Thursday, February 23, 2017

I want to propose an interesting theory on the origins of Islam.

Waraka ibn Nawfal was a sort of mentor to Muhammad, but he died before the taking of Medina.  Everyone agrees he was a Christian monk of some sort, but what sect is not agreed on.  A certain Jesuit Conspiracy theory says he was a Roman Catholic but that is the most obviously wrong, Catholicism as we know it kinda still didn't exist yet, and the Bishop of Rome wasn't really trying to assert any influence over the East.  Wikipedia used to say he was an Ebonite, but then changed it to Nestorian last I checked.  Ebonite makes far more sense to explain the nature of Islam, as shall be made clear.

He was also said to have made Arabic translations of The Torah, the Psalms and a Gospel.  Because technically the references to this say "The Gospel" everyone assumes this and the Koranic references to "The Gospel" mean the entire New Testament.  However the potential Ebonite context causes me to doubt that.

The Ebonites were one of a few, often confused with each other, sects of early Jewish Christians who believed Jesus was The Messiah but not God, (the Nazarenes, however were proper New Testament Christians).  That makes them very similar to the Islamic view of Jesus.  Mostly these kinds of sects also rejected the Virgin Birth making them quite unlike the Koran.  But I recall reading at least one reference to a Heretic being condemned by one of the Early Church Fathers for teaching the Virgin Birth and yet denying the Deity of Christ.  But I can't remember who now.  [Update: Origen (Contra Celsum v.61) and Eusebius (HE iii.27) both indicate that some Ebionites did accept the virgin birth.[41] also  Theodotus of ByzantiumArtemon, and Paul of Samosata all accepted the virgin birth.[42]  while teaching Proto Socinian-Unitarian ideas.]

I also agree with those who say it's a misreading of the Koran that makes people think it says Jesus didn't die on The Cross, the intent of the Sura cited is to say he died by Allah's will not the JewsWikipedia also discuses this controversy.

Sects like the Ebonites often only used one Gospel, a Hebrew translation of the Gospel of Matthew that removed any direct references to Jesus Divinity or the Virgin Birth, which would likely include the entire Nativity narrative.  But it may be possible a similar sect that decided later to accept the Virgin Birth may have restored the Nativity Narrative, but perhaps not in a complete form.  

Also since Jews calling Rome Edom can be traced as far back as the DSS, maybe it’s possible one of these edited Hebrew Gospels replaced all references to Rome with Edom.  And maybe the name of Caesar could have been replaced with Seir, since both mean Hairy and have a phonetic similarity.  And perhaps rendered the name Herod as Arad, a Canaanite King mentioned in Numbers.

Everyone knows that Mariam the mother of Jesus is the only woman mentioned by name in the Koran.  But it is also the most notorious historical anachronism of the Koran that Mariam is referred to as the daughter of Amram (Imram) and sister of Aaron (Haroon), and is thus made the same person as Mariam the sister of Moses.  Muslim apologists try to explain this away, but it’s obvious what the Koran says, a Sura about her is titled the Family of Imram.  Well based on the above observation I have a theory on why this mistake was more plausible to make than it at first seems.

So imagine if Muhammad’s (and perhaps many other Arabs of the period) only knowledge of The Bible was via flawed Arabic translations of The Torah, some or all of the Psalms, and an Ebonite version of Matthew.  (Being illiterate Muhammad couldn't even have read that directly) And generally lacked direct knowledge of their grander historical context.  

The Torah ends with a Yehoshua or Yeshua being set up to succeed Moses.  And then the next historical book they have revolves around a person named Yehoshua or Yeshua. It would be easy to imagine that those were the same person and the Gospel narrative directly followed The Torah’s narrative.

A Hebrew version of Matthew would probably use Almah in its quotation of Isaiah 7:14.  In my post on the word Almah I paid great attention to how The Torah also called the sister of Moses an Almah, and even tie a Psalm into that.  

If it was an altered version of Matthew with the nativity only partly restored, it could easily have lacked Jesus genealogy.  But also perhaps him being called a son of Joseph would be taken to verify him being of the Tribe of Joseph like Joshua was.  Some Muslims have misused Matthew 22:42-45 to argue Jesus was saying he was not a Son of David.

Maybe this can even explain the name Isa, which is not how Arabic Christians pronounced or spelled the name of Yeshua/Jesus before or after the time of Muhammad.   Numbers 13 tells us Joshua was first called Oshea, which sometimes in Greek/Latin becomes Osea.  Perhaps it is that name that Isa came from?

Most Old Testament figures not in The Torah who the Koran alludes to are mentioned somewhere in Matthew.  David, Elijah, Jonah, and Matthew’s reference to Solomon includes the Queen of Sheba who has Islamic legends about her.

The Koran sometimes refers to those who followed Allah in some sense already before Muhammad as three groups rather than two.  In one it’s Christians, Jews and Sabeans.  There I think the Sabeans are probably Yemanite Jews (and maybe also Christians) while the Jews are primarily the Jews of Medina/Yathrib.  

Other references though divide the People of The Book into three Books. The Torah, The Psalms, and The Gospel, and it associates the Psalms with David.  The Jews of Himyar in Yemen are speculated to have actually been a revival of the Sadducees, while the Jews in Medina would have been Rabbinic Pharisees, it’s via them that the Koran seems to once quote the Mishna in Sura 5:32.

What’s interesting is that Matthew 22 has Jesus deal with the Sadducees by quoting The Torah, because as Josephus tells us they considered only The Torah canon.  But He deals with The Pharisees by quoting a Psalm of David, Psalm 110.  Is it possible that influenced by this the Koran meant Sadducees by people of the Torah and Pharisees by people of the Psalms?

The Eschatology of The Koran shows no clear evidence of being influenced by Revelation.  The Mahdi might have been partly based on the White Horseman of Revelation 6 and/or 19, but that tradition came later heavily influenced by 7th and 8th century Eastern Christian traditions about the Last Roman Emperor.  In fact the most compelling evidence that the Koran's eschatology has no knowledge of Revelation is choosing a Spear rather than a Sword to be the weapon Isa/Jesus will wield when he returns.

Where would this Spear idea have come from?  The Spear of Longinus tradition comes from a reference in John, and that’s not a weapon Jesus himself wields anyway.  Joshua has a spear in Joshua 8, but my theory is Muhammad probably wouldn’t have had access to that book.

Well Psalm 35, a Davidic Psalm, in verse 2 uses a word for Spear, and also uses the word Yeshuah, translated Salvation, the noun that the names of Joshua and Jesus both come from.  So perhaps that Psalm influenced the Islamic idea of Jesus having a Spear?

So, that is my interesting theory on why the Koran makes its most notorious anachronism.  

What’s interesting is that Ahmed Osman is a modern Muslim fringe historian who tries to argue that the Gospels were just a corrupt allegorical retelling of the story of Joshua.  So others before me have sorta noticed this connection.