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Part 8: The 'Proof'

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CHAPTER XXX: CONCERNING THE GOSPEL RECORDS

'Originals' In A Fixed Written Language - Many Manuscripts

  We recall that earlier we spoke of the completeness of the written Greek language in the time of Jesus and his Companions and Tabi'un.

  Knowing, then, that the Greek language in which Matthew (a Companion), Mark "the interpreter of Peter" (a Tabi'), Luke who was familiar with many Companions and travelled with Paul (a Companion/Tabi') and John (a Companion) wrote had a complete written form, it becomes obvious that the texts of these 4 Gospels had to have a fixed content, and were not something that could be altered "with the tongue", nor with a short stroke or a change in dots, nor by 'overriding' the text - like with the Qur'an.

  Thus, both the eyewitness accounts as well as the 'oral tradition' were set down in a 'fixed' written form in less than 50 years from the events by the best of witnesses and their close followers.

  It is for this reason that the vast number of ancient manuscript copies in a complete written language [not incomplete like ancient Arabic], besides early copies in many languages, is attacked by men like Ahmad Deedat - what else can they do when they don't want their readers to know that others possess something superior:

"They [Christians] now boast of being in possession of over 5000 "originals" of which no two "originals" are identical. Amazing!"   And: "The "cultists" are now claiming 24 thousand Manuscripts; to which of course the same stricture will apply." (Crucifixion..., p. 7, 25)   As those of knowledge in Islam well know, such a vast source of manuscripts confirming the personal records of the Companions and Tabi'un of Jesus [and so the ONE MESSAGE] is the very thing Islam is without. That is why we can "produce them as our proof" for exclusive rights to salvation [that and our having a relationship and peace with the True God]: "When confronted by the extravagant and conflicting claims of the Jews and the Christians and their exclusive rights to salvation, Allah subha nahu Back To Top

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wa-ta aala commands us to demand for proof. He says SAY: "PRODUCE YOUR PROOF IF YE BUT SPEAK THE TRUTH". And they have produced the only proof they have; in over fifteen hundred languages! Eleven different dialects of the Bible for the Arab's alone! Are we going to swallow them hook line and sinker? No! It is presupposed that when Allah commands us to demand for proof, that we would be in a position to analyse the proof, once it is produced. Otherwise, it makes no sense to demand for proof; it would be nonsense!" (Crucifixion or Cruci-Fiction, Ahmed Deedat, p. 6; emphasis added)   Here indeed is where Islam puts its foot in its mouth for it can no longer tell us that the Qur'an is such 'Proof' and instead it is left humbled by the records we possess. We have analysed Islam's 'Proof' and found it to be utter "nonsense".
 

Did The Companions Of Jesus Issue False Gospel Records?

  We have seen how the Tabi'un and Tab Tabi'un cherished the four Gospel records of the Companions and Tabi'un of Jesus. Also, that great authority was given to the letters which were recognised as having been written to the local churches by various Companions, and Paul who was considered to be a Companion/apostle because he had seen Jesus.

  Yet many in Islam accuse both the apostle Paul and the other Companions of Jesus of gross wickedness. They claim Paul persuaded the Companions to turn Jesus' teachings upside down! They claim that it was Paul who initiated the belief in a Blood Atonement and many other Beliefs! This would mean that the Companions were even willing to write lies about what Jesus taught!!

  However, all the materials which were accepted by the early Christians who themselves were taught by the Companions testify against such alterations to Jesus' teachings.

  The Tabi' Luke states in his Gospel record that Jesus had said he would suffer and die for the sins of the people, and that this is the Message that would be preached "to all nations beginning at Jerusalem." (Luke 24:47).

  In his Acts of the Apostles, the Tabi' Luke also records that Peter preached of Jesus to the Jews "you put him to death by nailing him to the cross"!!

  Again Luke records that Paul persecuted those who believed in this Blood Atonement! He was against such a belief! He was a witness in agreement with the stoning to death of Stephen, believing him to be a blasphemer for such a belief!! The Tabi' Luke notes Stephen's words of rebuke to the Jewish leaders and his martyrdom as:

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"You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit! Was there ever a prophet your fathers did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him - you who have received the law that was put into effect through angels but have not obeyed it."
When they heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. "Look", he said, "I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God."
At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul.
While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." Then he fell on his knees and cried out, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." When he had said this, he fell asleep.
And Saul was there, giving approval to his death.
On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison." (Acts 7:51 - 8:3)
  The Tabi' Luke continues: "Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord's disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found anyone there belonging to the Way he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem." (Acts 9:1-2)   Saul (later re-named Paul) was so enraged against the belief in Jesus' Blood Atonement that he "breathed murderous threats" and travelled to Damascus to do what many followers of Islam would do today to one of their own who changed his beliefs - persecute them, and drag them to jail for them to be tormented or killed!

  It was on this very journey to Damascus (we note from our map that Damascus is not far from Jerusalem) that Jesus appeared to him, as Luke records:

"As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, "Saul. Saul, why do you persecute me?"
"Who are you, Lord? Saul asked.
"I am Jesus whom you are persecuting." he replied. Now get up and go into the city and you will be told what to do." (Acts 9:3-6)
  Paul was blinded by seeing the glory of Jesus. He came at that encounter to understand that he had been opposing God's truth, just as

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those in Islam do! Paul was taken by his companions into Damascus where Jesus spoke to another of his disciples, Ananias, and sent him to place his hands upon Paul and pray for him so that he could receive the Holy Spirit and get his sight back. Paul was then baptised in water:

"In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord [i.e. Jesus] called to him in a vision, "Ananias".
"Yes Lord," he answered.
The Lord told him, "Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for man named Saul, for he is praying. In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight."
"Lord," Ananias answered, "I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem. And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who all on your name."
"But the Lord said to Ananias, "Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name."
The Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, "Brother Saul, the Lord - Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here - has sent me so that you may be filled with the Holy Spirit." Immediately something like scales fell from Saul's eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptised, and after taking some food, he regained his strength.
Saul spent several days with the Disciples in Damascus. At once he began to preach that Jesus is the Son of God. All those who heard him were astonished and asked, "Isn't he the man who caused havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn't he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?" (Acts 9: 10-21)
  In the Epistle to the Galatians, a letter which we have seen all the early churches accepted as coming from Paul, we read his testimony to what had occurred to make him believe in the Blood Atonement: "I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preach is not something that man made up. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.
For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it." (Galatians 1:11- 13)
  Concerning, then, the false accusation that Paul influenced the Companions to proclaim that Jesus was the Son of God and to believe in the Blood Atonement, it is clearly seen from all the testimony to be another 'outwitting'. Paul killed those who believed the Blood Atonement of the cross long before he himself was converted from his hatred of this doctrine to a personal belief in it - by Jesus appearing to him!!

  PAUL HAD COME TO BELIEVE IN WHAT HE HAD SPENT

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MUCH EFFORT TRYING TO DESTROY!!!!

  Thus the entire argument that Paul corrupted the Companions' Beliefs is an out right lie, a distortion for the purpose of 'outwitting' the followers of Islam by those who lead them.

  Is it not rather the truth that such leaders of Islam are guilty of being filled with the same spirit of rebellion as the Jewish leaders of Jesus' day, and that this why they too despise the Righteous One and rail against his people like the Jews did then!? We see evidence for this all over the world today in the vilest of behaviour.
 

Were The Gospel Records Altered Later? Tawatur - Many Earlier Transmissions

  It is not surprising that with such flimsy arguments others in Islam should have to fabricate quite different 'outwittings' as to why the Gospel records do not agree with the Qur'an. They accuse the later Christians.

  For example, one Islamic scholar asserts:

"During the first three centuries after the death of Prophet Isa his followers could read the details of the incident as to how Juda (sic) Ascariots (sic) was crucified in place of Christ and how God's angels carried away the body of Prophet Isa before the time fixed for crucifixion. It was only when the council of the Bishops at Nice (sic) banned the Gospel by St. Barnabas declaring it as apocryphal and prohibited that the people used to remain in the dark about the authentic details..." (Deep, p. 294)   It is not worth addressing such an assertion concerning the so-called 'Gospel of Barnabas'. Rather, we encourage our readers to examine the short comments concerning the content of that so-called 'Gospel of Barnabas' in Appendix C and discover for themselves if it is an 'original'.

  We do note, however, that in total, more than 32,000 quotations agreeing with the four Gospel records and the Epistles [the 'Last Testament')] are known from before the Council of Nicea (325AD). All of them uphold the same doctrine concerning the death of Jesus for Sin.

  What our Islamic scholar has written about the Gospel content in the first three centuries is an outright distortion. Was he ignorant of the truth or was his assertion an 'outwitting'?

  For those who wish to blame the Christians after Nicea (325 AD) yet before Muhammad (632 AD), we can find in the British Museum a 16 volume work of Dean Burgen in which are contained 86,489 quotations of the 'Last Testament' (New Testament) from among the writings of the church leaders of this period. This scholar concluded that the entire

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'Last Testament' (New Testament) could be assembled from these. [statistics from Evidence That Demands A Verdict, McDowell)

  What we find is that the quotations in these statistics represent the Manuscript content known in the diverse parts of the world of those early times. Herein are references, then, to the many transmissions of the Gospel records and Epistles which existed throughout the centuries! They come from Italy, Gaul (France), North West Africa, Egypt, Asia Minor and Israel!

  This is neither a sign of 'collaboration', nor of 'battle is an outwitting'. These are verifiable facts. There is no question that the Gospel records of Muhammad's day contained the same story of Jesus' death for Sin as did the Gospel records in the earlier centuries (the 'originals') and that this is why it is in the Gospel records we possess today.

  We have 'Proof' that neither the Companions and Tabi'un of Jesus nor the later generations were the wicked men the followers of Islam allege they were. They are not guilty of corrupting the Message and Scripture.

  What the followers of Islam need to recognize is that all of the arguments which have been presented to them by their fellows have had one purpose - 'battle is an outwitting'. The purpose has been to turn Those Who Seek Truth away from examining honestly the reliable Gospel records which the True God has provided as His Testimony to all men so that they can be Saved from Judgement.
Such men are constantly trying to concoct new 'outwittings' to hide their rebellion against the Last Word of God - His revealed Will.

  However, the observant mind can see that once they find they cannot blame the Apostle Paul and Jesus' Companions and Tabi'un, they then turn their arguments to new heights. They try to blame the later Christians and Jews of collaboration, of agreeing to corrupt their Scriptures though they don't agree!!

  This is the paranoid mentality which they nurture in the followers of Islam. They create the illusion that everyone else is out to create 'outwittings' that will trip them up from 'The Way' when it is they who are being tripped up by their own "priests and monks"!

  Please, consider how impossible it would be for Bani Israel, who deny that Jesus is al-Masih, and the Christians who declare he is, to have agreed to corrupt their Scripture! Consider also that copies of their Scripture filled the earth - to bring them in and corrupt them would be impossible!!

  And, don't the followers of Islam accept Hadith which tell how the Jews and the Christians differ over the Book, not agree on it? Even the all

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important Hadith which tells of 'Uthman having new Qur'ans made and burning the 'originals' declares this!

  The followers of Islam have fallen into an endless pit of listening to the lies of their own people!! They must either admit that the Scriptures of the People of the Gospel are right and Islam is wrong, or continue to fight blindly. Their confusion will only end in Hellfire - for Eternity.

[NOTE: while it is acknowledged that the various strains of manuscript transmissions (e.g. - from North Africa, Greece, Israel, etc) contain variant 'readings', aside from a few instances, this affects only individual words, not 'huge chunks' of the Message. The Message of the Gospel has also been transmitted through so many early extra-biblical and also non-religious sources, that it is impossible to accuse Christians of 'possessing another Message' than 'the original' because of these variant readings. Furthermore, since the late 1800's the Christian scholars HAVE been united in their purpose to establish as clearly as possible the 'original' text - and not anything less, as some followers of Islam assert.]
 


Of What Importance, Then, Are Manuscript Discrepancies?

  It is necessary to understand exactly what importance any differences in the manuscripts of the Gospel records make when such a great array of manuscripts in various languages, as well as Tabi'un and Tab Tabi'un attestations is available certify the text.

  Of course, with the entire record, 'Words of God', Hadith, Sirah, Tarikh being there, the most predominant discrepancies to be dealt with prove themselves able to be confirmed by the rest of the evidence.

  In the case of any discrepancy between the Manuscripts of one Gospel, the detailed account transmitted in each of the other Gospel records, since they contain the same historical reality and all having originated in a complete written language (Greek), provide clear evidence on the point in question.

  Take for example the most extreme cases of differences in the Gospel manuscripts, those which the followers of Islam will note in the the N.I.V. (New International Version -i.e. translation) which has certain verses 'isolated' or relegated to footnotes.
  Islam has, until now, sought to present them as 'Proof' of 'corruption' and 'tampering'. Yet this has been an argument used because it perceived itself as 'perfect' - something which is all nonsense, as we have seen.

  However, for arguments sake, let us examine the largest example from different perspectives, including the way Islam considers things to be divided into "the Words of God", the Hadith, Sirah and Tarikh.
 

The Ending Of Mark's Gospel Record

  We find that this is a portion of the Gospel of Mark, namely Chapter 16 verses 9-20.

  Here is contained the account of Jesus going up to heaven in the sight of his apostles. He tells them to go into all the world and preach the Gospel. They watch him go up to heaven and it is noted that he sat down at the right hand of God. We are then told that the apostles went and preached.

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(a)  Early Evidence
  It is important to note that the Tab Tabi' Irenaeus (d. 180AD) and many other early Christians actually acknowledged the ending to Mark's Gospel.
  We note this in the following:

"The disputed verses are expressly attested by Irenaeus in the second century, and very probably by Justin Martyr, who incorporates some of their language, though, as usual without express acknowledgement of quotation. The verses are found in the Syriac version as early as we have any knowledge of it; in the Curetonian version as well as in the Peshitto. On the other hand, the earliest witness against the verses is Eusebius, in the fourth century whose testimony is to the effect that some of the copies in his time contained the verses, and some did not; but that those which omitted them were the the more numerous, and, in his opinion, the more trustworthy. There is no reason to doubt his testimony; but Eusebius stands strangely alone in it. ...
On the other hand, the disputed verses were used in the West by Irenaeus, and were in the Curetonian version, which has many affinities with the old Latin. And that a version containing them circulated in Africa contemporaneously with the shorter version, appear from the fact that a bishop at one of Cyprian's councils quotes as words of our Lord, 'In my name lay on hands, cast out devils' (mark xvi. 17, 18). ... The presence of the verses in all later MSS., and the testimony of writers who lived within a century of Eusebius, prove that the scribes of the generation next to him found copies containing the verses, and that not withstanding his great authority, they gave them the preference." (A Historical Introd. to the Books Of The New Testament,1892, Salmon, p. 144)
  So why are they treated as 'uncertain' in the NIV? Of course, it means first that these particular translators ignored all this early testimony.
 

(b) The Content Of Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus

  Since the main complete Bible manuscripts which these translators chose to believe were the Codex Sinaiticus and the Codex Vaticanus, it also means that they ignored the Christian scholars, such as Salmon (see his p. 146ff), who since the late 1800's have noted irregularities in both the handwriting and spacing of the ending of Mark's Gospel in both of these manuscripts.

  These same scholars also noted that this irregularity in handwriting was noticeable in the page which formed the other portion of that particular 'leaf' in each of Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus which carries the ending of Mark's Gospel record. Their conclusion was that these 'leaves' were replacements which showed evidence of the removal of the ending of the Gospel of Mark!

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[NOTE: We will attempt to explain this evidence clearly and have provided diagrams on the page opposite which it is hoped will aid in this. As the first diagram indicates, these MSS (manuscripts) are composed of leaves constituted of two pages, each page being of four columns of text. Such 'leaves' are then sewn together in the middle and when folded form a book. One can perceive that one page of a 'leaf' will be earlier in the book and the other will appear later. The remaining diagrams represent the book opened and so the view is of the later page of the 'leaf' in relation to the later page of another leaf which is bound next to it.]


  Of the irregularities found in these Codices, one is that while the rest of these entire manuscripts is set out in such a fashion that each book ends at the bottom of one column and the next book starts at the beginning of the next column, at the ending of Mark both Sinaiticus and Vaticanus are not like this.

  In Codex Sinaiticus the letters in the first column, which contains what the scribe retained of the text of the Gospel of Mark, have been spread out so as to overflow into what would otherwise be an empty column. The Gospel of Mark thus ends with only 560 letters and 37 letters respectively in each of the last two columns (i.e. 597 letters altogether). Compared to that, the next page, which contains the beginning of Luke's Gospel, can be seen to embody 678 letters. Had the 597 letters which were spread over the preceding 2 columns been spaced in like manner to this, there would have been one empty column - something found nowhere else in this entire manuscript. The space left empty would allow the end of Mark's Gospel.

  In Codex Vaticanus the column is indeed left blank, again indicating that something was there originally for nowhere else does such an empty column occur in this entire MSS.

  However, other irregularities have also been documented concerning this particular portion of Mark, these being that in both these MSS these particular leaves were written in a different handwriting than the rest of the MSS.

  They also show certain peculiarities of the new scribe's way of forming certain letters and spelling certain words which are consistent in these additions in both Sinaiticus and Vaticanus but not elsewhere in these MSS.

  Finally, since the entire 'leaf' is in the same scribe's handwriting, we can see clear evidence that the entire 'leaf' has been replaced in each case for one page occurs early in the MSS and one occurs later.

  Concerning, then, the modern translators of the NIV and Mark 9:16ff, they obviously decided to make their translation reflect one side of early testimony and coupled it with manuscript content which ignored all

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scholarship on those manuscripts! Even their declaration is untrue:

"The most reliable early manuscripts and other ancient witnesses do not have Mark 9:16-20"   Having seen the evidence, we can see that they made a great blunder. For, although they did not footnote Mk 9:16ff they placed the above note between this portion and the rest of Mark's text. [NOTE: Having seen, as we have, the many times in the Samarqand MSS where someone has 'added' a verse or number of words to the text by writing them in the margin, or where the word in one text is different from that in the other, one can perceive that if Islamic translators approached the Qur'anic manuscripts as these men have the Bible manuscripts, they would be forced to delegate quite a few portions of the 'eternally Preserved' Qur'an to 'footnotes' or set them apart from each Surah with the note "not in the earliest manuscripts"!! Add to this the differences as transmitted in the "ancient witnesses" concerning the divergences of text which 'Uthman eliminated, and the number of such texts grows considerably!]


(c) Would It Change Anything?

  However, for arguments sake, let us consider what actual influence this piece of the Tabi' Mark's Gospel record would have if indeed it were not in the original.

Almost every detail (we will examine this) is found in the other Gospels, for example in Luke 24:45-53. A portion of the content is also at the end of Matthew's Gospel, namely chapter 28:16-20.

  We find that the only difference in the details of this event between these Gospel records (i.e. Matt., Luke and Mark) is that Mark's Gospel ending mentions that Jesus is declared to have sat down at the right hand of God.

  But this is something that is recorded elsewhere in the writings of the Companions and Tabi'un of Jesus. For example in Matt. 22:44; Acts 2:34 and also Acts 7:54-58; the Letter to the Ephesians 1:20; and the Letter to the Hebrews 1:3. In some of these occurrences Jesus himself is making the declaration. Each of these citations follows:

  Matt. 22:44 - the Companion Matthew recorded the words of Jesus concerning the Messiah (al-Masih, 'the Christ' in Greek) - the very person whom Islam acknowledges Jesus is:

"While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, "What do you think of the Christ, whose son is he?"
"The son of David" they replied.
He [Jesus] said to them, "How is it then that David speaking by the Spirit calls him 'Lord'? For he says,
'The LORD said to my Lord:
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"Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a stool for your feet."
If then David called him Lord, how then can he be his son?"
No one could say a word in reply, and from that day on no one dared to ask him any more questions." (Matt. 2:41-46)
  Acts 2:34 - the Tabi' Luke recorded the same thing in Acts: "God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact. Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. For David did not ascend to heaven and yet he said,
'The LORD said to my Lord:
"Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies stool for your feet."'
Therefore let all Israel know that God has made this Jesus whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ."
When the people heard this they were cut to the heart..." (Acts 2:32-37)
  Acts 7:55-56 - the Tabi' Luke records that Stephen saw Jesus when he was being stoned to death: "When they heard this they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. "Look," he said, "I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God."" (Acts 7:54-56)   Eph. 1:20 - the apostle Paul wrote: "That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted when he raised Christ Jesus from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come." (Ephesians 1:19, 20)   Heb. 1:3 - finally, the Letter to the Hebrews records: "To which of the angels did God ever say,
"Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a stool for your feet"?" (1:13)
  All of these confirm the one firm Belief of the Companions and Tabi'un of Jesus. Thus, even if it had been a 'corruption' to Mark's Gospel, the content is found to be a truth related in the other Gospels and in the Acts and Epistles. It was a teaching coming from Jesus through the Companions and Tabi'un, something accepted by the later Followers as such.
 

(d) Is This "Words Of God", Hadith, Sirah...?

  Viewing the entire content of these verses in Islamic terms, one would consider this to be one small bit of Sirah or Hadith. Of course it is also a small part of the "Word of God" (revelation), but this only means that Mark's Gospel record is thought by some to have not included one small piece of the entire "Word of God", a small piece which the other writings relate and attest to.

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(e) Shall We Think This Is Like The Qur'an's Problems?

  After seeing all the problems of the Qur'an's imperfections and lack of 'Divine Protection' - despite its claims to the contrary - and its lack of guidance - also despite its claims to the contrary - one cannot think this to be very important.

  Or, shall we compare it to the 'yes'/'no' discrepancies between the manuscripts (let alone between the Manuscripts and the translations!), or to the fact that not one Command or Prohibition finds agreement on it because of the seeking of knowledge from outside the Qur'an? Not at all.

  It becomes obvious that when the Source of knowledge is complete, like the Gospels / New Testament, both in its original written language as well as in its information content, and that several original accounts exist from those who were alive, then any variations in manuscript content can easily and openly be examined. They need not be hidden because there is so much other evidence by which the point in question can be addressed.
 

Confusions Over The Existence Of Other Early Writings

  As for the other Gospels, Epistles, even Acts which existed in the early years, they were various. We have already mentioned the Tabi'i Luke's acknowledgement of many in his day seeking to make records of Jesus' life and teachings.

 Some note that several of the Companion Epistles (letters) found universal acceptance only over time, some Christians in the diverse regions around the Mediterranean viewing them hesitantly at first while others accepted them openly. In certain regions even some Tabi'un and Tab Tabi'un letters were compiled together along with the Gospel records and Companion letters since the people cherished the counsel of such Godly men.

 Why, then, should this acceptance of an extra epistle or even of an apocalypse have any importance? Such records were on top of the rest. Their presence did not change the Beliefs of those who held them for they kept them in addition to the rest. This does not reflect on the content of the four universally acknowledged Gospel records, nor upon the Acts or Paul's or other Epistles, which these people cherished as part of their collection.

The Marcionite 'Gospel of Peter'

 Yet the fact is also that so many books had been written not only by Christians, but by later heretics which used both the name 'Acts', 'Gospel' or 'Epistle' AND the name of an apostle, that in certain cases false additional records which held a Companion name were not always recognised immediately for what they were. This will be seen in this example of the 'Gospel of Peter', a heretical second century AD writing whose content in many aspects reflects the true Gospel which it utilised.

 Recently the author has found the Internet Site of a follower of Islam who asserts that the 'Gospel of Peter' was surely an 'earlier' Gospel which upholds the beliefs of the Qur'an and Islam that Jesus was 'neither killed nor crucified'.

 We intend to produce the entirety of this 'Gospel of Peter' here for the reader to make his own assessment. We note first that the portion of the text which is known was only found late in the last century. The following from the Introduction to the 'Gospel of Peter' attests to this:

"INTRODUCTION

THE important fragment of which Mr. J. Armitage Robinson's translation here follows was discovered by the French Archaeological Mission, Cairo, in a grave (supposed to be a monk's) in an ancient cemetery at Akhmim (Panopolis), in Upper Egypt, in 1886. It was published in 1892 under the care of M. Bouriant in vol. ix., fasc. i., of the Memoirs of the French Archaeological Mission at Cairo. The same parchment which contained this fragment also contained a fragment of the Revelation of Peter and a fragment of the Book of Enoch in Greek. The parchment codex is assigned to a date between the eighth and the twelfth century." (Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 10, Gospel of Peter)

 In fact, until that discovery it was only known that early Christians had rejected it, but none of the text existed for examination. Of the earliest Christian leader who wrote about it we note:

" SERAPION, Bishop of Antioch 190-203, writing to the church at Rhossus, says (Eusebius, H. E., vi, 12, 2): "We, brethren, receive Peter and the other Apostles even as Christ; but the writings that go falsely by their names we, in our experience, reject, knowing that such things as these we never received. When I was with you I supposed you all to be attached to the right faith; and so without going through the gospel put forward under Peter's name, I said, 'If this is all that makes your petty quarrel, why then let it be read.' But now that I have learned from information given me that their mind was lurking in some hole of heresy, I will make a point of coming to you again: so, brethren, expect me speedily. Knowing then, brethren, of what kink of heresy was Marcion -- (Here follows a sentence where the text is faulty.)... From others who used this very gospel -- I mean from the successors of those who started it, whom we call Docetae; for most of its ideas are of their school -- from them, I say, I borrowed it, and was able to go through it, and to find that most of it belonged to the right teaching of the Savior, but some things were additions." (Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 10, Gospel of Peter)

 Someone may well ask why we are citing a bishop who lived at the end of the 2nd century AD. The reason is that it was only in the 2nd century AD that the Marcionite heresy to which he refers arose. It was from a group which also followed their heresies that this man borrowed a copy of this 'Gospel of Peter', and in reading it he recognised it as containing some things in agreement with the truth but with much that was not of the truth.

 In order to judge any assertion that this 'Gospel of Peter' in any way upholds the beliefs of Islam, let us examine the complete (and very short) text of the only portion of the 'Gospel of Peter' which exists. It embodies less that four (4) pages of text in this format:

"THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO PETER

1. But of the Jews none washed his hands, neither Herod nor any one of his judges. And when they had refused to wash them, Pilate rose up. And then Herod the king commandeth that the Lord be taken, saying to them, What things soever I commanded you to do unto him, do.

2. And there was standing there Joseph the friend of Pilate and of the Lord; and, knowing that they were about to crucify him, he came to Pilate and asked the body of the Lord for burial. And Pilate sent to Herod and asked his body. And Herod said, Brother Pilate, even if no one had asked for him, we purposed to bury him, especially as the sabbath draweth on: for it is written in the law, that the sun set not upon one that hath been put to death.

3. And he delivered him to the people on the day before the unleavened bread, their feast. And they took the Lord and pushed him as they ran, and said, Let us drag away the Son of God, having obtained power over him. And they clothed him with purple, and set him on the seat of judgement, saying, Judge righteously, O king of Israel. And one of them brought a crown of thorns and put it on the head of the Lord. And others stood and spat in his eyes, and others smote his cheeks: others pricked him with a reed; and some scourged him, saying, With this honor let us honor the Son of God.

4. And they brought two malefactors, and they crucified the Lord between them. But he held his peace, as though having no pain. And when they had raised the cross, they wrote the title: This is the king of Israel. And having set his garments before him they parted them among them, and cast lots for them. And one of those malefactors reproached them, saying, We for the evils that we have done have suffered thus, but this man, who hath become the Savior of men, what wrong hath he done to you? And they, being angered at him, commanded that his legs should not be broken, that he might die in torment.

5. And it was noon, and darkness came over all Judaea: and they were troubled and distressed, lest the sun had set, whilst he was yet alive: [for] it is written for them, that the sun set not on him that hath been put to death. And one of them said, Give him to drink gall with vinegar. And they mixed and gave him to drink, and fulfilled all things, and accomplished their sins against their own head. And many went about with lamps, supposing that it was night, and fell down. And the Lord cried out, saying, My power, my power, thou hast forsaken me. And when he had said it he was taken up. And in that hour the vail of the temple of Jerusalem was rent in twain.

6. And then they drew out the nails from the hands of the Lord, and laid him upon the earth, and the whole earth quaked, and great fear arose. Then the sun shone, and it was found the ninth hour: and the Jews rejoiced, and gave his body to Joseph that he might bury it, since he had seen what good things he had done. And he took the Lord, and washed him, and rolled him in a linen cloth, and brought him into his own tomb, which was called the Garden of Joseph.

7. Then the Jews and the elders and the priests, perceiving what evil they had done to themselves, began to lament and to say, Woe for our sins: the judgement hath drawn nigh, and the end of Jerusalem. And I with my companions was grieved; and being wounded in mind we hid ourselves: for we were being sought for by them as malefactors, and as wishing to set fire to the temple. And upon all these things we fasted and sat mourning and weeping night and day until the sabbath.

8. But the scribes and Pharisees and elders being gathered together one with another, when they heard that all the people murmured and beat their breasts saying, If by his death these most mighty signs have come to pass, see how righteous he is, the elders were afraid and came to Pilate, beseeching him and saying, Give us soldiers, that we may guard his sepulchre for three days, lest his disciples come and steal him away, and the people suppose that he is risen from the dead and do us evil. And Pilate gave them Petronius the centurion with soldiers to guard the tomb. And with them came elders and scribes to the sepulchre, and having rolled a great stone together with the centurion and the soldiers, they all together who were there set it at the door of the sepulchre; and they affixed seven seals, and they pitched a tent there and guarded it. And early in the morning as the sabbath. was drawing on, there came a multitude from Jerusalem and the region round about, that they might see the sepulchre that was sealed.

9. And in the night in which the Lord's day was drawing on, as the soldiers kept guard two by two in a watch, there was a great voice in the heaven; and they saw the heavens opened, and two men descend from thence with great light and approach the tomb. And that stone which was put at the door rolled of itself and made way in part; and the tomb was opened, and both the young men entered in.

10. When therefore those soldiers saw it, they awakened the centurion and the elders; for they too were hard by keeping guard. And, as they declared what things they had seen, again they see three men come forth from the tomb, and two of them supporting one, and a cross following them: and of the two the head reached unto the heaven, but the head of him that was led by them overpassed the heavens. And they heard a voice from the heavens, saying, Thou hast preached to them that sleep. And a response was heard from the cross, Yea.

11. They therefore considered one with another whether to go away and shew these things to Pilate. And while they yet thought thereon, the heavens again are seen to open, and a certain man to descend and enter into the sepulchre. When the centurion and they that were with him saw these things, they hastened in the night to Pilate, leaving the tomb which they were watching, and declared all things which they had seen, being greatly distressed and saying, Truly he was the Son of God. Pilate answered and said, I am pure from the blood of the Son of God: but it was ye who determined this. Then they all drew near and besought him and entreated him to command the centurion and the soldiers to say nothing of the things which they had seen: For it is better, say they, for us to be guilty of the greatest sin before God, and not to fall into the hands of the people of the Jews and to be stoned. Pilate therefore commanded the centurion and the soldiers to say nothing.

12. And at dawn upon the Lord's day Mary Magdalen, a disciple of the Lord, fearing because of the Jews, since they were burning with wrath, had not done at the Lord's sepulchre the things which women are wont to do for those that die and for those that are beloved by them she took her friends with her and came to the sepulchre where he was laid. And they feared lest the Jews should see them, and they said, Although on that day on which he was crucified we could not weep and lament, yet now let us do these things at his sepulchre. But who shall roll away for us the stone that was laid at the door of the sepulchre, that we may enter in and sit by him and do the things that are due? For the stone was great, and we fear lest some one see us. And if we cannot, yet if we but set at the door the things which we bring for a memorial of him, we will weep and lament, until we come unto our home.

13. And they went and found the tomb opened, and coming near they looked in there; and they see there a certain young man sitting in the midst of the tomb, beautiful and clothed in a robe exceeding bright: who said to them, Wherefore are ye come? Whom seek ye? Him that was crucified? He is risen and gone. But if ye believe not, look in and see the place where he lay, that he is not [here]; for he is risen and gone thither, whence he was sent. Then the women feared and fled.

14. Now it was the last day of the unleavened bread, and many were going forth, returning to their homes, as the feast was ended. But we, the twelve disciples of the Lord, wept and were grieved: and each one, being grieved for that which was come to pass, departed to his home. But I Simon Peter and Andrew my brother took our nets and went to the sea; and there was with us Levi the son of Alphaeus, whom the Lord..." (Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 10, Gospel of Peter; underlining and italics added)

 THIS is absolutely every scrap that is known from the 'Gospel of Peter'. This is NOT in agreement with the Qur'an. It is unnecessary to comment upon this to any follower of Islam yet let us mention a few points.

 Jesus is noted several times, even by the Jews, as being "the Son of God" - twice in part 3 where both the Jewish people and a soldier are attributed as saying it and twice in part 11 where both the soldiers and Pilate call Jesus this, declaring "I am pure from the blood of the Son of God."

 Jesus is called 'the Lord' in part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 12,14.

 Jesus is declared as having died on the cross, been taken down by removing the nails from his hands, and buried in a tomb before which large stone was rolled, sealed and guarded for 3 days for fear his followers would claim he rose from the dead.

 Further, the words used after his being taken dead from the cross are of "his death", and concerning the method of his death the word "crucified" (part 4, 12, 13) is used.

 In this depiction there is a voice from heaven followed by the descent of two angels who help Jesus out of the tomb AND behind them came a cross! And it is attested that the soldiers, the centurion and the Jewish elders saw all this!

 Afterwards, it is depicted that heaven opened again and another angel came down and entered the tomb. When the women went to the tomb this angel told them "Wherefore are ye come? Whom seek ye? Him that was crucified? He is risen and gone. But if ye believe not, look in and see the place where he lay, that he is not [here]." - almost the exact words as are used in the true Gospel records as the words the angel spoke concerning the resurrection of Jesus.

 We think it is unnecessary to carry on. It should be apparent why it can be said with authority that 'gospels' such as these in no way remove credibility from the Christian Gospels. Their heresies arose LATER in the 2nd century. Having this knowledge as well as a portion of their writings, it becomes apparent that such men rewrote the Gospel records adding (and altering) things to contain aspects which upheld their own beliefs. Thus Christians write of such men:

"Marcion of Pontus and Rome (d. 165)... He was a Gnostic and on doctrinal grounds accepted only the Gospel of Luke and ten of Paul's epistles, after he had badly mutilated them." (Introd. To The N.T., Thiessen, p. 21)

 Furthermore the conclusion from their content and that of the other types of writings is:

"... none of them is imagined by critics of any school to be earlier than our four, because the shortest inspection of them shows that they presuppose and acknowledge the Canonical." (Introduction to the New Testament, Salmon, p. 108f)

 The fact that they are known to be from later sources indeed demands the conclusion that "they presuppose and acknowledge the Canonical", as should be apparent to anyone who has just read the 'Gospel of Peter'. The existence of such writings poses no problem whatsoever to the validity of the 4 Gospel records.

 Any truthful follower of Islam will freely admit that these late 'gospels' certainly do not uphold the beliefs of Islam.





  ***As for the other Gospels, Epistles, even Acts which existed they were various. We have already mentioned the Tabi' Luke's acknowledgement of many in his day seeking to make records of Jesus' life and teachings.

  Some note that certain of the Companion Epistles found universal acceptance only over time, Christians in various regions around the Mediterranean viewing them variously.

  Yet the fact is that so many books had been written by Christians and others which used the name 'Acts' or 'Epistle' that in certain cases uncertainty was the result.

  Yusuf Ali mentions the use of some of the others:

"An Epistle of St. Barnabas and an Apocalypse of St. Peter were recognised by Presbyter Clement of Alexandria (flourished about 180 AD)."   But, we note concerning the same Clement: "Clement of Alexandria (c. 155 - c. 215) has left us three great works, The Exhortation to the Greeks, The Pedagogus, or Instructor, and The Stromata, or Miscellanies. He was exceedingly well read. Clement accepted all the books in out present New Testament, not passing by the books that were disputed by some..." (Introd..., Thiessen, p. 17)   Why, then, should his acceptance of an extra epistle or even an apocalypse have any importance? It does not change his Beliefs nor does it reflect on the present New Testament content - for he accepted it all.
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