2.1.8 So, where did these discarded verses come from in the first place?: As seen in chapter one, St. Paul was answerable during his lifetime for having made wholesale changes to the religion of Jesus (pbuh). Changes which Jesus (pbuh) himself never authorized to anyone during his lifetime. After his departure the pagan gentiles who accepted Paul's simplified version of "Christianity" continued to adapt it and to introduce into it many of the doctrines of paganism which they had already been practicing for so may centuries. Among these doctrines was the concept of the "trinity" which was a very widely practiced and accepted concept in the pagan beliefs of the surrounding nations of Romans, Greeks, Babylonians, and Hindus many centuries before they were finally officially defined and "recognized" in the fourth century C.E. After this doctrine received the official support of the pagan Roman emperor Constantine, a massive campaign of death and torture was launched against all Christians who refused to renounce the teachings of the apostles in favor of the modified and expanded Pauline doctrines. All but the Gospels acceptable to the Pauline faith were then systematically destroyed or re-written.
RESPONSE: Note how Al-Kadhi provides "evidence" for his extroardinary claims. He provides no quote to support "a massive campaign of death and torture". As for the "systematically destroyed or re-written", the best he can find is a few alleged examples dated far LATER than the earliest manuscripts we now possess! So where are all these doctrines that have been changed?
The truth is that the main book-burning was done by the Roman persecutors of Christians, especially under Decius (249-251) and Diocletian (303). [This can be easily verified, e.g. J.M. Roberts "The Pelican History of the World" (Penguin 1987), p.276-277. Note that this is not a Christian publication].
There was also no systematic persecution of anti-Trinitarians in the centuries immediately following the council of Nicea in 325. In fact, even after that council, anti-Trinitarianism was very strong for much of the fourth century. By the time Trinitarianism was entrenched, the Roman Empire was busy disintegrating (Rome was sacked in 410) so there was no time for "a massive campaign of death and torture".
It is hard to respond to Al-Kadhi's claim further because he provides no evidence! All I can say is that I searched through my collection of history books (both by Christians and non-Christians) and I found no mention of Christians either burning books or persecuting their opponents in the centuries following the council of Nicea.
Rev. Charles Anderson Scott has the following to say:
"It is highly probable that not one of the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) was in existence in the form which we have it, prior to the death of Paul. And were the documents to be taken in strict order of chronology, the Pauline Epistles would come before the synoptic Gospels." History of Christianity in the Light of Modern Knowledge, Rev. Charles Anderson Scott, p.338
This statement is further confirmed by Prof. Brandon: "The earliest Christian writings that have been preserved for us are the letters of the apostle Paul" "Religions in Ancient History," S.G.F. Brandon, p. 228.
RESPONSE: What is Al-Kadhi trying to get at here? First he claims that the Bible was rewritten in the 4th century CE (presumably he means after the council of Nicea in 325 CE), then he quotes the someone who says that the Synoptic gospels were completed after Paul's death in (about) 66 CE (a claim many scholars dispute, by the way). 325 is a lot later than 66, so Al-Kadhi's quote has NOTHING to do with his argument!
In the latter part of the second century, Dionysius, Bishop of Corinth says: "As the brethren desired me to write epistles(letters), I did so, and these the apostles of the devil have filled with tares (changes), exchanging some things and adding others, for whom there is a woe reserved. It is not therefore, a matter of wonder if some have also attempted to adulterate the sacred writings of the Lord, since they have attempted the same in other works that are not to be compared with these."
The Qur'an confirms this with the words: "Then woe to those who write the book (of Allah/God) with their own hands and then say: 'This is from Allah', to traffic with it for a miserable price. Woe to them for what their hands do write and for the gain they make thereby" The noble Qur'an Al-Bakarah(2):79
RESPONSE: the key quote is "some have also attempted to adulterate the sacred writings of the Lord". It indicates that the church was aware of the problem (by heretical sects) and reacted to it. In fact, due to the large number of manuscripts available today, such insertions are easy to detect (as Al-Kadhi himself has demonstrated!)
Victor Tununensis, a sixth century African Bishop related in his Chronicle (566 AD) that when Messala was consul at Costantinople (506 AD), he "censored and corrected" the Gentile Gospels written by persons considered illiterate by the Emperor Anastasius. The implication was that they were altered to conform to sixth century Christianity which differed from the Christianity of previous centuries (The Dead Sea Scrolls, the Gospel of Barnabas, and the New Testament, by M. A. Yusseff, p. 81)
RESPONSE: No that is not the implication at all. The implication is that when copies were done by illiterate people (probably meaning those with poor understanding of the written language, not total illiterates of course), corrections needed to be made. In any case, as Al-Kadhi acknowledges, we have manuscripts dated from the fourth century - the example cited (from a Muslim author, you will notice) is from the sixth century.
These "corrections" were by no means confined to the first centuries after Christ. Sir Higgins says: "It is impossible to deny that the Bendictine Monks of St. Maur, as far as Latin and Greek language went, were very learned and talented, as well as numerous body of men. In Cleland's ‘Life of Lanfranc, Archbishop of Canterbury', is the following passage: ‘Lanfranc, a Benedictine Monk, Archbishop of Canterbury, having found the Scriptures much corrupted by copyists, applied himself to correct them, as also the writings of the fathers, agreeably to the orthodox faith, secundum fidem orthodoxam." History of Christianity in the light of Modern knowledge, Higgins p.318
In other words, the Christian scriptures were re-written in order to conform to the doctrines of the eleventh and twelfth centuries and even the writings of the early church fathers were "corrected" so that the changes would not be discovered. Sir Higgins goes on to say:
RESPONSE: the 11th and 12th centuries? Didn't Al-Kadhi just say that there were full manuscripts from the 4th century? Where then are all the changes in doctrine?
"The same Protestant divine has this remarkable passage: ‘Impartiality exacts from me the confession, that the orthodox have in some places altered the Gospels'."
RESPONSE: I could not find this quote to check the context. But the most that can be demonstrated is that there have been (like in the Qur'an) errors of transmission - not affecting doctrine.
The author then goes on to demonstrate how a massive effort was undertaken in Costantinople, Rome, Canterbury, and the Christian world in general in order to "correct" the Gospels and destroy all manuscripts before this period.
RESPONSE: Isn't it interesting that Al-Kadhi gives no quotes, no dates, no places - in fact no hard evidence of any kind? Sorry, but that's not good enough. As mentioned earlier: I can't respond because there is no evidence to respond to!
Theodore Zahan, illustrated the bitter conflicts within the established churches in Articles of the Apostolic Creed. He points out that the Roman Catholics accuse the Greek Orthodox Church of remodeling the text of the holy scriptures by additions and omissions with both good as well as evil intentions. The Greek Orthodox, on the other hand, accuse the Roman Catholics of straying in many places very far away from the original text. In spite of their differences, they both join forces to condemn the non-conformist Christians of deviating from "the true way" and condemn them as heretics. The "heretics" in turn condemn the Catholics for having "recoined the truth like forgers." The author concludes "Do not facts support these accusations?"
RESPONSE: Again, since Al-Kadhi provides no reference other than the author, I could not locate the book to check the context of this reference. But, taking the text at face value, I would say that Zahan is exagerating the case. Any differences in text are very minor, and have no effect on doctrine. Differences between the Roman and Greek churches have been over doctrine, i.e. the interpretation of the accepted text, not the contents of the Bible itself.
St. Augustine himself, a man acknowledged and looked up to by both Protestants and Catholics alike, professed that there were secret doctrines in the Christian religion and that
"there were many things true in the Christian religion which it was not convenient for the vulgar to know, and that some things were false, but convenient for the vulgar to believe in them."
REPSONSE: Again, how can I respond when Al-Kadhi does not provide a reference for his quote? Ancient writers are easy to take out of context because they refer to disputes quite different from modern debates.
Since writing this original response, I have downloaded and searched all of Augustine's writings which are online at the Christian Classics Ethereal Library (CCEL), and I have been unable to find the quote. Therefore, until I can be shown otherwise, I believe Al-Kadhi has supplied a false quote.
Sir Higgins admits: "It is not unfair to suppose that in these withheld truths we have part of the modern Christian mysteries, and I think it will hardly be denied that the church, whose highest authorities held such doctrines, would not scruple to retouch the sacred writings" (The Dead Sea Scrolls, the Gospel of Barnabas, and the New Testament, M. A. Yusseff, p.83)
RESPONSE: Again, he does not cite Higgins himself, but a Muslim writer quoting him. From the quotes I have seen of this "Sir Higgins", I distrust him. All that can be demonstrated is errors in transmission of the Bible. Systematic corruption has NOT been demonstrated. The only "evidence" Al-Kadhi has provided is a few unreferenced quotes whose context I could not check.
Even the epistles attributed to Paul were not written by him. After years of research, Catholics and Protestants alike agree that of the thirteen epistles attributed to Paul only seven are genuinely his. They are: Romans, 1, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philipians, Philemon, and 1 Thessalonians.
RESPONSE: There is far from agreement! Many respectable scholars defend Paul as the author of all 13 attributed to him. As for those who don't, see my comments in section 2.1.3.