Blogging through the Worst Book Ever (Part IV)

Here is the final installment of the rubbish that is to be found in Jesus – Prophet of Islam by Muhammad Ata Ur-Rahim.

In the sixth chapter the author discusses a number of people he considers to be early Unitarians, one of which was Irenaeus, whom the author has this to say about:

Iranaeus believed in One God and supported the doctrine of the manhood of Jesus. He bitterly criticized Paul for being responsible for injecting the doctrines of the pagan religions and Platonic philosophy into Christianity. Iranaeus quoted extensively from the Gospel of Barnabas. (77)

Yea, Irenaeus (which he never spells correctly) “quoted extensively” from a Gospel that didn’t originate for at least another millennium.

Other Unitarians the author draws upon are Tertullian, Origen, Diodorus, Lucian, and Arius. As can be expected, the author demonstrates that he doesn’t have the foggiest idea what these guys believed about God and Jesus. He says this about Origen:

Origen was condemned by the Council of Alexandria. He was put in a prison and subjected to a prolonged torture which resulted in his death in 254 A.D. The reason given for his imprisonment was that he rejected the doctrine of Trinity and preached the Unity of God. He believed that God was supreme and that Jesus was not equal to Him, but was His slave. (78)

Most of the chapter is a garbled account of the history leading up to Arius and Nicene Council. Even though the author states that Arius taught Jesus was composed of an essence that had not always existed, and hence a different essence than the Father, he never states that Arius also believed Jesus to be a god who pre-existed, created the world, etc. I get the feeling that the author knows this stuff but is deliberately being selective in what he says in order to convey the picture that Arius was some sort of a proto-Muslim. Suffice to say, this chapter is an entirely revisionist history of the early Church fathers and their beliefs.

Here is my favorite snippet from this chapter (and indeed, my favorite from the entire book):

It was decided that all the different Gospels should be placed under a table in the Council Hall [of Nicaea]. Everyone then left the room and the door was locked. The bishops were asked to pray for the whole night that the correct version of the Gospel might come onto the top of the table. In the morning, the Gospels acceptable to Athanasius, Alexander’s representative, were found neatly placed on top of the table. It was decided that all the Gospels remaining under the table should be burned. There is no record of who kept the key to the room that night. (104)

All I can say to that is wow.

The next chapter is on later Unitarians in the church, such as, Michael Servetus, Francis David, John Locke, Milton, and others. In a nutshell, this chapter is composed of the same nonsense as the previous chapters, albeit with more lengthy quotations of the Unitarians.

The next chapter is on contemporary Christianity. On the first page of the chapter he says the following:

However, it is significant that all the oldest surviving manuscripts of the New Testament, from which all the present translations of the Bible derive, were written after the Council of Nicea. The Codex Sinaiticus and the Codex Vaticanus date from the late fourth century, and the Codex Alexandrius from the fifth century. As a result of the Council of Nicea, nearly three hundred other accounts of the life of Jesus, many of them eye-witness accounts, were systematically destroyed. The events of the Council of Nicea indicate that the Pauline Church had every reason to change the four gospels which survived. Clearly, the manuscripts of the New Testament which were written after the Council of Nicea are different from the manuscripts which existed before the Council. It is significant that publication of some of the Dead Sea Scrolls, when they do not verify the post-Nicene manuscripts, have been withheld. (195-96)

So not only does the author again incorrectly attribute the Council of Nicaea as determining the NT canon, but he also thinks that the DSS are copies of the New Testament. Sheesh! Can’t this guy get anything right?

The final two chapters contain quotes from the Qur’an and the Hadith on Jesus. These chapters are the only thing slightly redeeming about this book, but even these chapters are as thin as a coat of paint.

And so ends our journey through the worst book ever. Just remember, this type of Muslim apologetic is apparently quite common. So if you ever are discussing religion with a Muslim friend and they start bringing up the Gospel of Barnabas and the notion that the Council of Nicaea decided the NT canon, before you dominate those shoddy apologetical arguments, just remember that Muslim apologetics is a field rife with this kind of tripe instead of logical and lucid thinking.

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