October 25, 1997
Some months ago, Akbarally Meherally created his web site, including the article Isaiah and Jesus Prophecying about Muhammad, containing the following statement:
A MALE SALVIFIC FIGURE LIKE JESUS
The passage quoted below from the world renowned and distinguished Anchor Bible confirms that the original concept among the noted Christian scholars and populace, for the Paraclete was for a male salvific figure, but that concept was later confused with the "Holy Spirit".
"The word parakletos is peculiar in the NT to the Johnannine literature. In 1John ii1 Jesus is a parakletos (not a title), serving as a heavenly intercessor with the Father. ...Christian tradition has identified this figure (Paraclete) as the Holy Spirit, but scholars like Spitta, Delafosse, Windisch, Sasse, Butlmann and Betz have doubted whether this identification is true to the original picture and have suggested that the Paraclete was once an independent salvific figure, later confused with the Holy Spirit." (page 1135).
(Note: All my quotes from A. Meherally's material are cut and pasted from his pages including font size and colors ... which is the reason that his quotes are so huge. It is not because they are so profound )
In December 1995 I have debated this issue with Mr. Meherally on the newsgroups. Besides a number of other issues, I have shown him that the is a very misleading quotation. Nearly two years later, he puts it on the web without any change in the essential and false claim. Is this man interested in honesty and truth? Please examine the evidence on this page.
Side remark: He has not even corrected the misprint I pointed out. The above mentioned scholar has the name "Bultmann" not "Butlmann".
May 1998 Update: I just discovered that Mr. Meherally has taken note of this web page. The following changes have therefore been made by him some time during the last two months:
1. He corrected "Butlman" to "Bultman".
2. He added the following paragraph under the above quotation:
Note: A Christian critic has been complaining that I have ignored his remarks that my introductory note to the above quoted passage from the Anchor Bible, gives a false impression that it's author is in agreement with the quoted passage. Since his accusations were based upon false assumptions, I did not feel it necessary to respond. Unfortunately,he has made my silence an "Issue of my Intergrity". To mislead his readers, the critic has in his remarks at one instance , intentionally deleted the opening words from my note which reads; "The passage quoted below from".
No, it was not the silence of Mr. Meherally, it is his continuing abuse of the quotation which I am calling an issue of integrity. He only accuses me (without daring to name me) of misleading the readers. He does not explain what is misleading about it. I challenge Mr. Meherally to link from his article to my response and let the readers judge for themselves. I link to his article. I have nothing to hide. It seems he refers to my concluding evaluation on his misquotation. I feel it is a quite correct summary. Certainly without any intention to mislead. In order to make sure not to mislead, I do give all the necessary information, I quote A.M. several times in full and link to his original article. I am not trying to hide anything from the reader. The same cannot be said about Mr. Meherally.
3. He corrected "MSS" to "MS" in the second paragraph quoted and and discussed by me in this page. He did not change the misleading claim of "the older manuscript". Older than what?
End of update.
March 2003 Update: The only change Meherally has made in the meantime is that the formerly unnamed critic is now given a name. Otherwise, no change: He still uses his deliberately misleading quotation, and still does not link to my response.
End of update.
Back then I received the following response email from him:
From: email@example.com Message-Id: <199512210801.DAA27345@euclid.skiles.gatech.edu> Date: Wed, 20 Dec 1995 23:57:48 -0500 To: Jochen Katz
, firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Re: Did Jesus & Isaiah Prophesy the coming of ... > One short comment though, do you really want to build your > argument on people like Bultman? Bultman, (not Butlman) also said, > that Jesus never did any miracles, that he was not born of a > virgin. Don't you think that something with Bultman's > presuppositions might be wrong, if that is the conclusion he > comes to? The prophecy is based upon the actual wordings of Jesus as found in the New Testament and not upon Bultman or Butlman alone! Even if you disqualify Bultman, what about the other scholars; Spitta, Delafosse, Windisch, Sasse and Betz, mentioned in the text quoted from the Anchor Bible?
After this side remark on spelling, and the hint that it might be necessary to also have a look at the presuppositions certain people espouse before we take hold of their conclusions, now to the beef of the main quotation above. I am challenged to give my evaluation of this quotation which is supported by all these scholars! Luckily I don't need to say much myself. The only ability needed is reading the Anchor Bible correctly.
I agree, the Anchor Bible is "renowned and distinguished" as Mr. Meherally says. But this doesn't mean that any out of context quote is also distinguished and worthy of renown. In 1995, I wrote: "Let me quote a bit more of this distinguished commentary and correct your (un)intentional mistakes. I leave it to you to decide if they were (un) or not." In 1995, I wanted to give Mr. Meherally the benefit of the doubt. The fact that he claims the same thing in 1997 after I have corrected him and shown him wrong cannot be seen other than deliberate deception of his readers. And this is how he corrupts the meaning:
First, he asserts that "the passage quoted below from the world renowned and distinguished Anchor Bible confirms that the original concept among the noted Christian scholars and populace, for the Paraclete was for a male salvific figure, ..."
This is obviously twisting the quotation. Mr. Meherally wants to give the impression that the Anchor Bible states this as a fact but the quotation actually only says that some "scholars like Spitta, ... and Betz have doubted and ... have suggested that ..." There is no mentioning in this quote of any certainty or conclusive evidence for this statement. Only that some scholars have presented this as a hypothesis.
Mr. Meherally wants to make his readers believe something to be the consensus of responsible scholarship which was only a suggestion for discussion. This is the first part of his deception. But the next part of this drama is a lot worse.
Not only does he present as certainty what was only a suggestion, the way he writes that "the passage ... from the world renowned and distinguished Anchor Bible confirms ..." he clearly wants to give the impression that this quotation is in agreement with the author of this commentary. But this is a plain lie, fabricated in the hope that the reader of article will not check the truthfulness of the quotation as we will show in the following.
Mr. Meherally failed to mention that this is not from the text of the commentary itself but from the appendix, where Dr. Raymond Brown (the author of this volume) is discussing some other peoples' opinions and objections. It is not a valid interpretation in the eyes of the author of the world renowned and distinguished Anchor Bible Commentary. But as for any scholarly commentary Dr. Brown also has to list opposing views and to carefully discuss them. This is the proper scholarly approach. Yet Mr. Meherally cited the quote of the opposing view - which the author is about to discuss in the pages that follow it - as if it were the opinion of the author of the Anchor Bible.
Please pay attention to the very next sentence in the same paragraph of the Anchor Bible after the place Mr. Meherally decided to cut short his quotation:
and then follow several pages of analysis of the textual evidence. After completion of this analysis, on page 1139, Dr. Brown gives his own conclusion and writes:
Is that quote not crystal clear? The renowned commentator has established after detailed analysis that the Paraclete is the Holy Spirit. This is the exact opposite of what Mr. Meherally claims the position of the Anchor Bible to be. Would anyone maintain that this was an honest quotation? Why does Mr. Meherally continue to to spread these lies in full knowledge (for two years) that he is lying? This is no longer an honest mistake.
And on page 1140 the commentary continues:
The peculiarity of the Johannine portrait of the Paraclete/Spirit, and this is our second point, centers around the resemblance of the Spirit to Jesus. Virtually everything that has been said about the Paraclete has been said elsewhere in the Gospel about Jesus."
The emphasis in boldface letters in the above is mine, just so that the essential word is not overlooked. But otherwise it is the exact quotation from Dr. Brown's commentary in John from the world renowned and distinguished Anchor Bible.
Do I need to say more?
Sadly, yes. Akbarally Meherally claims:
"HE" NOT "IT"
"When the Paraclete comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of Truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness of me." John 15:26This verse further clears the confusion, if there is any. Here the Paraclete is called the "Spirit of Truth" and not the "Holy Spirit". These are two separate terms and two independent entities. The first entity takes the pronoun "he" being a male figure. Whereas, the second one takes the pronoun "it". The Greek word 'pneu'ma' (spirit), is of neutral gender and takes the pronoun "it". Whereas, in almost all the verses referring to Paraclete quoted below, the pronoun used is "he".
"But the Paraclete, the Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you." John 14:26Notes:
1. In the older MSS, Codex Syriacus discovered in 1812 on Mount Sinai by Mrs. Agnes S. Lewis (and Mrs. Bensley), the text of John 14:26 reads; "Paraclete, the Spirit"; and not "Paraclete, the Holy Spirit". "The Spirit" is a reference to "the Spirit of Truth" as in 15:26.
2. In 1 John 4:6, the terms "the spirit of truth" and "the spirit of error" are used for the human beings.
3. History records that prophet Muhammad was known for his Truth and Honesty, long before he received the Divine Revelations.
In the above, I have to at least acknowledge that Mr. Meherally took heed of my correction given in our earlier discussion. He had originally written:
From email@example.com (amedamne) Newsgroups: soc.religion.islam Subject: Did Jesus & Isaiah Prophesy the coming of Muhammad? Date: Tue Dec 19 01:44:39 EST 1995 Organization: World Tel ... "When the Paraclete comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of Truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness of me." John 15:26 Note: The Paraclete is called the "Spirit of Truth" and not the "Holy Spirit". These are two separate terms and independent entities. The first one takes the pronoun "he" and the second one "it". "But the Paraclete, the Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you." John 14:26 Note: In the older MSS, e.g. Codex Sinaiticus, as well as in the palimpest of Codex Syriacus discovered in 1812 on Mount Sinai by Mrs.Agnes S. Lewis (and Mrs. Bensley), the text of 14:26 reads; "Paraclete, the Spirit"; and not "Paraclete, the Holy Spirit". ...
(By the way, it is palimpsest, not palimpest, bold face is my emphasis.)
The meaning of these verses is adequately discussed in the other response to his paper. Here I only want to deal with the manuscript evidence that Mr. Meherally presents.
In December 1995, I responded:
It is important to learn to read the abreviations. Your information is just not true. My Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament doesn't even indicate in its critical apparatus that there is any variant reading. That doesn't mean, there is none, but it means the variants are so weakly testified to, that they don't count in the over all testimony of all manuscripts. Then I looked up what your Anchor Bible says. And it says the manuscript OSsin does omit 'Holy' and has only 'spirit'. But that is the only manuscript that does so. What sort of manuscript is it? It is a manuscript of the old Syriac translation of the New Testament. It is the manuscript that was found at Mt. Sinai [that is what the superscript 'sin' is about]. But it is not the very important Codex Sinaiticus, which is in Greek and not in Syriac. If you have other sources who say that it is omitted in the Sinaiticus as well, please let us know. Bring your proof. Anchor Bible doesn't say so. And my Nestle-Aland would say so if the that indeed were the case.
Well, that was some laborious effort (I guess it was for you too, producing it in the first place). I hope it is laid to rest once and for all. ...
Obviously, it is not laid to rest. So let us continue with the discussion.
Mr. Meherally has at least deleted from his footnote the claim about the Codex Sinaiticus and only left Codex Syriacus. This is progress though a very small one. He now says: "In the older MSS, Codex Syriacus ..." which is still a lie since (a) MSS means 'manuscripts' in the plural but there is only one such manuscript and on the other hand there are many other manuscripts that have the standard reading "the Holy Spirit" (from which all Bibles are translated), (b) by claiming 'them' to be the older manuscripts he wants to give the impression that they are more trustworthy. The OSsin is in fact old, dated to about 4th to 5th century, but it is not older than other manuscripts, in particular it is younger than the Codex Sinaiticus which he had to delete from the list of his witnesses. There are several manuscripts older or of similar age which do not have this reading. Certainly to say "the older (suggesting these to be all of the oldest and most trustworthy) manuscripts" is misleading in the least and more likely intentionally deceptive. Somebody who has read the fine print in the footnotes of the Anchor Bible cannot be called ignorant and this is no accident. (c) the name of this manuscript is not Codex Syriacus but the Old Syriac (OS). And there are many gaps in the text, unlike the Codex Sinaiticus which is basically the complete New Testament. (d) It is not the text in its original language but a translation from the Greek into the Syriac. Usually Muslims emphasize the importance of looking into the original language. But suddenly Mr. Meherally stresses a variant reading attested to in only one manuscript and that not in the original language but in a translation.
It seems, as long as it serves his agenda of propaganda (his own word for it is dawah), scholarly ethics of honest reporting does not have an entry in his dictionary.
One last comment: Mr. Meherally cannot claim that he had only forgotten about my email and therefore accidentally not corrected his paper when he prepared it for the web.
My first rebuttal dealt with the interpretation of the Biblical text. My second rebuttal email contained two issues. First a lengthy explanation that this quotation from the Anchor Bible was by him made to say the opposite of what it does in the Anchor Bible itself. I wrote to him essentially what is presented above. And only at the end of this email I made the comment that he was wrong about the "Codex Sinaiticus" and only the "Old Syriac" contains this variant reading. After all, I found this in the same session of researching his quotes from the Anchor Bible. He corrected the information towards the end of my message to him but not that from the beginning of my email. He will have to do a lot of explaining if he wants to make us believe this was not deliberate but oversight. He did take the minor second correction and ignored the first and more important one, since this would cut out a large part of the substance of his paper and would leave him without the nice claim that "the renowned and distinguished Anchor Bible confirms ..." his own efforts in corrupting the meaning of the Biblical text.
Mr. Meherally also states in his footnotes that "3. History records that prophet Muhammad was known for his Truth and Honesty, long before he received the Divine Revelations." Why then does this not inspire Mr. Meherally to imitate what he believes about his prophet?
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