I usually read what Muslim apologists write with awe and wonder because of their dubious reasoning skills, but never until now have I encountered something where I can't stop myself from laughing as I do about this one.
Recently I came across an article by Abdullah Smith, one of the writers of "answering-christianity", titled "The False Jesus of Christianity" (here). I would like to use it as an illustrative and revealing example of the kind of "scholarly research" that Muslim apologists go through before they publish anything.
The thrust of the above mentioned article is that the Islamic description of Jesus is true while the Christian one is not, and that Christians have invented a Jesus that never actually existed. The article is full of quotations and a reader unfamiliar with these theories may get the impression that this is a scholarly article. This is not the case, however, when we look at those quotations a bit more carefully.
Smith's quotations in the whole article can be categorized in the following way.
1. Misquotations from Church Fathers like his misquotation from Tertullian.
He writes: "You have now our answer to the Antitheses compendiously indicated by us. I pass on to give a proof of the Gospel not, to be sure, of Jewry, but of Pontus having become meanwhile adulterated; and this shall indicate the order by which we proceed. (Tertullian Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. III, (Source)"
What shall be noted here is that his whole point collapses once we read the rest of the quote that he omits:
You have now our answer to the Antitheses compendiously indicated by us. I pass on to give a proof of the Gospel--not, to be sure, of Jewry, but of Pontus--having become meanwhile adulterated; and this shall indicate the order by which we proceed. We lay it down as our first position, that the evangelical Testament has apostles for its authors, to whom was assigned by the Lord Himself this office of publishing the gospel. Since, however, there are apostolic men also, they are yet not alone, but appear with apostles and after apostles; because the preaching of disciples might be open to the suspicion of an affectation of glory, if there did not accompany it the authority of the masters, which means that of Christ, for it was that which made the apostles their masters. Of the apostles, therefore, John and Matthew first instil faith into us; whilst of apostolic men, Luke and Mark renew it afterwards. These all start with the same principles of the faith, so far as relates to the one only God the Creator and His Christ, how that He was born of the Virgin, and came to fulfil the law and the prophets. Never mind if there does occur some variation in the order of their narratives, provided that there be agreement in the essential matter of the faith, in which there is disagreement with Marcion. Marcion, on the other hand, you must know, ascribes no author to his Gospel, as if it could not be allowed him to affix a title to that from which it was no crime (in his eyes) to subvert the very body. (Tertullian, Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. III, The Five Books Against Marcion, Book IV, Chapt. II., source)
Tertullian's point had nothing to do with what Smith wanted to pin on him. He was simply saying that Marcion doesn't hold to the authority of the Bible.
2. Quotations taken from fellow Muslims.
For instance: "The argument is simple: the Torah and the Gospel were originally Revelations from God Almighty; however, certain groups have changed and altered these books for whatever reasons. Due to this fact, their purity and status as the unadulterated Word of God has diminished. (Faisal Siddiqui, The Bibles Last Prophet, p. 7)"
Such a quote demonstrates nothing but that Muslims don't like the Bible, but this is something we already know. The rest of the quotes that Smith uses from his fellow Muslim apologists have no merits in them because they are simply projections of their own opinions.
3. Another method of scholarly quoting by Smith is to cut and paste chunks of articles written by some other anti-Christian authors like the following:
|www.infidels.org||Abdullah Smith at www.answering-christianity.com|
The scholar Kersey Graves exposes the pagan title “son of God”, which originated from the pagan cults.
What Smith didn't tell his reader is the warning that the Infidels website had the courage and integrity to place at the very top of the web page he copied from:
Note: the scholarship of Kersey Graves has been questioned by numerous theists and nontheists alike; the inclusion of his The World's Sixteen Crucified Saviors in the Secular Web's Historical Library does not constitute endorsement by Internet Infidels, Inc. This document was included for historical purposes; readers should be extremely cautious in trusting anything in this book.
For more information, see: Kersey Graves and The World's Sixteen Crucified Saviors by Richard Carrier
Instead of passing on this warning, Abdullah Smith does the exact opposite. He elevates the author and increase his weight by introducing his quotation with the statement: "The scholar Kersey Graves exposes the pagan title “son of God”, which originated from the pagan cults." Abdullah Smith can hardly plead ignorance or oversight on this issue. He knows very well, that Graves is not considered a scholar even by virulently anti-Christian atheists.
Additional comment by Wildcat:
In fact, utilizing questionable sources for information about the Bible and/or Christianity seems to be a staple of Mr. Smith. Of the numerous articles of his that I've read (which is a sizeable number, though not exhaustive), Smith regularly reproduces quotes from non-authorities like Tom Harpur, Lloyd Graham, G.A. Wells, Thomas Paine, etc., whose views would not be taken seriously by mainstream New Testament scholars. (Amazingly, Smith even quoted Dan Brown as an authority in a couple of rebuttals (1, 2) to Sam Shamoun! Until seeing that I wouldn't have thought it likely that even the most uninformed of atheists and/or Muslim apologists would have reached that deeply into the proverbial well of desperation.) Members of the Jesus Seminar (like e.g. Robert Funk) are among the few sources I've seen utilized regularly by Smith that would even be treated as recognized authorities in the field of New Testament scholarship, though even their views represent the radical, left-wing fringe of New Testament scholarship and would not be representative of mainstream views. The only scholar that I've seen used by Smith that could truly be considered "mainstream" would be the late, great Raymond Brown. While Brown was clearly not an inerrantist (which was one reason that Smith was able to quote him to confirm one or more of his arguments), he did however confirm key Christian doctrines like the virgin birth, divinity, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
All of this is not to say that Smith's views are rendered incorrect simply because they go against the mainstream, or even because the majority of his arguments seem to stem from non-scholarly sources (Robert Funk and Raymond Brown being a couple of the noted exceptions). However, it does demonstrate the methodological fallacy involved in merely providing quotes by such non-authorities and simply concluding that the material provided in these quotes is "gospel-truth". The reader would certainly be diligent to consider such viewpoints critically, and that's putting it generously.
4. This one is my absolute favorite among all of Smith's scholarly quotes. Smith claims: "Jerome, the 4th century Latin scholar also said: Great is the force of deceit! provided it is not excited by a treacherous intention 2"
When we go to Smith's source we find that the citation was removed. I tried to follow the quotation to find out where he got it from. First, I found that his claim about Jerome is false. The quotation, or rather the misquotation, is actually found in the writings of St. John Chrysostom. Second, I found that the actual quote says the following:
But, my admirable and excellent Sir, this is the very reason why I took the precaution of saying that it was a good thing to employ this kind of deceit, not only in war, and in dealing with enemies, but also in peace, and in dealing with our dearest friends. For as a proof that it is beneficial not only to the deceivers, but also to those who are deceived; if you go to any of the physicians and ask them how they relieve their patients from disease, they will tell you that they do not depend upon their professional skill alone, but sometimes conduct the sick to health by availing themselves of deceit, and blending the assistance which they derive from it with their art. For when the waywardness of the patient and the obstinacy of the complaint baffle the counsels of the physicians, it is then necessary to put on the mask of deceit in order that, as on the stage, they may be able to hide what really takes place. ... Do you see the advantage of deceit? And if any one were to reckon up all the tricks of physicians the list would run on to an indefinite length. And not only those who heal the body but those also who attend to the diseases of the soul may be found continually making use of this remedy. Thus the blessed Paul attracted those multitudes of Jews: with this purpose he circumcised Timothy, although he warned the Galatians in his letter that Christ would not profit those who were circumcised. For this cause he submitted to the law, although he reckoned the righteousness which came from the law but loss after receiving the faith in Christ. For great is the value of deceit, provided it be not introduced with a mischievous intention. In fact action of this kind ought not to be called deceit, but rather a kind of good management, cleverness and skill, capable of finding out ways where resources fail, and making up for the defects of the mind. For I would not call Phinees a murderer, although he slew two human beings with one stroke: nor yet Elias after the slaughter of the 100 soldiers, and the captain, and the torrents of blood which he caused to be shed by the destruction of those who sacrificed to devils. For if we were to concede this, and to examine the bare deeds in themselves apart from the intention of the doers, one might if he pleased judge Abraham guilty of child-murder and accuse his grandson and descendant of wickedness and guile. For the one got possession of the birthright, and the other transferred the wealth of the Egyptians to the host of the Israelites. But this is not the case: away with the audacious thought! For we not only acquit them of blame, but also admire them because of these things, since even God commended them for the same. For that man would fairly deserve to be called a deceiver who made an unrighteous use of the practice, not one who did so with a salutary purpose. And often it is necessary to deceive, and to do the greatest benefits by means of this device, whereas he who has gone by a straight course has done great mischief to the person whom he has not deceived. (Source)
As we see once more, Smith doesn't even know his own source or where he is getting his stuff from.
The matter gets even funnier when he says: "The dubious Church historian Eusebius of Caesarea (d. 340 CE) is reported to have said: 'It is an act of virtue to deceive and lie, when by such means the interests of the church might be promoted 1."
This one is extremely hilarious because his source, which is a guy named "Bill Zebub" (an allusion to a name of Satan (*), something that should certainly boost the confidence in the quality of his writings in Muslim eyes) doesn't mention where he got his quote from. But after a little research I found the source which turned out to be nothing less than the very scholarly book <wink> by Madame Blavatsky, Isis Unveiled, Vol. II, p. 303.
Her actual words were: "the maxim adopted later by the Church that "it is an act of virtue to deceive and lie, when by such means the interests of the Church might be promoted." A maxim applied in its fullest sense by that accomplished professor in forgery, the Armenian Eusebius; or yet, that innocent-looking bible-kaleidoscopist Irenaeus."
First, she is not actually quoting any of the Church Fathers. She is only accusing them because what they wrote doesn't support her own conclusion(s). Furthermore, she does tell us in her book that she is quoting "Ecclesiastical History." That seems very scholarly, and hence the case is closed to the untrained reader. Fact one: there exist dozens of books by this title. Fact two: this quotation doesn't appear in any of Eusebius writings. The book in question the one she is quoting from with that title is one written by John Lawrence von Mosheim, originally published in 1755. The original quotation says: "To these defects in the moral system of the age, must be added two principal errors now wellnigh publicly adopted, and from which afterwards immense evils resulted. The first was, that to deceive and lie, is a virtue, when religion can be promoted by it. The other was, that errors in religion, when maintained and adhered to after proper admonition, ought to be visited with penalties and punishments" (Mosheim, John Lawrence von. The Institutes of Ecclesiastical History, Ancient and Modern. Volume I. tr. James Murdock. (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1847), Book II, Century IV, Part II, Chapter III, Sec. 2 (p. 259). (Source)
As the reader can see, the quote doesn't talk about Eusebius or any other church father.
Do you agree with me that this is a hilarious way to do research?
It starts with an anti-Christian writer quoting anything whatsoever, and then suggests that Christians have done that. Then, it gets carried on by atheists as though its history. Finally the fallacious quote is misquoted by Muslim apologists as an absolute proof!
And it is not sufficient to quote it in merely one article, Abdullah Smith has to repeat the same false quotation in at least three of them: (1) The Apostle Martyrdoms, (2) False Jesus of Christianity, (3) The Genealogies of Jesus Christ.
The question one must ask is clear and simple: Is this kind of rubbish really what is passing now as Islamic apologetics?
Comment by the editor: The different approach to research, scholarship and intellectual integrity in dealing with sources exhibited between Abdullah Smith and B.K. is obvious to anyone. That may be one of several reasons accounting for the fact that Abdullah is a Western convert from Christianity to Islam, while B.K. is an Arab convert from Islam to Christianity. Both of them have finally arrived in an environment that is not only suitable to their taste but hospitable to their individual level of commitment to truth. Abdullah Smith now writes for Osama Abdallah and his website, and B.K. joined the team of Answering Islam. I congratulate Osama Abdallah for finding a like-minded companion.
Addition by Sam Shamoun:
A further example of Smiths dishonest use and distortion of sources is a citation taken from reformed Evangelical Trinitarian scholar Dr. James R. White to give the impression that this Christian apologist was denying that the Apostolic father Ignatius believed in the absolute, eternal Deity of Christ:
The professor James White of Grand Canyon University says:
Even if Ignatius had said that the Son was equal to the Father in eternity, power, position, and wisdom, it would still not be a Trinity, for nowhere did he say that the holy spirit was equal to God in those ways. But Ignatius did not say that the Son was equal to God the Father in such ways or in any other. Instead, he showed that the Son is in subjection to the One who is superior, Almighty God. (1) (Rebuttal to Sam Shamoun On the "Deity" of the Holy Spirit; source)
These are not the statements of Dr. White; rather they are the statements of an article produced by the Jehovahs Witnesses Watchtower Bible and Tract Society which tried to undermine the witness which Ignatiuss writings provide for the Deity of the Lord Jesus being held by the very disciples of the Apostles of Christ. In fact, the title says it all:
Historical Dishonesty and the Watchtower Society
A Review of the Watchtower's Comments Concerning the View of Ignatius of Antioch and the Deity of Christ
And here is what Dr. White says right after the above quote:
We must note the direct assertion that Ignatius "did not say that the Son was equal to God the Father" in eternity, power, position, or wisdom. As we examine the genuine Ignatian materials, we will see the importance of this claim. Following this paragraph, the Watchtower article goes on to provide three paragraphs of quotations from the longer version of the seven genuine Ignatian epistles, as well as from the pseudo-Ignatian epistles. *No citations are provided from the earliest, Greek versions of the genuine Ignatian writings.* These citations will be examined in their place.
It seems that the author is aware that he is leaving out a great deal of testimony to the deity of Christ, for he goes on to say,
True, Ignatius calls the Son "God the Word." But using the word "God" for the Son does not necessarily mean equality with Almighty God. The Bible also calls the Son "God" at Isaiah 9:6. John 1:18 calls the Son "the only-begotten god." Being vested with power and authority from Jehovah God, the Father, the Son could properly be termed a "mighty one," which is what "god" basically means.--Matthew 28:18, 1 Corinthians 8:6; Hebrews 1:2.
We will examine, later, the validity of this claim with reference to Ignatius' use of the term "God." (Source)
He also refutes the claim that the epistles which speak of the Deity of Christ were forgeries, not written by Ignatius, a point made by Smith:
At this point the author introduces the issue of the authenticity of the Ignatian literature that he has cited:
However, are the 15 letters attributed to Ignatius accepted as authentic? In _The Ante-Nicene Fathers_, Volume I, editors Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson state:
"It is now the universal opinion of critics, that the first eight of these professedly Ignatian letters are spurious. They bear in themselves indubitable proofs of being the production of a later age...and they are now by common consent set aside as forgeries."
"Of the seven Epistles which are acknowledged by Eusebius...,we possess two Greek recensions, a shorter and a longer....Although the shorter form...had been generally accepted in preference to the longer, there was still a pretty prevalent opinion among scholars, that even it could not be regarded as absolutely free from interpolations, or as of undoubted authenticity."
We note again that our author, though providing this information, does not directly tell his readers that *all of the citations he provided earlier were taken either from the longer version of the genuine epistles, or from those epistles that, by the "universal opinion of critics" are set aside as spurious.* In fact, in the concluding paragraph, he says that "some" phrases that show Christ as subordinate to God are eliminated by using only the genuine Ignatian writings. Actually, *all* of the author's citations are eliminated by sticking with the original writings of Ignatius. We read,
If we accept the shorter version of his writings as genuine, it does eliminate some phrases (in the longer version) that show Christ as subordinate to God, but what is left in the shorter version still does not show a Trinity. And regardless of which of his writings are genuine, they show at best that Ignatius believed in a duality of God and his Son. This was certainly not a duality of equals, for the Son is always presented as lesser than God and subordinate to him. Thus, regardless of how one views the Ignatian writings, the Trinity doctrine is not to be found in them.
Note that the author does not openly admit that if he were limited to the genuine Ignatian writings that *all* of his citations would be removed from him. Further, he asserts that the "shorter version still does not show a Trinity." He further says that "the Son is always presented as lesser than God and subordinate to him."
Thus we have the presentation of the Watchtower Society on the beliefs of Ignatius, bishop of Antioch. Millions of people world-wide have now read these words, and believe implicitly that the ancient Father Ignatius did not say "that the Son was equal to God the Father" in any way. Before we examine all the claims made by this article, we will stop to allow the true Ignatius to speak for himself. (Bold and underline emphasis ours)
After proving that the genuine epistles of Ignatius do contain statements regarding Jesus being fully God, while also being personally distinct from the Father, Dr. White concludes:
Let us summarize Ignatius' view. Seven times Ignatius directly calls Jesus Christ "God." Four of these times he uses the phrase "our God" or its equivalent. He expresses his belief that Jesus Christ raised Himself from the dead, and in describing Him, uses such terms as "eternal," "invisible," "impalpable," and "impassible." He speaks of Christ as "God in man," "true life in death," and as "Son of Mary and Son of God." To any serious investigator, Ignatius' belief in the deity of Christ could not be more clear.
It is truly incredible that anyone could write an article that allegedly gives an accurate view of Ignatius' view of Christ *without* citing the above passages, or even mentioning their existence! The deception is only compounded by the fact that the real Ignatian beliefs are hidden behind citations of non-Ignatian materials! We turn now to an examination of the claims made in the article itself.
The author of the Watchtower article, however, does not seem to be aware of this. As he attempts to press each of the Fathers into a Witness mold, he makes statement after statement that would require him to have the gift of omniscience to make with certainty. He does the same with Ignatius. In the very first paragraph we read,
Assuming that all the writings attributed to him were authentic, in none of them is there an equality of Father, Son, and holy spirit.
We have seen that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are joined together in the one work of redemption by Ignatius in Ephesians 9, cited above. We noted how reminiscent this is to New Testament examples, such as that at Ephesians 4:4-5 and 2 Corinthians 1:21-22. Further, we must rightly assert that Ignatius was not a "henotheist;" that is, Ignatius was a monotheist, and did not believe in "secondary" gods. Hence, when Ignatius refers to "our God, Jesus Christ," he is not speaking of "our secondary god, Jesus Christ." Therefore, the equality of the Father and Son is to be found in Ignatius.
But Ignatius did not say that the Son was equal to God the Father in such ways or in any other.
We have already seen that Ignatius directly asserted the full deity of Christ. He described Christ as being eternal (Polycarp 3) and ingenerate (Ephesians 7). The term "ingenerate" is the Greek "agennetos", a common patristic description of the uncreated, eternal nature of the one God. Obviously, then, with reference to eternity, the Father and the Son would be equal. How, then, does the Watchtower writer attempt to substantiate his claims? He presses into service the pseudo-Ignatian epistles, as well as the longer recension of the true Ignatian letters. The first quotation presented comes from the longer version of the epistle to the Ephesians, ironically enough, section 7. We have seen above that the real epistle contains at this point a tremendously strong Christological confession, wherein Christ is called "generate and ingenerate" and "God in man."
Note the following items: First, in the true epistle, the term "ingenerate" used here of the Father (and clearly showing His eternal deity) is used of Christ. Second, it is highly educational to note the very next sentence in the quotation from the longer recension, a quotation, again, conveniently skipped by the Watchtower:
We have also a Physician the Lord our God, Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son and Word, before time began, but who afterwards became also man, or Mary the virgin
The attempt on the part of the Watchtower Society to deflect the description of Christ as "God" in various Biblical passages (Isaiah 9:6, John 1:1, 1:18) by saying that the basic meaning of "god" is "mighty one" is tremendously weak. First, Biblically speaking, the contexts in which Christ is called God make is painfully clear that the author is not simply saying that He is a "mighty one." But specifically in the context of Ignatius' writings, our writer does not even attempt to make a case that there is a basis for reading Ignatius' use of the term "God" with reference to Jesus Christ as nothing more than a description of Him as a "mighty one." A brief examination of the citations above reveals the following: In Ephesians 1, Ignatius speaks of "the will of the Father and of Jesus Christ our God." The divine will is predicated of Christ. In Romans 1 we see Ignatius speaking of "faith and love towards Jesus Christ our God." One does not have faith in "mighty ones," and the greatest commandment is to "love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength" (Mark 12:30). In the introduction of the letter to the Smyrneans, Ignatius gives *glory* "to Jesus Christ the God who bestowed such wisdom upon you." One does not give glory to a secondary "mighty one," and one does not speak of wisdom being bestowed by anyone but the true God. There is no question that Ignatius viewed the Son has having the very *fullness of Deity* that Paul ascribed to Him as well (Colossians 2:9)
It is obvious to any semi-impartial reader that the Watchtower is not the least bit interested in what Ignatius *actually* believed about Jesus Christ. It is their purpose to make Ignatius into one of Jehovah's Witnesses. Just as the Watchtower Society has smuggled their doctrines into the Bible by mistranslating numerous passages (John 1:1, 8:58, Colossians 1:16-17, 2:9, Titus 2:13, 2 Peter 1:1, Revelation 3:14, etc. and etc.), so they show a willingness to grossly misrepresent an early Father of the Christian Church regarding his belief in the deity of Christ. We cannot possibly accept any excuses for this kind of deceptive writing--poor scholarship is one thing, but this goes far beyond simply poor scholarship. This article shows definite, pre-meditated deception. It's purpose is to misrepresent Ignatius' beliefs, and in so doing confirm millions of Jehovah's Witnesses world-wide in their beliefs. When we think of the fact that the vast majority of those individuals do not have recourse to Ignatius' actual writings, so as to discover the truth for themselves, the grave responsibility that lies upon the shoulders of the Watchtower Society for this deception becomes clear.
The venerable bishop of Antioch at the turn of the first century of the Christian era believed heartily in the deity of Jesus Christ. As he often confessed Christ to be His God, he was but following the Apostolic example seen in Thomas (John 20:28), John (John 1:1), Paul (Titus 2:13) and Peter (2 Peter 1:1). No amount of misrepresentation can hide the truth of the Christian belief summarized so well by Paul, "For in Him dwells all the fullness of Deity in bodily form" (Colossians 2:9). (Bold and underline emphasis ours)
As the reader can clearly see, Dr. White was exposing the Watchtowers deliberate misuse and distortion of what Ignatius actually wrote concerning the full Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ. Smith has quoted the portion from the Watchtower article which Dr. White was addressing and erroneously attributed to Dr. White! In so doing, he has done the very thing that the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society did to the writings of an eyewitness of the Apostles. For more on Dr. Whites views and to read some of his other responses to the Jehovahs Witnesses please consult the following link: http://aomin.org/Witnesses.html
Finally, Smith's claims that Ignatius' epistles are forgeries contradict the view of his fellow colleague and writer Sami Zaatari. In one reply (*), Zaatari takes for granted that Ignatius' letters are genuine in order to make his case that Christian veneration of Mary began very early in Christian history. Zaatari would presumably not be quoting Ignatius if he felt that the letters attributed to him were forgeries. But if Smith is correct that these epistles are inauthentic then Ignatius cannot serve as an early witness in support of Zaatari's position. Thus, Zaatari's own comrade has managed to soundly debunk a major part of his case regarding Mary being venerated early on in Christian history!
It is truly amusing to see how Osama's staff of apologists constantly contradict one another in their attempts of debunking God's truth, the Holy Bible.
A response by Abdullah Smith
Within a few hours after the publication of this article, Abdullah Smith responded with a very long and vitriolic email. Here are just a couple of lines from the resident scholar of answering-christianity.com that most readers may find quite entertaining:
I was just testing you Fat Bastard, I deliberately misquoted James White to test you. I read the article from which I was quoting from, and I misquoted James White to TEST your fat ass. ...
Prepare to have your faith shaken! Soon we shall destroy your articles, one by one. ...
A Message to Infidel Shamoun:
I will never become a devil (Christian) again, I will never come back to your false religion. You are going to hell. ...
Although these words speak for themselves, let me add two thoughts for now:
Does Mr. Smith want to say that all his articles were not supposed to be taken seriously because they were merely tests? Tests of whom or what and for what reason? Note that this was not a private test in a controlled environment. Does Mr. Smith consider it ethical to mislead hundreds or even thousands of readers by using deliberate lies, simply to test one person?
Actually, I wonder whether the "test" hypothesis holds only for the articles written by Smith, or whether answering-christianity.com in its entirety is only a test run, and nothing published on that site was ever meant to be taken seriously. It may be an interesting research project to pursue this question: How many of the articles of answering-christianity.com have stood this test and are now published elsewhere on serious Islamic websites? What is their total number, and what is the percentage of articles which passed the test? Obviously, we can only count those articles which were originally published on this site, not those that were first published elsewhere but which Osama Abdallah merely copied to his test site to make it appear bigger and more important than it is, and to camouflage the fact that he is only running a test site.
Please tell us, on which site you are going to publish your real articles, those that will destroy us, so that we are not going to waste our time with more unsubstantiated arguments that are just being published to test various people.
Secondly, for argument's sake, let's assume that Mr. Smith misquoted James White deliberately (that is not difficult to believe), and that he did so only for the purpose of testing the writers of Answering Islam (not so credible), and his response email was therefore simply his peculiar way of congratulating us for passing his test. What are the implications of such an assumption?
Before we can discuss this alleged test, and explore its consequences, we have to define what test we are talking about. The following is a reasonable rule for the game: (A) Someone who is the first one to create/publish a particular misquotation is the person who tests others. (B) People who realize that a quotation is wrong and expose it as false have passed the test. (C) People who believe misquotations put up by others have failed the test. However, since "believing misquotations" is something internal to the brain of a person and cannot objectively be verified, we can only do it this way: Those who repeat and/or pass on (utilize) misquotations without exposing them as wrong have failed the test.
Since we found and exposed Smith's own misquotation of James White — and many other misquotations as well — we clearly passed the test. Mr. Smith, on the other hand, blindly and uncritically copied plenty of misquotations into his articles — misquotations originally created by others — and was not able to see that they are wrong. By his own criterion, Mr. Smith failed the test.
By the same test, chief-editor Osama Abdallah failed as well. He received all those misquotations incorporated in the articles of gullible Mr. Smith, and uncritically published them.
A challenge to Abdullah Smith
In the first part of this paper, B. K. has shown that several of Smith's quotations are false and/or incorrectly attributed, and he has proven where they actually came from. There is another quotation that I would like to direct attention to:
Regarding the trial of Jesus, Lloyd Graham states:
"In the nineteenth century an eminent scholar, Rabbi Wise, searched the records of Pilates court, still extant, for evidence of this trial. He found nothing."
(Deceptions and Myths of the Bible, p. 343)
Smith includes this quotation not only in several of his articles (1, 2, 3, 4), he clearly believes it, because he formulates this as a statement of fact, in his own words, e.g. in the introduction to this article: "the Roman records of Pilate DO NOT mention Jesus. Thousands of criminals were crucified by the Romans, but no record exists of Jesus, simply because the Pilate did not crucify him."
Out of hundreds of claims/quotations in his papers, he chose this one and placed it at the very top of the index page to his section. This can only mean that it is one of those quotes that impressed him the most, and which he considers most important. And, if Smith cares for truth at all, he must consider this to be most trustworthy and reliable, an established fact.
Therefore, I challenge him to substantiate this claim, his very own "top claim".
As it has been shown that Lloyd Graham is in general not a reliable source, it is all the more incumbent on Smith to verify whatever he wants to use of this author. I will not reject this claim simply because it is stated in a book by Lloyd Graham. Even liars, wackos and psychopaths occasionally speak the truth. But one should not simply believe it because somebody wrote it and somebody else even printed it.
Since Abdullah Smith may not be familiar with the steps that are necessary to research the validity of a claim, let me give him an outline of what he would have to do:
Frankly, I am convinced that this whole claim is bogus and that Rabbi Wise never examined records of Pilate simply because they did not exist in his time. But Smith made the claim, and the burden of proof is on him. If he believes and propates this claim, it is his duty to bring the evidence. A reference to some cheap anti-Christian polemic by Lloyd Graham who is not a recognized scholar in any field is simply not enough.
Just so that Smith sees the necessity to actually do something about it, here are two other quotations that stand in contradiction to the one that he loves so much, and which seems to be a substantial element of his "confidence" and arrogant rejection and ridicule of Christianity:
The Mediterranean has been burnt and looted for 2000 years, and we’re actually fortunate to have as much data as we do—although it is sad that the great Crusader conquest of Constantinople in 1204 included the wholesale destruction of the Roman imperial archives, including the trial records of Pilate’s governorship of Judaea. (Source)
192 AD : Imperial archives in Rome are destroyed by fire. (Source)
These two quotations seem to be contradictory. But my point is not to prove one or the other, or even to present a harmonization of them that explains how both of them can actually be true. The point is that according to these people, the Imperial archives have been destroyed long before the life-time of Rabbi Wise. On what basis do Graham and Smith claim that (1) Rabbi Wise examined them, and they were (2) complete when he examined them, but (3) without any mention of a trial of Jesus? Please present your evidence that what you claimed — not only by way of quotation but even in your own words — is indeed true.
One should ponder this: If those alleged records of Pilate had really existed into the 19th Century, many scholars would have examined them, Christians and atheists and Jews, not only Rabbi Wise. There would exist a considerable literature about them, just as every other ancient books is examined and written about by many scholars. And there would be plenty of Christian webpages drawing proofs for the Christian faith from them, if they confirmed the Bible, and plenty of atheist webpages using them as proof against Christianity if they contradicted the Bible. The very fact that one can hardly find anything factual about these alleged records is in itself 99% proof that they simply do not exist and have disappeared a very long time ago, certainly long before the 19th Century.
Mr. Smith, I can guarantee you that if you do not even make an effort to verify this claim, but continue to propagate it unsubstantiated, you will soon become the laughing-stock and butt of all jokes, similarly to Osama Abdallah who "proved" Muhammad's claim of 360 joints in the human body by reference to a phone number extension at an American hospital.
Yet another response by Abdullah Smith
After having been informed about the addition of the above two sections, Smith responded on 7 September 2006:
Hey bikini lover
Do you think I won't destroy that article? Believe me you turd, I am already refuting that article.
I will humilate you, and your entire team.
This promise seems to indicate that the discussion about his false claims and misquotations is not over yet. I am not sure how one can possibly refute the first two parts of this article, since a misquotation is a misquotation is a misquotation, but we are certainly not going to run away from this. Stay tuned.
1. In fact, Smith awards the title "scholar" rather freely. Apparently this is one of Smith's strategies of deception. We have already seen that he called Kersey Graves a scholar despite the fact that the source from which he took the quotation explicitly states that Grave's material is highly questionable and unscholarly.
Here it is exactly the same approach. Smith writes, "The scholar Lloyd Graham records the discovery of Rabbi Wise in his book Deceptions and Myths of the Bible" (source). Would Smith please inform his readership in what field Graham is a scholar? Has he earned any academic degrees? In which academic journals has he published his research?
The same question holds in regard to "the scholar Michael Baigent" (source), "scholar T.W. Doane" (source), "the scholar Shelby Spong" (source), "Biblical scholar Tom Harper" (source), etc.
2. There is an additional problem that complicates this matter tremendously. Not only will Smith have great trouble finding any hard evidence for his claim, but he would invest all this effort into the destruction of Islam. This surprising conclusion is explained in detail in the article, Abdullah Smith's war against the Crucifixion: Examining one Muslim's intellectual suicide mission.
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