In his first letter to the church of Corinth, in chapter 2 verses 9-10, Paul makes the statement:
However, as it is written:
"No eye has seen,
no ear has heard,
no mind has conceived
what God has prepared for those who love him"
— but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.
Since the part placed in quotation marks is not found verbatim elsewhere in the Bible, the question arises what could be the source for it, or what Paul could have meant by the phrase "as it is written". This question is not new and has been discussed by many biblical scholars. We will present their answers and explanations below.
Muslim polemicists Tera Tak Adamar & Mohd Elfie Nieshaem Juferi (TM for short) seemingly thought that this passage offers the perfect opportunity to attack the credibility of the Apostle Paul. They have written an article, titled 'The Apocryphal Books of Elijah' & Paul, arguing that Paul cited a non-canonical text as Scripture. The authors assert that in 1 Corinthians 2:9 Paul is quoting from the Apocalypse of Elijah and conclude from this that, therefore, Paul wasnt an inspired Apostle of God.
The immediate problem with their assertion is that the extant manuscripts of the Apocalypse of Elijah post-date the NT writings, a point which they themselves acknowledge! Apparently without realizing that this fact destroys their argument, they write:
This apocryphal work is dated around the end of the fourth century C.E. or the beginning of the fifth century C.E. whereas 1 Corinthians was written by Paul after 57 C.E.
apocryphal books of Elijah
This edition, based on P. Chester Beatty 2018, was edited by Albert Pietersma and Susan Turner Comstock. The document is dated at the end of the fourth century C.E. or the beginning of the fifth century C.E. It is said to constitute a separate, independent work. This particular manuscript provides thirty-four lines of text which previously were unknown. It appears that the original text was carelessly written because the copyist missed a number of errors. Facsimiles of the manuscript are included.
Amazingly, the TM-team even added the bold emphasis to the above quotation. Despite this fact, the Muslim authors still make the claim that "Paul had actually quoted ... from the 'apocryphal books of Elijah'" and they make no attempt at all to solve this chronological problem in their article. It is simply ignored. How logical is it to claim that the first century letter of Paul contains a quotation from a fourth century document? Interestingly this same quotation is also found in a saying of Muhammad recorded in Sahih al-Bukhari (more about this later). What would the Muslim authors think if we suggested that Paul more likely quoted from the Muslim traditions (a ninth century document) than from the Apocalypse of Elijah?
This chronological impossibility is the most serious but not the only problem in the claims and the way of reasoning presented by the TM-team. In the following, we will highlight several more. As minimum evidence for their hypothesis that Paul quoted from the "apocryphal books of Elijah" one would expect that they give an exact reference to and a quotation of the text which Paul allegedly borrowed so that the reader can compare the two passages for himself. However, no such reference or quotation is given. Instead they merely assert:
It is claimed that Paul had paraphrase [sic] the above citation from Isaiah:
"Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him."(Isaiah 64:4)
This is actually inaccurate, as Paul had actually quoted the above from the 'apocryphal books of Elijah' and not Isaiah 64:4. Apostolic Christians such as Origen and Jerome had confirmed the following about the source of Paul's quote:
1 Cor 2:9:[But as it is written] This passage is quoted from Isa 64:4. It is not quoted literally; but the sense only is given. The words are found in the apocryphal books of Elijah (Elias); and Origen and Jerome supposed that Paul quoted from those books. But it is evident that Paul had in his eye the passage in Isaiah; and intended to apply it to his present purpose.
The same commentary can also be found at Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament.
Placing a certain emphasis into a quotation can mislead readers to not carefully read the rest of the text. Let us change the emphasis in the above quotation to reveal that this quotation is actually not supporting the case of TM as much as it may appear at first sight.
1 Cor 2:9:[But as it is written] This passage is quoted from Isa 64:4. It is not quoted literally; but the sense only is given. The words are found in the apocryphal books of Elijah (Elias); and Origen and Jerome supposed that Paul quoted from those books. But it is evident that Paul had in his eye the passage in Isaiah; and intended to apply it to his present purpose. (bold and underlined emphasis ours)
It is obvious that Albert Barnes, the author of the above statement, is convinced that Paul quoted from Isaiah in paraphrase. As such Barnes is a witness against the hypothesis of TM, not in support of their claim. As is common in scholarly literature, Barnes also informs the reader of dissenting opinions. According to Barnes, Origen and Jerome SUPPOSED that Paul quoted from the apocryphal books of Elijah, but apparently these authors have not given sufficient evidence to convince Barnes of this opinion.
Thus, the only text that was explicitly quoted by the Muslim authors in support of their claim actually states the exact opposite of what they want the reader to believe. TM would have done much better if they had quoted Origen or Jerome directly in order to have at least a quotation that supports their case. As it is, they have none at all.
However, the TM team authors are not done yet with their blunders and misrepresentations. They claim: "The same commentary can also be found at Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Since TM have given us already plenty of reason to be suspicious of their claims, lets see whether this is indeed so. Robertson writes:
... It is not certain where Paul derives this quotation as Scripture. Origen thought it a quotation from the Apocalypse of Elias and Jerome finds it also in the Ascension of Isaiah. But these books appear to be post-Pauline, and Jerome denies that Paul obtained it from these late apocryphal books. Clement of Rome finds it in the LXX text of Isaiah 64:4 and cites it as a Christian saying. It is likely that Paul here combines freely Isaiah 64:4; Isaiah 65:17; Isaiah 52:15 in a sort of catena or free chain of quotations as he does in Romans 3:10-18. (Source; underline emphasis ours)
Robertson explicitly states that these books are probably post-Pauline, and he does NOT think they are the source of 1 Cor. 2:9, i.e. TM are misrepresenting this author as well.
Furthermore, had the two Muslim authors carefully read the statement by Robertson, they would have realized that he also contradicts their quotation taken from Barnes. According to Robertson, Jerome actually argued against Origens opinion. This leaves TM with only one instead of the claimed two early Christians holding to this opinion.
A clarification is in order here. What exactly is the claim of TM? What do they want their audience to believe after they finished reading the article?
If the Muslim authors merely wanted to inform us that Origen was of the opinion that Paul quoted from the Apocalypse of Elijah, then we agree. Origen, however, was a fallible human being and his opinions were occasionally wrong. According to all available evidence and the contemporary scholarly consensus (see below), Origen was wrong in this case.
Clearly, the purpose of TM was not to prove Origen wrong, but to discredit the authority of the Apostle Paul. Their claim was stated very explicitly:
It is claimed that Paul had paraphrase [sic] the above citation from Isaiah: ... This is actually inaccurate, as Paul had actually quoted the above from the 'apocryphal books of Elijah' and not Isaiah 64:4.
At the end of the day, TM did not provide any evidence whatsoever for their claim. Apart from misrepresenting Barnes and Robertson, their burning desire to attack the Apostle Paul made them even blind for the considerable logical blunder of claiming that Paul in AD 57 quoted from a fourth or fifth century document. The fact that their article was a team effort does not mean that each one shares only half the guilt for this shoddy research, but it doubles the weight of their errors, since they are both misrepresenting their sources and both making the bad chronological error. [Actually, a simple probability calculation would tell us that with several authors it becomes far less likely that it was mere oversight (four eyes see more than two) and much more probable that we are dealing with deliberate misrepresentation and a concerted effort to mislead the readers. The true motivation of the TM-team is their responsibility before God. Apart from this remark, we will focus on discussing the facts.]
Conclusion: the argument presented by the Muslim authors has completely failed.
However, we want to take the occasion to deal more thoroughly with the questions raised above. We will quote the results of modern scholarship about the date and nature of the apocryphal "Apocalypse of Elijah" and present what New Testament scholars are saying about the nature and probable sources of Pauls quotation in 1 Cor. 2:9. After giving answers to these two questions, we will outline Islamic reasons why the kind of critique presented by the Muslim authors fails because of various statements found in the Quran and hadith. Finally, as a test of the intellectual integrity and scholarly consistency of the Muslim authors, we will apply the same criterion that was used in this Muslim polemic with the goal to dismiss the inspiration of Pauls writings to the Islamic sources in order to see whether Muslims would accept the results of their own methodology.
The late date of the extant manuscripts of the "Apocalypse of Elijah" is an external reason that makes the assertion of the Muslim authors problematic. There are also internal reasons that make their claim highly unlikely since these manuscripts contain allusions and quotations from both the Old and New Testaments. This indicates that Christians have edited the manuscripts so as to make the theology of the Apocalypse conform to Christian doctrine:
A late third century Christian text noted for its combination of elements from different traditions, i.e., its "integration of Egyptian with Jewish and Christian literary forms." (Frankfurter 1998, 263). It drew on the Egyptian priestly tradition to produce a work of Christian prophecy (Frankfurter 1993). (http://egypt.cla.umn.edu/Cent3.html)
The Apocalypse of Elijah; transmitted in Coptic, goes back to a Jewish-Hebrew base text that is to be dated to between the 1st c. B.C.E. and the 1st c. C.E. and that originated in Egypt. All the prophecies it contains relate to Egyptian conditions. In any case, the Apocalypse of Elijah was much revised by Christians; in particular passages were introduced on the incarnation of the Son of God (20.1f.) and on the appearance of the cross at Last Judgment (32.1f.). (Dictionary of Early Christian Literature, Siegmar Dopp and Wihelm Gerlings editors [A Herder Herder Book, The Crossroad Publishing Company, New York, NY 2000; ISBN: 0-8245-1805-5], p. 192; underline emphasis ours)
S. E. Robinson writes:
"The three sections of the Testament of Adam were not written at the same time, but the final Christian redaction, in which the testament took on its present form, probably occurred in the middle or late third century A.D. This tentative date for the final redaction of the Testament of Adam is supported by several bits of evidence. First, the testament is familiar with the Christian traditions found in the New Testament and must therefore be dated after, say, A.D. 100. Second, part of the Prophecy section is quoted in the Syriac Transitus Mariae, which is dated in the late fourth century. Third, the Testament of Adam demonstrates a literary relationship at one point with the Coptic Apocalypse of Elijah, which is dated in the third century A.D. Ordinarily this might be due to copying at some later date, but here the Testament of Adam seems to preserve the passage (a description of the signs of the Messiah) in a more original form than does the Apocalypse of Elijah and should probably not be dated after that document." (The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, p. 990; see http://www.earlyjewishwritings.com/testadam.html)
The following source notes:
... The fact that Elijah is mentioned in the text might explain why his name was joined to the title, but it will be argued below that the portions of text that refer to Elijah and Enoch are Christian interpolations added to an earlier Jewish work. If that is true, the title of the original Jewish work remains unknown.
... In fact, there is reason to believe that the description of the martyrdom of Enoch and Elijah (in ch. 4) is strongly influenced by the account of two martyrs in Revelation 11:4-12 ... Not only the Christian editor who inserted the Enoch-Elijah martyrdom but also other early readers would have been aware of its dependence on Revelation. Consequently, the final Christian edition of this text, which described the martyrdom of Elijah in an "apocalyptic" manner, came to be designated "The Apocalypse of Elijah." (The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha Volume 1 Apocalyptic Literature and Testaments, edited by James H. Charlesworth [Doubleday & Company, Inc., Garden City, NY, 1983], p. 721; underline emphasis ours)
... The earliest manuscript, which Steindorff dated in the fourth century, was written in Akhmimic, and the second manuscript, which he dated at the beginning of the fifth century, was written in Sahidic ...
... fragments of two additional manuscripts have long been available. One was written in Sahidic and the other in Greek ... The Sahidic fragment itself was added in a later hand and has been dated in the first half of the fourth century.
The Greek fragment contains only a few words that parallel the Akhmimic text at 5:30-32 ... The fragment, which was first published by E. Pistelli, was also dated in the fourth century.
... a new papyrus manuscript (4th-5th cent.) from the Chester Beatty Library and Gallery of Oriental Art (inventory no. 1493) was edited by A. Pietersma, S.T. Comstock, and H. Attridge... It is written in Sahidic and covers ten folios, which contain the text of the Apocalypse of Elijah from verse 1:1 to 5:15a. (Ibid, p. 727; underline emphasis ours)
... In his Commentary on Matthew (27:9) Origen traced Pauls quotation in I Corinthians 2:9 to the Apocalypse of Elijah (in secretis Eliae). Jerome (Epistle 101 to Pammachius and Commentary on Isaiah vol. 17) did not deny that the quotation was to be found in the Apocalypse of Elijah, but he denies that Paul was dependent on an apocryphal work. The relevant point, however, is that the ancients were familiar with an Apocalypse of Elijah that spoke of things, "which the eye has not seen nor the ear heard." No such phrase is to be found in our apocalypse. (Ibid., p. 728; underline emphasis ours)
In its present form the Apocalypse of Elijah reflects a familiarity with the major collections within both the Old and New Testaments ...
Turning to the New Testament, the gospel tradition is most clearly reflected in the list of works the Antichrist will do in imitation of the true Christ (3:9f.) The influence of the Pauline corpus may be noted at many points, but it is most clearly illustrated at 2:41 and 3:1, which makes use of the description of the advent of the man of lawlessness in 2 Thessalonians. Literature from the Johannine circle is used at 1:2, which contains a quotation from 1 John 2:15, and at 4:13-14, which is dependent on Revelation 11:8f. In light of the breadth of literary allusions that appear in the text, it is quite probable that the writer knew most if not all of the books of the Old and New Testaments. We cannot, of course, draw any final conclusion about the extent of his canon on the basis of that observation. (Ibid. p. 732; underline emphasis ours)
Nicephorus, Ambrosiaster, and Jerome mention (12) an Apocalypse of Elijah or a book of his, and Origen seems to make I Cor. ii.9 a citation of it, though Jerome combats this, and he seems to refer to an Ascension of Isaiah. A Hebrew Apocalypse of Elijah, placed by one editor in the post-Talmudic period and by another in the third century, was published by Jellinek in 1855 (Bet-ha Midrasch) III., xvii.65 sqq.) and by Buttenweiser in 1897 ... (The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge [Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI; fourth printing, September 1959], p. 399; underline emphasis ours)
In light of the above, it is rather hard for us to see how Paul could cite a document which was written long after his death! The late dating of the manuscripts is the reason why many scholars do not believe that Paul was quoting from the Apocalypse of Elijah. In fact, in light of the many clear NT allusions found throughout the work, it is quite evident that it was the Christian redactor of the Apocalypse who quoted from Paul, not the other way around. This is not unusual seeing that we find post-NT documents often quoting Paul, especially 1 Cor. 2:9:
Jesus said, "I will give you what no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, what no hand has touched, what has not arisen in the human heart." The Gospel of Thomas # 17 (http://www.misericordia.edu/users/davies/thomas/Trans.htm)
And when the apostle had thus spoken, he went into the city, holding that young man by the hand, and saying to him: Those things which thou hast beheld, my child, are a few out of the many which God has: for it is not about these things that appear that the good news is brought to us, but greater things than these are promised to us; but inasmuch as we are in the body, we cannot tell and speak out what He will do for our souls. If we say that He affords us light, it is seen by us, and we have it; and if riches, they exist and appear in this world, and we name them, since it has been said, With difficulty will a rich man enter into the kingdom of the heavens.25 And if we speak of fine clothing, which they who delight in this life put on, it has been said, They that wear soft things are in kings' palaces;26 and if costly dinners, about these we have received a commandment to keep away from them, not to be burdened by carousing and drunkenness and the cares of life;27 as also in the Gospel it has been said, Take no heed for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor for your body, what ye shall put on: because the life is more than food, and the body than clothing.28 And if we speak of this rest lasting only for a season, its judgment has also been ordained. But we speak about the upper world, about God and angels, about ambrosial food, about garments that last and become not old, about those things which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor hath there come into the heart of sinful men what God has prepared for those that love Him.29 Do thou also therefore believe in Him, that thou mayst live; and have confidence in Him, and thou shall never die. For He is not persuaded by gifts, that thou shouldst offer them to Him; nor does He want sacrifices, that thou shouldst sacrifice to Him. But look to Him, and thou shalt not look in vain, for His comeliness and desirable beauty will make thee love Him; and neither will He allow thee to turn thyself away from Him. Acts of the Holy Apostle Thomas (http://ccel.org/fathers2/ANF-08/anf08-100.htm#P8163_2585505; underline emphasis ours)
Unto him therefore do ye also, brethren, flee, and if ye learn that in him alone ye exist, ye shall obtain those things whereof he saith unto you: 'which neither eye hath seen nor ear heard, neither have they entered into the heart of man.' We ask, therefore, for that which thou hast promised to give unto us, O thou undefiled Jesus. We praise thee, we give thee thanks, and confess to thee, glorifying thee, even we men that are yet without strength, for thou art God alone, and none other: to whom be glory now and unto all ages. Amen. Acts of Peter (http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/actspeter.html; underline emphasis ours)
Even Sahih Al-Bukhari quoted it on the authority of Muhammad! More on this below.
The authors need to show that an Apocalypse of Elijah existed before the time of Paul which contained the quote from 1 Cor. 2:9. They cant simply appeal to post-NT sources for the proof that the work contained the reference from 1 Cor. 2:9, especially when none of the extant manuscripts even include the verse, and then argue from there that Paul was quoting from the Apocalypse.
The authors also try to brush aside the claim that Paul was quoting from Isa. 64:4 without providing any reason for doing so.
The position that states Paul was quoting from Isa. 64:4 is an ancient one. For instance, mention was made of St Jeromes views regarding the source for 1 Cor. 2:9. Here is what St. Jerome wrote regarding Pauls alleged appeal to the Apocalypse of Elijah:
Let us pass on now to the apostle Paul who writes thus to the Corinthians: "For had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written, Eye hath not seen nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him." Some writers on this passage betake themselves to the ravings of the apocryphal books and assert that the quotation comes from the Revelation of Elijah; whereas the truth is that it is found in Isaiah according to the Hebrew text: "Since the beginning of the world men have not heard nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee what thou hast prepared for them that wait for thee." The Septuagint has rendered the words quite differently: "Since the beginning of the world we have not heard, neither have our eyes seen any God beside thee and thy true works, and thou wilt shew mercy to them that wait for thee." We see then from what place the quotation is taken and yet the apostle has not rendered his original word for word, but, using a paraphrase, he has given the sense in different terms. In his epistle to the Romans the same apostle quotes these words from Isaiah: "Behold I lay in Sion a stumbling-stone and rock of offence," a rendering which is at variance with the Greek version yet agrees with the original Hebrew. The Septuagint gives an opposite meaning, "that you fall not on a stumblingstone nor on a rock of offence." The apostle Peter agrees with Paul and the Hebrew, writing: "but to them that do not believe, a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence." From all these passages it is clear that the apostles and evangelists in translating the old testament scriptures HAVE SOUGHT TO GIVE THE MEANINGS RATHER THAN THE WORDS, and that they have not greatly cared to preserve forms or constructions, so long as they could make clear the subject to the understanding. (NICENE AND POST-NICENE FATHERS VOLUME VI, Letter LVII. To Pammachius on the Best Method of Translating, section 9; see http://www.ccel.org/fathers2/NPNF2-06/Npnf2-06-03.htm#P75_1065; bold and capital emphasis ours)
Jeromes comments confirm that it was Robertson who was correct and that the quotation from Barnes, used by the Muslim authors, is factually wrong. Jerome did NOT believe that Paul quoted from the Apocalypse of Elijah. In the contrary, he argues vigorously AGAINST the claim of some that Paul quoted from any apocryphal writings. Lets repeat the statement by the great Greek scholar A.T. Robertson:
... It is not certain where Paul derives this quotation as Scripture. Origen thought it a quotation from the Apocalypse of Elias and Jerome finds it also in the Ascension of Isaiah. But these books appear to be post-Pauline, and Jerome denies that Paul obtained it from these late apocryphal books. Clement of Rome finds it in the LXX text of Isaiah 64:4 and cites it as a Christian saying. It is likely that Paul here combines freely Isaiah 64:4; Isaiah 65:17; Isaiah 52:15 in a sort of catena or free chain of quotations as he does in Romans 3:10-18. (Source; underline emphasis ours)
As far as Origen is concerned, he was indeed a great scholar in his time, but he never claimed that his works were revelation from God. They were his personal fallible opinion. We have already presented the reasons why his statement on this topic was wrong. Origen may have thought that the Apocalypse of Elijah was older than the NT, and probably based on his assumed chronology he thought of the expressed dependency. But the fact is that all the extant manuscripts of the Apocalypse of Elijah are much later than the NT and none of them include 1 Cor. 2:9. There is no evidence that there was a pre-NT version of Elijah that contained this passage. Since Origens assumption was wrong, his conclusion has no weight for the present argument. Origens fallible opinion seems to be the ONLY basis for the claim of the Muslim polemicists, which means that they are really left with nothing to support their assertion.
Returning to Jerome, he wasnt alone in suggesting Isa. 64:4 as the source of Pauls quote. There is somewhat of a consensus amongst Bible commentators, both past and present, that Paul was either paraphrasing Isaiah 64:4 or generalizing an OT teaching by combining this specific text with several other OT citations:
... "It is written" in v. 9 introduces a scriptural quotation, yet no such OT text can be found. What Paul writes here is a loose combination of various OT phrases. Did that combination perhaps already exist before him? ... (The International Bible Commentary A Catholic and Ecumenical Commentary for the Twenty-First Century, editor William R. Farmer [The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, MN, 1998], p. 1607; underline emphasis ours)
... The first and the third lines are a reminiscence of Isa. 64:4 and the second line of Isa. 65:17. But the resemblance is far from exact. Origen attributes the quotation to the Secrets of Elias; and Jerome found it in this apocalypse, as also in the Ascension of Isaiah; but denies Pauls debt to these later apocryphal sources. It is of interest to notice that the words are quoted (from 1 Corinthians?) in Ch. 34 of the letter from Clement of Rome to the Corinthians, exactly as here, but with "them that wait for" (as in Isa. 64:4) instead of them that love him ... (The Abingdon Bible Commentary, edited by Frederick Carl Eiselen, Edwin Lewis and David G. Downey [The Abingdon Press, Inc. 1929], p. 1174; underline emphasis ours)
... The glory which is destined for believers (2:7) is defined in 2:9 as indescribably beyond human imagination by means of pastiche of scriptural phrases, principally from Isa 64:4 and 65:17 ... (The Oxford Bible Commentary, edited by John Barton and John Muddiman [Oxford University Press, 2001], p. 1113; underline emphasis ours)
2.9. Here Paul quotes Isaiah 64:4, which was part of a prayer for God to intervene in history again on behalf of the remnant who hoped in him; Paul adapts the wording of the quotation slightly, as was common in ancient citations. (He may also slightly conflate this text with the *LXX of Is 65:17, which speaks of the present being forgotten in the world to come.) ... (Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary New Testament [InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL, 1993], p. 457; underline emphasis ours)
... Paul generalized an Old Testament theme, including references such as Psalm 31:20; Isaiah 52:15; 64:4; 65:17... (Life Application New Testament Commentary [Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Il. 2001], p. 655)
... The concept of a crucified Messiah was clearly not understood in Old Testament times and was still not grasped in Pauls day by those who rejected Jesus (v. 8). But this should not cause surprise; Isaiah himself had prophesied wonders surrounding Gods coming salvation for his people (Isa. 64:4; 52:15, quoted and paraphrased in v. 9) ... (Craig Blomberg, The NIV Application Commentary - 1 Corinthians [Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids MI], pp. 63-64; underline emphasis ours)
9. It is difficult to know the source of this quotation. The formula as it is written (kathoos gegraptai) is one Paul uses when citing Scriptures, but there is no passage in the Old Testament that runs exactly like this. Perhaps the nearest is Isaiah 64:4, though some see parts of Psalm 31:20; Isaiah 52:15, 65:17 (note that mind here is heart in LXX). From the time of Origen some have thought that Paul was quoting from The Apocalypse of Elias, an apocryphal book now lost, or from The Ascension of Isaiah, but it is far from certain either was in existence at the time (cf. TDNT; iii, pp. 988-989; v., p. 557). Another view is that it is a saying of Jesus not recorded in our Gospels. That there were such sayings is indisputable (cf. Acts 20:35), but whether Paul would cite them in this way is another matter. Where was this one written? On the whole it seems best to think of this as a rather free citation of Isaiah 64:4, with reminiscences of other scriptural passages. (Leon Morris, The Tyndale New Testament Commentary 1 Corinthians [Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, MI/Cambridge U.K.; reprinted 2002], pp. 55-56; underline emphasis ours)
... 9. As it is written; a free adaptation of Is. 64:4 and 65:17. The natural man is unable to perceive or imagine what God has in view to do. (The New Bible Commentary Revised, edited by D. Guthrie, J.A. Motyer, A.M. Stibbs, D.J. Wiseman [WM. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, MI; third edition completely revised and reset, 1970], p. 1055)
In verse 9 Paul evidently makes a free quotation of Isaiah 64:4 from which he takes the general idea and in which he summarizes his previous argument and emphasizes the importance of love in the lives of believers ... (The Wesleyan Bible Commentary Volume V Romans-Philemon, Charles W. Carter general editor [William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI, 1965], p. 138)
... To draw out this contrast, he alluded to Isaiah 64:4, and added elements from Isaiah 52:15, 65:17 and Jeremiah 3:16. He pointed out how the prophets occasionally indicated that Gods wise plan remained hidden from all but those who loved him ... (Holman New Testament Commentary I & II Corinthians, editor Max Anders, author Richard L. Pratt, Jr. [Holman Reference, Broadman & Holman Publishers, Nashville, TN, 2000], p. 35)
... Paul regularly uses this phrase when quoting from canonical Scripture, yet this question agrees exactly with not one OT text. Origen and others suggest a quotation from the Apocalypse of Elias, or the Ascension of Isaiah, but it may well be that they were quoting Paul. Possibly the saying was in circulation as a floating logion in Pauls day; the Gospel of Thomas includes it as one of the secret sayings of Jesus. Alternatively, we may assume that Paul is quoting very freely and from memory, and probably from the LXX translation of Isa. 64:4 with reminiscences of Isa. 65:17. Clement of Rome in the earliest extant quotation of 1 C. 2:9 goes back to the LXX of Isa. 64:4, indicating his opinion as to its original source. The verse itself clinches Pauls argument that the natural man through his physical senses is not able to understand Gods wisdom in the cross of Christ ... (New International Bible Commentary Based on the NIV, F.F. Bruce, general editor, p. 1353; underline emphasis ours)
... Is. 64:4 is cited because it draws attention to the totally unexpected grace God bestows on those who love him ... (New Bible Commentary 21st Century Edition, edited by G.J. Wenham, J.A. Motyer, D.A. Carson, R.T. France [Intervarsity Press, Leicester England, Downers Grove IL., USA], p. 1166)
The expression "it is written" (v.9), often used to cite OT Scripture (cf. Mt. 4:4; Mk. 11:17; Ro. 1:17, et al.), may mean here "to use the language of Scripture" or "to speak generally from Scripture" (cf. Jn. 1:45), without meaning that the passage is formally cited. The first two lines of the quotation and the last line loosely refer to Isa. 64:4, whereas the third line may merely be a thought from the OT generally as summarized by Paul (but cf. Isa. 65:17). Verse 9 does not make a complete sentence in Greek (see the dash at the end of the verse), but Paul, in giving more than one OT thought, is not attempting strictly to weave them into his sentence structure. (NIV Bible Commentary, An Abridgement of the Gold Medallion-Winning Expositors Bible Commentary, Volume 2: New Testament [Zondervan Publishing House; Grand Rapids, MI, 1994], Kenneth L. Barker & John Kohlenberger III, consulting editors, p. 614; underline emphasis ours)
... Paul employs the language of Isaiah 64:4 in order to demonstrate that the wisdom of God is not of human origin and also to contrast the thought of verse 10. (King James Bible Commentary [Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN, 1999], p. 1461)
The quotation comes from Isaiah 64:4 but differs considerably from the Hebrew text ...
Paul apparently quotes from memory, because even the Greek translation of Isaiah varies ... In view of the divergency, some scholars think that Paul also took words from other passages (Isa. 52:15; 65:17; Jer. 3:16). We presume that Paul relies on memory instead of having the Scriptures in front of him. He formulated a text that agrees with passages taken from the prophecies of Isaiah and Jeremiah. (Simon J. Kistemaker, New Testament Exposition of the First Epistle to the Corinthians [Baker Books, Grand Rapids, MI; fourth printing, July 2002], pp. 84-85)
Since the days of Clement of Rome who lived forty years after Paul wrote this letter to the Corinthians the source of Paul quotation has been in dispute. As far as some known or some unknown apocryphal source is concerned, the fact is now established that no New Testament writer ever quotes from apocryphal sources, and the formula: "even as it has been written," always introduces inspired canonical utterances. It would be strange to find that Paul makes an exception in this instance. We know too, that Paul often quotes freely and also combines Old Testament sayings. His reason is always evident: he wishes to stress certain expressions that are found in the passages which he quotes; these he conserves while the rest about which he is unconcerned is formulated to fit the general connection in which he writes. We ourselves exercise the same liberty.
Bearing these facts in mind, we shall have no difficulty in this cause. Paul uses Isa. 64:4 and Isa. 65:17 for the second line... (R.C.H. Lenski Interpretation of St. Pauls I and II Corinthians [Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, MN, 1963], pp. 102-103; underline emphasis ours)
... The scripture quotation in 2:9, however creates a number of puzzling problems because it does not conform exactly to any known Old Testament text. There are two possible explanations for the source of the quotation: either Paul was referring to Isaiah 64:4 (with perhaps an echo of Isa. 65:16) and quoting it very loosely from memory, or the quotation comes from an apocryphal source. Several factors speak in favor of the Isaiah reference. Paul elsewhere employs the citation formula "as it is written" exclusively for quotations that come from texts belonging to the subsequently formalized canon of Hebrew Scripture; it is unlikely, though not impossible, that he would use this formula to cite a Christian apocalypse otherwise unknown to us. Secondly, Pauls letters contain numerous allusions to Isaiah, particularly the later chapters, which he read as a prefiguration of Gods eschatological salvation of Gentiles along with Israel. An allusion to this section of Isaiah would fit the general context in 1 Corinthians 2 very well indeed. (Note for instance, the fervent appeal "O that you would tear open the heavens and come down" in Isa. 64:1 and the prophecy of "new heavens and a new earth" in 65:17). On the other hand, there are equally good reasons to think that the quotation comes from a lost source. The syntax of the quotation fits Pauls sentence very awkwardly; if he were quoting Isaiah loosely from memory, he surely would have made the citation fit into his sentence better. Secondly, Origen, writing in the third century C.E., identified this quotation as coming from the Apocalypse of Elijah, a text now no longer extant. Finally, a very similar quotation turns up in the Gospel of Thomas as a saying attributed to Jesus ... Thomas is a second-century text and therefore certainly not the source of Pauls quotation, but it may bear witness independently to this tradition as coming from a source unrelated to Isaiah. (Richard B. Hays Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching (First Corinthians) [John Know Press, Louisville, KY, 1997], pp. 44-45; underline emphasis ours)
... There is yet another difficulty to be considered. Whence is the citation taken? Since no passage in the Old Testament is found exactly correspondingly to it, the patristic expositors supposed that the words were taken, either from some Old Testament Scripture now entirely lost, or from some apocryphal prophecy and Z. Chrys. asserts that he had read these words in the apocalypse of Esaias. Grotius, however, supposes that they were taken from the writings of the Rabbis, who had preserved them out of an old tradition. But in opposition to these opinions it must be regarded as settled that Paul uses the formula "as it is written" only in introducing citations from the Old Testament. Accordingly Meyer has adopted the solution that Paul quoted an apocryphal passage under the idea that the words were in the Old Testament. But before we resort to any such explanation, it is to be seen whether the dissimilarity between our passage and the Old Testament texts in question is so great, as to prevent us from supposing that he quoted freely here, as he has also done elsewhere, and as other New Testament writers have also occasionally done. Certainly Paul could hardly have had in mind Isa. lii. 15 ... nor yet lxv. 17 ... unless perhaps the last clause, in the ring of expression. But he may have had in mind Isa. lxiv. 4, according to the original text ... there is a transition from the second person to the third, as is frequently the case in prophetic diction - since the formula, "as it is written," admits of a free quotation, and Paul is not always precise in adhering to the words (i. 19, 31; xiv. 21; Rom. ix. 33). We therefore unhesitatingly accord with Osiander in maintaining a reference here to Isa. lxiv. 4 ... (Langes Commentary on the Holy Scriptures, Volume V of the New Testament (Romans-Corinthians) [Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI; seventh printing, 1980], pp. 58-59; underline emphasis ours)
The second difficulty relates to the passage quoted. The formula as it is written is never used by the apostles except in citing the canonical books of the Old Testament; so it cannot be claimed that Paul intended to quote either some book known lost or some apocryphal writing. If we assume that he intended to quote Isaiah 64:4, there are two difficulties: first, the language or words are different, and, second, the sense is different. Isaiah 64:4 (verse 3 in Hebrew) as literally translated by J.A. Alexander is, "And from eternity they have not heard, they have not perceived by the ear, the eye hath not seen, a God beside thee (who) will do for (one) waiting for him." The idea is that men have never known any other God than Jehovah who did or could do what he threatened to do. The Septuagint expresses the same idea. The meaning in Isaiah as connected with what precedes, seems to be that the reason such fearful things as had been predicted were to be expected from Jehovah is that he alone had proved himself able to perform them ...
Others, assuming the first-mentioned interpretation of the passage in Isaiah to be the true one, consider the apostle as using scriptural language without intending to give the sense of the original. This we often do, and it is not infrequently done in the New Testament (see Romans 10:18). As it is written is not, in this case, the form of quotation, but is rather equivalent to saying, "To use the language of Scripture."
A third explanation of this difficulty is that the apostle did not intend to quote any one passage of Scripture but to appeal to its authority for a clearly revealed truth. It is certainly taught in the Old Testament that the human mind cannot penetrate into the counsels of God; his purposes can only be known by a supernatural revelation. This is the truth for which the apostle cites the authority of the Old Testament. There is, therefore, not the slightest ground for imputing failure of memory or an erroneous interpretation to the inspired apostle. (Charles Hodge, 1 Corinthians, The Crossway Classic Commentaries, Alister McGrath & J.I. Packer series editors [Crossway Books, A division of Goodnews Publishers, Wheaton IL; first edition, 1995], p. 54; underline emphasis ours)
Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Browns Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible state:
The quotation is not a verbatim one, but an inspired exposition of the "wisdom" (1 Corinthians 2:6, from Isaiah 64:4). The exceptive words, "O God, beside (that is, except) Thee," are not quoted directly, but are virtually expressed in the exposition of them (1 Corinthians 2:10), "None but thou, O God, seest these mysteries, and God hath revealed them to us by His Spirit."
entered--literally, "come up into the heart." A Hebraism (compare, Jeremiah 3:16, Margin). In Isaiah 64:4 it is "Prepared (literally, 'will do') for him that waiteth for Him"; here, "for them that love Him." For Isaiah spake to them who waited for Messiah's appearance as future; Paul, to them who love Him as having actually appeared (1 John 4:19); compare 1 Corinthians 2:12, "the things that are freely given to us of God." (Source)
John Gills Exposition of the Bible writes:
Not in an apocryphal book, called the Apocalypse of Elijah the prophet, as some have thought, but in (Isaiah 64:4) with some variation; ... (Source)
The footnote of the NET online Bible concurs:
7sn A quotation from Isa 64:4. (Source)
Even those holding to a more liberal view of the NT (denying inerrancy for instance) agree with the foregoing:
... (2:9, a Pauline amalgation of scriptural echoes; cf. Isa 52:15; 64:3 LXX)... (The New Interpreters Bible - A Commentary in Twelve Volumes, Volume X, Acts, Introduction To Epistolary Literature, Romans, 1 Corinthians [Abingdon, Nashville, TN 1999], p. 821)
But where do these words occur in Scripture? In this form in which Paul gives them, nowhere. We may note Isa. lxiv. 3 (LXX):
From the beginning we did not hear nor did our eyes see any God but thee, and thy works, which thou shalt do for those who await (thy) mercy;
also lxv. 16:
They shall forget their former affliction, and it shall not enter into their mind (compare verse 17).
These passages are reminiscent of but by no means identical with Pauls words, nor is their general sense the same as his. According to Origen, Paul was quoting not the Old Testament but the apocryphal Apocalypse of Elijah; this however does not seem to be capable of demonstration; full details are to be found in Weiss. W.D. Davies (p. 307) thinks Paul was using language traditional in Judaism to describe the blessedness of the age to come, but this in itself does not account for the citation formula, as it is written (kathoos gegraptai). This clause almost certainly means that Paul believed that he was quoting the Old Testament, and we must conclude either that he was doing so from memory, and very inaccurately, or that he had a text, perhaps of Isa. lxiv, lxv different from ours ... (C.K. Barret, The First Epistle to the Corinthians [Harper & Row, Publishers; New York and Evanston, first edition, 1968], p. 73; underline emphasis ours)
9. The quotation from scripture cannot be precisely identified. Paul seems to have put together phrases (Isa 64:4, 52:15, 65:17; Jer 3:16; Sir 1:10), probably again from memory. The result certainly expresses a prophetic sentiment. It is curious, however, that if Paul was consciously "manufacturing" a quotation, he did not come out with one that fit his grammatical context better. The statement of Origen that the words come from an "Apocalypse of Elijah" (cf. the notes of Meyer and Hering) would provide a satisfactory alternative if it were better attested. (The Anchor Bible, 1 Corinthians, A New Translation with a Study of the Life of Paul, Notes, and Commentary by William F. Orr and James Arthur Walther [Doubleday & Company, Inc.; Garden City, New York, 1976], p. 157; underline emphasis ours)
There are some who, although not completely certain that Paul was quoting Isaiah 64:4 and/or elements from other passages, state that this is still the best view going:
The difficult problem of identifying Pauls quotation (if this is even possible) remains. Clement of Rome (AD 96) implies that Paul cites the LXX of Isa 64:4 (LXX 64:3). 1 Clement 34:8 repeats almost exactly Pauls words from Ophthalmos ouk eiden (eye did not see) to hosa (sic) heetoimasen (how much he prepared), adding kurios and replacing tois agapoosin auton with tois hupomenousin auton, what the Lord prepared for those who wait for him. Lightfoot compares this with a further minor variant in Polycarp, and proposes that an original lay "somewhere between the present LXX rendering in Isaiah and the quotation of St. Paul, though nearer to the latter." The LXX runs apo tou aioonos ouk eekousamen oude hoi ophthalmoi heemoon eidon theon pleen sou kai ta erga sou... "From eternity we did not hear and our eyes did not see God ..." as against the Hebrew "they have not heard ... eye has not seen a god." The Hebrew idiom ... (alah al lebh, lit. "go up onto the heart") occurs in the Greek not here but in Isa. 65:17: ouk anabeesetai auton epi teen kardian ... but the tense in this second passage is future, not aorist, and it includes auton their. Hence the widespread suggestion that Paul combines Isa 64:4 and 65:17, although possible, seems too imprecise for certainty, even if Paul does combine various quotations in a catena or free collection elsewhere (e.g., in Rom 3:10-18).
Origen believed that Pauls quotation comes from the Apocalypse of Elijah according to his Commentary on Matthew (on 5:29). His Fragments on 1 Corinthians contain no suggestion about the quotation, and the only reference to the quotation in other works is his use of Pauls words to indicate the glory of the resurrection mode of existence, without reference to any other source. Origen excludes a source within the traditional Hebrew canon ("only in the Apocryphon of Elijah"). Clearly the quotation becomes widespread in Christian literature. Jerome, e.g., quotes it several times. It appears in Ascension of Isaiah 8:11, a Jewish writing of the first and/or second centuries, but from 3:13 to the end of ch. 11 Christian editing and insertion make the origin of any material in ch. 8 uncertain.
Various speculative suggestions have been made by modern writers. E. von Nordheim proposed a citation from the Testament of Abraham, but H.F.D. Sparks and O. Hofius offer several counterarguments, with Sparks concluding that Isa 64:4 offers a more probable alternative. Klaus Berger considers a range of apocalyptic sources, concluding that their field of thought coheres with the notion of Gods "preparing" a destiny and "revealing" what is "secret." M. Stone and J Strugnell argue for an allusion to the Apocalypse of Elijah. But only two less speculative possibilities remain. Either Paul begins with a phrase or two from Isa 64:4 and 65:17 in mind and then departs from his text, or he offers only allusive resonances which we cannot identify. This would not exclude Kistemakers proposal to include an allusion to Jer 3:16 with Isa 65:17 and 64:3 (LXX), or Lightfoots proposals about a variant text in Isa 64:4. Stanley states that the various "solutions" are well documented but all too precarious to meet with widespread approval. To determine the actual text from which Paul quotes "would be presumptuous." (The First Epistle to the Corinthians (New International Greek Testament Commentary) by Anthony C. Thiselton, [Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids MI; December 2000 ISBN: 0802824498], pp. 250-251; underline emphasis ours)
Additionally, the context of 1 Cor. 2 provides support for the above view that Paul was conflating several passages together with a quote from Isaiah:
"For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ." 1 Corinthians 2:16
Paul quotes here the LXX version of Isaiah 40:13, which strongly suggests that his earlier quote may also have come from Isaiah, specifically 64:4; albeit combining other scriptural elements with it.
Furthermore, Paul wasnt the only one to allude to a general OT promise or theme and combine OT citations together. The NT furnishes several examples of authors either combining OT texts together and/or alluding to a general OT promise with the expression of "it is written" or "the scripture says" etc.:
"In Bethlehem in Judea, they replied, for this is what the prophet has written: "But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel."" Matthew 2:5-6
In the above, Matthew combines elements of 2 Samuel 5:2 along with Micah 5:2.
"So they decided to use the money to buy the potter's field as a burial place for foreigners. That is why it has been called the Field of Blood to this day. Then what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: ‘They took the thirty silver coins, the price set on him by the people of Israel, and they used them to buy the potter's field, as the Lord commanded me.’" Matthew 27:7-10
Matthew's citation here is actually a conflation of Zechariah 11:12-13 and Jeremiah 19:1-13 and 32:6-9.
"It is written in Isaiah the prophet: I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way - a voice of one calling in the desert, "Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him."" Mark 1:2-3
Mark adds elements from Exodus 23:20 and Malachi 3:1 to his quotation of Isaiah 40:3.
"On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him. By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified." John 7:37-39
Christ, here, was not necessarily citing an OT passage but was alluding to the general OT promise that God would pour out living waters to all those that are thirsty and weary:
"In that day you will say: I will praise you, O LORD. Although you were angry with me, your anger has turned away and you have comforted me. Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation." Isaiah 12:1-3
"For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants." Isaiah 44:3
"They will neither hunger nor thirst, nor will the desert heat or the sun beat upon them. He who has compassion on them will guide them and lead them beside springs of water." Isaiah 49:10
"Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost." Isaiah 55:1
"The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail." Isaiah 58:11
"And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son ... On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity." Zechariah 12:10, 13:1
"On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half to the eastern sea and half to the western sea, in summer and in winter... Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, and to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. If any of the peoples of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, they will have no rain. If the Egyptian people do not go up and take part, they will have no rain. The LORD will bring on them the plague he inflicts on the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. This will be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles." Zechariah 14:8, 16-19
Interestingly, this last passage connects the living waters with the Feast of Tabernacles, the very same Feast where Jesus uttered his words!
There is a very simple explanation why NT authors combined OT passages together or, as in the case of Matthew and Mark, attribute several OT citations to a single author. It was a common Jewish exegetical practice to link passages which had identical words, phrases and/or ideas together. Liberal NT exegete John C. Fenton, a favorite of Dr. Jamal Badawi, as he comments on Matthew 2:5-6 stated:
"The prophecy is from Mic. 5.2, but it is not given in the LXX translation, nor is it an exact rendering of the Hebrew text, 2 Sam 5.2 MAY have been combined with the Micah prophecy; combining of similar Old Testament passages WAS A REGULAR FEATURE OF RABBINIC STUDY OF THE SCRIPTURES." (Fenton, Saint Matthew - The Penguin New Testament Commentaries, Penguin Books, 1963, p. 46; bold and capital emphasis ours)
This became known as gezera shewa: As NT scholar Richard Bauckham states in relation to Pauls linking Isaiah 28:16 with Joel 2:32:
... This is linked to the quotation from Joel by the Jewish exegetical principle of gezera shewa, according to which passages including identical words of phrases may be used to interpret each other ... (Bauckham, pp. 11-12; see http://forananswer.org/Top_JW/Richard_Bauckham.pdf; underline emphasis ours)
The NT authors werent the only ones to employ this method, since it is also found in the OT:
"The land enjoyed its sabbath rests; all the time of its desolation it rested, until the seventy years were completed in fulfillment of the word of the LORD spoken by Jeremiah." 2 Chronicles 36:21
The author alludes to Leviticus 26:34-35 and Jeremiah 25:12 (along with 29:10) while mentioning Jeremiah only.
Hence, the foregoing shows that Paul and the other NT writers were being thoroughly Jewish in the way they combined and exegeted the OT texts.
To summarize the data, we saw that it could not have been possible for Paul to quote a source which did not exist in his day in the form which it did centuries later. Not one of the extant manuscripts of the Apocalypse of Elijah contains the quote from 1 Cor. 2:9, and all the references which assert that it did are from the post-NT period and, therefore, after the time of Paul. We also saw that, contrary to the claims of the authors, there is good evidence to suppose that Paul was paraphrasing Isa. 64:4 and/or combining other OT elements along with it in trying to convey a general OT theme.
A POSSIBLE MUSLIM OBJECTION ADDRESSED
The authors may have a problem with Paul summarizing an OT theme by either paraphrasing passages or combining several passages together. If so, then they should have a problem with the following Quranic verse:
"Muhammad is the messenger of Allah; and those who are with him are strong against Unbelievers, (but) compassionate amongst each other. Thou wilt see them bow and prostrate themselves (in prayer), seeking Grace from Allah and (His) Good Pleasure. On their faces are their marks, (being) the traces of their prostration. This IS their similitude in the Taurat; and their similitude in the Gospel IS: like a seed which sends forth its blade, then makes it strong; it then becomes thick, and it stands on its own stem, (filling) the sowers with wonder and delight. As a result, it fills the Unbelievers with rage at them. Allah has promised those among them who believe and do righteous deeds forgiveness, and a great Reward." S. 48:29
The above presumes that there were copies of the Torah and the Gospel available to Muhammads contemporaries which they could consult and see these promises stated therein. The problem is that we find no exact parallels within the Torah and the Gospel to what is cited above.
Another example is:
"Allah hath purchased of the believers their persons and their goods; for theirs (in return) is the garden (of Paradise): they fight in His cause, and slay and are slain: a promise binding on Him in truth, through the Law, the GOSPEL, and the Qur'an: and who is more faithful to his covenant than Allah? then rejoice in the bargain which ye have concluded: that is the achievement supreme." S. 9:111
Again, the passage presumes that the Gospel existed during the time of Muhammad. Otherwise, what use would there be to refer to a promise made in a Gospel that no longer existed in a pure form? The problem with the above is that, much like in the previous example, we do not find any such promise in the Gospel. We therefore challenge the authors to produce a passage from the Gospel where the above promise is ever given.
The authors are now left with five options:
Option 5 is not a viable choice since the Quran presumes the existence of the material in question, i.e. that these quotes were present in the Bible and could be easily found by the readers. Since we have over 25,000 extant manuscripts of the individual NT books in many different languages, we would expect to find these statements in at least some of these books.
Furthermore, some Muslims do not hesitate to claim that S. 48:29 is citing Mark 4:27-28. For instance, the late A. Yusuf Ali wrote:
The similitude in the Gospel is about how the good seed is sown and grown gradually, even beyond the expectation of the sower: "the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how; for the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the earth"; MARK, iv 27-28 ... (Ali, The Holy Qur'an - Meaning and Translation, p. 1400, fn. 4917; bold and capital emphasis mine)
The late S. Abul Ala Maududi concurs:
This parable is found in a sermon of the Prophet Jesus that has been reported in the New Testament, thus:
"And he said, So is the kingdom of God as if a man should east [sic] seed into the ground: And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how. For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear. But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come [author- This is taken from Mark 4:26-29]. And he said, Whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God? or with what comparison shall we compare it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that be in the earth: But when it is sown, it groweth up, and becometh greater than all herbs, and shooteth out great branches; so that the fowls of the air may lodge under the shadow of it [author- this comes from Mark 4:30-32]."
The last portion of this sermon is also found in Matthew, 13:31-32. (Meaning of the Quran, Volume V, english rendering by A.A. Kamal, M.A. [Islamic Publications (Pvt.) Limited, 13-E, Shahalam Market, Lahore-8, Pakistan], p. 67, fn. 56; underlined emphasis ours)
Yet the form of the quote found in the Quran does not exactly correspond to that which we find in the Gospel text. This leaves the authors with options 1-4.
Amazingly, Yusuf Ali appealed to Paul in explaining the promise of S. 9:111! Note what he said:
... In the New Testament St. Paul, in commending the worthy fruits of Faith, mentions Gideon, Barak, and other warriors of the Old Testament as his ideals, "Who through faith subdued kingdoms ... waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens ..." (Hebrews ix. 32-34). The monkish morality of the Gospels in their present form has never been followed by any self-respecting Christian or other nation in history ... (Op. cit., p. 474, fn. 1362)
Do note how Ali appeals to Pauls writings as opposed to appealing to the alleged "monkish morality of the Gospel in their present form." Yet if Ali is correct then Paul must have been writing down the Gospel of Jesus Christ which the Quran refers to!!!
The authors must be consistent and impose their very own criteria against the Quran and admit that it misquotes previous Scriptures, or must now agree that alluding to general promises that are not a literal word-for-word citation is something completely acceptable.
This concludes our first part. The Muslim authors sought to discredit the Apostle Paul by accusing him of quoting from books that are not revelation from God. In the second part of our reply we will apply their methodology against Islam and look at a number of statements allegedly made by Muhammad, but truly originating from other sources.
Sam Shamoun and Jochen Katz
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