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An Analytical Study

An Analytical Study (H. M. Sajid MD) Every major religion of the world has its Sacred Book and each one claims its own has been revealed or inspired and is, therefore, the true word of God. Among such books the Quran is the only one which lays claim that it has been revealed by the One, Omnipotent God, Allah, for the benefit of all mankind. “The revelation of this Book is from Allah, the Mighty, the Wise.” (39:2). “All praise belongs to Allah Who has sent down the Book to His Servant,” (18:2). Also “Verily it is We Who have sent down this exhortation and surely We are its Guardians.” (15:10). There are multiple statements to that extent in the Quran and each one is furnished with a logical proof. During the course of religious dialogues with Christian friends, whenever they are asked to quote any reference from the Bible claiming it to be the word of God, they advertently recite” All scripture is inspired of God. ” (2 Timothy 3:16. Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York Inc.). An analytical study of the quoted verse leads us to an astonishing conclusion which proves it to be an irrelevant quotation. DATES OF PASTORAL WRITING Paul was imprisoned in Rome in 64 or 65 A.D. During his imprisonment he wrote two letters, 1 and 2 Timothy, to his young friend Timothy. The exact year of this writing is not agreed upon by all Biblical scholars. Some believe that 2 Timothy was probably written in 65 A.D. while others are of the opinion that “It was written shortly before the Apostle’s martyrdom from his prison in Rome, probably in the early part of 67 or 68 A.D.” (The One Volume Bible Commentary). According to one tradition, however, Paul was acquitted at his first trial and made his intended journey to Spain, returning after a time to Rome, where he was rearrested and perished as one of the many victims of Nero’s persecution in the year 64 A.D. (Literature of the N.T. by Scott, p. 192). AUTHORSHIP The authorship of these epistles has been a matter of great controversy, denial and criticism. “In the 19th century F. Schleiermacher rejected the 8 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS Pauline authorship of one of these epis~les (1 Timothy), and F. C. Bauer of all three. Bauer had many followers, and today the rejection is rather common.” (The Zondervan, Pictorial Bible Dictionary, ed: Merril C. Tenney). There is a theory that “The Letters were written in the second quarter ofthe second century by an ardent Paulinist who knew Paul’s letters well and who virtually identified orthodox Christianity with its Pauline form, and who will by all means establish Paul in the church.” (The Interpreter’s Bible: p. 506). It is worthy to note that the original letters were not available and an ardent disciple of Paul who considered him “preacher and apostle and teacher” (1-11) wrote from memory. There is no assurance that while re-writing, each word and sentence is the same as Paul meant and these re-written letters are devoid of any addition, deletion, alteration or interpolation. The incentives of the ardent writer are clearly stated above and leave wide room for alterations to suit the beliefs and theological framework of this anonymous writer. He wrote as he saw fit and stamped the authority of Paul to further his own brand of religious teachings. The Jerusalem Bible further attests to this theory by stating on p. 263 that “Some critics have concluded that the letters were written not by Paul, but by a forger who put in these details to make the letters seem more authentic and as Pauline as possible.” T. E. C. Schmid (1804) followed by Schleier (1807},.Eichhorn (1812), De Witte (1826), and Bauer (1835) denied the genuineness of 2 Timothy. “No firm conclusion has been reached on these subjects” writes Edward P. Blair in Abingdon – Bible Handbook, p. 307. Under the heading of the Authorship and Dates of the Pastoral Epistles “Some admit the possibility that Paul may have allowed a secretary (perhaps Tychicus or Luke) considerable freedom in the composition of the Pastorals.” Blair cites four major objections to Paul’s authorship by some Biblical scholars, one of which being, that “the situation in the church, reflected in the Pastorals, is not that of Paul’s time but of a later period. The organization of the church, as seen in the Pastorals, is too advanced for Paul’s time. Timothy and Titus appear here as ruling bishops who appoint elders, discipline them, guard the church doctrinally and morally, and serve as a pattern for the church members to imitate. Such an episcopal role did not come into being until the second century. . . . Some emphasis in the theology of the Pastorals seems not to be Paul’s …. The vocabulary and the style of the Pastorals vary markedly from those in Paul’s unquestionably genuine letters …. On the assumption that the author was not Paul but a follower or admirer of Paul, the time of writing was either around the end of the first century or about the middle of the second century.” Blair closes his commentary by stating “In conclusion we may say that the problem of the authorship of the Pastorals is one of the most vexing in the field of New Testament studies. The many striking differences in AN ANALYTICAL STUDY 9 language, style, and theology between the Pastorals and Paul’s certainly genuine letters make Paul’s direct authorship of the Pastorals difficult to defend. It appears that either he gave a secretary large freedom in their composition or that a disciple put them together in his name and in his spirit (possibly using some of Paul’s notes) to serve the needs of the church after the apostle’s death. Who the disciple was and where he lived are quite unknown. Asia Minor has been suggested.” MULTIPLICITY OF VERSIONS The unavailability of the original letter by Paul (if one ever existed) naturally gave rise to multiple versions of the same verse. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” (K.J. version). New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures has it as “All scripture is inspired of God and beneficial for teaching, for reproving, for setting things straight, … ” In “New Testament in the Language of the People” by Williams we read the same verse as “All scripture is inspired by God …. ” Beck – “- New Testament In The Language of Today”, has it as “All Scripture is inspired by God and helps us to teach, to show what is wrong, to improve and train in right living.” The New English Bible quotes it altogether differently: “Every inspired scripture has its use for teaching the truth and refuting error, or for reformation of manners and discipline in right living.” The Douay version of the Holy Bible, translated from the Latin Vulgate, records it as “All scripture, inspired of God, … ” After stating the differences between Authorized Version “Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable” and Revised Version “scripture of God IS also profitable” declares that “There is nothing whatever to show which of these renderings is the better.” How astonishing it is that the Christian faith is based upon such a verse that its authorship and correct narrative is in serious doubt and cannot be proven by any objective historical fact. Nay, it is akin to fable and mythology and “No serious historical work can be undertaken on the basis of texts which may be suspected of being radically corrupt.” (The Riddle of the New Testament by Sir E. Hoskynns and Francis N. Davey). For centuries the Church has fed this concoction of distorted fable to the Gentiles in Latin, forbidding any translation in their mother tongue. Holger Kersten has bemoaned this point about gospels in general, when he writes in his book “Jesus lived in India” (pp. 30-31). “In my work as a teacher of Christian religion, I have seen how 10 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS more enlightened theologians are having a hard time finding “myths” forced upon them … particularly after learning something about the actual history of biblical texts (only at university!) They are forced in an almost schizophrenic manner to keep such knowledge to themselves, and to continue to relate the naive Bible accounts to their congregations as though announcing God’s own words …. The Bible, according to the Church, is a reliable, faithful and infallible teacher. Millions of Catholics are taught this, and as is well known, “faith” is compulsory in the Catholic Church (discussion on such matters being out of the question) …. To ascribe “divine” authority to writings containing countless contradictions, mistakes, omissions, logical errors, false conclusions, oversights, deficiencies, distortions, misunderstandings, confusions, false statements and obvious lies, as does the priestly Church administration, borders on blasphemy.” SUBJECT MATTER Now let us address the validity and authenticity of the contents and the subject matter. The key word is “Scripture” (A V) or “Sacred writings” (RV) as in 2 Tim. 3:15. The question naturally arises as to what part or parts did Paul refer to as inspired Scriptures when he allegedly wrote this verse; did he mean the Old or the New Testament? It begs for further study. The “One Volume Bible Commentary” gives the following exageses; “The Scriptures proper of the Apostolic church were the books of the O.T. But the letters of the Apostles were read publicly in churches to whom they were addressed, and in others. Hence they would gradually come to be called ‘scripture’ also. Here, as perhaps in 2 Tim. 3:16, we discern the beginning of this habit.” It is worth noting that the authors of these letters never claimed that their letters were the word of God and only by repeated readings by the church in the second century did the Gentiles erroneously begin to regard them to be inspired scriptures. “The precise meaning and translation of vs. 16 are notoriously difficult” admits “The Interpreter’s Bible” p. 506. “It (sacred writings) need not be other than a synonym for ‘holy scriptures’. It is the name for the holy scriptures of the Old Testament in Greek-speaking J udaism” (Dibelious) … Of more importance and of greater difficulty is the question, What books are meant by the sacred writings? They are commonly believed to be the O.T. (Lock, Dibelious, Easton, Grant). On p. 506 it further remarks that the expression “all (every) scripture” does not mean the whole Bible, nor in all probability does it include the writings of Paul. … The conventional view that this refers to the O.T. at the time the Bible of the Church, seems more plausible. It, however, once for all, excludes the writings of Paul from the AN ANALYTICAL STUDY 11 category of inspired Scriptures. The editors fail to elaborate as to what part or parts of the Bible should be considered inspired and which Gospel or a part of it or the Pastoral writings be discarded as the product of the zealous Church and which objective historical yardstick is to be applied. One Volume Bible commentary limits the reference to Scriptures to the O. T. only, p. 1004. The Greek expression “sacred writings” is self explanatory so that when Paul wrote about Scriptures, he was referring to the then known O.T. and to none of the writings which were later compiled as N. T. And he could not have for the simple reason that no book of the N. T. was written in Palestine and are later than the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. and Paul was martyred in 68 A.D.1t is common knowledge that dead men write no letters. It was humanly impossible for Paul to attest to the Divine origin of the scriptures that were non-existent during his lifetime. Subsequently, it still leaves the N. T. without any certificate. To get around this simple mathematical problem the Interpreter’s Bible does not put any emphasis upon the words “sacred writings” and considers them to be “inconsequential” and puts forward this apologetic statement that “There is no need to look for any hidden meaning in the unusual term sacred writings. … It attributes it to the peculiar vocabulary of Paul. Like so many of the words in the Pastorals it is peculiar to the author, but without significance other than that it reveals him to be an individual with his own vocabulary.” In conclusion, the authorship, the date of writing, the true version and the meanings, are all fraught with severe scepticism and to base one’s faith on the Bible being the Inspired Scripture is historically untrue, scholarly false and utterly groundless. The further one delves into the authenticity of Christian’s scriptures (sacred writings) more and more does its words, the meanings and significance dwindles away into the abyss of obscurity and conjecture . .———When Not to Converse——-. Ibn Umar relates that the Holy Prophet said: Where three are present two should not hold secret converse excluding the third. (Abu Daud)