In this little corner of the world, the "big three" religions are Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The Abraham of what many of us call the Old Testament is often credited as the father of each of these "big three." It is, to say the least, ironic that one of history's worst fathers - he drove one of his two sons off permanently and came very close to murdering his other - should be so acclaimed. One cannot help but wonder whether the powers that be enjoy a continuous chuckle over the fact that the class to which they refer as the "mindless masses" has regarded Abraham as the seminal patriarch for so long. Another cause for chuckles becomes apparent when the story of the Ten Commandments is contrasted with the concept of monotheism. Most people of this little corner of the world are familiar with the story of how Hebrew god revealed the Ten Commandments to Moses at Mount Sinai. It involves some real power-of-god type stuff. Here's an excerpt of the Biblical account:

And Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God; and they stood at the nether part of the mount.18 And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly.19 And when the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder, Moses spake, and God answered him by a voice.20 And the LORD came down upon mount Sinai, on the top of the mount: and the LORD called Moses up to the top of the mount; and Moses went up. 1
This story purports to be factual, and each of the big three treats it as such. Thus, if anything about the manner in which the purported god revealed himself to Moses is shown to be false, then any assertion that he revealed himself at all is at a minimum called into serious question. The principal point here is that the manner in which the god of the big three purportedly revealed himself to Moses is irreconcilably inconsistent with a central tenet of each of the big three - namely, monotheism. The First Commandment states: "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." (Emphasis added.) Passages immediately subsequent to it provide some context: "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them ...." Stated in simplest terms, the question presented here is whether "gods" originally meant "gods." The use of the word "elohim" (Hebrew for "gods") and the polytheistic world view of the ancient Hebrews militate in favor of such an interpretation, while the context in which the commandment is currently contained militates against one.

The remainder of the site is directed toward demonstrating that (go figure) "gods" means "gods" as that word is used within the context of the First Commandment. It will be shown that the religion in the region from which the ancient Hebrews migrated was polytheistic, and that the region to which the ancient Hebrews migrated was polytheistic. It will be shown that "Elohim", the Hebrew word sometimes used in the Old Testament to designate the Hebrew god, has an ending that in all other nouns denotes the plural case. It will be seen that there are more than several names that refer to some deity. It will be shown that there is some language in the Old Testament that unquestionably acknowledges the existence of more than one god. It will be shown that the ancient Hebrews in fact worshipped other gods. Moreover, it will be shown that even the Roman Catholic Church acknowledges that there are [i]ndications ...that [the Hebrews were] not been fully convinced that there was only one God."

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POLYTHEISM

The ancient Hebrews were unquestionably polytheistic. The evidence that proves this assertion can be found in both the outside influences upon the Hebrew religion as well as within the Hebrew Bible itself. With regard to the outside influences, it is clear that the Hebrew religion did not arise in a vacuum. Four different theologies were in a position to influence it - those of Mesopotamia, Canaan, Egypt, and Persia. There were at least two vehicles by which influence may have been exerted. First was the fact that the ancient Hebrews lived amongst and interacted with the populations who practiced the theologies noted above - Abraham's father migrated from Ur located in southern Mesopotamia, the "promised land" was inhabited by Canaanites, many Hebrews spent many years in Egypt, and many Hebrews spent many years in Babylon which was ultimately conquered by the Persians. Second was the existence of commerce between the various peoples - indeed, the word "Hebrew" is derived from the term "Ibri", which meant "donkey caravaneer." 2

OUTSIDE INFLUENCES

There were at least three outside influences on the development of Judaism, those being the religions of Mesopotamia, from where the Hebrews migrated, Canaan, to where the Hebrews migrated, and Zoroastrianism, that of the Persians, who freed the Hebrews from what is known as the "Babylonian Captivity." Anyone who thinks that other religions did not influence that of the Hebrews should be prepared to explain why the Hebrew version of life after death resembled that of the Mesopotamians so closely after they migrated from Mesopotamia and the Zoroastrian version of life after death after their return from the Babylonian Captivity.

MESOPOTAMIA: There is no question that Mesopotamian theology influenced the Hebrews. The story of the flood contained in Genesis is far too similar to flood stories contained in both Atrahasis 3 and the Epic of Gilgamesh to be coincidental, and both preceded the account contained in Genesis. This is not just the writer's opinion or even that of highly regarded scholars. Even the Catholic Church acknowledges it. 4 Moreover, the respective views regarding an afterlife are remarkably similar. For the Mesopotamian, death was not the end. Something resembling a ghost went to "the black cave of Below." Everybody went there, no matter how good, bad, or heroic. Perhaps it was thought by some that the level of existence varied according to status on earth, but only perhaps. The general perception was that it was an eternity of "black night, of heavy silence, and of endless, weighty sleep." 5 For the ancient Hebrew, the common resting place of all dead souls, no matter how righteous or wicked on earth, was Sheol. The account of Saul's use of the witch at Endor to raise up the ghost of Samuel contained in 1 Samuel 28:7-19 comports at least substantially with the Mesopotamian version - note that if Samuel was there notwithstanding that he was extremely righteous, then it is difficult to see how anyone could have done any better. Only Elijah ever did better, and he was expected to return to earth as still human at some point in the future. 6

With regard to the question of polytheism, the Mesopotamian religion is interesting in at least several respects. One is that the Mesopotamians were polytheistic. The Mesopotamian pantheon consisted of a couple of handfuls of major gods, and perhaps as many as 3300 lesser gods. 7 Second is that the religion of Mesopotamia was also henotheistic. Henotheism, a subset of polytheism (so to speak), acknowledges the existence of at least several gods, but is focused upon only one. 8 Third is that different city-states throughout Mesopotamia had different gods as their chief gods. 9 Fourth is that certain attributes of the gods were quite human. For example, they had physical form that was identical to that of humans, and many also had families. 10 Acutely interesting in light of the account contained in Genesis 6:1-4 is that Gilgamesh contains an instance of a "mixed" marriage between a god and a mortal, complete with an offspring son who was two-thirds god and one-third man.11

CANAAN: The ancient Canaanites were polytheistic. Their primary gods were El and Baal. El had offspring - his children were collectively referred to as "ilhm". Some of the more prominent gods worshipped by the Canaanites were: El, Athirat, Baal, and Athtart. As with the Mesopotamians, some form of life existed after death. Something that vaguely resembles the current notion of soul departed from the body after death, at which time it proceeded to a netherworld they called Mot. There was, however, no judgment involved, and Mot was apparently the common residence of all dead souls. Certain items were buried with the dead that were thought to be necessary in the afterlife. The dead were sometimes called upon for aid by the living. The Canaanite religion had at least some influence over the Hebrews. The qualities and deeds of Baal in a Canaanite myth of Baal and the Sea were attributed to Yahweh in Psalm 29. 12 Indeed, according to the Catholics, several expressions contained in the 29th Psalm are also found in the Ugaritic myth. 13

EGYPT: The Egyptians were polytheistic almost throughout the development of the Old Testament. The lone exception occurred during the reign of Akhenaten, under whom either henotheism or monotheism was practiced, depending upon which historian one follows. Furthermore, at least some of the more than several gods were familial. 14 In addition to commerce between them that was apparently continuous, opportunities for Egyptian influence upon the Hebrew religion occurred both when Abraham journeyed to Egypt and during the period between Joseph's arrival and Moses' departure. Although there are apparently those who feel differently, 15 it is not likely that Egyptian theology influenced Hebrew theology much. One basis for this conclusion is a comparison of the afterlife according to the respective theologies. The concept of judgment was present in Egyptian theology. Upon an individual's death, the weight of the soul's heart was balanced by Osiris against the feather of Ma'at. If the soul's heart was lighter than the feather, i.e., if the deceased's soul was pure, then he was permitted to enter the Field of Reeds. However, if the heart weighed more than the feather, it was devoured by Amenti (still another god) and any remnant of the deceased was extinguished. As has been noted previously, in ancient Hebrew theology, the common resting place of the dead, no matter how righteously they lived, was Sheol. Not until after the Hebrews were exposed to Zoroastrianism (and by then the Hebrews were not so ancient) did this view change.16 Moreover, it is unlikely that the Hebrews would have adopted any of the gods under which they were enslaved and from whom they risked so much to have escaped. Furthermore, as will become apparent shortly, it is unlikely that they would have accommodated any gods over that their god had just defeated.

ZOROASTRIANISM: Ancient Zoroastrianism was noteworthy in several respects relative to Judaism and Christianity. First is that it was monotheistic - the god of Zoroastrianism was Ahura Mazda. Second was that it was dualistic - i.e., the theme of good vs. evil is prevalent. Thirdly is the fact that judgment of the individual's life on earth determines the resting place of the individual's soul in the Zoroastrian version of afterlife. 17

POLYTHEISM IN THE OLD TESTAMENT

The Hebrew Bible, which the Jews call the Tanakh, is the same as what Christians call the Old Testament, excluding the apocryphal books that Catholics include as canonical. The first five books of the Old Testament are known as the Pentateuch, and they are also known as the Torah. It is crucial to note that the Old Testament was not written in one sitting. It evolved. Various researchers have varied opinions as to exactly how it evolved. Three prominent hypotheses with regard to the Pentateuch are: 1) the documentary hypothesis; 2) the fragmentary hypothesis; and 3) the supplementary hypothesis. The documentary hypothesis holds that the Pentateuch was composed by four parallel sources, each of which was complete and independent. The fragmentary hypothesis holds that one original work was compiled from numerous fragments composed independently by various authors at various times. The supplementary hypothesis holds that later writers made additions to a single account that may have distorted the original unity of the original composition. Obviously, all three of the hypotheses hold that there were multiple sources. Although it is an oversimplification, the documentary hypothesis and the fragmentary hypothesis denote four sources as the Yahwist source (J); the Elohist source (E); the Deuteronomist source (D); and the Priestly source (P). The supplementary hypothesis does not recognize E as an independent source. Anyone who wishes to argue that there is only one source must explain the variation in the use of the names for god, how differences in style do not imply the literature is a compilation from more than one source, and how the duplicate narratives do not imply different the existence of different sources. Agreement as to the order of the sources is not universal, but most accept the following framework:

J (the Yahwist), written circa 950 BCE, probably in Judah
E (the Elohist), written circa 800 BCE, probably in the Northern Kingdom
D (the Deuteronomist), written circa 621 BC during the religious reforms of Josiah
P (the Priestly source), written circa 500 BCE by priests still living in exile in Babylon

Most believe that the final redactor was Ezra, who was instrumental in reestablishing many of the formerly "captive" Jews in Jerusalem. The final canonical form of the Old Testament thus would be dated shortly after 458 BCE.18

For the purpose of this paper, by far the most important point here is that none of the writers subsequent to the very first were writing on a blank slate. After the general population was exposed to and familiar with the original text, any changes that were contrary to what had already been written would either be perceived as false or render the contradicted passages false. Everyone familiar with the old version would tend to either reject the new or question the old. In the latter case, the new would also be questioned due to the questionable validity of the old. For a well-chosen example, just suppose the earliest versions said that there were many gods, and a subsequent version said there was only one. All writers subsequent to the very first were thus constrained by what their predecessors had written.

The Hebrew Bible itself contains an orgy of evidence to show that the ancient Hebrews were polytheistic. The Elohist source was so named because the author used the Hebrew word elohim to refer to the Hebrew deity. Hebrew words that end in "im" are all plural, with only one exception. Two guesses and the first doesn't count - that's right, elohim is the only Hebrew word that ends in "im" and that can be singular. It is not always singular, only sometimes.

Added to the coincidence of Elohim being the only possibly singular Hebrew word ending in "im" is the fact that there are no less than seven names of gods to be found in the first six books of the Old Testament. These are:

1. El (at Beersheba) Gen 46:3
2. El Bethel (of Bethel) - Gen 31:13; 35:7 (translated as "the god of the house of god")
3. El Olam (of Beersheba) - Gen 21:33 (translated as "the everlasting god")
4. El Roi (south of Beersheba) - Gen 16:13 (translated as "the god who sees")
5. El Elyon - Gen 21:33 (translated as "god most high")
6. El Shaddai - Gen 17:1 (no consensus as to the meaning of "Shaddai" but probably means "mountain god")19
7. El B'rith (of Schechem) - Judges 9:4, 46
It must be noted that, with the exception of El Shaddai, the various translations do not contain the names - they instead contain the translations for them. However, there is no dispute as to the fact that appear as listed in the Hebrew versions. It should also be noted for future reference that shrines were established at some of the different places that a god by whatever name appeared. The apologist stance is that, with the exception of the reference to El B'rith, they are different names for the same god, and at least several really are quite easily read as attributes.

In addition to the remarkable coincidence that Elohim is the only Hebrew word ending in im that is plural and the use of seven names to refer to some deity, there is language in the Old Testament which, taken in its totality, compels the conclusion that the ancient Hebrews were polytheistic. There are two creation stories, the first of which is contained in Genesis 1:1 - 2:3. There, the Hebrew deity is recorded as saying, "Come, let us make man in our image." Obviously, "us" and "our" are plural. The question of to whom was God speaking thus arises. Then there is the account contained in Genesis 6:1-4, where it is recorded that that "the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose." Note that the word "God" is translated from the Hebrew word "Elohim", and that it is probable that the most accurate translation is "the sons of the gods." The question as to the identity of either the "sons of God" or "sons of the gods" thus arises.

In Genesis 17:1, reference is made to "the God of Abraham." In Exodus 31:13, reference is made to "the God of Jacob." It would seem from the language used that Abraham had a different god than Jacob. The fact that Abraham's was named El Shaddai and not Yahweh certainly seems to reinforce this reading. However, we are informed that the entity in Exodus 3:6 is the "God of your (Moses') father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." This passage clearly indicates that the God of Abraham is the same as the God of Jacob.

Nowhere is the polytheistic nature of the ancient Hebrew faith clearer than with the account of Moses and the exodus from Egypt. Here is the account in Exodus 7:10-13 of Moses appearing before the Pharaoh of Egypt to demand the release of the Hebrews:

And Moses and Aaron went in unto Pharaoh, and they did so as the LORD had commanded: and Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh, and before his servants, and it became a serpent. Then Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers: now the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with their enchantments. For they cast down every man his rod, and they became serpents: but Aaron's rod swallowed up their rods.
The question of exactly how the Egyptian magicians were able to transform their rods into serpents must be addressed. Is there any explanation other than that the Egyptian magicians invoked the power of their gods? The obvious import of this passage is that while the Hebrews acknowledged the existence of other gods, they felt that theirs was the most powerful. And then, after having escaped Egypt, Moses is recorded in Exodus 15:11 as having praised his god, and while so doing, said, "Who is like unto thee, O LORD, among the gods?" (Emphasis added.) If this does not mean that Moses regarded his god as the most magnificent of at least several, then what does it mean? Finally, again after having escaped from the Egyptians, Moses relates some of the details to his father-in-law Jethro, who, in Exodus 18:11 responds, "Now I know that the LORD is greater than all gods...." (Emphasis added) Does the incredibly obvious really need to be stated?

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The polytheistic nature of all of the religions that could have influenced the Hebrew religion, the grammatical ending of the word "elohim", the many names that denote a deity, the phrase "the God of Abraham (or Jacob), and the various passages noted above all demonstrate that the Hebrew world view at that point in history is accurately stated in the Catholic commentary to the passages contained in 1 Samuel 4:1 - 7:1. Those passages deal with the defeat of the Hebrews by the Philistines at Ebenezer, after which the Philistines seized the Ark of the Covenant. The Catholic commentary states:

The Ark was a box that contained the tablets of the Law, but it was also viewed as the throne of the lord, and thus signifies the presence of the Lord. It was Israel's holiest cult object. In this story, its importance is primarily military. With the Ark, the Lord is present on the battlefield with the people of Israel, fighting on their behalf. The capture of the Ark is particularly devastating. Taking the gods of a defeated enemy and depositing them in your temple signified the powerlessness of the enemy's gods before your gods. 20
Moreover, there are numerous instances of Hebrews worshipping other gods in the Old Testament.21 At some point, it must be asked why the ancient Hebrews actually worshipped other gods from time to time if they were not polytheistic. Do you really think that the ancient Hebrews believed that they were worshipping something that they thought was false?

Why, then, is the final form of the Old Testament so "sloppy" - i.e., why is it so susceptible to a polytheistic interpretation? Didn't the guys who wrote it know what they were doing? As was stated previously, the various writers of the Old Testament were not writing on a blank slate. All but the first were constrained by what had already been written, and various plainly polytheistic passages had already been written. There is also the possibility that they sought to accommodate those who had beliefs similar but different than their own, such as might be expected to occur at the various shrines before worship was centralized after the construction of Solomon's temple. This brings us to how the Old Testament was put into final form. The political situation of the Middle East that existed circa 600 BCE necessitated a revision of the Hebrew world view. Certainly up until the reforms of Hezekiah, and maybe until the Deuteronomist wrote, they acknowledged the existence of many gods, but believed theirs to be the most powerful. Circa 600 BCE, however, it became apparent that their god was about to be defeated. Who would want to worship a losing god? The god of the Hebrews thus became universal. He used individuals of other nations to accomplish his purported ends. Nowhere is this more clear than with the case of Cyrus (Koresh in Persian), the ruler of Persia under whose command the Babylonians were defeated. In Isaiah 45:1, Cyrus is expressly referred to as god's "anointed, which translates from "meshiah", from which the word "messiah" is derived. 22 Thus, the ruler of a foreign nation who followed Zoroastrianism became a subject of Yahweh. It was either that or acknowledge that the Hebrew god was inferior to the Babylonian gods and Ahuru Mazda, the god of Zoroastrianism. With universality came exclusivity - for the Hebrew Yahweh was now the only god in the world.

The redactors of the Priestly Source, as well as the Deuteronomist, thus had the task of converting a history of henotheism into monotheism. This was not an easy task, since in addition to all the language in the Old Testament that refers to other gods, the very first commandment expressly acknowledged their existence. It must be acknowledged, however, that each redactor subsequent to the original writers would have been aware of the style and name of god of the writers before him, and that each redactor subsequent to the original would have had the ability to imitate whichever source he wanted to imitate. Therefore it cannot be said with any level of confidence that a passage using Elohim for the name of god was written by the Elohist - it might have been written by either the Deuteronomist or the Priestly source. The same holds for a passage using the name yahweh for the name of god. The only conclusion that can be drawn with any level of confidence is that the Yahwist did not write any passages in which the name of god was Elohim and vice versa. The task was accomplished by, inter alia, adding Exodus 3:6 (the "God of your (Moses') father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob") to cover the polytheistic import of Genesis 17:1 (where reference is made to "the God of Abraham") and Exodus 31:13 (where reference is made to "the God of Jacob"), and using attributes of a god that look like names to cover the discrepancy between El Shaddai and Yahweh. Most importantly, a few passages that equated the word "gods" with "graven images" were added. Deuteronomy 5:7 states, "Thou shalt have none other gods before me." Verse 8 continues "Thou shalt not make thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the waters beneath the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them ...." The same language also appears in Exodus 20:3-5. It is extremely unlikely that this language was part of Exodus when it was written. First of all, this is simply not how somebody would write if writing from scratch on a blank slate. It is clear from the language of the passages that the writers knew how to say both "graven images" and "gods." Why would they ever invite confusion (not to mention disbelief) by using the word "gods" to mean "graven images"? Moreover, under the reforms of Hezekiah, from about 700 BCE, the graven image of the snake (called Nehushtan) purportedly made by Moses during the wandering in the wilderness that was kept in the Temple was destroyed. See Numbers 21:4-9; 2 Kings 18:4. Yes, that's right - kept in the Temple. By priests. If indeed the proscription against graven images was part of the original Exodus, then why was one kept in the Temple for so many years after Exodus was written? And if the snake was not considered a graven image, then why was it destroyed during the reforms? The fact that the snake was kept in the Temple thus constitutes compelling evidence that the proscription against graven images was not part of the original Exodus. Of course, one way to be certain would be to examine an early manuscript of Exodus - one written before Hezekiah ruled. However, no such manuscripts exist. Even though we have a representation of the Gilgamesh dating from 1200 BCE, and even though we have a Rigveda manuscript from the 14th century BCE, and even though we have a version of the Book of the Dead from the 16th century BCE, the oldest copy of Exodus now in existence is from circa 250 BCE.

ISLAM

The result of the collision between Judaism and Zoroastrianism has been touched upon. Touch again. The collision between Christianity and Zoroastrianism also produced interesting results. In 590 CE, Chosroe II was placed on the Persian throne by Maurice, emperor of the Byzantines. In 602, Maurice was assassinated, and Phocus ascended to the Byzantine throne. Chosroe then declared war on the Byzantines. In 610, Heraclius seized the Byzantine throne and executed Phocus. Muhammad, an Arab, began receiving visions during this time. At some point, it was purportedly revealed by Allah to Muhammad that the Byzantines would ultimately prevail, even though the tide was currently against them. See Q 30:2-4. 23

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Further historical considerations suggest that Muhammad was aligned with the Byzantine - and Christian - emperor Heraclius. The fighting between the Byzantines and Persians generally favored the Persians until 1622, when Heraclius personally assumed the offensive. In 622, Muhammad either was evicted from Mecca or fled it for fear of his life. The official explanation is that he no longer held the protection of his powerful uncle. His uncle, however, died in 619, which is not bad timing, but not as good as Heraclius's taking the field. At some point, Muhammed apparently was granted asylum at St. Catherine's Monastery located on the Sinai Peninsula.24 In 627, the Byzantines defeated the Persians at Nineveh, and in 628 Muhammad triumphantly returned to Mecca. That timing is simply impeccable. It certainly appears that Heraclius and Muhammad were at least not enemies.

A final historical consideration must be noted. One author gives the following account:

Heraclius had received the news of his army's final victory over the Persians and of the recapture of the Rood which they had taken from Jerusalem. He was at that time in Homs, from which he made a pilgrimage on foot to the Holy City in thanks to God for recovery of all that had been lost. One night while he was there he had a dream of remarkable clarity from which he knew the number of years of Byzantine sovereignty over Syria and Palestine were numbered. The next morning those who were with him were struck by the troubled expression on his face, and in answer to their questions, he said: "In a vision of the night I beheld the victorious kingdom of a circumcised man." 25
Heraclius is next reported to have determined that the man about who he dreamed was in fact the prophet Muhammad. 26 The Byzantines retook Jerusalem from the Persians in 629. The Moslems conquered Jerusalem in 638, nine years after the Byzantines had retaken it from the Persians. How did Heraclius know the future?

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A comparison of the contents of the Bible and the Quran certainly permits the conclusion that Islam was aligned with Christianity. In verse 44 of chapter 5 of the Quran, Islam embraces the Torah. That verse states: "Indeed, We sent down the Torah, in which was guidance and light. The prophets who submitted [to Allah ] judged by it for the Jews, as did the rabbis and scholars by that with which they were entrusted of the Scripture of Allah , and they were witnesses thereto. So do not fear the people but fear Me, and do not exchange My verses for a small price. And whoever does not judge by what Allah has revealed - then it is those who are the disbelievers." One cannot avoid being struck by the use of both the word "We" and "Me" to refer to the same entity. This is especially striking due to the central precept of Islam "There is but one God, Allah." This is a pattern that recurs frequently throughout the Quran. See e.g., Q2:35, 38, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53. There are a myriad of other instances. Why ever would the author of the Quran use the plural to refer to a singular god? According to at least one scholar of the Quran, it is merely a matter of style of speech. 27 What an extraordinary coincidence that both the Hebrew and Moslem scriptures use the plural to denote a singular entity! Note also the several verses in which it is said that Abraham "joined not gods with God." See Q2:135; Q3:67; Q6:161 Methinks the Quran doth protest too much!

The Islam stance on Jesus has a tendency to bolster Christian claims as to his divine nature. They say that he was just a prophet, but "concede" that he was 1) the product of a virgin birth (Q19:20); 2) talked while he was still in the cradle (he said he was a prophet) (Q19:30); 3) performed miracles (Q5:110; Q5: 113-115); 4) was not killed (death was an illusion) (Q4:157). If you had to argue that Jesus was the son of god, would you rather proceed from a normal birth, a life without miracles, and a normal death, or from the Quranic description of Jesus? Small wonder, then, that the Quran says point blank that the Christians are "nearest to the Believers" (meaning the followers of Allah). Q5:32.

Most interesting is the Quran's discussion of Mary's lineage. (Q3:33-47) Matthew 1:1 et seq. traces the lineage of Joseph to demonstrate that Jesus fulfilled the alleged prophecy concerning the lineage of the alleged messiah (see Isaiah 11:1; Jeremiah 23:5). Obviously, if Jesus was immaculately conceived, then Joseph is not the father, and his lineage means nothing. Assuming the accuracy of the account of the virgin birth, the only way that the prophecy could have been fulfilled is if Mary was of the line of David. In first century Palestine, nobody would have cared about Mary's lineage. The author of the Quran, however, made it important.

At least somewhat disturbingly, the Quran is also very much in line with Christianity - at least the old time variety - with regard to animosity toward the Jews. The tenor of passages such as Q2:65 ("and We said to them, 'Be apes, despised.'"); Q2:93 ("How wretched is that which your faith enjoins upon you, if you should be believers."); and Q9:30 ("The Jews say, 'Uzair is the son of Allah'; and the Christians say, 'The Messiah is the son of Allah .' That is their statement from their mouths; they imitate the saying of those who disbelieved [before them]. May Allah destroy them; how are they deluded?") is unmistakable. There is also the massacre by Muhammad of the Banu Qurayza Jews in 627. They did break a treaty with Muhammad not to fight against him on behalf of the Persians, but still .... 28

Perhaps Islam's most important contribution to Christianity is architectural. The Dome of the Rock was erected precisely on the site of the Jewish Temple destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE. It is the second holiest Moslem place in the world, behind only the Ka'ba in the Great Mosque in Mecca. Third most holy is al-Aqsa Mosque, which was built entirely in the courtyard of the Temple destroyed in 70 CE. By erecting the second and third most holy places in the Moslem world on top of the site of the destroyed Temple, Islam provided an excuse for Judaism never to erect a Temple at its most holy location, and thus not to erect a temple at all. 29 Reduced to basics, the Islam attitude with regard to the Ka'ba, the Dome of the Rock, al-Aqsa, and any prospective Temple is "this is our Holiest Place, and these are our other Holy Places, so you cannot have your Holiest Place." Not exactly reasonable, now, is it?

CONCLUSION

The foregoing establishes that "gods" originally meant "gods" as that word is used in the First Commandment. The subsequent language that provides a context from which "gods" can be interpreted as graven images - aka false idols - was added at a considerably later date to obscure this fact. Consequently, it must be conceded that the commandments, as well as the rest of the law, were not revealed as related in the Old Testament, but rather the story of the giving of the law was an invention motivated by a desire to portray the Hebrew god as truly awesome (not to mention obedience of the law purportedly given). This renders Judaism a bogus religion. So, too, is Christianity, which regards the Old Testament as part and parcel of its religion. See Matthew 5:17. And so, too, is Islam, which embraced the accounts in the Torah of the giving of the law in verse 44 of chapter 5 of the Quran.

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FOOTNOTES


1. See Exodus 19:17-20. Note that all quotes herein are from KJV
2. W. F. Albright, The Biblical Period from Abraham to Ezra: An Historical Survey, Harper & Row, New York, 1963, p. 5.
3. Jean Bottero, translated by Teresa Lavender Fagan, Religion in Ancient Mesopotamia, University of Chicago Press, 2001, p. 102.
4. The Catholic Study Bible, Oxford University Press, 1990, Commentary to Gen 6:5-8, 22: The account of the flood "go[es] back to an ancient Mesopotamian story of a great flood, preserved in the eleventh tablet of the Gilgamesh Epic. The latter account, in some respects remarkably similar to the biblical account, is in others very different from it.", at p. 10
5. Bottero, p. 105-110.
6. See Malachi 4:5 (that's 3:23 in the New American Bible), Matthew 11:14; but cf. John 1:21)
7. Bottero, p. 45.
8. Bottero, p. 42.
9. Bottero, p. 53.
10. Bottero, p. 44-69.
11. Bottero, p 62, citing Epic of Gilgamesh, I:46.
12. Carola Kloos, Yhwh's Combat with the Sea: A Canaanite Tradition in the Religion of Ancient Israel, G.A. van Oorschot, Amsterdam, 1986, p. 213.)
13. The Catholic Study Bible, Commentary to Psalms 29:6, at p. 663.
14. E.g., Osiris, Isis, and Horus; various members of the Ennead; Amun-Ra, Mut, and Konsu; see generally Geraldine Pinch, Egyptian Mythology: A Guide to Gods, Goddesses, and Traditions of Ancient Egypt, Oxford University Press, 2002
15. See, e.g., Christopher Peterson, convicted serial killer, at http://www.nwitimes.com/uncategorized/peterson-i-m-not-a-monster/article_a621f48a-e684-5381-95c5-f9f0599019d0.html . Printing his view is highly questionable as it invites the inference that it was something he knew that enabled him to avoid the death penalty. Any rebuttal of that accusation that I levy should include an explanation of how he was right.
16. See Daniel 12; see also infra)
17. Prods Oktor Skjaervo, The Spirit of Zoroastrianism, Yale University Press, New Haven, 2011, p. 32-33; see generally Jenny Rose, Zoroastrianism: An Introduction, I.B. Tauris, London, 2011.
18. R. N. Whybray, The Making of the Pentateuch: A Methodological Study, Sheffield Academic Press, 1987, p 17; see generally pp. 1 - 130)
19. Albright, p. 13.
20. The Catholic Study Bible, Reading Guide 151.
21. See Judges 2:11, 2:12, 2:17, 6:25, 10:6, 10:10, 10:13, 1 Kings 16:32-33, 18:21 - the list is not intended to be exhaustive.
22. Catholic Study Bible, commentary to Isaiah 45:1).
23. The Quran is divided into 114 Surahs, the Quran equivalent of chapters. Each citation that follows will be to a chapter and verse; e.g., Q1:1 refers to the first verse of the first chapter. The Quran is online, and feel free to verify that the verses say what I say they say.
24. The Ashtiname of Muhammad was a letter of protection from Muhammad to the St. Catherine's Monastery located on the Sinai Peninsula in return for the monastery having granted him asylum at some earlier date.
25. Martin Lings, Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources, Inner Traditions, Rochester Vermont, 2006, p. 301
26. Id. at 301 -302.
27. However only in the first person some times the pronouns I, My or Mine (Ana, Iyaya, ya) are used and sometimes We, Us and Our (Nahnu, Na) are used. This is a style of speech. Sometime the speaker says I and sometime says we. We also use that in our conversations. In the Qur'an you will see that often the first person singular such as I or My is used, when Allah speaks about His love, care and closeness and forgiveness for His servants. In a similar way the first person plural is often used when Allah speaks about His power, majesty, glory, great deeds or when He speaks about His anger and wrath for the sinners and criminals. (This is, of course, the general use. Sometime the reverse is also the case, depending on the context of the Surah.) http://www.islam101.com/tauheed/AllahWE.htm
28. "The women and children were taken away to the city where they were lodged, and the men spent the night in the camp where they recited the Torah and exhorted one another to firmness and patience. In the morning the Prophet ordered trenches, long and deep and narrow, to be dug in the marketplace. The men, about seven hundred in all - according to some accounts more and to others less - were sent for in small groups, and every group was made to sit alongside the trench that was to be his grave. Then 'Ali and Zubayr and others of the younger Companions cut off their heads, each with a stroke of the sword." Lingus, p. 240. (This sounds so eerily similar to some of Hitler's executions during the Holocaust that one cannot help but wonder whether Hitler contrived them to do so. See also ISIS.)
29. The first order of business upon return from Babylonian Captivity was the construction of the Second Temple, which was also destroyed, this time by the Romans in 70 CE. In 614, the Persians took Jerusalem from the Byzantines and placed Nehemiah ben Hushiel in charge, who purportedly planned the construction of a third temple.

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