Sam Shamoun vs Shabir Ally
To Allah, there are no animals viler than those who do not believe and remain unbelievers” (Surah 8:55).
Here is the fate of those who fight Allah and his messenger: you will put them to death or you will make them suffer the torture of the cross; you will cut their hands and their feet alternately. They will be driven from the country” (Surah 5:33)
And when the sacred months have passed, then kill the polytheists wherever you find them and capture them and besiege them and sit in wait for them at every place of ambush. But if they should repent, establish prayer, and give zakah, let them [go] on their way. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.” (Surah 9:5)
So when you meet those who disbelieve [in battle], strike [their] necks until, when you have inflicted slaughter upon them, then secure their bonds, and either [confer] favor afterwards or ransom [them] until the war lays down its burdens. That [is the command]. And if Allah had willed, He could have taken vengeance upon them [Himself], but [He ordered armed struggle] to test some of you by means of others. And those who are killed in the cause of Allah – never will He waste their deeds.” (Surah 47:4)
Do not display cowardice, and do not call the infidels to peace when you are superior to them” (Surah 47:35).
Those who reject (Truth) among the People of the Book and among the Polytheists, will abide in hell-fire, they are the worst of creatures.” (Surah 98:6)
This is the question that the West needs to understand, what part of kill don’t they not understand?” ~ Walid Shoebat
This is not an allegorical kill, but a literal kill.” ~ Walid Shoebat
Here is another video of an Egyptian Imam that sings of apes, pigs and the annihilation of Jews on Judgment Day:
Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body” (NASB).
In my first post, titled Muslim Writers’ Attack Against Traditional Authorship of the Gospels: Part 1, I briefly spoke about the “Scripture references that supports the orthodox understanding of the Gospels” and a snippet of the “apologetical methods for traditional authorship of the Gospels.” I won’t get into the details of the apologetical methods, because SLIMJIM already did a great job in one of his earlier posts, titled, WITNESSING TO MUSLIMS: THE QURANIC VIEW OF THE BIBLE. Therefore, there is probably no need to repeat it at this time. Please refer back to the link above in terms of how to witness to Muslims. With that said, let us now journey into the arguments for traditional authorship of Matthew and Mark. I believe that the defense of the traditional authorship of the Gospels is fundamental because some Muslim apologists will play the trump card strategy by questioning who wrote the Gospels in order to justify their reasoning that Christianity has no evidence for itself. However, there is evidence that Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are the Gospel writers. It is my prayer that this post concerning the internal and external arguments for the orthodox understanding of the Gospels, will embolden you more when you are witnessing to a Muslim who is in dire need of Christ for salvation. May we never doubt who wrote the Gospels. To do so, will open the floodgates of rationalism. And to do so would be a self-defeater for the Muslims. If Muslim apologists play that game, then one could do the same thing with other religious books such as the Qur’an. Therefore, God’s Word is the starting point for the basis of reality and truth.
Arguments for Traditional Authorship of Matthew
Before I get into the internal arguments for the traditional authorship of Matthew, I will first cover the external arguments. Critics such as Muslims and other groups will often say that the Gospels have no proof of evidence unless it could be proven externally outside of Scripture. Opponents usually request for evidence externally because they have a low view on Scripture. In their view, Scripture is not the authority, but man’s rationalism is. As a result, they will propose that different people wrote the Gospels. What they have done is that they have exalted themselves above God’s holy Words.
Although I believe internal evidence is enough because God is the starting point for the basis of reality and truth, I will go ahead provide external evidence for the sake of interest.
In regards to the internal evidence, I will provide quotes from Papias who was a bishop of Hierapolis in the Phrygian region of the province of Asia, which was a city that was about twenty miles west of Colossae and six miles east of Laodicea. Not much detail is gathered from Papias’ life beyond the description of Irenaeus who said that he was “one of the ancients” who was in close contact with John and the eyewitnesses to Christ’s ministry. Unfortunately, many of Papias’ writings are not extant anymore and only a couple of fragments are preserved. But by God’s grace, some fathers and especially Eusebius, who is considered the “father of church history,” was able to preserve some of Papias’ writings. A series of five treatises, entitled Interpretation of the Oracles of the Lord, Eusebius was able to bring in some invaluable information from the first living eye-witnesses account who namely are John and other original disciples of Jesus such as Ariston, when it came to dicephering what the apostles had said or done In regards to Papias, it is safe to say that what Papias said are credible resources because they were based off of first-eyewitnesses account; and if Papias wrote approximately A.D. 95-110, then the information he provides, reaches back to the first century, which is a very invaluable resource.
In Papias’ brief account of Matthew’s authorship in his Exposition, here is what he says about Matthew,
Matthew collected (synetaxato) the oracles (ta logia) in the Hebrew language (Hebraïdi dialektō), and each interpreted (hermēneusen) them as best he could.”
For those who think that Papias was careless or not a discerning church father, I think it would be wise to see the astuteness of his own words as collected by Eusebius’ The History of the Church book, which says,
But I shall not hesitate also to put down for you along with my interpretations whatsoever things I have at any time learned carefully from the elders and carefully remembered, guaranteeing their truth. For I did not, like the multitude, take pleasure in those that speak much, but in those that teach the truth; not in those that relate strange commandments, but in those that deliver the commandments given by the Lord to faith, and springing from the truth itself. If, then, any one came, who had been a follower of the elders, I questioned him in regard to the words of the elders–what Andrew or what Peter said, or what was said by Philip, or by Thomas, or by James, or by John, or by Matthew, or by any other of the disciples of the Lord, and what things Aristion and the presbyter John, the disciples of the Lord, say. For I did not think that what was to be gotten from the books would profit me as much as what came from Eusebius the living and abiding voice.”
Clearly in this quote, there are some very significant points we can draw from. The first major point you will notice is that Papias would rather get information from the apostles because the apostles were first-eyewitnesses of Christ. Second point is that he did not desire to get information from secondhand-eyewitnesses because their information about Christ may be unreliable. If their information is unreliable then they are unreliable. Reliable information would be from the apostles and the disciples that were with Christ when He was on earth. Thirdly, what we see about Papias’ discernment is that even if he received information about Christ from the apostles or from the disciples like Ariston, Papias would still question the information like the Bereans did in the Book of Acts.
Before getting into a detail discussion of the internal evidence, it will be beneficial to cover the issue of Matthew’s name in the Gospel. The issue is not really about the name of Matthew, but the issue is in regards to the way the name is used. What is precipitating the issue is Matthew’s name being used in the third person. Matthew 9:9 confirms this. Matthew 9:9 says,
As Jesus went on from there, He saw a man called Matthew, sitting in the tax collector’s booth; and He said to him, ‘Follow Me!’ And he got up and followed Him.”
Opponents think that it is out of place for Matthew to refer to himself in the third person.
However, what these opponents forget is that many examples of ancient works indicate that authors of their own works, use their own names in the third person. Some examples of ancient works that use their names in the third person are Thucydides’ The Peloponesian War (B.C. 460-395), the Greek historian and philosopher Xenophon’s (B.C. 430-354) work called Anabasis, Julius Caesar’s (B.C. 100-40) works called Gallic War and Civil War. Clearly, the external evidence provides that an author using their name in the third person is nothing new and gives no justification to negate traditional authorship of the Gospel.
As for the internal evidence that supports the traditional authorship of Matthew, I believe that covering the names, financial transaction terminology, the use of coins in Matthew’s time, and the upholding of the tax rules by Jesus, are significant evidences for supporting traditional authorship.
What is significant about the names in the Book of Matthew is the use of two names referring to Matthew himself. As stated earlier, the author of the Gospel of Matthew is called Matthew and Levi (Matthew 9:9). On another note, the Apostle Paul, who is the author of many of the New Testament writings is referred not only as Paul, but Saul (Acts 11:30; 12:25; 13:7). As for Apostle Peter, he is also called Simon (Luke 7:43; Acts 15:14). The use of Matthew, Paul, and Peter were the names given when these three became disciples. Many will consider their new names as a symbol of their new life.
A second reason why traditional authorship of Matthew is viable is the use of passages that have to do with financial transactions (17:24-27; 18:23-35; 20:1-16; 26:15; 27:3-10; 28:11-15). Another point to consider are the coin terminologies used. For example in Matthew 22:19, Jesus implements this by saying,
’Show Me the coin used for the poll-tax.’ And they brought Him a denarius.”
As you can see, Jesus uses the word δηνάριον (dēnárion) and the word νόμισμα (nomisma; state coin). The nuance you see in this verse is the term “state coin.” The term νόμισμα (state coin) is the only term used in Matthew and nowhere else in the Gospels, but a “denarius” is used in the Gospel of Luke (Luke 20:24) and John (John 6:7). On another note, the term “νόμισμα” is a more precise term, which is why it is the only term used in the New Testament.
The fourth point to consider that gives credence to Matthew being the sole author of the Gospel of Matthew is Jesus’ upholding of the tax laws when the tax collectors wanted to collect tax from Peter and Jesus (Matthew 17:24-27). Matthew would not oppose the tax laws since he was a tax collector himself. When analyzing Matthew’s (the tax-collector) account of the coins, the use of financial terminology, and Jesus upholding of the law, demonstrates that the elements used, resonates the idea of Matthew as the true author.
Arguments for Traditional Authorship of Mark
As for the external evidence regarding Mark’s authorship, here is what Papias says concerning Mark’s writing,
This also the presbyter said: Mark, having become the interpreter of Peter, wrote down accurately, though not in order, whatsoever he remembered of the things said or done by Christ. For he neither heard the Lord nor followed him, but afterward, as I said, he followed Peter, who adapted his teaching to the needs of his hearers, but with no intention of giving a connected account of the Lord’s discourses, so that Mark committed no error while he thus wrote some things as he remembered them. For he was careful of one thing, not to omit any of the things which he had heard, and not to state any of them falsely. These things are related by Papias concerning Mark.”
First thing we see is that Papias affirms the authorship of Mark through the presbyter that is based on Peter’s eyewitness testimony. As stated earlier, Papias was careful whom he got his information from. He got it from the elders and presbyters that could be traced back to the apostles. Secondly, Papias indicates that Mark was the interpreter of Peter. Thirdly, Papias indicates that Mark was a man who was careful not to omit anything that came from Peter’s eyewitness testimony.
As for the internal evidence, there are many significant points that must be considered that authenticates Mark as being the author of his Gospel. Mark (Acts 15:39; Colossians 4:10; 1 Timothy 4:11) who is also called John Mark, can be found in these following passages (Acts 12:12, 25; 15:37).
Besides Mark also being known as John Mark, Philemon 1:24 points out that Mark was in Rome; and we know that Peter was in Rome as well in the latter part of his life. For more evidence regarding Mark being an acquaintance of Peter, please see Acts 12:11-17 and 1 Peter 5:13. 1 Peter 5:13 for example, says this about Peter’s close relationship to Mark,
She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you greetings, and so does my son, Mark.”
The word son is familial term used to denote the idea of family and closeness to one another. Hence, Mark was not a stranger to Peter.
Since John Mark was known be around Apostle Peter, it is safe to say that Mark was familiar with the language that was implemented in Rome, which was Latin. Because Latin was the dominant language used, you will find Mark using Latinisms—which are Latin terms contained in a Greek work. Some examples would be the use of the courtyard and praetorium in Mark 15:16 and the terms legion and denarius in Mark 5:9 and Mark 6:37.
Please stay tune for the next installment as I will cover arguments for the traditional authorship of Luke and Acts. Although Acts does not belong in the Gospels, I think it is important to cover it because Acts is associated with Luke since he wrote not just the Gospel of Luke, but the book of Acts too.
Until then, let us remember those who are being persecuted for glory of Christ Jesus. Hebrews 13:3,
Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body” (NASB).
 Robert L. Thomas and David F. Farnell, “The Jesus Crisis: The Inroads of Historical Criticism into Evangelical Scholarship” (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1998), 39.
 Ibid, 39.
 Ibid, 39.
 Ibid, 39.
 Ibid, 39.
 Ibid, 39.
 Eusebius (2010-05-23). The History of the Church (p. 68). Unknown. Kindle Edition.
 Keith Thompson, “Who Wrote the Gospels? Internal and External Arguments For Traditional Authorship,” Answering Islam: A Christian-Muslim Dialog, 3.
 Ibid, 2.
 Ibid, 2.
 Ibid, 2.
 Ibid, 2.
 Ibid, 2.
 Ibid, 2.
 Eusebius, The History of the Church, III.39.15 (p. 69). Unknown. Kindle Edition.
 Keith Thompson, “Who Wrote the Gospels? Internal and External Arguments For Traditional Authorship,” Answering Islam: A Christian-Muslim Dialog, 6.
 Ibid, 4.
 Ibid, 4
 Ibid, 5.
As it was outlined in an earlier post, the fact that the Quran does not deny the Bible has been corrupted but rather affirm it’s authority should shape the way a Christian engage in apologetics and evangelism with a Muslim. Thus, the Christian in evangelism and apologetics can cite the Bible in sharing the gospel, prove a doctrine, etc., and upon the Muslim rejecting what the Bible has to say, the Christian can say that the Quran affirms both the Bible’s authority and the fact that the text has been faithfully transmitted. Thus, when the Bible conflict with the Quran, in light of the Quran’s own statement about the Bible, it does raises problem for the Muslim’s faith.
However, some Muslims would object to the fact that the Quran does not teach the Bible has been corrupted. In the next few installment in this series, we will consider other verses from the Quran that Muslims might cite to try to prove otherwise. Again, this series assumes what has been covered in the original outline, “WITNESSING TO MUSLIMS: THE QURANIC VIEW OF THE BIBLE,” and is intended to consider other verses beyond the ones already covered.
Before we begin our survey, one must remember a methodological issue. It is important to be reminded that in order for a verse from the Quran to demonstrate that the Bible has been corrupted textually, it is not enough to cite Surahs that teaches the following point:
1.)The people of the Book (Jews and Christians) and/or subgroups of it are evil.
2.) The Bible can be or has been misinterpreted.
3.) There are followers of the Bible (Jews and Christians) who are wrong in what they believe.
The reason why these type of verses in the Quran is insufficient is because assuming that they are true, it does not logically follow therefore that the Bible textually itself has been corrupted. One way to illustrate the flaws of this kind of reasoning is to note that this kind of faulty argumentation can also be turned back on the Muslim as well: There are Muslims or subgroups of Muslims who are evil, the Quran can be and has been misinterpreted, and followers of the Quran throughout history might have been wrong in what they believe, should the Muslim therefore think this demonstrates that the Quran has been corrupted textually?
Now that we know what it is we are looking for in the Quran and what we are not looking for, the second installment will begin our evaluation of the Muslim’s attempt to prove from the Quran that the Bible has been totally corrupted!
Have you ever wondered what it was like for the first Christian missionary to go reach out to the Muslims? Who was that first missionary anyways?
You can read about this first missionary name Raymund Lull online for free if you click HERE.
The author himself, Samuel M. Zwemer, was also a missionary to the Muslim people.
Some Muslim writers assert that no one really knows if Matthew, Luke, Mark and John are the actual authors of the Gospels. They claim that the traditional understanding or the orthodox understanding is not maintainable. Because it is not maintainable, these writers will often cite liberal scholars, who are notoriously known to implement the higher-critical methodology to the Bible. To make matters worse, in order to justify their reasoning against traditional authorship of the Gospels, some Muslim apologists will go so far by using quotes from conservative scholars. For example, whenever a conservative scholar is seen quoting that Matthew, Luke, etc. does not identify themselves as the author clearly, the Muslim apologist will use that snippet of information as a weapon against orthodoxy, while ignoring the positive arguments (internal and external) from the conservative scholar who argues in favor of traditional authorship.
Before we get into the details concerning arguments against traditional authorship, I think it would be beneficial to first go through some Scriptures and what the early church fathers say regarding traditional authorship of the Gospels. It is my prayer that Muslim apologists or even rationalists who implement the higher-critical methodology will see that God authorized Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John to write the Gospels. Let us now move in to some Scripture references that supports traditional authorship.
Scripture References for Traditional Authorship
The traditional authorship reveals that Matthew, who is a tax collector that went by the name of Levi and also Matthew, is the author of the Gospel of Matthew. The following passages that speak of Matthew or Levi are: Mark 2:14; Luke 5:27-29; Matthew 9:9 and 12:3. This disciple who is described as a tax-collector appears in all the lists of the twelve apostles (Matthew appears in all the lists of the twelve apostles (Mt. 10:3; Mk. 3:18; Lk. 6:15; Acts 1:13). As an apostle, Matthew witnessed Christ and His resurrection.
Traditional authorship of the Gospel, reveals Mark as the interpreter/secretary and companion of Peter. He could be found in passages such as Acts 12:12, 25, and 15:37.
The Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts reveals that Luke the physician and the companion of Paul is the author. Luke was clearly one of the companions of Paul who sent his greetings in Paul’s letter to Colossae (Col. 4:14). He could also be found in the following passages such as Philemon 1:24.
The fourth Gospel, which is the Gospel of John, reveals that John the son of Zebedee who was one of the twelve disciples, who can be found in passages such as Matthew 4:21; 17:1; Mark 3:17; 9:2; Luke 6:14; Acts 1:13; and Galatians 2:9. John was not only an apostle and the only one who was not martyred, but He, including James and Simon Peter—the privileged three, were able to witness the raising of Jairus’ daughter (Mark 5:37), the glorious transfiguration (Mark 9:2); and they were there with Christ at the garden of Gethsemane (Mark 14:33). According to the New Bible Dictionary, although the name John was not mentioned in the fourth Gospel, he is mentioned as the son of Zebedee in John 21:2 and he is clearly the disciple whom Jesus loved, and the one whom lay close to the breast of Jesus at the Last Supper as stated in John 13:23.
Hence it is clear, that I will be arguing for the traditional authorship of the Gospels—by affirming that the Gospels were written by disciples in the case of Matthew and John; and based on the testimony of the disciples by those who knew them – in the case of Mark and Luke. Before I cover Matthew, I think it is important to first address the apologetical methods concerning the traditional authorship of the Gospels so that Christians will have a good understanding concerning the opponents they face.
Apologetical Methods for Traditional Authorship of the Gospels
When it comes to arguments surrounding the traditional or biblical authorship of the Gospels, I think that it is vital to presuppose the truth of Christianity as the proper starting point for discussing the traditional authorship of the Gospels. When debating a depraved person who does not respond to divine stimuli, but the stimuli of rationalism, the Christian must assume the truth of the Bible and the Christian worldview regarding the traditional authorship of the Gospels; and must not concede ground to neutral assumptions with a unregenerate person. Here is what Apostle Paul says about the unregenerate person in 1 Corinthians 2:14,
But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.”
If Apostle Paul’s writings were inspired in 1 Corinthians concerning the condition of the unregenerate regarding the notion of the spiritual topics, how much more careful should we be when dealing with the unbeliever.
As Christians, we must be committed to the lordship of Christ as stated in Rom 10:9 and 1 Cor 12:3. For the purpose of this context, that means being committed to the Lordship of Christ in all areas of life and reality because there are no areas in this universe that should be interpreted outside the knowledge of God’s Word and sovereignty.
In regards to commitment to and the use of the Word of God as our ultimate authority, here is what Pastor Greg Bahnsen said,
God’s word has been seen to be foundational to all knowledge. It has absolute epistemic authority and it is the necessary presupposition of all knowledge which man possesses.”
If one does not embrace the biblical truths of Christianity as Pastor Bahnsen had stated, then one will open up the floodgates for “reason” to be placed on neutral ground. If this is allowed, then epistemic bias will creep into the debate concerning traditional authorship of the Gospels; and the unbeliever will use his polluted epistemic authority to decide whether he or she should believe in the God of the Bible who authenticated the authorship of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John’s Gospels. However, this epistemic authority is never granted to the unbeliever. If the Christian does not presuppose truth in the area traditional authorship of the Gospels, then I believe what Eta Linnemann said should be taken to heart. Here is what she says,
The concept of Holy Scripture is relativized so that the Bible’s is nothing more than a religious writing like all other religious writings. Since other religions have their holy scriptures, one cannot assume that the Bible is somehow unique and superior to them. This is why it gets treated like any other book. There comes to be no distinction between how the Bible is regarded and how the Odyssey is read, even though it is clear enough upon careful study that there are differences between them.”
I really believe what Eta Linneman says, hits the nail on the head. By implication, it hits the nail on the head because if the Bible is not superior to other religions or humanistic, or uninspired books like the Qur’an, then the Bible will be treated just like any other book and everything will be relativized. If that is the case, then no one has the epistemic fiat to dictate who is the real author of the Gospels and other books of the Bible. There needs to be a standard in order to account for truth and reality when it comes to traditional authorship. Otherwise, there will circular reasoning without ever coming to the truth. As a result, as Christians, we must presuppose that the Bible accounts for truth and reality in terms of traditional authorship and humans must abide by them. We must not concede ground to the Muslim apologists. We have an inspired book – they do not!
Stay tune for the next installment. I will be covering arguments for traditional authorship of Matthew.
 Keith Thompson, “Who Wrote the Gospels? Internal and External Arguments For Traditional Authorship,” Answering Islam: A Christian-Muslim Dialog, http://answering-islam.org/authors/thompson/gospel_authorship.html (accessed May 31, 2012), 1
 Ibid, 1.
 Ibid, 1.
 D. R. W. Wood and I. Howard Marshall, New Bible Dictionary, 3rd ed. (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1996), 739.
 Keith Thompson, “Who Wrote the Gospels? Internal and External Arguments For Traditional Authorship,” Answering Islam: A Christian-Muslim Dialog, http://answering-islam.org/authors/thompson/gospel_authorship.html (accessed May 31, 2012), 1.
 D. R. W. Wood and I. Howard Marshall, New Bible Dictionary, 703.
 Keith Thompson, “Who Wrote the Gospels? Internal and External Arguments For Traditional Authorship,” Answering Islam: A Christian-Muslim Dialog, 1.
 D. R. W. Wood and I. Howard Marshall, New Bible Dictionary, 592.
 Keith Thompson, “Who Wrote the Gospels? Internal and External Arguments For Traditional Authorship,” Answering Islam: A Christian-Muslim Dialog, 2.
 Michael Vlach, “What is Presuppositional Apologetics,” (unpublished syllabus, The Master’s Seminary, 2011), 32.
 Ibid, 32.
 Ibid, 32.
 Ibid, 32.
 Ibid, 32.
(NOTE: I believe that what I have written here is an original counter-argument against a common Muslim argument in that I am bringing in the Pirke de-Rabbi Eliezer as a defeater to the discussion. If this is not original, I would not be totally surprised since nothing is new under the sun.)
In a popular work titled, “A Brief Illustrated Guide to Understanding Islam,” the book presented one of the arguments for the Qur’an’s divine origin is the fact that it reveals that the deep sea is dark. The passage from the Quran that is cited to prove this comes from Surah 24:40. Here I cite three popular translation:
YUSUFALI: Or (the Unbelievers’ state) is like the depths of darkness in a vast deep ocean, overwhelmed with billow topped by billow, topped by (dark) clouds: depths of darkness, one above another: if a man stretches out his hands, he can hardly see it! for any to whom Allah giveth not light, there is no light!
PICKTHAL: Or as darkness on a vast, abysmal sea. There covereth him a wave, above which is a wave, above which is a cloud. Layer upon layer of darkness. When he holdeth out his hand he scarce can see it. And he for whom Allah hath not appointed light, for him there is no light.
SHAKIR: Or like utter darkness in the deep sea: there covers it a wave above which is another wave, above which is a cloud, (layers of) utter darkness one above another; when he holds out his hand, he is almost unable to see it; and to whomsoever Allah does not give light, he has no light.
In context, Surah 24 deals with the issue of punishment of sexual sins, how these sins ought to adjudicated along with commands for Chasity and purity. Verse 40 is situated in the logical section of verses 35-57 that deals with the topic of God as light, and the theme of punishment of darkness for the unbelievers and light for believers.
After citing the verse, the book goes on to say,
This verse mentions the darkness found in deep seas and oceans, where if a man stretches out his hand, he cannot see it. The darkness in deep seas and oceans is found around a depth of 200 meters and below. At this depth, there is almost no light. Below a depth of 1000 meters there is no light at all. Human beings are not able to dive more than forty meters without the aid of submarines or special equipment. Human beings cannot survive unaided in the deep dark part of the oceans, such as at a depth of 200 meters. Scientists have recently discovered this darkness by means of special equipment and submarines that have enabled them to dive into the depths of the oceans.
What is implied here is that humans in the seventh century during Muhammad’s days could not have known about the sea being dark. It therefore must have been revealed by God. As the book states, when summarizing all the arguments given,
The only possible answer is that this Qur’an must be the literal word of God, revealed by Him.
Concerning those who live in the day and age before modern submarine, the argument assumes this,
P1. In order to know that the deep sea is dark, a human being must be able to enter into the deep sea.
P2. No human being has been able to enter into the deep sea.
C1. Therefore, no human being can know that the deep sea is dark.
With this understanding, the core of the argument seems to be as follows:
P3. A book that reveals that the Deep Sea is Dark must be authored by God.
P4. The Quran reveal that the Deep Sea is Dark.
C2. Therefore, the Quran was authored by God (the Word of God).
I think this argument is not without it’s problem.
(1) First off, the Quran is not the only book that assumes that the deep of the sea is dark before the modern technological error of submarines. Here the Pirke de-Rabbi Eliezer, a Jewish collection of Rabbinic sayings and interpretation of the Jewish Scriptures, can be a defeater against the Muslim argument. This is noted in the tenth chapter of the work, where it gives an account of the “history of Jonah.” According to Rabbi Tarphon, the fish that swallows Jonah had eyes like windows to look out into the sea, even giving lights for illumination:
Rabbi Tarphon said: That fish was specially appointed from the six days of Creation ” to swallow up Jonah, as it is said, ” And the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah ” (ibid.). He entered its mouth just as a man enters the great synagogue, and he stood (therein). The two eyes of the fish were like windows ^ of glass giving light to Jonah.
Another Rabbi also added
Rabbi Meir said: || One pearl was suspended inside the belly of the fish and it gave illumination to Jonah, like this sun which shine with its might at noon ; and it showed to Jonah all that was in the sea and in the depths,^ as it is said, ” Light is sown for the righteous ” (Ps. xcvii. 11).
This being the case, the Pirke de-Rabbi Eliezer could also be a substitute referent into the original Muslim argument:
P3. A book that reveals that the Deep Sea is Dark must be authored by God.
P5. The Pirke De-Rabbi Eliezer reveal that the Deep Sea is Dark.
C3. Therefore, the Pirke De-Rabbi Eliezer was authored by God (the Word of God).
In light of this, should Muslims also accept the Pirke de-Rabbi Eliezer as Divinely authored as well?
(2) Secondly, invoking the Pirke de-Rabbi Eliezer as a defeater might bring some possible objections by Muslim apologists. I anticipate two possible counter-arguments: (a) That the Quran predates Pirke de-Rabbi Eliezer, and (b) the Pirke de-Rabbi Eliezer is dependent upon the Quran as its’ source.
(a) Possible Objection: The Quran predates Pirke de-Rabbi Eliezer
Some might object that the Quran predate the Pirke De-Rabbi Eliezer. Three things can be said in response to this. First off, when we take the citation at face value, one must note that the two Rabbis describing the darkness of the sea lived centuries before the Quran was written down. Thus, these citation might predate the Quran itself, before the seventh century advent of Islam: Tarphon was from the first to the second century, and Rabbi Meir was also from the second century A.D, along with Rabbi Eliezer who supposedly collected these Rabbinic citations. Secondly, any argument put forth to demonstrate that the citations cannot be attributed to Rabbi Tarphon, Meir or Eliezer as the editor, would seem just as equally speculative as the position that these quotes are from these Rabbis. However, it would seem that the methodology behind such arguments would engage in the same Source/Redaction criticisms that Liberals employ against the Quran, and one that a Muslim apologist should reconsider pursuing to avoid the charge of being inconsistent and engaging in methodological double-standard. Thirdly, one must not forget the bigger picture: the point is that the Pirke de-Rabbi Eliezer still predate modern Ocean studies and mentioned that the sea is dark. Thus, the objection that the Quran came first before the edited version of Pirke de-Rabbi Eliezer was completed does not really resolve the dilemma that this work, like the Quran, does mention about the deep of the sea is dark. The difficulty it raises against the Quran still stands.
(b) Possible Objection: The Pirke de-Rabbi Eliezer is dependent upon the Quran as its’ source.
This hypothetical objection, if it works, would undercut the conclusion that the Pirke de-Rabbi Eliezer is divine if it can be shown that it is dependent upon the Quran as a source. If one were to make this objection, the it would be ironic since historically scholars have attributed the Pirke de-Rabbi Eliezer as one of the source for the Quran, though there is no consensus with this today, as Muslim apologists correctly points out. It is true that one can make a case that the Quran came before the Pirke de-Rabbi Eliezer. However, to argue that the Pirke de-Rabbi Eliezer is dependent upon the Quran as its’ source is another matter. Two things can be said in addressing that matter. First off, while there are some correlation between some of the stories in the Quran and Pirke de-Rabbi Eliezer, this does not necessarily mean that the Quran was the source for Pirke de-Rabbi Eliezer or vice versa. For instance, there might be a third source that both the Quran and Pirke de-Rabbi Eliezer shared. Even assuming the Islamic view of the origin of the Quran, the Pirke de-Rabbi Eliezer might happen to record accounts of events that happen to have been handed down as true and which the Quran affirms (that is not to say that I personally believe this is so, or that the accounts both mentioned in the Pirke de-Rabbi Eliezer and Quran are true, but I point this out to show that correlation does necessitate that the Pirke de-Rabbi Eliezer is dependence upon the Quran as a source). Secondly, noting the polemical tendency in Pirke de-Rabbi Eliezer makes it unlikely that whoever the Jewish writers/editors were, they would have been inclined to go to the Quran as a source material. As GERALD FRIEDLANDER notes in his introduction to his translation of the Pirke de-Rabbi Eliezer, the work alludes unfavorably towards the Islam:
§ 8. Polemical Tendency in P.R.E.
Apparently there is no direct reference to Christianity. On the other hand, there are several allusions to Islam as the ” Fourth Kingdom ” destined to persecute the Chosen People prior to the dawn of the Messianic Kingdom.
The “Fourth Kingdom” is an allusion to the book of Daniel in the Jewish Scriptures (Old Testament), who will persecute the Jews, and this fact makes its improbable for the author/editor of the Pirke de-Rabbi Eliezer to borrow from the religion or the culture that it is against, much less so if it is persecuted by it. In fact, a survey of Jewish rabbinic materials and the Pirke de-Rabbi Eliezer indicate that the Jews Rabbinic writting projects were always consciously trying to be set apart and different in their beliefs and practices from other people. All this makes it unlikely for any Jewish Rabbi to read the Quran in the first place for the purpose of incorporating it into the Pirke de-Rabbi Eliezer, much less an obscure reference to the darkness of the deep of the sea found in a verse in a Surah, buried deep within the Quran.
Therefore, it would seem that the Pirke de-Rabbi Eliezer provides a defeater to the Muslim argument that the reference in Surah 24:40 to the darkness of the deep of the Sea is an argument for the divine authorship of the Quran, if Muslims would not hold also that the Pirke de-Rabbi Eliezer is God’s divine word (which being Jewish, is contradictory to the teachings of Islam).