Response to section 2.4

When is a book an 'inspired' book?

Mr. Al-Kadhi begins with his summary of the history of Trinitarianism in the Christian church. The notable thing about his summary is that there are ABSOLUTELY NO REFERENCES OR QUOTES.

Why is this? Why is he able to supply a whole series of references for the authorship of the Old Testament in section 2.3, but he is unable to supply a single reference for his version of Christian history?

The answer is that his version of history is totally exaggerated, and he supplies no reputable sources for his version of events, because there are none.

I will content myself with replying to some of the most obvious errors.

Al-Kadhi writes, "Everyone now cursed and damned everyone else. Christian sects butchered one-another right and left. There were more great debates and councils than you could shake a stick at. However, none of these groups had sufficient might to totally dominate and silence the others for good. They needed an undefeatable ally, so they began to look to the Roman empire for support. The Roman empire was a pagan empire, however, it was the dominant "superpower" of the time. Anyone who could enlist it's aid would have an unconquerable ally at their side and would themselves be undefeatable. On the Roman side, Emperor Constantine was greatly troubled by the swelling ranks of his Christian subjects and the great division among their ranks which did not bode well for the continued stability of his empire."

Al-Kadhi is implying that that Christian sects "butchered one another" in the time before Constantine's conversion (which was 312 CE). This claim is laughable. In fact Christianity was a persecuted sect, with one of its most severe persecutions being under the Roman Emperor Diocletian in 303-305, just before Constantine came to power. There was no time for these alleged wars in the first three centuries of the church.

Similarly, the great councils and debates were in the time AFTER the Roman Empire adopted Christianity - contrary to the order of events Al-Kadhi suggests.

Also, the alleged "butchering" did not even occur after Constantine's time. As the church became corrupt many hundreds of years later, there were some unfortunate times of persecution of heretics. However this was well AFTER the Trinitarian position of the church was settled.

To summarise: the Trinitarian position was arrived at peacefully. War or violence played no part at all.

Al-Kadhi then moves from these baseless claims, and moves onto the more serious question of the formation of the New Testament canon. He writes,

[AK:] Naturally, if the "history" of the Trinitarian Church regarding their chosen Gospels and what are claimed to be the inspired writings of Jesus' first Apostles were true, and these writings had indeed been accepted as authoritative at that time, then they would have been the most precious and potent documents of preaching for their doctrine. Undoubtedly, they would have spoken of nothing else, but would have quoted them and appealed to their authority at every turn as they have been doing through the centuries since. But, for some 150 years, little or nothing besides the Old Testament and these Oracles [other Jewish writings] were known or quoted. As said by the great critic, Solomon Reinach,

"With the exception of Papias, who speaks of a narrative by Mark, and a collection of sayings of Jesus, no Christian writer of the first half of the second century (i.e., up to 150 C.E.) quotes the Gospels or their reputed authors." Orpheus, Reinach, p. 218

RESPONSE: First note that, while Reinach is speaking only of the gospels, Al-Kadhi mistakenly applies the quote to the entire New Testament. In fact there is ample evidence of early church writers quoting from a wide range of New Testament writings:

But secondly, Reinach is wrong anyway. The early church fathers generally do not quote the gospels directly, but they make many references to them. Here are a few examples, all dating before 150 CE:

In the rest of the chapter, Al-Kadhi presents his version of the history of the formation of the Bible. Although many of his quotes are accurate, they are presented in such a way as to distort the information. And also much of his information is plain wrong.

AK: In the city of Nicea (modern: Iznik, Turkey), in the year 325 AD, a great conference of Christian theologians and religious scholars was convened under the order of the Emperor Constantine to examine and define the status of these countless Christian Gospels. After a thorough investigation it was decided that the Epistle of Jude was genuine and believable. The rest of our current books of the Bible were declared doubtful.

RESPONSE: Al-Kadhi is very, very confused over the facts here. I wonder if he read any reference books. While in general a vague claim can be hard to disprove, in this case he cites a specific author referring to a specific council in a specific place in a specific year. How then could he have got his facts so wrong?

The council of Nicea was not called to "define the status of these countless Christian Gospels". In fact the main agenda was something entirely different (the nature of Jesus' relationship to God). Long before that council, the majority of books of the New Testament were agreed upon, and certainly the four gospels had been since the second century. Of the 27 books of the New Testament, the dispute was only over a few of the short ones: James, 2 Peter, 2 John, 3 John and Jude. It was out of this short list that Jude was accepted. It is totally wrong to say "The rest of our current books of the Bible were declared doubtful" (my empahsis).

AK: This was explicitly mentioned by Saint Jerome in the introduction to his book. St. Jerome, of course, was a Christian scholar and a great philosopher. He was born in 340 AD He translated the Bible into Latin. He was a famous bibliographer and wrote many books on the Bible.

RESPONSE: I will let the reader judge whether this passes as an accurate reference. Which book of Jerome? Which chapter? Which verse? Of course Al-Kadhi cannot provide this, because his claims are wrong.

AK: Before the year 325 C.E., it is known that the Gospel of Barnabas was accepted as canonical in the churches of Alexandria.

RESPONSE: That's complete nonsense. More than a century before, only the four gospels were accepted in Alexandria. To quote only one of many modern scholars whom I could cite:

"Clement of Alexandria (c. 150-215), a contemporary of Tertullian and the esteemed director of the great catechetical school in Alexandria founded by Pantaenus, cites the four canonical Gospels as Scripture... Origen (c. 184-235) [also of Alexandria], recognized as the greatest theologian and scholar of his day, knows of only four Gospels." [A. Patzia, The Making of the New Testament (Apollos 1995), 66, with my comments in square brackets]

AK: It [The Gospel of Barnabas] is known to have been circulated in the first two centuries after Christ (pbuh) from the writings of Irenaeus (130-200AD).

RESPONSE: A computer search of the writings of Irenaeus reveals no reference to any Gospel of Barnabas. Visit Christian Classics Ethereal Library (CCEL) and check for yourself.

AK: After this council (Nicea, 325), four Gospels were selected out of a minimum of three hundred available and the rest, including the Gospel of Barnabas, were ordered utterly destroyed. All Gospels written in Hebrew were also ordered destroyed."

RESPONSE: This claim is so far from the truth it is mind-boggling. Before 200 AD (125 years before Nicea) the current four gospels were well and truly universally accepted in the church. In addition to Clement of Alexandria (150-215) and Origen (184-235) cited above, I offer as evidence:

Al-Kadhi's further discussion of fourth-century councils is not very accurate. He misses the point that these councils did not have a very great impact - they merely confirmed what the church was already doing.

(See this article. for a more accurate picture of the formation of the New Testament Canon).

Nevertheless I will refer briefly to his points:

AK: Three more conferences were held after this in Trullo, Florence and Trent (1545-63). The members of these meetings confirmed the decision of the Council of Carthage. The last two councils, however, wrote the name of the book of Baruch separately.

After these councils nearly all the books which had previously been doubtful among Christians were now included in the list of acknowledged books.

RESPONSE: Did you notice how Al-Kadhi has suddenly skipped more than 1000 years? (From 397 to 1545). The councils from 1545-63 (known collecively as the Council of Trent) was IN RESPONSE TO the Reformation. [If you read the next paragraph, you will see how Al-Kadhi has his dates confused].

AK: The status of these books remained unchanged until the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century. The Protestants repudiated the decisions of the councils and declared that there are only 66 truly "inspired" books of God, and not 73 as claimed by the Catholics. The following books were to be rejected: The Book of Baruch, The Book of Tobit, The Letter of Jude, The Songs of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus, and The First and Second Books of Maccabees. They excluded these books from the list of acknowledged books. [cut some detail]

RESPONSE: OK, let's ignore the fact that Al-Kadhi has confused the Old Testament Apocrypha book of Judith with the New Testament letter of Jude ...

These are a collection of books known as the Apocrypha, dating from around 200 BC (i.e. after the Old Testament but before the time of Christ). Their status in the Bible was always rather vague. Basically the Reformers rejected them because there was no evidence that they were part of the Scriptures of the early church (they are never quoted in the New Testament, for instance). For a more detailed answer on why they were rejected (and how the Catholics came to accept them) see this article.

AK: It now becomes apparent that books which had been lost in the original and which only existed in translation were erroneously acknowledged by thousands of theologians as divine revelation...

RESPONSE: No it is not apparent at all. Al-Kadhi has not proven that any Biblical document is only a translation. Unless he means his assertion that all Hebrew writings burnt - an assertion for which he does not provide a single reference.

AK: It is a prerequisite of believing in a certain book as divinely revealed that it is proved through infallible arguments that the book in question was revealed through a prophet and that it has been conveyed to us precisely in the same order without any change through an uninterrupted chain of narrators. It is not at all sufficient to attribute a book to a certain prophet on the basis of suppositions and conjectures. Unsupported assertions made by one or a few sects of people should not be, and cannot be, accepted in this connection.

RESPONSE: This paragraph raises a whole new set of issues. Please see the article What constitutes Scripture? ([1], [2])

[I will not deal with Al-Kadhi's next paragraph because the issues are so mixed. First he mentions a whole lot of spurious books which were never accepted by canonical by anyone! Then he goes back to two issues dealt with elsewhere: the Old Testament Apocrypha and the "Five Gospels" is the work of the Jesus Seminar.]

AK: Groliers encyclopedia says under the heading "New Testament, canon: "The process by which the canon of the New Testament was formed began in the 2d century, probably with a collection of ten letters of Paul. Toward the end of that century, Irenaeus argued for the unique authority of the portion of the Canon called the Gospels. Acceptance of the other books came gradually. The church in Egypt used more than the present 27 books, and the Syriac-speaking churches fewer. The question of an official canon became urgent during the 4th century. It was mainly through the influence of Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria, and because Jerome included the 27 books in his Latin version of the Bible called the Vulgate, that the present canon came to be accepted.."

Notice, as mentioned in the previous chapters, how the writings of Paul were the first to be accepted by the Trinitarian church. All other gospels were then either accepted or destroyed based upon their conformance to the teachings of Paul.

RESPONSE: What Grolier's Encyclopedia does not mention - and Al-Kadhi does not notice - is that this first collection was by the heretic Marcion, who accepted only the teaching of Paul. In response to this, the church more formally decided upon its New Testament. The earliest collections always had the four gospels as well as the letters of Paul. I have already provided evidence of the very earliest church writers being familiar with at least some of the gospels.

AK: As mentioned previously, Lobegott Friedrich Konstantin Von Tischendorf was one of the most eminent conservative Biblical scholars of the nineteenth century. One of his greatest lifelong achievements was his discovery of one of the oldest known Biblical manuscripts know to mankind, the "Codex Sinaiticus," with the monks of Saint Catherine's Monastery in Mount Sinai. In this oldest known copy of the Bible known to humanity we find contained two gospels which would later be discarded by a more enlightened generation. They are "The Epistle of Barnabas" (not to be confused with the Gospel of Barnabas), and "The Shepherd of Hermas." Today, of course, neither of these two books is to be found in our modern Bibles...

RESPONSE: We have already acknowledged that it was some time before the canon of the New Testament was settled, so all this evidence does is testify to the antiquity of Codex Sinaiticus.

AK: We have already seen in chapter one how "St. Paul" all but totally obliterated the religion of Jesus (pbuh) based upon the authority of his alleged "visions". We then saw how his teachings were based more upon his personal philosophy and beliefs than any attempt to cite words or actions of Jesus (pbuh) himself (e.g. Galatians 2). We further saw how his followers slaughtered all Christians who would not forsake the teachings of the apostles for his teachings...

RESPONSE: Correction: We saw how Al-Kadhi alleged this but provided no evidence

AK: ... and how he was later made the "majority author" of the Bible and countless authentic gospels were burned and labeled apocrypha by his followers. Remember, "St. Paul" is claimed to be the author of Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Phillippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, and Hebrews.

RESPONSE: Actually Luke authored more of the New Testament than Paul! Also, Paul did not write Hebrews.

AK: "All the evidence indicates that the words of Jesus were authoritative in the Church from the first, and this makes it the more remarkable that such scanty attention is paid to the words or works of Jesus in the earliest Christian writings, Paul's letters, the later Epistles, Hebrews, Revelation, and even Acts have little to report about them... Papias (ca. AD 130), the first person to actually name a written gospel, illustrates the point. Even though he defends Mark's gospel (Euseb. Hist. III.xxxix.15-16), and had himself appended a collection of Jesus tradition to his 'Interpretation of the Oracles of the Lord' (Euseb. Hist. III.xxxix.2-3), his own clear preference was for the oral tradition concerning Jesus, and the glimpses that Eusebius provides of Papias' Jesus tradition give no hint of his dependence on Mark. Neither do the more frequent citations of Jesus in the APOSTOLIC FATHERS, largely 'synoptic' in character show much dependence on our written gospels" The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible, Supplementary Volume, p. 137

RESPONSE: I have already provided evidence of early church fathers alluding to the words of Jesus, even if they did not use exact quotes.

Al-Kadhi then quotes a book written in 1953 (!) which dates all of Paul's epistles before any other New Testament document, and deduces, We begin to see the degree to which our current religion of 'Christianity' is based more on the teachings and writings of Paul than anything else.


  1. These dates are not universally accepted. In particular, the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke) could well be much earlier. The epistle of James is also often dated before any of Paul's letters.
  2. In any case, it took a number of years for a collection of Paul's letters to be widely circulated. In other words, just because some books are dated later than Paul's letters, it does not follow that they are dependant upon them.
  3. The evidence also points to non-dependance. Any Bible textbook will tell you that most other New Testament writings - in particular the gospels - show no evidence of Paul's influence.

(Al-Kadhi concludes by repeating an argument which will be answered in the separate article What constitutes Scripture?).

General articles on the topic of "What is Revelation?" - [1], [2]

The Rebuttal to "What Did Jesus Really Say?"
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