The Reliability of Luke as a Historian

Mohd Elfie Nieshaem Juferi

Christian apologists and missionaries believe that Luke was “inspired” and “inerrant,” even though Luke himself does not make such a claim in his books (Gospel according to Luke and Acts). One of the most popular argument often proposed by missionaries as “evidence” that Luke was “inspired”, or at least someone who we can blindly trust without second thoughts, is as follows: he was an excellent historian who conducted a careful investigation during the course of composing his books. It is claimed that Luke accurately named many countries, cities, that he accurately described certain events of his time, correctly named various officials with their proper titles and referred to places which have only recently been discovered. Therefore, this somehow “proves”, according to the apologists, that Luke’s story can be trusted in its entirety and that there is no room for doubts regarding his claims whatsoever.

1. We refer to the author as “Luke” simply for the sake of convenience and not because we believe that Luke authored the third Gospel and the Book of Acts. We might as well call the author “Max”, but because the third gospel is commonly known as the “Gospel according to Luke,” the name of Luke is retained.

According to critical scholars, the third gospel, like all the gospels, is anonymously authored. That is to say, we really do not know who authored it. Nonetheless, even if we accept the traditional authorship claim, it remains that Luke was a non-eyewitness – he did not witness any of the alleged events from the life of Jesus first hand. Luke was a follower of Paul. According to the late Raymond Brown, it is possible that Luke, a minor figure who travelled with Paul for some time, wrote the third gospel and the book of Acts decades after Paul’s death. Brown writes:

We have no way of being certain that he was Luke, as affirmed by 2d-century tradition; but there is no serious reason to propose a different candidate.Raymond E. Brown, S.S, An Introduction To The New Testament (The Anchor Bible Reference Library), 1997, Doubleday, p. 326

Similarly, Lee Martin McDonald and Stanley Porter accept traditional Lucan authorship but not wholeheartedly. They write (p. 295): “We are inclined to accept Lucan authorship, but not without some reservation …”See Lee Martin McDonald, Stanley E. Porter, Early Christianity And Its Sacred Literature, 2000, Hendrickson Publishers. For a more critical assessment, see Gerd Theissen and Annette Merz, who dismiss the traditional authorship claims about the gospels in their The Historical Jesus: A Comprehensive Guide, 1998, SCM Press Ltd. See also W. G. Kummel, Introduction To The New Testament, 1975, Revised Edition, SCM Press Ltd. Helmut Koester also discusses gospel authorships in his Ancient Christian Gospels: Their History and Development, 1990, Trinity Press International. Also Vincent P. Branick, Understanding the New Testament and its Message: An Introduction, 1998, Paulist Press

Bart Ehrman, summing up the stance of critical scholars, writes:

Proto-orthodox Christians of the second century, some decades after most of the New Testament books had been written, claimed that their favorite Gospels had been penned by two of Jesus’ disciples – Matthew, the tax collector, and John, the beloved disciple – and by two friends of the apostles – Mark, the secretary of Peter, and Luke, the travelling companion of Paul. Scholars today, however, find it difficult to accept this tradition for several reasons.

…none of these Gospels makes any such claim about itself. All four authors chose to keep their identities anonymous.Bart D. Ehrman, The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings, 2000, Second Edition, Oxford University Press, p. 52. For a defense of traditional authorship claims, see the following books by evangelical scholars: Donald Guthrie, New Testament Introduction (Master Reference Collection), Revised Edition, 1990, InterVarsity Press; D. A. Carson, Douglas J. Moo, Dr. Leon Morris, An Introduction to the New Testament, 1992, Zondervan Publishing House.

As for the dating of Luke and Acts, most scholars place it in the 80 – 100 AD period. For instance, Paula Fredriksen places Luke between c. 90 – 100.See Paula Fredriksen, From Jesus To Christ: The Origins of the New Testament Images of Christ, Second Edition, 2000, Yale University Press, New Haven and London, pp. 3-4, 19. E. P. Sanders dates the final form of the gospels between the years 70 and 90.See E. P. Sanders, The Historical Figure Of Jesus, 1993, Penguin Books, p. 60. Theissen and Merz place Luke anywhere between 70 C.E to 140/150 C.E — more in the first half of this periodGerd Theissen, Annette Merz, The Historical Jesus: A Comprehensive Guide , 1998, SCM Press Ltd. p. 32 The late Catholic scholar and priest, Raymond Brown, placed Luke in the year 85 — give or take five to ten yearsRaymond E. Brown, S.S, An Introduction To The New Testament (The Anchor Bible Reference Library), 1997, Doubleday, p. 247. Similar dates are also proposed in the following sources: Gerd Ludemann, Jesus After Two Thousand Years: What He Really Said and Did, 2001, Prometheus Books; Graham N. Stanton, The Gospels and Jesus, Second Edition, 2002, Oxford University Press; James L. Mays (General Editor), The HarperCollins Bible Commentary, 2000, HarperSanFrancisco; Donald Senior, Jesus: A Gospel Portrait, New and Revised Edition, 1992, Paulist Press; W. G. Kummel, Introduction To The New Testament, 17th Revised edition, 1975, SCM Press Ltd; Vincent P. Branick, Understanding the New Testament and Its Message: An Introduction, 1998, Paulist Press; John P. Meier, A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus: The Roots of the Problem and the Person, Vol. 1, 1991, 1st edition, The Anchor Bible Reference Library, Doubleday; Also Geza Vermes, The Authentic Gospel Of Jesus, 2004, Penguin Books. These types of dates are accepted by the vast majority of New Testament scholars and the references provided above are only a few examples. For much earlier dates, see the aforementioned introductions by Donald Guthrie and Carson. See also John A. T. Robinson, Redating the New Testament, 2000, Wipf & Stock Publishers.

2. It should be noted that the author of the third gospel and Acts nowhere claims to have been “inspired” by a higher source to write his accounts. Such arguments are listed by one missionary as follows:

    Independent archaeological research has solidified the authenticity and the historical reliability of the New Testament. Some of the discoveries include:

  • Luke refers to Lysanias as being the tetrarch of Abilene at the beginning of John the Baptist?s ministry, circa 27 A. D. (Luke 3:1) Historians accused Luke of being in error, noting that the only Lysanias known was the one killed in 36 B. C. Now, however, an inscription found near Damascus refers to “Freedman of Lysanias the tetrarch” and is dated from 14 and 29 A. D.
  • Paul, writing to the Romans, speaks of the city treasurer Erastus (Romans 16:23). A 1929 excavation in Corinth unearthed a pavement inscribed with these words: ERASTVS PRO:AED:P:STRAVIT: (“Erastus curator of public buildings, laid this pavement at his own expense.”)
  • Luke mentions a riot in the city of Ephesus which took place in a theater (Acts 19:23-41). The theater has now been excavated and has a seating capacity of 25,000.
  • Acts 21 records an incident which broke out between Paul and certain Jews from Asia. These Jews accused Paul of defiling the Temple by allowing Trophimus, a Gentile, to enter it. In 1871, Greek inscriptions were found, now housed in Istanbul which read:

    NO FOREIGNER MAY ENTER WITHIN THE BARRICADE WHICH SURROUNDS THE TEMPLE AND ENCLOSURE. ANYONE WHO IS CAUGHT DOING SO WILL HAVE HIMSELF TO THANK FOR HIS ENSUING DEATH.

  • Luke addresses Gallio with the title Proconsul (Acts 18:12). A Delphi inscription verifies this when it states, “As Lucius Junius Gallio, my friend, and the Proconsul of Achaia …”
  • Luke calls Publicus, the chief man of Malta, “First man of the Island.” (Acts 28:7) Inscriptions now found do confirm Publicus as the “First man”. (Josh McDowell, The Best of Josh Mcdowell: A Ready Defense, pp. 110-111)

He goes on to present more similar citations and arguments:

    The significance of such extra-Biblical evidence is of such magnitude that honest skeptics are now forced to agree that the Bible is historically accurate and reliable. One such person was Sir William Ramsey, considered one of the world’s greatest archaeologists. He believed that the New Testament, particularly the books of Luke and Acts, were second-century forgeries. He spent thirty years in Asia Minor, seeking to dig up enough evidence to prove that Luke-Acts was nothing more than a lie. At the conclusion of his long journey however, he was compelled to admit that the New Testament was a first-century compilation and that the Bible is historically reliable. This fact led to his conversion and embracing of the very faith he once believed to be a hoax.

    Dr. Ramsey stated:

      “Luke is a historian of the first rank; not merely are his statements of fact trustworthy … this author should be placed along with the very greatest of historians.”

    Ramsey further said: “Luke is unsurpassed in respects of its trustworthiness.” (Josh McDowell, The Best of Josh Mcdowell: A Ready Defense, pp. 108-109)

Firstly, we should note that there is nothing in the above which would indicate that Luke was “inspired”or “inerrant” and that everything within his books can be trusted blindly. There is nothing here which would show that Luke was somehow “special”. Far from being remarkable, the above are very ordinary examples of Luke’s alleged accuracies. There is no reason to suppose that unless a person is inerrant or inspired, he or she cannot get such basic elementary facts straight. Such type of ordinary accuracies relating to certain factual matters are also to be observed in fictional books, which name, for instance, cities correctly, etc.

So what if Luke was able to name the various cities in existence in his time, accurately name officials of his time with their correct titles, name certain countries of his time, mention a theatre he knew about which has recently been discovered and accurately mention certain religious rites and practices of the time? There is nothing “extraordinary”about this. This only shows that Luke was a person who had basic education and was familiar with his surroundings. If I am not considered inspired and inerrant despite accurately naming fifty countries in existence today, accurately naming various world cities, accurately naming heads of state and various other officials together with their correct titles and ranks, accurately naming a few theatres around London together with a few additional tourist attraction sites and accurately describing the workings and practices of the local mosques and churches, then why must Luke be considered inerrant and inspired? These are utterly ordinary matters and such type of accuracies do not in anyway suggest that the person or book is “extraordinary”, “special”, or in anyway heavenly “inspired”.

Secondly, besides the above listed so-called wonderful “accuracies”, there are also grave inaccuracies within Luke’s gospel. The following are some inaccuracies and discrepancies within Luke’s Gospel and Acts over which there is widespread agreement among scholars, including devout Christian scholars:

  • Luke forged a genealogy for Jesus (P) even though he (P) had no father. The genealogy has no historical standing. Worse, his genealogy contradicts the one forged by Matthew.
  • Luke provides an infancy narrative which is irreconcilable with the infancy narrative provided by Matthew.
  • Luke mentions a census under Quirnius during the birth of Jesus (P) which is almost universally recognized as a major historical blunder on Luke’s part.

In addition to the difficulties raised by a detailed comparison of the two birth narratives found in the New Testament, serious historical problems are raised by the familiar stories found in Luke alone.Bart D. Ehrman, The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings, 2000, Oxford University Press, p. 109 In Acts, Luke has Gamaliel referring to a revolt by Theudas which in fact took place years later after his speech. Again, there is widespread agreement among Christian scholars that Luke was in error on this occasion.

There is also general agreement among New Testament scholars that the speeches found in Acts are either the creations or adaptions of Luke.Marshall believes that most of the speeches in Acts are based on traditional material, but he adds that they were never meant to be verbatim reports and that Luke has provided us with nothing more than brief summaries. Hence he leaves room for at least some Lucan creativity [I. Howard Marshall, Acts (The Tyndale New Testament Commentaries), 1980, Inter-Varsity Press, WM. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, p. 41]. Moreover, he acknowledges that Luke could not have known what Festus and Agrippa said to each other in their private apartments (25:13-22; 26:30-32) nor could the Christians have learnt what exactly was said by the members of the Sanhedrin in closed sessions (4:15-17; 5:34-40). Nonetheless, he speculates that perhaps Luke could have expressed the things that the public behaviour of rulers indicated that they had probably said in private (so some invention of speech by Luke did take place?) and that it is possible that some sympathizer from the Sanhedrin may have given Christians the gist of the conversation (ibid.). Furthermore, Luke’s story in Acts contradicts at a number of points with the information within the authentic Pauline epistles, something also generally acknowledged by scholars. Therefore Luke was a very errant writer, who made both mistakes and accuracies in his writings.Marshall admits that there are points of tension between Luke’s portrait of Paul and his own writing, but insists that they are not so substantial so as to make Acts entirely unhistorical (ibid.)

Moving on, “inspired”Luke lifted 50% of his gospel from Mark — a secondary source authored by a non-eyewitness. Why would Luke do this if we are to suppose that he was accurately researching the issues and shifting through reliable first hand sources? We know from Luke?s opening words did he did not have a high regard for the previous narratives. Evangelical scholar Donald Guthrie writes:Luke?s preface is illuminating in regard to his own approach to his task. He claims to have made a comprehensive and accurate survey over a considerable period, which throws a good deal of light on his seriousness of purpose. Moreover, Luke admits that others had previously attempted the same task, but his words imply that he found them unsatisfactory . . .Donald Guthrie, B.D., M. Th., New Testament Introduction. The Gospels and Acts, 1966, Inter-Varsity Press, p. 87

W.G. Kummel, in his classical introduction to the New Testament writes:

With his historical work Lk joins their ranks [ranks of his predecessors who composed gospel narratives], though he was not himself a witness from the beginning, because he feels the works of his predecessors to be in some way inadequate.W. G. Kummel, Introduction To The New Testament, 17th Revised edition, 1975, SCM Press Ltd, p. 129

Raymond Brown, on the other hand, says:

…neither evangelist [Matthew and Luke] liked Marks’s redundancies, awkward Greek expressions, uncomplimentary presentation of the disciples and Mary, and embarrassing statements about Jesus. When using Mark, both expanded the Markan accounts in the light of post-resurrectional faith.Raymond E. Brown, S.S, An Introduction To The New Testament, 1997, (The Anchor Bible Reference Library, Doubleday, p. 115

Yet Luke, our so called “reliable” historian, copies no less than 50% of his book from Mark, regarded as an unsatisfactory source! Raymond Brown mentions some of the ways on how Luke had use Mark:

  • Luke improves on Mark’s Greek, bettering the grammar, syntax, and vacabulary, e.g., in 4:1, 31, 38 and passim by omitting Mark’s overused “immediately”; in 20:22 by changing a Latinism like kensos (=census) from Mark 12:14; in 20:23 by substituting the more exact “craftiness, treachery” for the “hypocrisy” of Mark 12:15.
  • Luke states at the beginning his intention to write carefully and in an orderly manner (1:3); accordingly he rearranges Marcan sequence to accomplish that goal, e.g., Jesus’ rejection at Nazareth is put at the opening of the Galilean ministry rather than after some time had elapsed (Luke 4:16-30 vs. Mark 6:1-6) in order to explain why his Galilean ministry was centered at Capernaum; the healing of Simon’s mother-in-law is placed before the call of Simon and companions (4:38-5:11 vs. Mark 1:16-31) in order to make more logical Simon’s willingness to follow Jesus; Peter’s denials of Jesus are put before the Sanhedrin trial in preference to Mark’s complicated interweaving of the two. At times Luke’s orderliness is reflected in avoiding Marcan doublets (Luke does not report the second multiplication of loaves) whereas Matt likes to double features and persons. Yet Luke has a double sending out of the apostles/disciples (9:1-2; 10:1).
  • Because of changes made in material received from Mark, Luke occasionally creates inconsistencies, e.g., although in Luke 5:30 the partners in the conversation are “the Pharisees and their scribes,” 5:33 speaks of “the disciples of the Pharisees,” as if the Pharisees were not present; although in 18:32-33 Luke takes over from Mark the prediction that Jesus will be mocked, scourged, and spit on by the Gentiles, Luke (unlike Mark 15:16-20) never fulfills that prediction; Luke has changed the Marcan order of the denials of Peter and the Jewish mockery of Jesus but forgotten to insert the proper name of Jesus in the new sequence, so that at first blush Luke 22:63, in having “him” mocked and beaten, seems to refer to Peter, not Jesus. See also n. 67 above.
  • Luke, even more than Matt, eliminates or changes passages in Mark unfavorable to those whose subsequent career makes them worthy of respect, e.g., Luke omits Mark 3:21,33,34 and (in 4:24) changes Mark 6:4 in order to avoid references detrimental to Jesus’ family; Luke omits Mark 8:22-26 which dramatizes the slowness of the disciples to see, and Mark 8:33 where Jesus calls Peter “Satan”; in the passion Luke omits the predicted failure of the disciples, Jesus’ finding them asleep three times, and their flight as reported in Mark 14:27,40-41,51-52.
  • Reflecting Christological sensibilities, Luke is more reverential about Jesus and avoids passages that might make him seem emotional, harsh, or weak, e.g., Luke eliminates: Mark 1:41,43 where Jesus is moved with pity or is stern; Mark 4:39 where Jesus speaks directly to the sea; Mark 10:14a where Jesus is indignant; Mark 11:15b where Jesus overturns the tables of the money changers; Mark 11:20-25 where Jesus curses a fig tree; Mark 13:32 where Jesus says that the Son does not know the day or the hour; Mark 14:33-34 where Jesus is troubled and his soul is sorrowful unto death; Mark 15:34 where Jesus speaks of God forsaking him.
  • Luke stresses detachment from possessions, not only in his special material (L), as we shall see below, but also in changes he makes in Mark, e.g., followers of the Lucan Jesus leave everything (5:11,28), and the Twelve are forbidden to take even a staff (9:3).
  • Luke eliminates Mark’s transcribed Aramaic names and words (even some that Matt includes) presumably because they were not meaningful to the intended audience, e.g., omission of Boanerges, Gethsemane, Golgotha, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani.
  • Luke may make Marcan information more precise, presumably for better storyflow, greater effect, or clarity, e.g., Luke 6:6 specifies that the next scene (Mark 3:1: “again”) took place “on another Sabbath”; Luke 6:6 specifies “the right hand” and 22:50 “the right ear”; Luke 21:20 clarifies or substitutes for Mark’s “abomination of desolation”.Raymond E. Brown, S.S, An Introduction To The New Testament, 1997, The Anchor Bible Reference Library, Doubleday, pp. 263-265

The important point to note here is that Luke has used Mark and made a number of changes to its contents. New Testament scholars compare Luke and Mark to see how Luke is using his source (Mark) and adapting it. Mark is obviously not the only source employed by Luke, but since we know that he has altered the Markan stories in a variety of ways, it is only logical and reasonable to conclude that Luke must have done the same with the other sources at his disposal – he must have altered them as well to suit his agenda and presuppositions. Therefore, the fact that Luke accurately mentions certain ordinary details, such as naming cities correctly etc., does not follow that his story in its entirety can be trusted blindly. Thus the statement that “honest skeptics are now forced to agree that the Bible is historically accurate and reliable” is nothing more than nonsense. Critical scholars certainly do not regard Luke, or any book of the Bible, in its entirety to be “historically accurate and reliable” just because certain ordinary details are recorded accurately within them.

Although we have not gone into detail regarding the above mentioned issues, the aim was to simply highlight here some of the major problems within Luke’s writings over which we have a scholarly consensus. Thus contrary to Ramsey’s conclusion (and bear in mind that he was an apologist and not a balanced historian) the fact is that there is nothing “super”, “extraordinary” or “special” about Luke’s writing even if we buy all of Ramsey’s claims regarding Luke’s alleged accuracy on certain issues. Moreover, Luke also makes mistakes, some examples provided above. Of course apologists will challenge all of them, but remember that these are accepted as such and acknowledged by mainstream scholarship.

Instead, we come across a fairly ordinary writer who utilises sources at his disposal, making a variety of changes to them to suit his theological agenda, and one who makes errors at times and also gets certain facts right. None of the examples presented by these apologists suggest that the “Bible” (which is a collection of many individual books and letters by authors of varying degrees of education and literacy) is “historically reliable” as a whole.

Modern New Testament scholars do not entirely endorse Ramsey’s claims pertaining to Luke’ abilities as a historian and consider him to have exaggerated his case. To be more precise, the studies by Ramsey and others did at least establish that Acts was not a complete fiction authored in the mid-late second century period. The author is likely to be one writing sometime in the late first century, someone who was educated and well-travelled, and was using some traditions and sources at his disposal. There is no doubt that he does present accurate details, yet it is also a fact that his account is selective, romanticised at times and theologically motivated. We know that the author was not just relating bare incidents and events without changes but was adapting them to suit his purposes. Hence his work (the gospel and Acts) needs to be used carefully and critically by the historians.

The late Raymond Brown made a remark that Luke would have been a fitting candidate for membership in the brotherhood of Hellenistic historians, but he would never be made the president of the society.Raymond E. Brown, S.S, An Introduction To The New Testament, 1997, The Anchor Bible Reference Library, Doubleday, p. 322. Howard Marshall, on the other hand, a major conservative evangelical scholar of our times who is quite charitable towards Acts, admits that:

“…he [Ramsey] was capable of making assertions about Luke’s historical accuracy which went beyond what could be shown by the available evidence.”I. Howard Marshall, Acts (The Tyndale New Testament Commentaries), 1980, Inter-Varsity Press, WM. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, p. 34

Marshall talks about the “essential” reliability of Acts regarding historical matters and not its complete reliability. Sherwin-White, for instance, believes that “Luke makes mistakes, but the main thrust of his book is to demonstrate that for the most part Luke portrays the first-century Roman scene accurately.”I. Howard Marshall, Acts (The Tyndale New Testament Commentaries), 1980, Inter-Varsity Press, WM. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, pp. 36-37 Note this does not mean that we can accept all of Luke’ stories blindly. So while many modern scholars do not outright dismiss Acts and consider it to be more accurate than was previously thought, it is nonetheless recognized that its author is not without mistakes and does colour sources at his disposal for theological and apologetic reasons, which means that not everything within his books are historically accurate.

Ali Sina’s “Understanding Muhammad: A Psychobiography”

Mohd Elfie Nieshaem Juferi

For those who are familiar with the extremist Islamophobic website called “Faithfreedom International”, the name of its founder Ali Sina (a pseudonym) is synonymous with the bigotry and vile rhetoric often displayed against Muslims and Islam. This was a person who openly advocated for the atomic bomb to be used on Muslim populations and have many times declared that he will “wipe out” Islam within 30 years. Now this relatively unknown figure within academic circles — apart from becoming the self-appointed hero for the cause of Islamophobia, bigotry and the new emerging school of lay-people and pseudo-scholars — has moved beyond the world that he is more accustomed with on the internet.

Like his predecessors, such as the infamous Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch, Ali Sina is now attempting to make his name within the world of published authors with the publication of his book Understanding Muhammad: A Psychobiography. Whilst it is true that over the course of years he has gathered a large following of largely misled haters, Ali Sina still has had to resort to self-publishing with a relatively small publishing press where anyone with anything to rant about can publish their own.

The book claims to be a “psychobiography” of the Prophet Muhammad, upon whom be peace, but it is far from being objective and sane in its purported “scholarship”. It claims to refer to the Islāmic religious texts (heavily relying on translations and not the original Arabic sources which betrays the author’s lack of command in the language) and then attempts to characterize Muhammad (SAWS) in “modern analytical terms”. Coming from a Shi’ite background in predominantly Shi’ite Iran, it is not clear from the onset about why Ali Sina favours referring to the Sunni sources such as the hadith collection of Bukhari and Muslim (which is not used by the Shi’a and largely unfamiliar to them) and hardly mentions the Shi’ite sources themselves which talks about the Prophet (SAWS). This leads us to suspect that he may not have the credentials of an Iranian Muslim as he claims to have. Unfortunately, this book does nothing more than to resort to the old underhanded technique of cherry-picking a handful of half-truths, sprinkling them with lies, exaggerations and misrepresentations, and eventually to come up with a twisted mix of politically motivated propaganda.

While Ali Sina believes that his agenda will liberate Muslims, common sense would tell you that Ali Sina’s book comes nowhere close to it. In fact, he is much more likely to lend credence to the grumblings of right-wing nut jobs who want to stoke fear and hatred. The quality of Ali Sina’s “different” pseudo-scholarship is thus displayed by the revival of a long-abandoned polemic against the historical character of the Prophet of Islam – namely, the issue of epilepsy. Nuanced scholars such as the Swedish academic Tor Andrae and prolific writer Karen Armstrong have long dismissed the idea of epilepsy as nonsense. It seems that Ali Sina believes that such studies about the Prophet (SAWS) in historiography should be abandoned and instead we should return to Orientalists such as Margoliouth, Muir and other Christian missionaries who would have us believe that the Prophet (SAWS) was epileptic. Ali Sina consistently malign the Prophet (SAWS) as delusional – while at the same time ignoring that the coherence, completeness and success of Islam in its 1400 years of history show that it cannot be the product of a madman’s mind, nor of that of an epileptic. Ali Sina then calls him (SAWS) a liar (an all too familiar accusation), conveniently ignoring how much he suffered for twenty years before gaining the upper hand and even then he had lived as a poor man with no luxuries. The inconsistencies of Ali Sina’s accusations against the Prophet (P) are themselves testament to the foolishness of his reasoning.

Ali Sina clearly ignores several facts contained within the Sirah itself; that the Prophet (P) spared the Makkans who had tortured and killed his followers for two decades even after conquering them, that he spared all the hypocrites in Madinah undermining his authority (something the man Sina describes would not tolerate), that he had all too often freed prisoners of war freed for no material gain, that he explicitly forbade harming innocent civilians such as women, children, elderly and monks; that he always honoured his treaties even if they were extremely unfair to him (until the disbelievers broke them), that his stories are filled with instances where he spared men who were out to kill him, that as soon as someone became Muslim, he forgave all their past evils, betrayals and murders. The only people that the Prophet (SAWS) was harsh with were with those who were treacherous and betrayed their pacts to turn on the Muslims to destroy them in their weakest moment – which is considered as high treason in times of war. Ali Sina deviously omits the context and interpreted such acts as something that the Prophet (SAWS) habitually does, which is nothing short of deception to his readers.

Perhaps we should not be surprised at his attempts of ad hominem and poisoning of the well; after all, Ali Sina’s methodology is consistent with his use of “weak Hadiths”, saying of the Prophet (SAWS) that are not accepted by Muslims or are seen as weak souces for the religion. Further, this short list of verses from the Holy Qur’an shows Islam in different light and contradicts the conclusions made by Ali Sina:

“There is no compulsion in religion, for the right way is clearly from the wrong way. Whoever therefore rejects the forces of evil and believes in God, he has taken hold of a support most unfailing, which shall never give way, for God is All Hearing and Knowing.”Qur’an, 2:256

“And so (O Prophet!), exhort them your task is only to exhort; you cannot compel them to believe.” Qur’an, 88:21,22; also see Qur’an 24:54

“Allah forbids you not, with regard to those who fight you not for (your) Faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them: for Allah loveth those who are just.” Qur’an, 60:8

The only people who would “love” this book are either psychologically demented — similar to Ali Sina himself — disaffected Muslims who have been hurt in the past and want to blame someone for their problems, or they are extremist Hindus and right-wing Christians who would like nothing better than to rationalize their extremist racism and xenophobic hatred with spurious scholarship. Muhammad (SAWS) did not witness any insurrections or attempts on his life at the hands of his own followers. Not even after his death did anyone attempt to assassinate his memory or desecrate his grave. Instead, the Prophet’s (SAWS) example spawned an empire that ruled over the Middle East for one thousand years and saw a revival of culture and learning the likes of which was not seen in the West until the Age of Enlightenment.

In summarizing this tiresome work, “Understanding Muhammad: A Psychobiography” is not a biography at all, much less a “psychobiography”, of the Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) but a pathetic attempt at character assassination and the rehashing of age-old polemics dating as far as the earliest days of Orientalism. In fact, the author’s methodology is consistent with what that is found on his website and other atheist websites online. It is simply bad history and even worse psychology by a man who can claim to be neither a historian nor a psychologist. He simply repeats the lying polemics of Serge Trifkovic, Robert Spencer, Ayaan Hirsi Ali and other atheists who have an axe to grind against Islam. When bigots and extremists approach any text, be it the Turner Diaries, the Bible, the Qur’an, Nietzsche or the Sirah literature, they cannot be divorced from contextual hermeneutics. The reason Ali Sina views the Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) in such light is simply a case of trying to find a demon through the nitpicking of isolated incidents. Indeed, if one were to play with such rhetoric, one could find justification for the Holocaust, even within the New Testament as Hitler did.

We have come to the conclusion that a brief psycho-analysis of Ali Sina will find that he is simply a bigoted, disaffected former Muslim who is no doubt working out issues with his painful upbringing at the hands of his puritanical parents, cruel Islāmic clergy or perhaps a child-molesting Iranian mullah (or whatever the thorn in his side may be), as in his book he has focused all his rage into painting the most ugly portrait of the Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) that can ever be conceived by the most insane mind.

As the Arabs see the Jews

His Majesty King Abdullah I of Jordan (1882 – 1951)

I am especially delighted to address an American audience, for the tragic problem of Palestine will never be solved without American understanding, American sympathy, American support.

So many billions of words have been written about Palestine — perhaps more than on any other subject in history — that I hesitate to add to them. Yet I am compelled to do so, for I am reluctantly convinced that the world in general, and America in particular, knows almost nothing of the true case for the Arabs.

We Arabs follow, perhaps far more than you think, the press of America. We are frankly disturbed to find that for every word printed on the Arab side, a thousand are printed on the Zionist side.

There are many reasons for this. You have many millions of Jewish citizens interested in this question. They are highly vocal and wise in the ways of publicity. There are few Arab citizens in America, and we are as yet unskilled in the technique of modern propaganda.

The results have been alarming for us. In your press we see a horrible caricature and are told it is our true portrait. In all justice, we cannot let this pass by default.

Our case is quite simple: For nearly 2,000 years Palestine has been almost 100 per cent Arab. It is still preponderantly Arab today, in spite of enormous Jewish immigration. But if this immigration continues we shall soon be outnumbered — a minority in our home.

Palestine is a small and very poor country, about the size of your state of Vermont. Its Arab population is only about 1,200,000. Already we have had forced on us, against our will, some 600,000 Zionist Jews. We are threatened with many hundreds of thousands more.

Our position is so simple and natural that we are amazed it should even be questioned. It is exactly the same position you in America take in regard to the unhappy European Jews. You are sorry for them, but you do not want them in your country.

We do not want them in ours, either. Not because they are Jews, but because they are foreigners. We would not want hundreds of thousands of foreigners in our country, be they Englishmen or Norwegians or Brazilians or whatever.

Think for a moment: In the last 25 years we have had one third of our entire population forced upon us. In America that would be the equivalent of 45,000,000 complete strangers admitted to your country, over your violent protest, since 1921. How would you have reacted to that?

Because of our perfectly natural dislike of being overwhelmed in our own homeland, we are called blind nationalists and heartless anti-Semites. This charge would be ludicrous were it not so dangerous.

No people on earth have been less “anti-Semitic” than the Arabs. The persecution of the Jews has been confined almost entirely to the Christian nations of the West. Jews, themselves, will admit that never since the Great Dispersion did Jews develop so freely and reach such importance as in Spain when it was an Arab possession. With very minor exceptions, Jews have lived for many centuries in the Middle East, in complete peace and friendliness with their Arab neighbours.

Damascus, Baghdad, Beirut and other Arab centres have always contained large and prosperous Jewish colonies. Until the Zionist invasion of Palestine began, these Jews received the most generous treatment — far, far better than in Christian Europe. Now, unhappily, for the first time in history, these Jews are beginning to feel the effects of Arab resistance to the Zionist assault. Most of them are as anxious as Arabs to stop it. Most of these Jews who have found happy homes among us resent, as we do, the coming of these strangers.

I was puzzled for a long time about the odd belief which apparently persists in America that Palestine has somehow “always been a Jewish land.” Recently an American I talked to cleared up this mystery. He pointed out that the only things most Americans know about Palestine are what they read in the Bible. It was a Jewish land in those days, they reason, and they assume it has always remained so.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. It is absurd to reach so far back into the mists of history to argue about who should have Palestine today, and I apologise for it. Yet the Jews do this, and I must reply to their “historic claim.” I wonder if the world has ever seen a stranger sight than a group of people seriously pretending to claim a land because their ancestors lived there some 2,000 years ago!

If you suggest that I am biased, I invite you to read any sound history of the period and verify the facts.

Such fragmentary records as we have indicate that the Jews were wandering nomads from Iraq who moved to southern Turkey, came south to Palestine, stayed there a short time, and then passed to Egypt, where they remained about 400 years. About 1300 BC (according to your calendar) they left Egypt and gradually conquered most — but not all — of the inhabitants of Palestine.

It is significant that the Philistines — not the Jews — gave their name to the country: “Palestine” is merely the Greek form of “Philistia.”

Only once, during the empire of David and Solomon, did the Jews ever control nearly — but not all — the land which is today Palestine. This empire lasted only 70 years, ending in 926 BC. Only 250 years later the Kingdom of Judah had shrunk to a small province around Jerusalem, barely a quarter of modern Palestine.

In 63 BC the Jews were conquered by Roman Pompey, and never again had even the vestige of independence. The Roman Emperor Hadrian finally wiped them out about 135 AD. He utterly destroyed Jerusalem, rebuilt under another name, and for hundreds of years no Jew was permitted to enter it. A handful of Jews remained in Palestine but the vast majority were killed or scattered to other countries, in the Diaspora, or the Great Dispersion. From that time Palestine ceased to be a Jewish country, in any conceivable sense.

This was 1,815 years ago, and yet the Jews solemnly pretend they still own Palestine! If such fantasy were allowed, how the map of the world would dance about!

Italians might claim England, which the Romans held so long. England might claim France, “homeland” of the conquering Normans. And the French Normans might claim Norway, where their ancestors originated. And incidentally, we Arabs might claim Spain, which we held for 700 years.

Many Mexicans might claim Spain, “homeland” of their forefathers. They might even claim Texas, which was Mexican until 100 years ago. And suppose the American Indians claimed the “homeland” of which they were the sole, native, and ancient occupants until only some 450 years ago!

I am not being facetious. All these claims are just as valid — or just as fantastic — as the Jewish “historic connection” with Palestine. Most are more valid.

In any event, the great Moslem expansion about 650 AD finally settled things. It dominated Palestine completely. From that day on, Palestine was solidly Arabic in population, language, and religion. When British armies entered the country during the last war, they found 500,000 Arabs and only 65,000 Jews.

If solid, uninterrupted Arab occupation for nearly 1,300 years does not make a country “Arab”, what does?

The Jews say, and rightly, that Palestine is the home of their religion. It is likewise the birthplace of Christianity, but would any Christian nation claim it on that account? In passing, let me say that the Christian Arabs—and there are many hundreds of thousands of them in the Arab World—are in absolute agreement with all other Arabs in opposing the Zionist invasion of Palestine.

May I also point out that Jerusalem is, after Mecca and Medina, the holiest place in Islam. In fact, in the early days of our religion, Moslems prayed toward Jerusalem instead of Mecca.

The Jewish “religious claim” to Palestine is as absurd as the “historic claim.” The Holy Places, sacred to three great religions, must be open to all, the monopoly of none. Let us not confuse religion and politics.

We are told that we are inhumane and heartless because do not accept with open arms the perhaps 200,000 Jews in Europe who suffered so frightfully under Nazi cruelty, and who even now — almost three years after war’s end — still languish in cold, depressing camps.

Let me underline several facts. The unimaginable persecution of the Jews was not done by the Arabs: it was done by a Christian nation in the West. The war which ruined Europe and made it almost impossible for these Jews to rehabilitate themselves was fought by the Christian nations of the West. The rich and empty portions of the earth belong, not to the Arabs, but to the Christian nations of the West.

And yet, to ease their consciences, these Christian nations of the West are asking Palestine — a poor and tiny Moslem country of the East—to accept the entire burden. “We have hurt these people terribly,” cries the West to the East. “Won’t you please take care of them for us?”

We find neither logic nor justice in this. Are we therefore “cruel and heartless nationalists”?

We are a generous people: we are proud that “Arab hospitality” is a phrase famous throughout the world. We are a humane people: no one was shocked more than we by the Hitlerite terror. No one pities the present plight of the desperate European Jews more than we.

But we say that Palestine has already sheltered 600,000 refugees. We believe that is enough to expect of us — even too much. We believe it is now the turn of the rest of the world to accept some of them.

I will be entirely frank with you. There is one thing the Arab world simply cannot understand. Of all the nations of the earth, America is most insistent that something be done for these suffering Jews of Europe. This feeling does credit to the humanity for which America is famous, and to that glorious inscription on your Statue of Liberty.

And yet this same America — the richest, greatest, most powerful nation the world has ever known — refuses to accept more than a token handful of these same Jews herself!

I hope you will not think I am being bitter about this. I have tried hard to understand that mysterious paradox, and I confess I cannot. Nor can any other Arab.

Perhaps you have been informed that “the Jews in Europe want to go to no other place except Palestine.”

This myth is one of the greatest propaganda triumphs of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, the organisation which promotes with fanatic zeal the emigration to Palestine. It is a subtle half-truth, thus doubly dangerous.

The astounding truth is that nobody on earth really knows where these unfortunate Jews really want to go!

You would think that in so grave a problem, the American, British, and other authorities responsible for the European Jews would have made a very careful survey, probably by vote, to find out where each Jew actually wants to go. Amazingly enough this has never been done! The Jewish Agency has prevented it.

Some time ago the American Military Governor in Germany was asked at a press conference how he was so certain that all Jews there wanted to go to Palestine. His answer was simple: “My Jewish advisors tell me so.” He admitted no poll had ever been made. Preparations were indeed begun for one, but the Jewish Agency stepped in to stop it.

The truth is that the Jews in German camps are now subjected to a Zionist pressure campaign which learned much from the Nazi terror. It is dangerous for a Jew to say that he would rather go to some other country, not Palestine. Such dissenters have been severely beaten, and worse.

Not long ago, in Palestine, nearly 1,000 Austrian Jews informed the international refugee organisation that they would like to go back to Austria, and plans were made to repatriate them.

The Jewish Agency heard of this, and exerted enough political pressure to stop it. It would be bad propaganda for Zionism if Jews began leaving Palestine. The nearly 1,000 Austrian are still there, against their will.

The fact is that most of the European Jews are Western in culture and outlook, entirely urban in experience and habits. They cannot really have their hearts set on becoming pioneers in the barren, arid, cramped land which is Palestine.

One thing, however, is undoubtedly true. As matters stand now, most refugee Jews in Europe would, indeed, vote for Palestine, simply because they know no other country will have them.

If you or I were given a choice between a near-prison camp for the rest of our lives — or Palestine — we would both choose Palestine, too.

But open up any other alternative to them — give them any other choice, and see what happens!

No poll, however, will be worth anything unless the nations of the earth are willing to open their doors — just a little — to the Jews. In other words, if in such a poll a Jew says he wants to go to Sweden, Sweden must be willing to accept him. If he votes for America, you must let him come in.

Any other kind of poll would be a farce. For the desperate Jew, this is no idle testing of opinion: this is a grave matter of life or death. Unless he is absolutely sure that his vote means something, he will always vote for Palestine, so as not to risk his bird in the hand for one in the bush.

In any event, Palestine can accept no more. The 65,000 Jews in Palestine in 1918 have jumped to 600,000 today. We Arabs have increased, too, but not by immigration. The Jews were then a mere 11 per cent of our population. Today they are one third of it.

The rate of increase has been terrifying. In a few more years — unless stopped now — it will overwhelm us, and we shall be an important minority in our own home.

Surely the rest of the wide world is rich enough and generous enough to find a place for 200,000 Jews—about one third the number that tiny, poor Palestine has already sheltered. For the rest of the world, it is hardly a drop in the bucket. For us it means national suicide.

We are sometimes told that since the Jews came to Palestine, the Arab standard of living has improved. This is a most complicated question. But let us even assume, for the argument, that it is true. We would rather be a bit poorer, and masters of our own home. Is this unnatural?

The sorry story of the so-called “Balfour Declaration,” which started Zionist immigration into Palestine, is too complicated to repeat here in detail. It is grounded in broken promises to the Arabs—promises made in cold print which admit no denying.

We utterly deny its validity. We utterly deny the right of Great Britain to give away Arab land for a “national home” for an entirely foreign people.

Even the League of Nations sanction does not alter this. At the time, not a single Arab state was a member of the League. We were not allowed to say a word in our own defense.

I must point out, again in friendly frankness, that America was nearly as responsible as Britain for this Balfour Declaration. President Wilson approved it before it was issued, and the American Congress adopted it word for word in a joint resolution on 30th June, 1922.

In the 1920s, Arabs were annoyed and insulted by Zionist immigration, but not alarmed by it. It was steady, but fairly small, as even the Zionist founders thought it would remain. Indeed for some years, more Jews left Palestine than entered it—in 1927 almost twice as many.

But two new factors, entirely unforeseen by Britain or the League or America or the most fervent Zionist, arose in the early thirties to raise the immigration to undreamed heights. One was the World Depression; the second the rise of Hitler.

In 1932, the year before Hitler came to power, only 9,500 Jews came to Palestine. We did not welcome them, but we were not afraid that, at that rate, our solid Arab majority would ever be in danger.

But the next year — the year of Hitler — it jumped to 30,000! In 1934 it was 42,000! In 1935 it reached 61,000!

It was no longer the orderly arrival of idealist Zionists. Rather, all Europe was pouring its frightened Jews upon us. Then, at last, we, too, became frightened. We knew that unless this enormous influx stopped, we were, as Arabs, doomed in our Palestine homeland. And we have not changed our minds.

I have the impression that many Americans believe the trouble in Palestine is very remote from them, that America had little to do with it, and that your only interest now is that of a humane bystander.

I believe that you do not realise how directly you are, as a nation, responsible in general for the whole Zionist move and specifically for the present terrorism. I call this to your attention because I am certain that if you realise your responsibility you will act fairly to admit it and assume it.

Quite aside from official American support for the “National Home” of the Balfour Declaration, the Zionist settlements in Palestine would have been almost impossible, on anything like the current scale, without American money. This was contributed by American Jewry in an idealistic effort to help their fellows.

The motive was worthy: the result were disastrous. The contributions were by private individuals, but they were almost entirely Americans, and, as a nation, only America can answer for it.

The present catastrophe may be laid almost entirely at your door. Your government, almost alone in the world, is insisting on the immediate admission of 100,000 more Jews into Palestine — to be followed by countless additional ones. This will have the most frightful consequences in bloody chaos beyond anything ever hinted at in Palestine before.

It is your press and political leadership, almost alone in the world, who press this demand. It is almost entirely American money which hires or buys the “refugee ships” that steam illegally toward Palestine: American money which pays their crews. The illegal immigration from Europe is arranged by the Jewish Agency, supported almost entirely by American funds. It is American dollars which support the terrorists, which buy the bullets and pistols that kill British soldiers — your allies — and Arab citizens — your friends.

We in the Arab world were stunned to hear that you permit open advertisements in newspapers asking for money to finance these terrorists, to arm them openly and deliberately for murder. We could not believe this could really happen in the modern world. Now we must believe it: we have seen the advertisements with our own eyes.

I point out these things because nothing less than complete frankness will be of use. The crisis is too stark for mere polite vagueness which means nothing.

I have the most complete confidence in the fair-mindedness and generosity of the American public. We Arabs ask no favours. We ask only that you know the full truth, not half of it. We ask only that when you judge the Palestine question, you put yourselves in our place.

What would your answer be if some outside agency told you that you must accept in America many millions of utter strangers in your midst—enough to dominate your country—merely because they insisted on going to America, and because their forefathers had once lived there some 2,000 years ago?

Our answer is the same.

And what would be your action if, in spite of your refusal, this outside agency began forcing them on you?

Ours will be the same.

Abdullah I was the first King of Jordan. This article was published in The American Magazine, November, 1947

How to play Keno

Keno is a very popular game in the traditional casino and in recent years online keno has taken a prominent position among the most popular games played. Similar to the national lottery Keno asks players to match numbers on their card to numbers drawn from the lot. If you want a chance to earn money without having to bluff other players consider learning to play online keno.

Online Keno is easy to play. The player chooses a series of numbers from the possible options. These numbers are printed onto a Keno card. Players must choose at least four numbers but no more than 10. After numbers are chosen the player waits for the game to begin. During the game the caller will reveal the numbers picked by the automated system. If the player’s numbers match those picked by the game the player wins.

Due to the simplicity of the game players can bet as little as .10 per number. The amount the player wins is determined by the number of matches they get with the numbers drawn and how much they bet on their choices.

Those who play keno online have several options for games. Some choose to play traditional online keno while other players opt for themed games. The rules are the same for all games though from casino to casino the maximum bid amount may differ. If you want to play an easy game that have lots of loyal followers check out online keno.

A Jewel It’s Not: Review of “The Jewel of Medina: A Novel” by Sherry Jones

Glenn C. Altschuler

Journalist Sherry Jones, the Montana and Idaho correspondent for the international news agency the Bureau of National Affairs, maintains that she envisioned The Jewel of Medina, her fictionalized account of A’isha Abi Bakr, the child bride of Muhammad, as a “bridge builder.” But even before it was published, the novel became a casualty of the clash of civilizations.

After Denise Spellberg, associate professor of history and Middle Eastern studies at the University of Texas, assessed the manuscript as “a very ugly, stupid, piece of work” which turned sacred history into soft-core pornography and warned that publication could provoke violence, Ballantine Books, a division of Random House, consulted with security experts and then negotiated an agreement with Jones to terminate their $100,000 two-book contract.

Amid allegations of self-censorship and the suppression of free speech, two publishing houses – Beaufort Books in the US (whose list includes O.J. Simpson’s If I Did It) and Gibson Square in Great Britain – announced they would rush the novel into print. On September 27, the home of Martin Rynja, publisher of Gibson Square, was fire-bombed. Nonetheless, The Jewel of Medina has been – or will be – published in at least 15 countries.

The novel isn’t worth the attention it’s getting. As reliable, historically, as Disney’s Aladdin and the King of Thieves, The Jewel of Medina is a “chick lit” feminist tract, painted in purple prose. Then — and now — Jones’s A’isha claims, centuries after her death, “girls turn away because they don’t know the truth… That none of us is ever alive until we can shape our destinies. Until we can choose.”

Not your typical seventh-century Muslim maiden, A’isha begins her crusade against marital rape before she’s 10. She vows never to be “the poor girl underneath,” enduring “a woman’s life” with “downcast eyes and nary a whimper of complaint.” She’ll fight back — and if her husband doesn’t like it, “he could divorce me and I wouldn’t care. I’d rather be a lone lioness, roaring and free, than a caged bird without even a name to call my own.”

Then Jones goes phallic. Summoned to meet the prophet, A’isha hesitates, closing her eyes and taking a deep breath: “My future awaited on the other side – a fate chosen by others, as though I were a sheep or a goat fatted for this day.” Her mother pulls the curtain away: “What are you waiting for? Ramadan?”

“No more fighting with sticks,” Muhammad tells her, in a bedroom filled with wooden soldiers, dolls, a jump rope and a sword. “I will teach you how to use the real thing.” As the prophet’s eyes changed, “as if catching flame,” the little girl waited for “the scuttling hands, the stinging tail… Soon I would be lying on my bed beneath, squashed like the scarab beetle, flailing and sobbing while he slammed himself against me. He would not want to hurt me, but how could he help it?”

Jones believes that The Jewel of Medina portrays Islam as, at bottom, an “egalitarian religion” and Muhammad as a “gentle, wise and compassionate” leader, who respected women, especially his wives. Thanks to the prophet, A’isha suggests, women could “inherit property, testify in hearings and write provisions for divorce into their wedding contracts.”

But the gender politics of the novel is, at best, confused. And Jones’s Muhammad has feet of clay. A man of physical passion, he is seduced by power, making strategic alliances through marriage. Muhammad changes Allah’s law at will and whim. Intent on marrying the wife of his adopted son, he declares that “we have been in error all these years.” Since Zayd does not carry his blood in his veins, “why should I hesitate?” In another self-indulgent about-face, he annuls the edict limiting a harem to four wives. And by ordering females to cover their faces, A’isha concludes, the prophet transforms himself “from a liberator of women into an oppressor of them.”

The Jewel of Medina is a platform for the propositions of the politically correct, circa 2008. An unmarried woman in Medina in 625 “with no family to support her and no skills,” A’isha claims, had only two prospects: begging and prostitution. As she walks through a tent city with the mother of the poor, the child-bride chides herself for moping while people struggled to survive. She drapes her wrapper around the shoulders and head of a child in tattered clothing to protect her “tender face” from the sun. “From now on,” A’isha concludes, “when I heard others denigrate the tent people as I’d once done, I’d make sure to tell them of their pride and dignity.”

You don’t know whether to laugh or cry. As she confesses in the “afterword” – and demonstrates in the novel with asides about gowns that “plunge down to the navel” and off-shoulder garments “that burst open like springtime” when the wearer dismounts a camel – Sherry Jones doesn’t know what it was like to be alive and a woman in seventh-century Arabia. She may have “huge respect and regard for the Muslim faith,” but she doesn’t display much knowledge about Islam, either. It’s an outrage that publication of this book – or any book – was held hostage to threats of violence. But as a work of historical fiction The Jewel of Medina is a non-precious stone that ought to be allowed to sink without a trace.

The writer is the Thomas and Dorothy Litwin Professor of American Studies at Cornell University.

Resolving the Christian “I-Know-Nothing” Multi-Problem in Textual Criticism

Mohd Elfie Nieshaem Juferi

Occasionally we come across Christians who, when informed that the text of the gospels underwent corruption during their transmission, often react with the following type of questions: “When? Who did the corruption? In what country? Before or after Muhammad? Why was it done? How come no one noticed it?” These type of seemingly “innocent” questions merely reveal the incalculably colossal ignorance of the person in question. Christians who pose such questions do not seem to realize how utterly foolish they come across to anyone who are familiar with at least the very basics of textual criticism. Thus, the poor questioner only succeeds in on humiliating no one else but himself. Christian apologists and missionaries need to stop posing such outdated, absurd questions since it reflects quite badly upon their intelligence and gives others a very bad impression of them.

Continue reading Resolving the Christian “I-Know-Nothing” Multi-Problem in Textual Criticism