The Bible is Not Important

To be Christian You Do Not Need the Bible

by Ibn Anwar

The title of this humble post captures the reality of the Christian religion for its first 340 years of existence. It is a fact of history that there was no book that resembles today’s Bibles in the time of Jesus. Nor was there a Bible in the time of Jesus’ disciples, the followers of his disciples or in the time of the patristics. Christianity existed for a long time without any kind of Bible. In ‘Bible Quizzes: to a Street Preacher,’ Reverend Father Rumble and Reverend Father Carty write:

“Many different Christianities, including our own brand of Christianity, existed over 300 years without one single Christian Bible.” [1]

The oldest extant Bible called Codex Sinaiticus is the not same as either the Catholic Bible or the Protestant Bible as it includes two additional material in its New Testament that are not considered canonical in the western Christian tradition namely, the Shepherd of Hermas and the Epistle of Barnabas. The Septuagint of this very early codex is dissimilar from the Protestant version of the Bible as it includes the so-called Deuterocanonical books that the Protestants identify as ‘apocrypha.’ It was not until Athanasius in CE 367 that anybody could see a list of “biblical” books that today’s Christians would be familiar with. Prior to Athanasius neither the Catholic Bible nor the Protestant Bible was in existence. As a matter of fact, different patristic authorities had different versions of the Bible that differed with one another. Biblical scholar Philip R. Davies writes:

It is Not Feasible to Imagine that Jesus Considered Himself God

Did Jesus Think He was God?

by Ibn Anwar

If Jesus was fully human, which the Trinitarian doctrine of hypostasis does stipulate, then that would mean that his mind was limited, which is one of the reasons why he did not know the day of the hour (Matthew 24:36) according to Christian apologists. Since his mind was limited like the limited minds of any human being that should necessarily mean that like all human beings, he too would have found it difficult to comprehend the Trinity. With his limited human mind, he would not have possibly been able to grasp the incomprehensible doctrine of the Trinity. As he could not have possibly understood the Trinity, being fully human, he could not have in any way considered himself God, for with the limited mind that he had, he would have found the notion of him being part of a conglomeration of three entities in one essence absolutely strange. It would be truly an odd picture to imagine Jesus saying to himself, “I am God, but I don’t understand how I am God.” As eminent Trinitarian Professor Larry Hurtado says:

” Jesus did not claim that he was God and did not imagine himself to be a second person of the Trinity and did not insist that he should be worshipped.” [1]

Notes:

[1] [Restoration Fellowship] (2016, October 29). Anthony Buzzard hosts Dr. Larry Hurtado: God, Jesus & the Trinity. [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2IJ9Mz7Lnkc

The Legitimacy of Ishma’el as Abraham’s Heir

Was Ishma’el the illegitimate son of Abraham or was Jesus the illegitimate son?

by Ibn Anwar

This is a particularly teasing problem for Jews and Christians. They uphold that the true heir of Abraham was Isaac and for Christians that proposition bears an even greater significance as they trace the lineage of Jesus through Isaac in order to make legitimate their claim that Jesus is the true heir of Abraham and the fulfillment of God’s promise in Genesis 17. The only problem with that is the fact that Isaac was not the firstborn of Abraham. Rather, it was another son named Ishmael who was Abraham’s firstborn. And it is understood in Judaism and recognised in Christianity that a double portion of a father’s inheritance is given to his firstborn. The firstborn is typically designated the heir to the father’s household. This understanding is stipulated in Deuteronomy 21:17. The significance of Ishma’el’s status as the firstborn of Abraham is confirmed in the Deuteronomic passage:

“Suppose a man has two wives, but he loves one and not the other, and both have given him sons. And suppose the firstborn son is the son of the wife he does not love. When the man divides his inheritance, he may not give the larger inheritance to his younger son, the son of the wife he loves, as if he were the firstborn son.He must recognize the rights of his oldest son, the son of the wife he does not love, by giving him a double portion. He is the first son of his father’s virility, and the rights of the firstborn belong to him.” (Deuteronomy 21:15-17)

Commenting on the passage, the Stone Edition of the Chumash describes the right of the firstborn as “inviolable” even if the produce comes from the spouse that is disliked or hated:

“15-17. The firstborn’s inviolable right. The Torah teaches that a firstborn son may not be deprived of his rightful share in his father’s inheritance. By implication, this passage shows that parents must beware not to permit rights and relationships to be disrupted by the rivalries and even animosities that are not uncommon in family life.
Or HaChaim infers from the last phrase of verse 15 that the firstborn son will be born to the hated wife. This, he comments, is an instance of God’s compassion, for when he sees the plight of the neglected wife, He will give her the first offspring, just as Leah had children before her more favored sister Rachel. God supports the brokenhearted.” [1]

What on Earth did Jesus Say?!?!

Where are the words of Jesus?

By Ibn Anwar

In their preaching and sermons, Christian pastors, priests and missionaries quote words attributed to Jesus from their English Bibles as if Jesus truly uttered those words. Nothing could be further from the truth. The next time you encounter a Christian preacher that attempts to tell you what “Jesus said,” ask him to kindly tell you if Jesus spoke English. I cannot imagine even the most fundamentalist Christian of fundamentalist Christianity to actually say “yes” to that. English did not exist as a language 2000 years ago. Neither did Jesus spoke Hebrew. Instead, according to most scholars, the language that Jesus spoke was Aramaic. This is easily understood by tracing Jesus back to Galilee, the town in which he was born and raised. The language spoken by the locals of that area was Aramaic. Ben van Noort writes:

“It is a common view that Jesus spoke Aramaic when he taught the crowds… In 1954, H. Birkeland wrote, “As a matter of fact, no competent scholar any longer holds the view that Jesus spoke Hebrew, the language of the Old Testament. They all agree that this language was Aramaic.” He was right; many eminent theologians took this position. F. F. Bruce declared in 1962, “It [Aramaic] was thus the language commonly spoken in Palestine in New Testament times, the customary language of our Lord and His apostles and the early Palestinian church.” .[1]

The Illiterate Christian “God”

The Biblical Jesus was illiterate

by Ibn Anwar

Having a laugh at the expense of the Prophet Muhammad’s s.a.w. inability to read or write is a favourite Christian pastime. Having read the Bible from cover to cover several times (and many more times in different languages), I have not once encountered an instance where the veracity of a person’s prophetic office is conditional upon his literacy. But the manner by which the Christians jibe at our beloved prophet s.a.w. makes it sound as if to be a prophet, a person has to be able to have, among many things, the ability to read and write. Although such a condition is obviously non-biblical, let us entertain it for a moment and pretend that to be illiterate means to be a non-prophet.

Was their lord and saviour Jesus literate? Before we answer this question, let us be very clear on a few things:

Jesus did not teach the Trinity

Jesus did not teach the Trinity

by Ibn Anwar

Essential to the doctrine of the Trinity is the divine sonship of Jesus as the Second Person of the Triune Godhead. What is indefatigably clear is that Jesus never once taught anyone that he was God or that he was deserving of divine worship and adulation This in itself is a powerful confirmation that the Trinity was not part of the message and teachings of Jesus, for if he believed in the Trinity and desired that others believed in it, he would have had to clearly identify himself as the Second Person of the Trinity which he evidently never did. Highly celebrated Trinitarian scholar and theologian Professor Larry Hurtado says, in no uncertain terms, in a discussion with the Unitarian scholar Professor Anthony Buzzard that Jesus did not think he was the Second Person of the Trinity nor did he claim to be God:

” Jesus did not claim that he was God and did not imagine himself to be a second person of the Trinity and did not insist that he should be worshipped.” [1]

 

The late Archbishop of Canterbury, religious head of the worldwide Trinitarian Anglican communion, Dr. Michael Ramsey writes:

“Jesus did not claim deity for himself. He proclaimed the sovereignty of God, a sovereignty realized in and through his own mission;” [2]

The very fact that Jesus never thought of himself as God or as the Second Person of the Triune Godhead, as Hurtado emphatically says, must mean that he never preached the Trinity. The Trinity says that there is One God that is a Being in whom there are three equal and eternal Persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Such language, terminology and formulation is completely foreign to the recorded speech of Jesus. Jesus did not know or teach any such doctrine. He did not claim to be God and he did not imagine himself to be the Second Person of the Godhead, therefore, he did not teach the Trinity.

Notes:

[1] [Restoration Fellowship] (2016, October 29). Anthony Buzzard hosts Dr. Larry Hurtado: God, Jesus & the Trinity. [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2IJ9Mz7Lnkc

[2] Ramsey, M. (1980). Jesus and the Living Past: The Hale Lectures 1978. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 39

Christmas Special: Holy Spirit, where art thou?

Holy Spirit Forget Me Not: Matthew 11:27 falsifies the Trinity

by Ibn Anwar, BHsc (Hons), MCollT

According to standard Trinity doctrine, all three Persons in the Triune Godhead, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, are distinct from each other yet equally and fully God and each Person is equally omniscient (all knowing). The doctrine stipulates that each Person is inseparable from the Godhead and they have been three in one and one in three from all eternity. Matthew 11:27 shatters all of that into pieces when it completely leaves out the Holy Spirit to dry:

“All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” (ESV)

Once again, the Holy Spirit is conspicuously absent from the picture. A plain reading of the verse necessitates ignorance on the part of the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Triune Godhead. The verse negates the Holy Spirit’s alleged omniscience and his alleged eternal relationship within the Godhead with the other two Persons, the Father and the Son. The verse is explicit in saying that only the Son, i.e., Jesus, knows the Father, which means the Holy Spirit does not know the Father and that only the Father knows Jesus, which means the Holy Spirit does not know Jesus. Noting this significant theological point Mark H. Graeser, John A. Lynn and John W. Shoenheit state:

“If the spirit is a sentient (able to sense, be self-aware), separate and distinct being with personality, then Jesus either did not know this or was very inconsistent in giving “Him” proper due. In Matthew 11:27, Jesus asserts that “…no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son…” If “the Holy Spirit” is a person distinct from the Father, and is also omniscient and almighty “God,” then would He not also have to know the Father and the Son? Jesus’ statement, then, would not have been true, and in fact would be a lie.” [1]