybe paul would see the error of his ways. It is somewhat of a call for reform and of course, pointing out the negative behavior james sees in paul that must be corrected. For example, james criticizes those who harbor bitter envy and selfish ambitions and who boast about it in james 3:17, which is an obvious attempt to preach to Paul. james 3:17 also condemns fighting and quarreling and james 3:16-17 discourages disorder, while encouraging peace, being submissive, mercy, impartiality, and sincerity. james quotes proverbs 3:34 in james 4:1 to prove from the Old Testament that Paul’s boasting and pride is unacceptable.

James reiterates practicing the Mosaic law in james 4:8 by saying “Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” The washing of ones hands is of course a known part of Jewish ritualistic law to this very day.

Perhaps the most outward condemnation of Paul’s theology is found in james 4:11 which states:

Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it.

First it must be noticed that speaking against ones christian brethren is a focal point. But yet so is the fact that it violates Mosaic Law. james therefore did not consider the law invalid, as paul did, but in fact warns paul against disobeying it. He further criticizes paul for judging the Mosaic law as paul did on several occasions, such as in Galatians 3:2, 3:10, Galatians 4:9-11, and Galatians 5:2-4.

The closing chapter of James’ letter is one that speaks of being compassionate and lenient towards christian brethren, and can be seen as a further attempt to preach to Paul. For example, james writes in chapter 5 verse 9, “Do not grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged.” He sums up his letter by revealing his intentions to help paul via preaching in james 5:20 saying, “Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.”

CONCLUSION

Who was right and who was wrong shall be left up to the reader to decide. However, one cannot ignore the fact that a large portion of the New Testament is written by Paul. Almost all of the Epistles bear his name, and Paul’s theology has won over Christendom. Martin Luther, when referring to the book of james called it “an epistle of straw” for no other reason than it contradicted Paul’s teachings on the Mosaic Law. Christians have defended paul for centuries, considering his views and the views of Christ one and the same. This author is simply trying to show that the first centuries of Christianity are so conflicting, with various beliefs of various sects that it is not sufficient to say “so and so said it so this is the truth.”

The reason such an argument is not sufficient is because, as seen above, even the Disciples of Christ did not operate in this manner. If they felt someone was wrong or incorrect, they said so, even if it were someone who was founding Churches and bringing people to Christ. It is clear that james and other Disciples, including hoards of Jewish Christians in Jerusalem felt paul was a blasphemer of Christ, and indeed some of them even sought to kill him due to their rage at what they considered his ‘innovations’ and, what they considered ‘false teachings.’ These teachings seem to include the idea of Christ’s ‘dying for the sins of mankind, propagated by paul and not James, the idea that Christ’s blood nullifies the law, again propagated by paul and not James, and it is even possible that they did not believe Christ was actually crucified, which paul did, and felt the need to defend to james in Galatians 3:1.

No doubt some Muslims may hail this as a victory for Islamic theology, and to them I would challenge them to read the book of james and try to find a single verse that contradicts the teachings of Islam. I tried and did not find a single one. I have deduced that james the just was a true disciple of Christ and a Muslim in everything but name. I would go so far as to say radiallahu ahnhu after the mention of his name, because I feel (Again, my opinion only) that he is just as much a Sahaba to Isa (Jesus, alehisalaam) as Abu Bakr (raa) was to our Prophet Muhammad (saas). But it is not my intention to prove that by writing this. My intention was simply to present the facts of what happened as non-biased as possible and, as stated twice already, let the reader draw their own conclusions, be they Muslim, Christian, or even Jew.

One final thought for Muslims is that as Muslims I feel we should be disheartened. Disheartened that we don’t see more letters of james in the Bible, and saddened that the book of james is given such little worth by many Christians, as seen by the statements of Martin Luther (and others.) This, however, is not a surprise considering the circumstances of the life of James. Paul, after all, had the freedom to travel the world and preach his message because of his Roman citizenship. james did not have this freedom. Furthermore, james was martyred as early as 62 A.D. –Just 20 or so years after the ascension of Jesus (saas). I cannot speak for all Muslims, but I will make Dua for james the Just, that Allah (swt) accept his deeds and reward him as martyr.

Criticism on Habakkuk 1:12

 

The missionaries for some strange reason love boasting about their thousands of Bible manuscripts, they assert that since the Bible has so many manuscripts, it serves as proof that the Bible cannot be corrupted or else the manuscripts would prove it (laugh laugh, it seems the missionaries haven’t been paying attention!), and it also makes them assert that so many manuscripts allow them to compare and be confident about the text of their Bible, since there are thousands of manuscripts to check them with.

The hebrew text says:

הֲלוֹא אַתָּה מִקֶּדֶם , יְהוָה אֱלֹהַי קְדֹשִׁי–לֹא נָמוּת; יְהוָה לְמִשְׁפָּט שַׂמְתּוֹ, וְצוּר לְהוֹכִיחַ יְסַדְתּוֹ.

The English text says:

Art thou not from everlasting, O Lord my God, mine Holy One? we shall not die. O Lord, thou hast ordained them for judgment; and, O mighty God, thou hast established them for correction.

The colored part in red ” we shall not die ” this word is a partial study, and we will examine the evidence, respectively, the external and internal

External evidence:

  • All evidence of the masoretic text reads we shall not die.
  • The text in the Qumran scrolls ( 1QpHab )
  • The Septuagint version have the same reading masoretic text:  Art not thou from the beginning, O Lord God, my Holy One? and surely we shall not die. O Lord, thou hast established it for judgment, and he has formed me to chasten with his correction.
  • Targum Jonathan started reading the Lord forever live became the sense that God is the one who does no´t die

הֲלָא אַת יוי בְרֵית עָלְמָא מִבְרֵאשִית אַת אֲלָהָא דַיָין קְשֹוט עַל כָל בִריָתָך קַדִיש בְעָבְדֵי הֵימָנוּתָא מֵימְרָך קַיָים לְעָלְמִיןיוי לְמַעֲבַד דִינָא בְרֵיתָהִיבריתיה****** בְרֵיתָהִי וְתַקִיף לְאִתפְרָעָא אַתקֵינתָהִ(1(

  • The Vulgate have same reading  Masoretic text 
Wast thou not from the beginning, O Lord my God, my holy one, and we shall not die? Lord, thou hast appointed him for judgment: and made him strong for correction (2)
  • The Syriac Pashita doesn’t have the part

Art thou not from everlasting, O LORD my God, my holy one art thou without a law, O LORD? for thou hast ordained them for judgment, and thou hast created us for chastisement (3)

Internal evidence:

After have seen that all the evidence of texts, except Syriac Pashita, Biblical scholars admit that reading (we shall not die) is misreading, and this condition is called upon scholars” the eighteen emendations ” this has been repeated eighteen times in the Old Testament

 The eighteen emendations are : Gen 18:22, Num 11:15, 12:12, 1Sam 3:13, 2Sam 16:12, 20:1, 1Kings 12:16, 2Chr 10:16, Jer 2:11, Ezek 8:17, Hos 4:7, Hab 1:12, Zech 2:8, Mal 1:12, Psa 116:20, Job 7:20, 32:3, Lam 3:20 (4)

A Critical and Exegetical Commentary writes;

נמותnoted by Mas. as tikkun sopherim M (5)

A. R. Fausset says:

This reading is one of the eighteen called by the Hebrews “the appointment of the scribes”;the Rabbis think that Ezra and his colleagues corrected the old reading, “Thou shalt not die.“ (6)

 D. Ginsburg, Christian says:

All the ancient records emphatically state that this exhibits the corrected te xt by the Sopherim and that the original reading was: ‘Art thou not from everlasting? O Lord my God, mine Holy One, thou diest not.’ The parallelism plainly shows that this is the correct reading. The address in both clauses is to the Lord who is described in the first clause as being from everlasting and in the second clause as never dying or enduring for ever. The introduction, therefore, of a new subject in the plural with the predicate ‘we shall not die’ thus ascribing immortality to the people is contrary to the scope of the passage . . . The reason for the alteration is not far to seek.It was considered offensive to predicate of the Lord ‘thou diest not.’ Hence ‘we shall not die’ was substituted (7)

Rabbi Rashi said in this Issue:

Who shall not die. Now, the reason it is written לֹא נָמוּתwe shall not die, is that it is one of the emendations of the scribes in Scr ipture euphemizes. Likewise, (Mal. 1:13) “And you sadden it.” And so are many of them [these euphemisms] explained in Sifre (Num. 10:35). According to the emendation of the scribes, this is its explanation: Are you not my God from everlasting, my Holy One? Do not deliver us into their hands to die (8)

 NET Bible writes:

The MT reads, “we will not die,” but an ancient scribal tradition has “you [i.e., God] will not die.” This is preferred as a more difficult reading that can explain the rise of the othervariant. Later scribes who copied the manuscr ipts did not want to associate the idea of death with God in any way, so they softened the statement to refer to humanity (9)

In book the Old Testament in the Jewish Church:

again, in Habakkuk i. 12, where our version and the present Hebrew text read, ” Art thou not from everlasting, Jehovah my God, my Holy One? We shall not die,” the tradition tells us that the expression should have been, ” Thou canst not die,” which was changed because it seemed irreverent to mention the idea of God dying, even in order to negative it (10)

References:

  1.  Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon: Targum Jonathan to the Prophets. Hebrew Union College, 2005; 2005, S. Hab 1:12
  2. http://www.latinvulgate.com/verse.aspx?t=0&b=40
  3. Lamsa Translation : Hab 1 : 12
  4. J Fitzmeyer, S.J., Raymond E. Brown.: The Jerome Biblical Commentary, Vol.1,S.S., 1968, page: 297
  5.  Smith, J. M. Powis ; Ward, William Hayes ; Bewer, Julius August: A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Micah, Zephaniah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Obadiah and Joel. New York : C. Scribner’s Sons, 1911, S. 12
  6. A. R. Fausset.: Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible: Hab 1 : 12
  7. D. Ginsburg, Christian. : Introduction To The Massoretico-Critical Edition Of The Hebrew Bible : Trinitarian Bible Society 1897
  8. Rashi on Hab 1:12
  9. Biblical Studies Press: The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible. Biblical Studies Press, 2006; 2006
  10. The Old Testament in the Jewish church  (1892) by William Robertson Smith

    http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Old_Testament_in_the_Jewish_Church

Sun sets in the murky water as per Qur’an?

This is a matter that has been raised quite frequently as regards to the passage in question.

QUESTION

The Quran says in Surah Kahf (Chapter 18), verse 86 that the sun sets in murky water. This is unscientific and the Sun never sets in water. What does the verse mean?

Scientifically it can also be argued does the sun ever set? We know that the setting of the sun and rising of the sun is merely a perception of the rotation of the earth. However, this phrase is allowable in common modern speech. 

However, let us have a look at the verse and the word used in Arabic.

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“Until, when he reached the setting of the sun, he found it (Arabic: wajadaha) setting in a spring ofmurky water: Near it he found (Arabic: wajada) a community: We said: “O Dhul-qarnain! (you have authority,) either to punish them, or to treat them with kindness.”

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The experience of Dhulqarnain as regards the sun setting has been described as ‘Wajada’ which some of commentators translate as ‘found and others as ‘appeared’.

The word ‘Wajada’ is not restricted merely to mean ‘found’ in the literal sense (as has also been used in the same verse) but also denotes a perceptive nature. It is not a stretch of any language to say that one found the sun setting in the sea at sunset. This does not mean the sun actually sets in the sea which would be a preposterous idea even to the most ignorant of people. It merely denotes the perception of the setting which is proved by the oldest lexicons which capture how the word was in use and understood by the Arabs to which the Quran was revealed.

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However, no doubt some of the fanciful ways in which this passage has been interpreted by early Islamic authorities can be seen even amongst the earliest of historians for example, Ibn Ishaq who captures a poem by Tubba.

And left those men an example to the discerning.
Dhu’l-Qarnayn before me was a Muslim
Conquered kings thronged his court,
East and west he ruled, yet he sought
Knowledge true from a learned sage.
He saw where the sun sinks from view
In a pool of mud and fetid slime.
Before him Bilqis my father’s sister
Ruled them until the hoopoe came to her. [2]

Here is what the Orientalist scholar, Alfred Guillaume himself had to say about the complete poem (which this section is a part) in the earliest Biography of the Prophet by Ibn Ishaq (Translated to English by A Guillaume).

“This poem is spurious; it is not difficult to see how Ibn Ishaq persuaded himself to incorporate such an obvious forgery in a serious historical work. At this point Tabari introduces a long passage from Ibn Ishaq. A much longer story via Uthman b.Saj given by Azr.i.79” [3]

REFERENCES

[1] LANE. E.W, Edward Lanes Lexicon, Williams and Norgate 1863; Librairie du Liban Beirut-Lebanon 1968, Volume 8, Page 2924
Highlights marked in red on the lexicon excerpt are my own insertions. They have no bearing on the original text other than they emphasise relevance to the topic at hand. These are merely illustrations and have solely been utilised for educational and explanatory purposes.
[2] GUILLAUME. A, The Life of Muhammad: A Translation of Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah, Oxford University Press, Page 12

Refuting a repetitive missionary allegation

Although we keep answering accusations of Christian missionaries against our religion and Scripture, they vehemently keep parroting them again and again as if we have not answered them already!! Jesus is reported to have said,

“Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?” 
(Matthew 7:1-3)

We will show here that what is in their eye is not just a beam, but a big wedge! Well, among the issues whom Christian missionaries use to object against the Holy Qur’an is the following passage,

“They ask thee concerning Zul-Qarnain. Say, I will rehearse to you something of his story. Verily we established his power on earth, and we gave him the ways and the means to all ends. One (such) way he followed. Until, when he reached the setting of the sun, he found it set in a spring of murky water: near it he found a people.” (Holy Qur’an 18:83-86)

Their objection is that how sun could set in a spring of murky water while it is over billion times greater than earth and can never set in a spring of a murky water! They persistently confront us with this objection in all their arguments concerning scientific aspects of the Qur’an.

Well, we are going, insha’Allah, to answer them. I begin and quote the following biblical verse,

“Are they not on the other side Jordan, by the way where the sun goeth down, in the land of the Canaanites, which dwell in the champaign over against Gilgal, beside the plains of Moreh?” 
(Deuteronomy 11:30)

As we all know there is no way where the sun goes down because the sun is over billion times greater than earth . etc.. while if the meaning is that it is the way where it appears to people that sun goes down in, the objection will be solved. But certainly they accept such explanations for their Scripture, not for ours! Moreover, the verse is very clumsy as one of our Arab brothers notes ,

The text as you see is extremely clumsy as if he describes the address for a lost person: Where-the-sun-goeth-down St., Canaanites’ City, leave the first plain of Moreh, right against Gilgal!

Let’s move on to another verse,

“The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.” 
(Psalms 121:6)

We quite understand what is meant by the sun smiting someone, but what is meant by moon smiting?! Is there anything known – for example – as moon stroke?! Perhaps we should know!

Our last biblical quotation is this,

“And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars.” (Revelation 12:1)

How can a woman be clothed with the sun which is over billion times greater than earth?!! This is indeed mythical!

Now, we leave the Bible to discuss the objection of the missionaries. The verse says, “he found it set in a spring of murky water” i.e., according to his vision and sight that’s why Allah does not say “it is setting”.

Imam Al-Baidawi notes,

He probably reached shore of the ocean and saw it like that because there was but water at the furthest of his sight that’s why He says “he found it set” and does not say “it sets”. (Al-Baidawi, Anwar-ut-Tanzil wa Asrar-ut-Taw’il, Volume 3, page 394. Published by Dar-ul-Ashraf, Cairo, Egypt)

Imam Al-Qurtubi states,

Al-Qaffal said: It is not meant by reaching the rising or setting of the sun that he reached its body and touched it because it runs in the sky around the earth without touching it and it is too great to enter any spring on earth. It is so much larger than earth. But it is meant that he reached the end of populated land east and west, so he found it – according to his vision – setting in a spring of a murky water like we watch it in smooth land as if it enters inside the land. That is why He said, “he found it rising on a people for whom we had provided no covering protection against the sun.” (Holy Qur’ân 18:90) and did not mean that it touches or adheres to them; but they are the first to rise on.
Al-Qutabiy said: Probably this spring is a part of the sea and the sun sets behind, with or at it, so the proposition takes the place of an adjective and Allah knows best. (Al-Qurtubi, Al-Game’ le Ahkam-el-Qur’an, Volume 16, page 47. Published by Dar-ul-Hadith, Cairo, Egypt. ISBN 977-5227-44-5)

Imam Fakhr-ud-Deen Ar-Razi states,

When Zul-Qarnain reached the furthest west and no populated land was left, he found the sun as if it sets in a dark spring, but it is not in reality. The same when sea traveler sees the sun as if it sets in the sea if he cannot see the shore while in reality it sets behind the sea. (Ar-Razi, At-Tafsir-ul-Kabir, Volume 21, page 166)

Imam Ibn Kathir states,

“Until, when he reached the setting of the sun” means he followed a certain way till he reached the furthest land he could go from the west. As for reaching the setting of the sun in the sky, it is impossible. What narrators and story tellers say about that he walked for a period of time in earth while the sun was setting behind him is unreal, and most of it is from myths of People of the Book and inventions of their liars.
“he found it set in a spring of murky water” means he saw the sun according to his vision setting in the ocean and this is the same with everyone ending to the shore seeing as if the sun sets inside it (i.e. the ocean). 
(Ibn Kathir, Tafsir-ul-Qur’ân Al-‘Azim, Volume 5, page 120. Published by Maktabat-ul-Iman, Mansoura, Egypt)

I believe this is adequate to refute the missionaries’ imposed interpretation. And to Allah is the Judgement in all affairs.

 

 

JESUS THE MUSLIM PROPHET

JESUS THE MUSLIM PROPHET

The descent of Prophet Jesus(peace be upon him) to earth at the end of time is confirmed in the Quran.

If Prophet Jesus returns these days, who will his true followers be? who will he find? Who will he recognize?

Christians (Catholics and Protestants) ? Or Muslims?

Well, let us compare the teachings and deeds of Prophet Jesus with those of Christians and Muslims (ON THE WHOLE! I repeat ON THE WHOLE):

► Prophet Jesus said that he was a Prophet and Messenger of God and Muslims believe that he was a Prophet and Messenger of God

Jesus answered, “My teaching is not my own. It comes from him WHO SENT ME.” (John 7:16)

[After hearing the news that Herod wanted to kill him, Jesus said:]
In any case, I must keep going today and tomorrow and the next day–for surely no PROPHET can die outside Jerusalem! (Luke 13:33).

► Prophet Jesus prayed and prostrated in worship to God and Muslims prostrate in worship to God while Christians don’t (ON THE WHOLE!):

… he (Jesus) said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” … Going a little farther, he FELL WITH HIS FACE TO THE GROUND AND PRAYED … (Matthew 26:36,39)

► Prophet Jesus used to fast and so do Muslims:

After FASTING for forty days and forty nights, he (Jesus) was hungry. (Matthew 4:2)

► Prophet Jesus used to greet his disciples saying, “Peace be unto you”, and commanded them to do so. Do Christians do that (ON THE WHOLE!)? It is Muslims who do. All Muslims Arabs and non-Arabs great one another saying “Assalam alaikum” (Peace be unto you).

Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. (Luke 24:36)

► Prophet Jesus emphasized his humanity and denied divinity and so do Muslims:

By myself I CAN DO NOTHING … (John 5:30)

NO-ONE KNOWS ABOUT THAT DAY OR HOUR, not even the angels in heaven, NOR THE SON, but only the Father. (Matthew 24:36)

Jesus said, “… I am returning to my Father and your Father, to MY GOD AND YOUR GOD.” (John 20:17)

“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “NO-ONE IS GOOD—EXCEPT GOD ALONE.” (Luke 18:18,19)

► Prophet Jesus confirmed the Oneness of God and so do Muslims:

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, THE LORD OUR GOD, THE LORD IS ONE.” (Mark 12:29)

► Prophet Jesus emphasized the importance of good deeds and so do Muslims. A person is justified by FAITH AND DEEDS.

When Prophet Jesus was asked about the way to have eternal life, he did not say anything about the belief in crucifixion or resurrection. He said, “Obey the Commandments” (Matthew 19:17).

He urged on his disciples the importance of deeds,

“ unless your RIGHTEOUSNESS surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:20).

May God’s peace and blessings be upon Jesus.

May God join us all in Paradise to Prophet Muhammad, Prophet Moses, Prophet Jesus and all the other Prophets peace be upon them and their true followers.

Jesus in Quran

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? How Do You Know that Islam Is The Truth

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Remember that there is only one true religion out of the thousands religions of the world and the rest are false. The true religion may or may not be your religion. Do not reject any religion simply because it comes from the Third World! God will not accept this pretext on the Day of Judgment!

Do not reject any religion simply because of the behavior of some of its nominal followers because there are bad people among every religious group, and making a judgment based on those people is misleading as they may be violating their religion!

There are many proofs of the truth of Islam, and I will talk about some of them

Muslims Worship the CREATOR Not a created

Now there is no religion except Islam that teaches its followers to worship God alone, and believe in Him as TOTALLY PERFECT.

Muslims believe that there is only one Lord for all the Universe and He is Creator, Organizer, Planner, Sustainer of the universe. He has no partners in any of these actions.

However, is this enough? No because, even those who worship idols (at the time of Prophet Muhammad and many of them now), they believe that God is the Only Creator, Organizer, Sustainer of the Universe but this was not enough to make them Muslims.

The belief in the Oneness of God requires and includes the belief that none has the right to be worshipped but God. All the acts of worship should be devoted to God, such as Supplication or prayer, Sacrifice, Repentance, and all other acts of worship.

Since it was difficult or even impossible for humans to know the right way of belief and worship by their own means. God has sent His Messengers to convey His Divine Message and guide people to the Right Way. The Muslim believes in all the Prophets and makes no distinction between one another because the religion taught by all the Prophets was pure Islam (the submission to the Will of God).

When people abandon the teachings of the Prophets and depend on themselves to find the truth, they stray from the Right Path and sink into paganism and idol worship.

According to pagan religions, their gods appeared and incarnated themselves on Earth in various human, animal, and even vegetable forms. This is why the worship humans, elephants, fish, snakes, rats, etc.

• Muslims pray to God

In Islam there is nothing half-divine half-human. There is no order of existence or creation between the Creator and the created. So Muslims worship and pray to God alone in a close, direct and noble relationship without intermediaries!

The Miracles of the Quran

THE QURAN CONTAINS SCIENTIFIC FACTS, WHICH ARE CENTURIES AHEAD OF THEIR TIME.

I think that the best way to show these scientific facts is to see what well-known non-Muslim scientists say about these scientific facts in the Quran.

Scientists’ Comments On The Qur’an

THE QURAN DOES NOT CONTAIN CONTRADICTIONS.

No matter how much knowledge and understanding humans have, they will still make mistakes, forget things or fall short. If the Quran were not the word of God, there would be some contradictions and shortcomings in it, as God says:

Do they not consider the Quran with care? Had it been from other than God, they would surely have found therein much contradiction. (Quran, 4:82)

But it is free from any shortcoming, error or contradiction; indeed, all of it is wisdom, mercy and justice.

FAILURE TO PRODUCE THE LIKE OF THE QURAN,

God challenged mankind to produce the like of the Quran, but they failed

Muhammad Foretold In Previous Scriptures

Dear readers,

If any of you is not 100% sure that this prophecy is about Prophet Muhammad and not any other Prophet, then please tell me why! I have shown this prophecy to hundreds of non-Muslims and none of them was able to refute it or even challenge any part of it

(Isaiah 42:1-17)
“Here is MY SERVANT, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him and HE WILL BRING JUSTICE TO THE NATIONS. … HE WILL NOT FALTER OR BE DISCOURAGED TILL HE ESTABLISHES JUSTICE ON EARTH. IN HIS LAW the islands will put their hope.”…

LET THE DESERT AND ITS TOWNS RAISE THEIR VOICES; LET THE SETTLEMENTS WHERE KEDAR LIVES REJOICE. Let the people of Sela (rock) sing for joy; let them SHOUT FROM THE MOUNTAINTOPS. Let them give glory to the Lord…

But those who trust in idols, who say to images, ‘You are our gods,’ will be turned back in utter shame. (Isaiah 42:1-17)

Islam Provides The Solutions To The World’s Problems

Humanity today faces many fatal problems.

Racism-
Alcoholism-
Crime-Rape-
Sexual Harassment-
Adultery-
Illegitimate Children-
Abortion-
Aids and other STDs-

The spread of these problems in many countries proves the inability of their systems or religions to prevent or control these problems. In fact many of these systems encourage directly or indirectly these problems The true religion of God should be able to solve these problems

If you would like to discuss how Islam miraculously solves these problems, please advise.

Islam is the FASTEST GROWING RELIGION IN THE WORLD

The Islamic Nation had been the strongest and most advanced nation on earth for more than 800 years when they were faithful to Islam. However, Muslims have DECLINED after leaving their religion. And now most of Muslim countries are among the poorest countries in the world. Most Muslims do not have money or means to spread their religion.

Furthermore, there is a lot of anti-Islamic propaganda campaigns directed at non-Muslims brainwashing them into thinking that Islam preaches violence, terrorism, oppression, etc to divert them away from the truth of Islam.

Television, books, newspapers and magazines are all heavily used to slander the teachings of Islam. All possible means of media are used to distort the truth of Islam and to poison the minds of people so that they won’t be receptive to the message of Islam when they hear it!

Regardless of all of that, is it not extremely surprising is that Islam, is now the FASTEST GROWING RELIGION IN THE WORLD!! How could the religion of the poor and weak people spread faster than the religion of the rich and powerful people, unless it is the truth! How could the religion which is strongly attacked and distorted spread faster than other religions which are supported with the media and money?

This is not a new phenomenon! When the Mongols invaded and conquered large portions of the Islamic Empire, instead of destroying the religion, they adopted it!! The conquerors adopting the religion of the conquered !!!

The following quotes confirm that Islam is the fastest growing religion.

Already more than a billion-people strong, Islam is the world’s fastest-growing religion. [ABCNEWS, Abcnews.com]

Islam is the fastest-growing religion in the country.” [NEWSDAY, March 7, 1989, p.4]

“Islam is the fastest-growing religion in the United States…” [NEW YORK TIMES, ]

Islam is also the fastest-growing religion. In the United States, for example, nearly 80 percent of the more than 1,200 mosques have been built in the past 12 years.

Fast-growing Islam winning converts in Western world

“Muhummed is the most successful of all Prophets and religious personalities. ” [Encyclopedia Britannica]

Who made God??

The simple answer to this question is that God could not have had a creator.
Because of the following reason:If something has always existed, it doesn’t need a creator.
Think about the computer you are using to read this article. If your computer had always existed it wouldn’t need a creator.

Now, imagine an army sniper who has acquired his target but radios back to base to get permission to fire. The person at the base tells the sniper to hold on while they seek permission from someone else higher up in command. The person higher up seeks permission from someone even higher and if this goes on forever, will the sniper ever get to shoot the target?

The obvious answer is NO, he would not fire.

The only way the sniper can shoot is if someone along the chain has the final authority to give that command.

In the same way God created the universe, if we were then to ask who created God? And then ask who created the creator of God? and then who created that creator and so on and so on, then there would be no universe at all in the same way the sniper would not be able to shoot! This proves that the universe must have a creator who is uncreated – God.

THE SIGNS of God’s existence [HD]