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Where Is The Injeel?
There has been much discussion and controversy between Muslims and Christians regarding the identity of the Injeel (Gospel). Muslims, taking their cues from the Quran and traditional Islamic teachings, regard the true Injeel (as refered to in the Quran) to be lost, a document no longer in existence. Some have regarded the currently known Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John to be the Injeel refered to in the Quran, but hold the position that the texts have been corrupted to such an extent that the Injeel is said to have been lost.
Christians, for the most part, have argued that the four Gospels are God's word and thus must have been the Injeel referenced by the Quran. However, a new comparison between the four traditional Gospels, the Quran, and several other early Jewish, Christian, and Gnostic writings shed light on why there are such great differences between the view of God and Jesus in the Quran and the traditional Gospel accounts.
In the Quran, several stories regarding the actions of Jesus are told that seem to have no parallel in the New Testament Gospels that the followers of Jesus use. They do, however, have striking similarities to Jewish and Christians works known as Pseudepigrapha.
Pseudepigrapha are Jewish and Christian writings dating from approximately 100 B.C. to the 4th century A.D. which attempt to fill in gaps in the Biblical accounts, or claim authoritative authorship while having dubious origins. Unlike the Apocryphal works, rejected by Jewish leaders before 70A.D., the pseudepigrapha have, for the most part never been classed by the church as a whole as inspired works. Universal acceptance of them was never realized.
These pseudepigrapha offer a remarkable insight into Quranic passages, specifically in the following areas of study:
- Creation of Adam, Fall of Satan
- Betrothal of Mary, Mother of Jesus Christ
- Activities of Jesus while a Child: Speaking in Cradle & Miracles
- Christian doctrine of the Trin~Unity of God (Trinity)
- Other Points of Interest
Other issues are also addressed that present remarkable similarities, such as the preexistence of souls, and several commonalities between stories of Old Testament patriarchs. This investigation only examines the above five listed categories.
When Mohammad was looking for external support for his claims in the Quran, he turned to the Christians and Jews of his time and made the following statement:
"Let the people of the Gospel judge by what God has revealed therein. If any do fail to judge by [the light of] what God has revealed, they are [no better than] those who rebel." (5:50 Yusuf Ali translation) He also said:
Say: O People of the Book! You have no ground to stand upon unles you stand fast by the Law, the Gospel, and all the revelation that has come to you from your Lord." (5:71 Yusuf Ali translation) It is obvious from these, and many other statements made in the Quran, that the Injeel was intact in Mohammad's day, and apparently available to them in some form (whether written or oral). On many ocassions Mohammad makes mention of the Injeel, and always refers to it as if it is intact.
The Quran also notes in 10:37-38,
"This Quran could not have been devised by an but God. It confirms what was revealed before it, and fully explains the scriptures. It is beyond doubt from the Lord of the Universe. If they say, 'He invented it himself,' say, 'Bring me one chapter like it.'"
The question before us is this: If the Injeel were intact in Mohammads day, as the Quran appears to testify, since we have copies of Injeels from that same period, and from centuries before, why does the Quran tell remarkably different stories than are found in the Injeels dated from his time? It is through this investigation that several segments of pseudepigrapha are brought forth that have amazing similarities to the Quran. In fact, much of the Quran's theology about Jesus can be traced to these documents. It is amazing because of the reported unlearned nature of Mohammad and the supposed supernatural origins of his teachings.
Creation of Adam, Fall of Satan
Several Quranic passages make note of the origins of Satan, his nature, and conflict with Adam and God. (2:34, 7:11-12, 15:30-33, 17:61, 18:50, 20:116, 38:71-76.) 7:11-12 is used here:
"We said to the angels, 'Prostrate yourselves before Adam.' They all prostrated themselves except Satan, who refused to prostrate himself. 'Why did you not prostrate yourself when I commanded you?' He asked. 'I am nobler than he,' he replied. 'You created me of fire, but you created him of clay.'"
Notice the similarities in this Quranic teaching with the Gospel of Bartholomew, written in the 3rd century A.D.
"And when I came from the ends of the world, Michael said to me, "Worship the image of God which He has made in His own likeness." But I said, "I am fire, of fire. I was the first angel to be formed, and shall I worship clay and matter?" There is no account in the Bible of Satan's fall being related to a command to honor or worship Adam. But what is most striking are the similarities: Prostration vs.Worship; Fire and Fire; Fire vs. Clay. How is it that the Quran repeats as fact, a story that is historically regarded as fiction?
Betrothal of Mary, Mother of Jesus Christ
3:44, recounts an abreviated, altered version of Mary's betrothal to Joseph.
"This is of the annoucements relating to the unseen which We reveal to you; and you were not with them when they cast their pens (other translations: lots) to decide which of them should have Marium in his charge, and you were not with them when they contended with one another."
Two pseudepigrapha, differing in accounts, present a larger picture of the Quranic tale. The first is taken from the Gospel of the Birth of Mary, (5:4, 6, 16-17, 6:1-5) written before the 4th century A.D.
"Then according to this prophecy, he appointed, that all the men of the house and family of David, who were marriageable, and not married, should bring their several rods to the altar. And out of whatsoever person's rod after it was brought, a flower should bud forth, and on the top of it the Spirit of the Lord should sit in the appearence as a dove, should be the man to whom the virgin should be given and be betrothed. Among the rest there was a man named Joseph, of the house and family of David, and a person very far advanced in years, who drew back his rod, when every one besides presented his. So that when nothing appeared agreeable to the Heavenly voice, the High Priest judged it proper to consult God again. Who answered that he to whom the virgin was to be betrothed was the only person of those who were brought together who had not brought his rod. Joseph, therefore, was betrayed. For when he did bring his rod, and a dove coming from Heaven pitched upon the top of it, everyone plainly saw that the virgin was to be betrothed to him."
Another account is given in the Protevangelion of James (sometimes called "of Mary") in 8:9-16.
"After the Highn-Priest had received their rods, he went into the temple to pray; and when he had finished his prayer, he took the rods, and went forth and distributed them, and there was no miracle attending them. The last rod was taken by Joseph, and behold, a dove proceeded out of the rod, and flew upon the head of Joseph. And the High Priest said, 'Joseph, you are the person chosen to take the virgin of the Lord, to keep her for Him.' But Joseph refused, saying, 'I am an old man, and have children, but she is young, and I fear lest I should appear ridiculous in Israel.' The High Priest replied, 'Joseph, fear the Lord your God, and remember how God dealt with Dathan, Korah, and Abiram, how the Earth opened up, because of their contradiction. Now therefore, Joseph, fear God, lest the like things should happen in your family. Joseph then, being afraid, took her into his house...."
Notice the similarities: Lots or pens in one translation as to rods, seeking a sign of some sort for the taking of Mary. Also, the part in the Quran about the contention, which in the second passage happened between Joseph and the High Priest.
The Activities of Jesus Christ while still a Child
These passages are of the more difficult to believe for many people. After all, what newly born infant has the facalties to speak language unless God gives a miracle such as with Balaam's donkey? Yet, the Quran makes the clear claim that "He (Jesus) shall speak to men in the cradle...." (3:46. Other passages are 5:110 and 19:29-34.)
The First Infancy Gospel of Jesus Christ, a Gnostic Gospel, illustrates this in 1:1-3.
"The following accounts we found in the book of Joseph the High Priest, called by some, Caiaphas: He relates that Jesus spoke when even in the cradle and said to His mother, "Mary, I am Jesus the Son of God, that word which you did bring forth according to the declaration of the angel Gabriel to you, and My Father has sent me for the salvation of the world."
Interestingly, the Quranic passage seems to draw from this pseudepigraphic account, yet "corrects" the words that Jesus spoke, since Quranic doctrine does not allow for Jesus as the Son of God or for Him being the salvation of the world.
Other Quranic passages (3:49, 5:110) teach that Jesus Christ, while still a child, made clay birds and brought them to life. Two pseudepigraphic texts go into detail regarding these supposed events. The first is from the Infancy Gospel of Thomas, written near 150 A.D. by a Gentile (as opposed to the Jewish Apostle it is named for).
"When the child Jesus was five years old, he was playing at the ford of a stream. He made pools of rushing water and made it immediately pure; He ordered this by word alone. He made soft clay and molded twelve sparrows from it. It was the Sabbath when He did this. There were many other children playing with him. A certain Jew saw what Jesus did while playing on the Sabbath; he immediately went and announced to His father Joseph, "See, your child is at the stream, and has taken clay and molded twelve birds; he has profaned the Sabbath." Joseph came to the place and seeing what Jesus did he cried out, "Why do you do on the Sabbath what it is not lawful to do?" Jesus clapped his hands and cried out to the sparrows, "Be gone." And the sparrows flew off chirping. The Jews saw this and were amazed. They went away and described to their leaders what they had seen Jesus do."
Another account is taken from the Gospel of the Infancy of Jesus Christ, 15:1-7.
"And when the Lord Jesus was seven years of age, He was on a certain day with other boys His companions about the same age. Who when they were at play, made clay into several shapes, namely asses, oxen, birds, and other figures, each boasting of His work, and endeavoring to exceed the rest. Then the Lord Jesus said to the boys, "I will command these figures which I have made to walk." And immediately the moved, and when He commanded them to return, they returned. He had also made the figures of birds and sparrows, which when He commanded to fly, did fly, and when He commanded to stand still, did stand still; and if He gave them meat and drink, they did eat and drink. When at length the boys went away, and related these things to their parents, their fathers said to them, "Take heed, children, for the future, of His company, for He is a sorcerer; shun and avoid Him, and from henceforth, never play with Him."
The Christian Doctrine of the Tri-Unity of God (Trinity)
Here is a difficult Quranic doctrine for some people to follow. 4:171, 5:73, 116. Specifically, 4:171 and 5:116, as some Muslims understand them, states that the Christian doctrine of the Trinity comprises three people: The Father, Mary, and Jesus the Messiah. The three are said to be the Trinity in Christian doctrine. Many Muslims argue this point heatedly, that Christians believe the Trinity to be Father, Mary, and Jesus. In Christian theology, this would mean that Mary and the Holy Spirit are the same person. The Quran itself seems contradictory in this as Mohammad points out that the Holy Spirit was Mohammad's guide in his teaching of the Quran (16:102). Thus, taken together, Mary is Mohammad's guide. That of course is foolishness.
Christian doctrine on the trinity, since the earliest days of the church, has been that the doctrine of the Trin-Unity of God consists of three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Mary was never, in Christian doctrine, considered to be anything more than a normal woman. Even if the doctrine of the Trinity is placed with origins at the Council of Nicea, that would have it firmly established at least 200 years before Mohammad's time that Christians did not regard Mary as part of the Trinity, thus, the source for Mohammad's information on this point is in question since it doesn't even match with the church of his day.
How could Mohammad, knowing Christians of his day, have come to the conclusion that Christians believed Mary and the Holy Spirit were the same? Certainly, extremely few if any Christians even in 6th century Arabia believed such a doctrine. Many Gnostic philosophies had become quite unpopular by then. Mohammad may have heard, or may have read, teaching from the Gospel of Hebrews.
Written before 130 A.D., the Gospel of the Hebrews was used by some of the early churches, and quotations of it have been found in Egypt, so availability in Arabia is not a stretch. To quote:
"And the power came into the world and it was called Mary, and Christ was in her womb seven months...."Even so did my mother, the Holy Spirit, take me by one of my hairs and carry me away on to the great mountain Tabor."
This is the only known passage from pseudepigrapha text that espouses this teaching. However, the Gospel of the Hebrews was at one time very popular and Mohammad may have heard about it or from it at one time or another. Certainly, he was familiar with the stories of Jesus before he proclaimed his prophethood to the people of Arabia.
Points of Interest
A few questions and comments should be noted regarding these comparisons. First, both the Bible and the Quran seem to use, or support pseudepigraphic writings as a source or tool. The New Testament quotes two specific passages, one in Peter's Epistle's and one in James. There are many other allusions to pseudepigraphic writings in Paul, and a few in the Gospels. In fact, similarities can be found in the New Testament when compared to the Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs (107-137A.D.), the Story of Ahikar, (500 B.C.), Enoch (1st century B.C.), and a few others. The Quran, as illustrated above, seems to at least draw from these pseudepigrapha. Is then God saying, whether through the Bible or through the Quran, depending upon your point of view, that the pseudepigrapha are inspired documents, or that portions of them are inspired?
There is an important distinction between the use of this material in the Bible and the Quran that leaves the question somewhat open for Muslims regarding Quranic origins. The Bible, in making use of pseudepigraphic materials, uses them for the purpose of illustration and to communicate larger principles. The New Testament, specifically, does not make use of pseudepigrapha as historical proof text, as it would Exodus or Chronicles. In each instance, pseudepigrapha is used illustratively, as we might use a common story or fable such as the tortiose and the hare, to make a point or convey some principle of widsom. With the Quran, however, these stories are conveyed as literal history. We are told, and expected to believe, that Jesus literally spoke while in the cradle, or that as a child, he literally made clay birds come to life, etc. In the Quran, these acts are placed on the same level as healing the leper and raising the dead. Yet, the pseudepigraphic accounts have been for centuries deemed as fables used to illustrate principle. If the Quran is God's Word, then we must take a closer look at the pseudepigrapha and ask if they are not God's Word too, even though they also have sharp points of contradiction with the Quran. But if these documents continue to be the fiction they have always been known to be, then we must ask Why does the Quran repeat fiction as fact?
A Much Better Source
If the Quran repeats known fiction as historical fact, how do you know you can rely upon its other claims about God, Jesus, and your own relationship with Him?
There is a better source for information about Jesus, His life, and His love for you. It is in the Injeel. The Injeel which was intact in Mohammad's day is the same Injeel that we use today to tell us what Jesus was like, and what He came to do for us.