And welcome to SM focus. Today’s program inshallah will be our 16th on Jesus, the beloved messenger of Allah and our 27th on sin, atonement Amba sacrifice. Today inshallah we will continue with the origins of the idea of God incarnate. My name is Rashad Nishan, your host and here once again from St. Mary’s University is Dr. Jamal Sri.
We have a summary of last week’s program. Okay. Last week, we continued to discuss how Francis young tried to trace the roots of the notion of God incarnate. His reference to other Jewish sources, especially some of the traditions about Prophet Moses, the transforming into an angel and ascending to heaven, about prophet Elijah that he lives as a supernatural being intervene in the affairs of the earth and sometimes appears in disguise, and about No, and how he lives or sits upon a throne in heavens, on the right hand of God, and that angels bow to him. So there is some kind of divinity attributed to him.
He indicated that the belief among some Jews of the ascension of exceptional human beings, and their attainment of this high status, at least of angels, he says is quite similar to the ideas also that existed in the Greco Roman traditions.
He also added that the Dead Sea Scrolls has furnished some additional evidence,
especially in dealing with the biblical figures, the famous biblical figures Melchizedek.
And that mentioned, Cedric is about the engines that he executes God’s judgment that God delegated to him the authority of judgment at the end of times.
And he indicates that young that all of these descriptions seem to be quite parallel to what has been attributed to Jesus peace be upon him by the early church, which he concludes, seemed to indicate the influence of the Jewish Angel speculation on the development of Christology.
In addition to this, he also indicated that the very crucial concept of the logos, which was used by the author of the gospel, according to john, in his famous statements, the Word became flesh
has already existed prior to Jesus peace be upon him, and was already articulated by an alexandrian, Jewish philosopher by the name of Philo, and indicated that in the philosophy of phaedo, the logos was the intermediary or mediator between the transcendent Gods on one hand and the world on the other. And he says that this language is very parallel to the language used, not only by john or the author of the gospel of john, but also by Paul. Indeed, he says that both CeeLo and Paul, were contemporaries, and both of them were influenced by the notion of the so called hyper stylization or actualization of the wisdom, an idea which has its roots in the Bible itself.
Much has us in the Bible, where in the Bible and giving giving an example of that, yes, he referred, specifically to the book of Proverbs, and more specifically, in chapter one, for example, in verse 20, we find that the description of wisdom is very personified, that wisdom is crying aloud in the streets, calling people unto itself, rebuking them for rejecting it. So wisdom is really physical, as depicted in the Proverbs. In chapter eight also, we find that wisdom is inviting people to its virtues and accomplishments, indicating that it existed prior to the creation of the earth, that she was with God as his master workman or child, the difference of translation or child, God child,
on that, and he says all of those expressions, even though it can be taken as a graphic way of speech. They are, however, strongly suggestive of ISIS, in the in the old the ancient Egyptian mythology.
And that, in the ISIS Smith, for example, ISIS is depicted also keep making the same claims to her virtue. But he concludes, however, that regardless of what exactly is the origin of the idea of God incarnate, at least according to the Bible, wisdom, was created before everything. And then it came to dwells with Israel, in the form of the Torah.
While this description of wisdom might be different, from the way that Greeks conceived of wisdom, in their philosophy, but still, the most important common element between the Greek and Jewish understanding is the wisdom, the importance of wisdom.
Explain how In other words, the way in which wisdom was explained, when, for example, young contends that the biblical tradition about wisdom
was actually transformed by the Greek into the concept of the logos, logos, in essence of the imminent Spirit of God.
The Greek describe wisdom, as look at this description, like I quoted them directly pervading and penetrating all things by reason of hair, pureness.
That it is the breath of the power of God,
and unspotted, mirrors
of the working of God, and an image of His goodness,
young comments on this description and expression and he says, no one was familiar with the Bible, the New Testament, especially the book of Hebrew, for example, chapter one, verse three, you find that a very parallel type of description, and expressions have been used actually, in the discussion or describing Jesus peace be upon him. In the book of Hebrew also, then, it is as if one of the attributes of God has become semi independent, and started to act as agent for God.
This configuration is not much different from the philosophy of phaedo. Because Pharaoh in a way he represents what scholars called Hellenistic Judaism.
Young adds to this that also in some of the rabbinic texts,
we find that the Torah the Torah, is described as if it is a source of
incarnation of wisdom,
or hypothesize ation, actualization, of of wisdom. For example, it is described as God’s name, God’s word, or memory, God’s presence or Sakina.
This way, we find that the Jewish speculation about the semi divine mediator has been superseded
with the idea of the risen Christ, who was claimed to have pre existed before the creation of the earth, and as we said before, the same notion existed also that wisdom existed prior to the creation of the of the world. And this is the, the way the Bible actually describes wisdom did young implied by that, that the concept of God incarnate is rooted more in Judaism rather than in ancient mythology? Not necessarily. The basic point.
And the argument presented by Francis young is that the cultural atmospheres of the ancient world that is prior to Christianity did not only affect the Greco Roman mythology, but it did also had a did have some influence on the various Jewish traditions
that the atmospheres that existed was conducive to the development of the idea of God incarnate and as such the theological position of young
is not necessarily, as you say, is connected, or contingent on one particular theory about incarnation or the other, because he says the elements, the basic elements of the idea of God incarnate has already been in existence in different ways. He admits that there is no exact analogy in the ancient world, to the claims made by the early church about Jesus peace be upon him. But he agrees with not an Archie cave that we mentioned before in his book, essays and religion,
and the ancient world, that the impact of the figure of Jesus peace be upon him, crystallized the elements, which were already there.
Well, did he do these tests specify these elements of the idea of God incarnate? Yes, four basic elements he touched upon. One is that we’re talking about elements before the birth of Christ, even. One is the idea of using the Titan, Son of God, for people who are regarded, you might say, as superhuman
to the ascension of exceptional men. Unto heavens, women can for example, be the examples in the early part of the program. Three that believes
in some human beings, heavenly beings, you might say, who act as mediators,
who are given some sort of authority from God, the first of them is giving the authority of judgment, for example, or used as tools of creation.
And for that the head, or the chief of those heavenly beings, did in fact, incarnate and
come on earth.
And young concludes that this elements, all of them, all these four has been applied to, to Jesus peace be upon him, because he was claimed to be the Son of God, who incarnated and came to the earth, and who ascended into heaven, and set on the right hand of God, the same description that was given before to enter, for example, and that for him, and by him was the creation, that all authority has been given to him, especially the judgment in the last days. So having applied those four elements, on the claims made about Jesus peace be upon him. Young concludes that whether we are able to unearth the exact
roots of the idea of God incarnate or not, there is one thing which is still quite clear that Jesus peace be upon him was interpreted that is by early church. According to the categories, I caught him on the spot, according to the categories supplied by the supernatural speculation of the Greco Roman world. I just want to conclude with a comment from an Islamic standpoint.
You see what Francis young and many other modern theologians have
arrived at after a painstaking research and after the discovery of many archaeological objects and dead sea scrolls and others,
is basically in line with what the Quran stated 1400 years ago, that Jesus was an owner, human being a prophet and messenger of God, and that all that was attributed to him afterwards, by way of deification was indeed a source of imitation of other nations as you find them surah nine in verse 30, in
my next logical question would have to be whether the early Fathers of the Church were aware of the similarities that you’ve just talked about? And if so, did they have an explanation for it?
There’s plenty of evidence that this issue that is the similarity between this old mythology and what was claimed about Jesus peace be upon him that this issue was a subject of lots of discussion in the past.
JOHN Draper for example, the author of the intellectual development of Europe, in volume one page 310 referred to a man by the name of Faustus, au s. t. u. s. Faustus, who addressed the
Famous father of the church, church, St. Augustine.
And here is this idea with him that you know, you people are doing the same thing, you’re just using the same terminology that was used in mythology.
It’s quite obvious that the early fathers did not really deny the existence of these analogies.
But what is really interesting is the way they tried to explain it. For example,
Justin, the martyrs
give a basic explanation to the effect that the devil
has already known or learned that in the futures, the Son of God, the real son of God, Jesus, peace be upon him, according to his understanding is going to come. So in order to confuse humanity, he went around prior to the birth of Jesus, and he tried to inspire other people to claim or to make that claim that they were sons of God.
He goes on to explain the very great similarity between the rights of the Last Supper
which is attributed to Jesus that’s giving the bread representing his body and the wine representing his, his blood.
And the practices that were exactly identical in previous mythological religions, like for example, in Mithra ism.
He admits that the similarity is there. But he explained it in the following terms he says, quote, The wicked devils, has initiated in the mysteries of Mithra, God Mithra.
commanding the same things to be done, in other words, inspired the cults that did exist prior to the birth of Jesus, to imitate what Jesus is going to do, or have seemed to have done much later. In hundreds of years, let’s say letters.
A second example of the response to this analogies about the roots of God incarnate, is found also in the writings of another famous father of the Church Fathers custodian,
as quoted by Robertson, a series of records, the devil, by the mysteries of his idol, imitates even the main parts of the Divine mysteries. He also baptizes his worshippers in water,
and makes them believe that this purifies them of their crimes.
And he then referring to Misra, the mythical Son of God that was believed to be among the persons that T Misra offers an image of resurrection. Well, what I find many scholars definitely will find that difficult to buy here
is to say that the devil has the knowledge of the unseen. And where does he get this knowledge of the unseen of the coming of Jesus peace be upon him hundreds of years later, and then doing exactly the same thing to inspire people to claim to be sons of God, rather than to take the more straightforward explanation that the formulation of Christology in the early church was influenced by the cultural milieu in which it has emerged.
We’ll have all the responses from other scholars at that time in a recent more contemporary scholars, yeah. Now, as you say, more recent, according to the contributions of that time, it looks that this responses will not just limited to let’s say, the fourth or fifth century, that is in more recent relatively recent ones have adopted a very similar line of argument for example, in a famous Bishop by the name of Bishop Gore, g o r e.
in making an argument again, he says that, you say, apparently he is addressing the people of pagan backgrounds. He says, You say that we find in Christianity, the relic of paganism. On the contrary, he says, we find in paganism, intermingled with much that is false, superstitious and horrible, the anticipation of Christianity. So in other words, while the idea existed prior to Christianity, he says, it is not Christianity that has carried over those ideas know that in your beliefs prior to the birth of Christ, you have the anticipation of the coming of Christianity. Another response or you might say an
apology, which is more moderate, but still totally unconvincing, I should say, is given by Robinson again in studies in the character of Christ, volume four, and page one or two,
where he acknowledges the deaths of Christology as a developed method in the church to the pre Christian, Greco Roman and Hellenistic sources. But he says, Yes, I admit that this is there, but this is a merit to Christianity. Let me just read a quarter that quickly. He says, quote, If Greek and Roman thought were needed, for a full appreciation of the meaning of reincarnation, why May we not say that some of the Indian and Chinese thoughts, question mark, surely we are justified in believing that every country and every people have something to contribute to Christianity, and that the completion of the Christian revelation awaits the contribution of each, we believe, he says,
that there are many important aspects of the Christian truth, which have never been understood simply because Christianity has not yet been reflected in the experience of those nations of the world, which are still hearing. You notice here, that in the modern responses, the basic line is similar to the old responses also, that there is admission that what was attributed to Jesus existed before his birth existed in the in the ancient world.
There is admission that the early church was influenced by those cultural,
you know, aspects or atmosphere. But basically that Satan is the one to be blamed, you know, for having raised these ideas prior to the birth of Varian, Son of God, Jesus peace be upon him.
Again, to conclude with just one remark from an Islamic standpoint, what makes a religion revealed religion, not based on human speculation, but on the direct revelation of the Creator, is not the adoption or contributions, like Robertson say, contributions by different peoples from different backgrounds, especially if they were not really monotheistic religions.
What makes that religion revealed is that it’s teaching should be pure, should not be mixed with any manmade ideas. In fact, it is the revealed religion that should direct the thinking and behavior of people not to be influenced by the existing pattern of thinking.
Now we’ve been talking about the influence of ancient mythology, does influence go beyond the idea of God in current?
Not only God in Canada, of course, that’s the most important aspects pertaining to the issue of the verification of Prophet Jesus peace be upon him. But there are other beliefs, however, that seem to have some connection with the ancient world also, this is a subject where a lot of people have written
I think many of the viewers might be familiar with ballet, Herbert Armstrong,
the famous televangelist, you might say.
But basically, it says that many of the most important and essential rites and feasts in Christianity actually were adopted by the church from the practices of other nations that used to do that prior to the birth of Jesus peace be upon him. Let’s take three or four examples of this. The most important of course, and famous one is the celebration of Christmas. And as indicated in a previous program in this series, the choice of the 25th of December has a great deal of significance because this is related to the date of the birth of the Sun gods, the sun worship comes before Christianity. According to the Encyclopedia of religion and ethics, it was only in the sixth
century, perhaps about 530
that the date of the birth of Jesus was set, and the ones who set it doesn’t even provide a basis as to how he said that even today, the the Eastern Orthodox, or Greek Orthodox Church, celebrate the birth of Jesus on January 7.
Some scholars like Armstrong, for example, indicate that the way the birth of Jesus is described in the gospels does not seem to indicate it was winter at all, in that parts of the world.
And other writers by the name of our Gregory in his
religion in science and Christianity is once again explained that celebration of Christmas was very common among other nations prior to Christianity, especially in Europe, and that it was adopted in the middle of the first century, for the purpose of winning the converts to Christianity from the pagan festival associated with the worship of the mother, and son or goddess, god mother and the son.
Another second important celebration is the Easter’s that again in the ancient world was connected with the spring and the goddess of light. And they used to celebrate that by distributing eggs. Sounds familiar?
A third celebration, the Passover, for example, the Jews used to observe it by smattering, a pass Kangnam by wave Thanksgiving has nothing to do with the law of sacrifice, but just by way of Thanksgiving. But as time went on, it assumed a different symbol and Jesus Himself became the Lamb of God or the Pascal lamb. But the time of the celebration was changed so as to conform with the Roman custom, assert celebration is the communion or the Eucharist. As we indicated, again, in a previous program, it was done identically in the religion of Misra Mithra ism.
So one cannot say that all of these symbols were incidental. According to the Bible, the Old Testament, the Sabbath is supposed to be Saturday. Now it was changed to Sunday. There might be other explanations, but it might raise a question. Was that done so that the date Sunday would conform with the date of the Sun Gods Apollo, which was Sunday? These are all issues that many scholars have addressed. It’s not only regarding climate.
How about other early institutions and symbols of faith? Are their ancient roots of these things still? Yes, not only in the ancient world, but you know in other places that we haven’t even talked about in detail. For example, the institution of nuns and monks existed in Buddhism Missa ism, the sun worship Krauss.
Some of their priests used to shave off in the middle of their head, representing the disk of the Sun. And some of the early Christian monks followed exactly these the same kind of practice. There were also some symbols. As you know, the early symbol of Christianity was not the cross it was a fish. But the cross was adopted later. And there are some discoveries that seemed to shed some light about the significance of the cross.
And Egyptian, an ancient Egyptian cross non Christian that Christianity was discovered, which is now in the municipal Museum of Alexandria. Another cross was discovered in Ireland, it was not again, a Christian cross it was related to the cult of Mithra, which bears even a crucified effigy. So this thing is really one cannot say that,
you know, they came on Bye. Bye. By chance, if I may, as I did in a few more questions before just conclude with a comment on that from an Islamic standpoint.
I must say, first of all, that, for the Muslim,
the by the authority of the Quran, for example, the Muslim accepts the virgin birth, which could be no question about that being a miraculous birth.
As the Quran indicate, God creates whoever he wishes whatever way he wishes to do. But the thing that has become quite clear by now, my hope is that the notion of God incarnate and other rights has been really added later on, adopted from other nations. And that is precisely as indicated earlier, what the Quran says 1400 years ago and before all this archeological findings and critical
theological studies, it was imitation of other people. So the Quran simply is calling for the restoration of the pure
nature and mission of Jesus peace be upon him as an honorable, respected and great messenger of God. Thank you very much, Dr. brotherly. And thank you all for joining us here once again, this time in focus. As always, your questions and comments will be appreciated. Our phone number and address will be appearing on your screen from all of us. Assalamu alaikum