Friday, August 9, 2013

Forgeries in Historical Literature

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The Historicity and Origin of Modern Day Religious Texts

Points Worth Remembering
After overtaking their local Arab kingdoms, the south West European kingdoms started invading other parts of the world ushering a colonial era during the sixteenth century. In the eyes of the people subjected to the colonialism along with the gunboats, opium, slaves and treaties, the Gospels and Bible became a defining symbol of European expansion during the seventeenth century. The history of the post colonial days provides narratives of the arrival of the West European Judeo Christian literature as we currently know it, in all other parts of the world. 

Colonials almost always came across Muslims actively reading, learning Quran and using its interpretations for their governance as ruling classes at most parts of the world.

There has been a great interest to trace pre-colonial forms of Christianity in those Asian and African lands. A religious symbol that appears similar to the Christian cross, having four stems joined together, was in use. However its four stems were all with the same length like flower or symbol for shining sun. The symbol had religious significance however there is no evidence that these pre-colonial faiths of those lands had any story of crucifixion of anybody. No crucifixes, symbols of a man dying on cross ever found. The oral stories, literature, inscriptions, and beliefs of the pre-colonial religions ,other than Islam , existing in India, China, South Asia and Japan had no relationship with the modern Gospels or Bible. "the cross was an old Roman sign of victory and has nothing to do with the crucifix." page 274, The Rise of Christendom, By Edwin Johnson

While British were demolishing Muslim empires and kingdoms in India the colonial missionaries began translating Gospel in Indian languages in as late times as 1820s. So there is no question of Indians being aware of Gospels before colonization. Indian encounter with Portuguese colonialist fleets a little earlier remained too marginal and short.

"As Calcutta became flush with schools, colleges, and universities, pundits from around Bengal and across India were drawn there in search of employment. Some were recruited by the early orientalists. Under Wilson alone, pundits from as far afield as Gujarat and Banaras found positions at the Calcutta Government Sanskrit College.2 Other pundits found work with the missionaries, assisting them in their quest to master India's many languages so as to propagate the Gospel."
p-580, Sanskrit Pandits Recall Their Youth: Two Autobiographies from Nineteenth-Century BengalAuthor(s): Brian A. HatcherSource: Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 121, No. 4 (Oct. - Dec., 2001), pp. 580-592

Before Muslim Arab kingdoms of  south western Europe  including those in Sicily to Spain and Portugal started to weaken and fall Islam and Quran had already established in the practice and minds of public all over Europe.

Islamic Foundations of European Civilization

Islam arrived in the area now called Europe long before the well known Muslim caliphates and imaarat and kingdoms of Sicily and Spain. After it reached at the dominant status that the most advanced areas of Sicily and Spain came under its rule there seemed nothing to compete with it in whole of Euprope. Only close to its decline Arab-Christian and Arab Jewish communities, which were strictly confined in the Europe's central Muslim areas, appear in growing distinction. Before the Muslim Arab kingdoms of  south western Europe  including those in Sicily to Spain started to weaken and fall Islam had centuries to impact. Thus e.g. Qur'an was already well known in all over Europe before any signs of weakening of Muslim rule appeared. In this period when the Modern Bibles and Christian Testaments were being introduced the quotes of Qur'anic stories was used in them to convince people of their authenticity because these were being seen as a new curiosity.

During those times in the wake of the first eastern crusades Modern Jewish and Trinitarian Christian religions as we know them today were coming on scene and were being introduced to Europeans. Qur'anic interpretations became a vehicle for communicating these new religious denominations to help them relate with the known past literature. As the available literature in the scolarly world was all that of Muslims from the preceding centuries. Modern Jewish and Trinitarian Christian were presented to Europeans as descendants of  some of the pre-Islamic religions  People of the book, existing in the sixth century Madina contemporary to the time of prophet Mohammad which are mentioned in the Qur'an,  There were people in Europe who objected to this similitude claimd otherwise and voiced their opposition to such similitudes:

"A further wilful blunder consisted in the rendering
of the phrase " People of the Book " in the Koran by
"Jews and Christians." The only people who can
furnish us with an account of the origin of the term
Jehudim are the doctors of the Synagogue ; and
certainly they have nothing to tell us concerning
Yahood at Medina in the time of the rise of Islam.

* Fabricius, Bibl. Med. et Inf. Lat.y x. 660. The dale is proleptic,
probably by at least two centuries.


The only class of men who can historically explain the
term Christiani is the great Basilian and Benedictine
confederacy. The word is their own coinage. The
Koran knows nothing of Christiani. A fresh and
exact rendering of the book is sorely needed in the
interests of literary science.

When we come to the Koran with minds disabused
of the Mediaeval dishonesty, we find that the book is
nothing less than the original Bible, i.e., the source
of those legends of Origins which have been retold
by the Eabbins in Bible and Talmud. It is also the
source of the Catholic legend of Mary, mother of
Jesus, or, in their altered version, Mary, mother of
God. As this subject is so utterly misunderstood, we
subjoin a brief outline of the oracles of the Koran
and the connected Chronicle.

Pages 134-136 , Chapter THE TRADITIONS OF THE MOSQUE, in  THE RISE OF CHRISTENDOM, EDWIN JOHNSON, M.A. , Professor of Classical Literature in New College, S. Hampstead

see the link for the Origin of Christianity especially The Rise of Christendom- Summary and Conclusions 

During and after the sixth century the image of the Quran as a rationally reconcilable coherent and convincing text was not merely confined to Muslims but was attested by the topmost Jewish scholars of that time as well including Saadia Gaon, Born 882, head of major rabbinic schools in Baghdad. Some parts of his  work Tafsir  survived. One of the surviving manuscripts is in British Museum London.  There are reasons to believe that it was actually Tafsir of the Qur'an for its  Jewish community interpretation. At his time Qur'an was the major subject in the public/common education and source for state, political , community, social and individual norms, initiatives and objectives. A need for its jewish interpretation that can face this situation to save the integrity of Jewish community from dis integrating and dissolving in the Islamic world was vital.  A recently published modern study, quored below, of Gaon's Torah tafsir precisely concludes a related fact that the erudite topmost Jewish scholar Gaon prefers version of Qur'an without hesitation over his rabbinic literature including Torah.

 You will note in the quote below that the modern investigator, of the more than thousand year old work, openly claims to be more knowledgeable about the facts of the thousand year old time. Without considering any need to justify a claim to be know all the modern scholar blames the more than thousand year old scholar of timidity of accepting Islamic version without raising any question, dishonesty or inability or both by accusing him of mistranslation in producing that work.

"Saadiah Gaon's influential translation of the Torah into Arabic has long been known to contain countless "mistranslations,"passages in which Saa-diah consciously modifies the biblical text to conform to Arabic literary style or to his own beliefs and understanding of the Bible. Several of the modifications found in Saadiah's Tafsir derive from Islamic sources, including Islamic terminology and phraseology, Islamic law and tradition, and the Qur'an itself This paper examines those passages in the Tafsir of the Torah which reflect Islamic influence in an attempt to understand how, in a work written for a Jewish audience, Saadiah utilizes material gleaned from the dominant religion of his day and why on several occasions the gaon prefers Islamic interpretations over the existing rabbinic and biblical alternatives. "
The Use of Islamic Sources in Saadiah Gaon's "Tafsīr" of the Torah
Author(s): David M. Freidenreich
Source: The Jewish Quarterly Review, New Series, Vol. 93, No. 3/4 (Jan. - Apr., 2003), pp. 353
Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press
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It is clear that the modern author, David M. Freidenreich, out rightly rejects any need for examining to find out what version of Torah text had been in front of Gaon during the translation. David M. Freidenreich believes without evaluation that the text version in front of Gaon was definitely the same as his own modern version.

It is important to examine the assumption that Gaon was translating Torah from Hebrew to Arabic and not from Arabic to Hebrew. It is interesting that the existing manuscript in British Museum that the above author reviewed is in Arabic language but Hebrew alphabets. It is transliterated work from Arabic original by substituting Hebrew letters for Arabic letters.  So the work is an evidence that an Arabic Torah was pre-existent and was the foundation of the manuscript of the Jewish Rabbi Saadia Gaon(Born 882). The other natural question is why will one produce some Arabic language text in Hebrew letters? It could be Hebrew in developing stages. First Hebrew literature appearing as transliteration of Arabic texts before the Hebrew language, for instance the language of a Jewish community in Baghdad, reached a status of viable written language as we know it today.

Jewish Love and Appreciation of the Qur'an

"no less remarkable is the fact that the most spectacular of the four surviving synagogues of Spain is decorated with something in and itself the real thing but in a context that is, to say the least, unexpected:the Toledan synagogues now called El-Trasito, built in 1360 in resplendent echoes of the Alhambra, just then being finished, includes real Arabic along with Hebrew, integrated into the complex stucco ornamentation. And not just any Arabic, nor even some bits of the considerable body of Jewish writing done in Arabic in al-Andalus, but lines from the Qur'an itself "
The Literature of Al-Andalus by María Rosa Menocal, Cambridge University Press, Nov 2, 2006, page 10

Quran attests emphatically and repeatedly that some archaic Torah, Arabs inherited from their previous generations and was seemingly much different from the current modern versions,  was commonly available in Arabia in the sixth century.

Prophet SAW challenged Jews of Madina and across to bring their Torah manuscripts before the people of the town so that they can read and confirm the statements of the Prophet. People of Madina were Arabs proud of their Arabic language and in fact despised all other languages.

فَوَيْلٌ لِّلَّذِينَ يَكْتُبُونَ الْكِتَابَ بِأَيْدِيهِمْ ثُمَّ يَقُولُونَ هَـٰذَا مِنْ عِندِ اللَّـهِ لِيَشْتَرُوا بِهِ ثَمَنًا قَلِيلًا ۖ فَوَيْلٌ لَّهُم مِّمَّا كَتَبَتْ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَوَيْلٌ لَّهُم مِّمَّا يَكْسِبُونَ ﴿٧٩
So woe to those who write the "scripture" with their own hands, then say, "This is from Allah," in order to exchange it for a small price. Woe to them for what their hands have written and woe to them for what they earn. (79)  Al-Baqara

 آل عمران

إِنَّ مِنْهُمْ لَفَرِيقًا يَلْوُونَ أَلْسِنَتَهُم بِالْكِتَابِ لِتَحْسَبُوهُ مِنَ الْكِتَابِ وَمَا هُوَ مِنَ الْكِتَابِ وَيَقُولُونَ هُوَ مِنْ عِندِ اللَّـهِ وَمَا هُوَ مِنْ عِندِ اللَّـهِ وَيَقُولُونَ عَلَى اللَّـهِ الْكَذِبَ وَهُمْ يَعْلَمُونَ ﴿٧٨﴾

And there is a sect of them twist their tongues with the Book, that you may suppose it part of the Book, yet it is not part of the Book; and they say, 'It is from God,' yet it is not from God, and they speak falsehood against God, and that wittingly. (78) Chapter 3 - Aal Imran
 آل عمران
قُلْ فَأْتُوا بِالتَّوْرَاةِ فَاتْلُوهَا إِن كُنتُمْ صَادِقِينَ ﴿٩٣فَمَنِ افْتَرَىٰ عَلَى اللَّـهِ الْكَذِبَ مِن بَعْدِ ذَٰلِكَ فَأُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الظَّالِمُونَ ﴿٩٤

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