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Sunnis Shi’ites Religious scholars.

Posted by QB on September 22, 2006

The majority of Sunnis and Shi’ites are the mental slaves to their religious scholars who follow them blindly with the firm belief that they are guiding them towards heaven. These Sunnis and Shi’ites religious scholars have protected their authority on religious matters by including hadiths (stories very wrongly attributed to Prophet Muhammad) which makes some kind of superior to non religious class and to make them not to question their illogical hadiths, they have included the death punishment for Apostate and blasphemy which are imported from Old Testament. They are in control of masses who can’t go against their opinions.

They have the similar type of Hierarchy system like Christian Catholicism with entry level position is the guy whose job is to call for prayers five times daily, next level is the Imam to lead five times prayers, Mufti is the one who issues Fatwas. Shi’ites most highest religious position is Ayatollahs which means sign of God. Ayatollahs words are taken as if they are coming directly from divine source and people listen and follow blindly.

The sectarian violence which is going on over a year where Shi’ites are killing Sunnis and Sunnis are killing Shi’ites could have been completely avoided if these religious scholars are really are religious following the commands of God. The Sunnis and Shi’ites sects were started with the hatred after the death of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) by including stories which has created the division which only be bridged if they just accept the simple truth that Qur’an is the superior to all man written books of hadiths. Sunnis and Shi’ites still hate each other for the issues which are illogical and beyond intelligence. They are fighting each other after 1400 years trying to prove the superiority of some of the companions of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his family.

Do all these religious scholars don’t know what the Qur’an say about killing?

5:32 On that account: We ordained for the Children of Israel that if any one slew a person – unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land – it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people. Then although there came to them Our apostles with clear signs, yet, even after that, many of them continued to commit excesses in the land.

They all know it very well. They read the scripture ignore it because that is what in their own material interests because they live on poor people contributions.

There are many verses in Qur’an for the people who have divided their religion into sects. They don’t pay any attention when Qur’an says that the people who were divided into sects their judgement will be with God. God did not command these Sunnis and Shi’ites to kill each other and bombs their mosques.

Sunnis are waiting for the second coming of Jesus (PBUH) just like Christians without knowing that Qur’an provide the clear evidence of his death.

Shi’ites believe someone name Imam Mahdi will come to save them who disappeared in some Iraq cave 1200 ago and Sunnis don’t want to fall behind so they have their own version of Imam Mahdi who will born.

The Sunnism and Shiaism is an effort to make people like Robots act and do everything according to what is written in their hadith books. When people don’t know how to take bath and make themselves clean and they have to look into some book to find the way than there is something very wrong funny and stupid. When people try to find out how to enter and leave bathroom and mosque than they are stupid. God has given us intelligence to know how to take bath and clean ourselves and there is absolutely no hard and fast rules set for entering or leaving bathroom and mosques.

These Sunni Shi’ites religious scholars who have closed their minds and eyes are not willing to accept the superior authority of Qur’an but atleast they can do is stop these brutal killings and murders. Grand Satan Sistani has the power to stop this violence with one statement but he is salient I believe is enjoying all these killings. Sunnis scholars too must put some effort to bring them to sanity.

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46 Responses to “Sunnis Shi’ites Religious scholars.”

  1. S said

    I agree with you 1000%

    Islam has lost its soul

    Compassion & Tolerance have been blugeoned to death by extreme and ignorant views.

    The Salafi & Wahhabi fanatics are just plain morons

    The scholars are in for their own power and glorification. Moderate voices get lost in the shuffle

    Islam may suffer its own holocaust if goes down this path – Muslims – other than those in the US/Westernized world have – have not succeeded in material terms – in education, pluralism. Most muslim countries are backwards banana republics – Saudi Arabia is the saddest of all – Mulsims don’t deserve success anymore as they’ve betrayed the ideals of the Prophet (PHUH)

  2. S my friend Sunni Shia Islam already facing a holocaust in Iraq in Sudan Somalia and in many other African countries. The problem in Saudi Arabia is like Iran is that they adopted the Sharia laws which are based on hearsay. Osama Bin Laden jihad has political agenda where he is using the fabricated hadiths to justify all their acts. 

  3. moemen said

    Hi I’m a Sunni Muslim- I see what you’re saying but it is a lot more relevant in Shia Islam where you actually have an absolute heirarchical monarchy thing going on- Sunni Muslim scholars tend to have more varied opinions on minor matters and Muslims have the choice of following whichever scholar they like (as long as what they’re saying makes sense- Not just blindly- as you said).
    It is actually very easy for a qualified person to know if a Hadith is fabricated or not, it is impossible that Hadiths in Sahih al Bukhari for example are fabricated because of the way he went about collecting them. However, the problem is 1) Misinterpretation and taking them out of their context, and 2) Lack of a real organised Universal International board of Qualified Competent Muslim scholars which is desperately needed to moderate sermons given, Hadiths and Ayahs referred to and – most of all – Validity of fatwas given, since some of them are just absolutely ridiculous in their contradiction with the teachings of Islam.

    Peace

  4. moemen said

    Sorry- didn’t mention something;
    Can you plz give me a quranic quote saying that Jesus PBUH died? It says in the quran- to my knowledge (and I have read the quran and understood most of it) – that he was raised to God, as do Ahadith, so I’d like to see why you think the Quran “provide[s] the clear evidence of his death”
    Thanks!

  5. Hi Moemen,

    I understand what you saying too but the most of the Bukhari hadiths are are baseless hearsay which is illogical and can’t be further explanation of Qur’an. I checked your blog and learned that you are Egyptian who must be fluent in Arabic language who is more qualified to understand the message but after very carefully reading and understanding the message, ofcourse with lack of the knowledge of Arabic language, the message is very clear that Qur’an is detailed and really don’t need any further explanation of hadiths writters from Sunni and Shia Imams.

    The Qur’anic verse which you are refferring to regarding raising up live is another example of hadiths writter manipulation where they included the Christian belief that Jeus is alive living with God in heaven.

    The verses I believe you are looking at 4:157 and 4:158. The verse 4:157 clear Jews from killing Jesus on the cross and 4:157 said God he has raised him ( Bal rafaAAahu). This verse did not say that God has raised Jesus alive to heaven. What happened to Jesus is not clear, maybe someday we have the clear answer to this question because there is lots of research is underway to uncover the truth.

    Now look at 3:35 God told Jesus that he will be raised to Himself according to Yusuf Ali translation and according to Shakir Ali and other independent translations God told Jesus that He is going to terminate his life on earth. You will argue that Shakir Ali is Shia and he has mistranslated the verse is not correct because there are plenty other Sunni translations who had translated with verse exactly like Shakir Ali.

    Qur’an is the message where a subject is scattered in different chapters. When looking at the Jesus one has to consider all the related verses and than come to an definate conclusion.

    Look at 29:57 that all the humans have to die before coming to God. Look at 3:144 which is another proof that none of the previous Prophet was alive during the lifetime of Prophet Muhamad.

  6. lightcontrast said

    Great article. What do you know about the Wahhbi? I read somewhere that they existed sometime in the 19th century.

  7. Light Contrast,

    Truth is that there is no such sect as Wahabi. This word Wahabi is used as the propaganda tool to spread misinformation by Sunnis Shias and Sufis as well as Western Media and Bush mafia.

    Abdul Wahab was a religious scholar who try to stop the wrong concept by trying to bring Muslims back to Qur’an. According to my own research he did not teach or preach hatred or terrorism infact his message is very balanced asking Muslims not to blindly accept all the hadiths (Sunnis Shias Talmud) without varifying it against Qur’an.

    The violence which is attributed to Wahibism is infact social political struggle against corrupt Royal Family and the other truth is that the Sharia laws are based on Hadiths not Qur’an.

  8. Primo said

    Deliver a Messiah: “Mistaken Identity” By Agron Belica–Authorhouse Publishing Co. WoW!

  9. adam said

    Deliver a messiah “mistaken identity” By Agron belica- sounds like trouble!

  10. QB said

    Primo and Adam will try to find this book. Messiah is really is waiting for some to come and solve all our problems which is not going to happened. The religious scholars had promoted this concept which is accepted by the majority of Christianity Judaism and Islam. The book is about Jesus Christ and the author is trying to prove that it was someone who was put on cross. Read following post this is my understanding of the subject.

    What happened to Jesus Christ?

  11. Arch Angel said

    Primo, Adam and QB. There seems to be a real miss understanding of who Jesus is and where he is now. Jesus is alive and he is in Gods House. Jesus is Lord. God, Jesus and his Angels sit at your judgment. If you are not mean and evil you will be judged fairly. If you are evil, you will find eternal torment, Hell. I think you will only find lies about Christ in your book titled ‘Deliver a Messiah’. This book sounds like someone who wants to discredit Christainity.

  12. QB said

    Arch Angel,

    Please carefully read my What happened to Jesus Christ? Sorry Jesus is dead just like all other Prophets. The second coming is more based on the wishes of the people than facts that someone with supernatural power will come and resolved all their problems.

  13. Tom C. said

    Deliver A Messiah “Mistaken Identity” By Agron Belica.. Amazing!

  14. QB said

    Tom C. or any of you who had read the book can do me a favor by explaining what he has written.

  15. Robbie said

    Deliver A Messiah “Mistaken Identity” by Agron Belica.. QB- you can read about this book @ the Authorhouse publishing website book store.

  16. Robbie said

    QB, We are all waiting for the release of this book. Some have talked about it, and others like you just recieved the news. It seems to me an interesting read. I like the title though,

  17. CHRIS CHANDLER said

    I like The title “DELIVER A MESSIAH: “MISTAKEN IDENTITY” GOOD JOB AGRON OR WHOEVER YOU ARE. I WILL DEFINETLY BOOKMARK THIS

  18. QB said

    Thank you Robbie.

  19. CHERRY T said

    DELIVER A MESSIAH “MISTAKEN IDENTITY” BY AGRON BELICA…. THANKS FOR THE TIP, NICE WEBSITE

  20. J.SIMPSON said

    looking forward to reading this book QB- good looking though.

    DELIVER A MESSIAH “MISTAKEN IDENTITY”

  21. woo-woo said

    I just seen it on the authorhouse site–cover design for deliver a messiah mistaken identity

  22. Don't be a fool said

    Glad that blog spam marketing is actually making people curious about trash books that anyone can publish for a few bucks. Hopefully you are more intelligent and see this is not active conversation, but rather spam to elicit interest in junk. By the way, I have $1 million euros with your name on it if you deposit 1,000 euros in this super secret account in Nigeria.

  23. QB said

    Don’t Be A Fool you too are spammer. Your links are deleted because it contains pornographic links.

  24. J.SIMPSON said

    AUTHOR OF THIS BOOK DELIVER A MESSIAH MISTAKEN IDENTITY CLAIMS IN HIS BOOK JESUS DIED. I AM CONFUSED IS THIS AUTHOR MUSLIM OR NOT? MUSLIMS BELIEVE IN JESUS ALIVE IN HEAVEN ALONG WITH CHRISTIAN FAITH. AND AS FAR AS IT BEING JOHN THE BAPTIST ON THE CROSS YOU CAN GO F!@# YOUR SELF. I DONT CARE ABOUT THE PROOF ITS A TWISTED MANIPULATION OF SCRIPTUERS. WHAT KIND OF BULL&&$@ IS THIS MAN? YOU WONT GET AWAY WITH THIS YOU A@#HOLE.

  25. J.SIMPSON said

    AUTHOR OF THIS BOOK DELIVER A MESSIAH MISTAKEN IDENTITY CLAIMS IN HIS BOOK JESUS DIED. I AM CONFUSED IS THIS AUTHOR MUSLIM OR NOT? MUSLIMS BELIEVE IN JESUS ALIVE IN HEAVEN ALONG WITH CHRISTIAN FAITH. AND AS FAR AS IT BEING JOHN THE BAPTIST ON THE CROSS YOU CAN GO F!@# YOUR SELF. I DONT CARE ABOUT THE PROOF ITS A TWISTED MANIPULATION OF SCRIPTUERS. WHAT KIND OF BULL&&$@ IS THIS MAN? YOU WONT GET AWAY WITH THIS YOU A@#HOLE. I ALREADY BURNED THIS BLASPHEMOUS STUFF.

  26. QB said

    J Simpson,

    Calm down. The Christians and the Muslims are wrong. I am not defending this Author because have no intention of reading his book. According to my own understanding Jesus is dead, there is no second coming of Jesus Christ. Read my post What happened to Jesus?

  27. QB said

    LOL. Angry man, blasphemy is another wrong interpretation of scriptures.

  28. WHATEVER said

    I AM GON NA REPORT THIS SITE AS RACIST. YOU DONT KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT SCRIPTURE YOU AND AGRON THE ANTICHRIST–BOTH OF YOU BURN IN HELL

  29. QB said

    Sure go ahead!!! Tape the mouth of every opposing view on religion, killed them with your famous blesphemy law, stone to death for saying that Jesus is dead.

  30. WHATEVER said

    THE AUTHOR IS LYING JESUS IS NOT DEAD AND YAHYA IS NOT THE ONE ON CROSS WHAT KIND OF SH.. IS THIS. THIS AUTHOR IS NOT MUSLIM HES ATHEIST SOMTHING. NO MUSLIM BELIEV JESUS DEAD. THEY KLIKE CHRISTIAN AND YOU TO LYING WITH THIS MAN AGRON BELICA YOUMAKING TROUBLE IN RELIGIOUS PEOPLE FOR THIS BOOK I TELL EVERYONE NO BUY THIS BOOK LYES YOU UNDRTSNAD YOU DEVIL- EBERYBODY LISTEN TO ME QB AND AGRON THE ANTICHRIST ARE BIG BIG DEVILS- THEY NO BELIEVE IN GOD THEY WOSIP DEVIL

  31. QB said

    J. Simpson

    The problem with people like you who blindly love Jesus without the knowledge of scriptures, here Christians and Muslims follow the baseless stories to keep Jesus alive.

    I did not have any knowledge about the book or this author when posted What happened to Jesus Christ?

    You go and report me where ever you like, I will say what is right according to my own understanding.

  32. WHATEVER said

    YOU ARE THE AUTHOR OF THIS BOOK IN DUISGUISE MY CHILDREN REED THIS BOOK U UNDERSTSND? WHAT KIINFD OF SH..T. WHATS THIS PEOPLE YOU ARE MAKIN TROBLE IN MY CHURC. YOU MR. BELICA HAVE NO AUTHORUTY TO SAY OR ITREPRET MY BIBLE LIKKE THIS YOU UNDERSTSAND. SHAMMEN ON YOU YIU DEVIL..EVERY BODY NO NOW AGRON IS QB ANTICHRIST MANY NAMES–JESUS IS ALIVE MR AGRON .NOT DEAD OK YOU DEVIL MAN QB..I WILL REPORT THEES SITE TO PEOPLE I NO AND WILL SOO YOU AND YOUR PUBLISHING CUMPANY ..

  33. QB said

    LOL. J. Simpson, go ahead and report every where. You are giving me credit for some book which I did not even see, you don’t believe me and there is nothing I can do to make you believe. This blog is non commercial not making any money out of this blog. Maybe I should make money from blogging.

    J Simpson you are the most radical Christian ever visited my blog. You belong to the category of Pastor Hagee, Rev. Pat Robertson and Late Rev. Jerry Falwell. Had plenty of Muslims like you did read and posted comments not Christian or Jews.

    J. Simpson now that you have make me angry with all these comments. Soon coming up post about the stupid religious people like you, who the the cause of creating conflicts wars in the name of religion and God.

  34. QB said

    This is very important for the people to clearly understand that I am not religious scholar. This blog is the reflection of my feelings towards the world crisis. The purpose of this blog is not to condemn any religion. The purpose of this blog is not to promote any religion. Mostly its about politics but religion is associated with the politics that have to take shots at the religious scholars and Pope with Rabbis Imams Ayatollahs.

  35. whatever said

    we will find yopu qb agron or whoever you are you devils…

  36. QB said

    LOL. J Simpson, I have better chances of find you with your IP address and your name, but really don’t have any desire to meet religious nut like you. OK find me and kill me committing the sin of blesphemy.

  37. ralph m. said

    MR. AGRON BELICA YOU ARE A HATE MONGER YOU ARE HITLERS SON IN THE FLESH. RACIST AGAINST JEWS. ANTICHRIST FOR THE CHRISTIANS. YOU DONT GET FAR IN THIS WORLD DISCREDITING OTHER FAITHS YOU MOSLEM TRASH. WATCH YOUR STEP SIR, YOU MIGHT NOT SEE US COMING.

  38. ralph m. said

    QB OR MR. AGRON BELICA WHOEVER YOU ARE, YOU ARE A HATE MONGER YOU ARE HITLERS SON IN THE FLESH. RACIST AGAINST JEWS. ANTICHRIST FOR THE CHRISTIANS. YOU DONT GET FAR IN THIS WORLD DISCREDITING OTHER FAITHS YOU MOSLEM TRASH. WATCH YOUR STEP SIR, YOU MIGHT NOT SEE US COMING.

  39. RUBIEN S. said

    It will be interesting to see how the Islamic world responds to this one. The Islamic veiw point is that it was Judas Iscariot who was crucified and not Jesus. This author of the book deliver a messiah mistaken identity claims an independant theory. It is not just a challenge in my opinion to the christian world, but to the islamic worls as well. After seeing the cover-art I think I know where he is headed with this one. Sounds like an interesting read. Christians should act christian like, and not make such comments. This is free country an the author has the right to express his ideas-opinions or what have you. Let us not forget that “History is not truth” but an attempt to get at the truth. Peace to you all.

  40. sandra lavene said

    ruby, wow it was interesting. It is a challenge to both muslim and christians. good book author agron belica

  41. sandra lavene said

    ruby s, your right this is botha challenge to christians and muslims. what a book. the story is so different, and it all makes sense. I believe after reading this story that it was as the author calls him the son of zachariah on the cross. mind blowing info in this book. the distinction between the two -son of mary and son of zachariah. the author did a superb job. Looking forward to the next book. good job author agron belica

  42. Anonymous said

    THE AUTHOR OF THIS BOOK DELIVER A MESSIAH MISTAKEN IDENTITY MADE IT QUITE CLEAR THAT HE WASN’T OUT BASHING ANYONES RELIGION.. I HAVE READ THE BOOK , AND QUITE FRANKLY HE MAKES GOOD POINTS ON CERTAIN ASPECTS OF THE MESSIANIC STORY AS TOLD IN THE GOSPELS.. I WAS AMAZINGLY SURPRISED AS TO HOW HE USED HIS PROOFS NAMELY THE FOUR GOSPELS AND THE MOSLEM KORAN TO SUPPORT THIS THEORY OF JOHN BEING ON THE CROSS AND NOT THE CHRIST. IN ALL THE LITERATURE I HAVE READ PERTAINING TO THIS CRUCIFIXION THEORY BY ISLAMISTS, I HAVE NEVER ENCOUNTERED ONE LIKE IT. WHO WOULD HAVE EVER THOUGHT THAT JOHN THE BAPTIST BEAR SO MANY SIMILARATIES OF JESUS. YOU KNOW I TOO AM LOOKING INTO THE KORAN MORE NOW. IT IS INTERESTING THAT THIS AUTHOR DOES NOT REGARD THESE TWO PROPHETS AS FAILURES (ONE KILLED ON THE CROSS) AND THE OTHERS (HEAD BEING CHOPPED OFF). THIS AUTHOR ATTRIBUTES SUCCESS TO THEM.. TO TELL YOU THE TRUTH, I’D RATHER REMEMBER THEM OF SUCCESS THEN FAILURE. SO MR SIMEON OR WHOEVER YOU ARE, I THINK YOU SHOULD RE-EXAMINE YOUR GOSPELS (RECORDS) AND FIND OUT THE TRUTH BEFORE CASTING SUCH VILE ASSAULTS ON A MAN WHO IS IN SEARCH FOR TRUTH. MAY THE HIGH LORD HAVE MERCY ON YOUR SOUL.

  43. FRANK said

    THE AUTHOR OF THIS BOOK DELIVER A MESSIAH MISTAKEN IDENTITY MADE IT QUITE CLEAR THAT HE WASN’T OUT BASHING ANYONES RELIGION.. I HAVE READ THE BOOK , AND QUITE FRANKLY HE MAKES GOOD POINTS ON CERTAIN ASPECTS OF THE MESSIANIC STORY AS TOLD IN THE GOSPELS.. I WAS AMAZINGLY SURPRISED AS TO HOW HE USED HIS PROOFS NAMELY THE FOUR GOSPELS AND THE MOSLEM KORAN TO SUPPORT THIS THEORY OF JOHN BEING ON THE CROSS AND NOT THE CHRIST. IN ALL THE LITERATURE I HAVE READ PERTAINING TO THIS CRUCIFIXION THEORY BY ISLAMISTS, I HAVE NEVER ENCOUNTERED ONE LIKE IT. WHO WOULD HAVE EVER THOUGHT THAT JOHN THE BAPTIST BEAR SO MANY SIMILARATIES OF JESUS. YOU KNOW I TOO AM LOOKING INTO THE KORAN MORE NOW. IT IS INTERESTING THAT THIS AUTHOR DOES NOT REGARD THESE TWO PROPHETS AS FAILURES (ONE KILLED ON THE CROSS) AND THE OTHERS (HEAD BEING CHOPPED OFF). THIS AUTHOR ATTRIBUTES SUCCESS TO THEM.. TO TELL YOU THE TRUTH, I’D RATHER REMEMBER THEM OF SUCCESS THEN FAILURE. SO MR SIMEON OR WHOEVER YOU ARE, I THINK YOU SHOULD RE-EXAMINE YOUR GOSPELS (RECORDS) AND FIND OUT THE TRUTH BEFORE CASTING SUCH VILE ASSAULTS ON A MAN WHO IS IN SEARCH FOR TRUTH. MAY THE HIGH LORD HAVE MERCY ON YOUR SOUL.

  44. ricky said

    dude this book deliver a messiah misatken identity is like that i was sceptcol at first purcising the book but let me tell you this man is for real i dont see comin bacc from this one i knew somethin was wrong wit the wole cruci- “fix” thing . wht kind of bullcrap wil they tri to dis creddit this story no my frend this is the best yet good job dude!!

  45. Newsmonger said

    Branes&Noble.com

    Deliver A Messiah: Mistaken Identity
    by Agron Belica
    BUY THIS ITEM$15.49 List price $13.94 Online price
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    Publisher: AuthorHouse
    Pub. Date: October 2007
    ISBN-13: 9781434332585
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    A reviewer
    jennifer kelbier, student, 11/07/2007

    Very Interesting work.. Percise and straight to the point. Good job.

    Also recommended: To many to list……

    A reviewer
    abrock, A reviewer, 11/06/2007

    read the book, very pleased and amazingly surprised…the comparisons and points you make are undeniably plausible, i can see why youre getting so much backlash and stirring up controversy…very clever the way you put this together, and cited religious text to support your arguments…ultimately, i was very surprised by the way you came to a close, it raises other arguments that definitely had me baffled…can’t wait to read the full text, i’m sure i’ll be blown away by it like i was by the prequel…thanks brother for the work, what’s the sense in reading a piece if it doesn’t challenge the senses, and this one definitely did just that…salaam…look forward to reading more of your work in the future!!!

    A reviewer
    sam j, editor, 10/30/2007

    I have never read anything like it. It was an interesting read. two thumbs up..

    Also recommended: …….

    Product Details
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    ISBN-13: 9781434332585
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  46. Yo said

    Yo just found this surfing the web. Found it a islamicmatters.org I also found out that he does not follow Hadiths………….. Prophet Yahya Agron Belica©2007 The Quran mentions the prophets as having special names and qualities. For example, Prophet Muhammad is called the Seal of the Prophets (33:40) and a mercy for the worlds (21:107). Abraham is called Imam (2:124), the friend of God (4:125), a model to the to the world (16:120), one who is forbearing and repentant (11:74), a monotheist (16:123). Isaac is also given the quality of an Imam (21:73) who has power of vision (38:45). Aaron is called a minister (20:29); he is blessed with eloquence (28:34) and he is sent with signs and manifest authority (23:45). David is called a vicegerent on the earth (38:26) who has power and wisdom (2:251); a man of strength (38:17). Solomon is a king (38:35); he is taught the speech of birds and is bestowed with all things (27:16). Joseph is a ruler (12:88) and one who interprets dreams and visions (12:21), a man of truth (12:46), concealed as a treasure (12:19). Jacob is also called Imam (21:73). He is given the power of vision (38:45). Jesus is called the Messiah (3:45). He spoke in the cradle (3:46) and is a sign to humanity and a mercy from God (19:21). These are all prophets whose lives are familiar to us. What about the Prophet Yahya? What have we been taught about this prophet who has been overlooked and misrepresented. One reason he has been overlooked is because there are five words used in the Quran to describe Prophet Yahya that have been misinterpreted in translations of the Quran. The first is the word hasur which is usually translated “chaste.” My research shows that the Arabic word hasur does not mean “chaste” with regard to Yahya; rather , it means “a concealer of secrets.” Why the mistake in translation and commentary? As there was no extensive information given in the Quran about the life of Prophet Yahya nor in the hadith, the commentators then turned to Christian tradition and simply repeated what they found there. Nonetheless, the commentators of the Quran have placed considerable emphasis on this word. Al-Tabari interprets the word hasur to mean one who abstains from sexual intercourse with women. He then reports a hadith on the authority of Said ibn al-Musayyab which has Prophet Muhammad saying the following: “Everyone of the sons of Adam shall come on the Day of Resurrection with a sin (of sexual impropriety) except Yahya bin Zechariah.’ Then, picking up a tiny straw, he continued, ‘this is because his generative organ was no bigger then this straw (implying that he was impotent).’” Does this mean that even the prophets outside of Yahya will be raised up with this sin of sexual impropriety? How can we accept that this was said by such a modest human being, comparing a straw to another prophet’s generative organ? Was Yahya impotent? One commentator, Ibn Kathir, a renowned Islamic scholar , rejects this view and adds, “This would be a defect and a blemish unworthy of prophets.” He then mentions that it was not that he had no sexual relations with women, but that he had no illegal sexual relations with them. Indeed, the whole discussion is unseemly. It is known that prophets of God are immune from major sins, so this statement makes no sense at all when interpreting the word, hasur. In addition, I would like to mention the fact that in his commentary, ibn Kathir says he (Yahya) probably married and had children. He said this on the basis of what was related in the Quran of the prayer of Zachariah. There are at least three reasons why interpreting hasur in this context as “chaste” is a misinterpretation: First of all, there is another word in the Quran for “chaste” and that is muhasanah. As God used a different word with hasur, it must mean something different. Secondly, God says in the Quran that Islam did not bring monasticism but that it was something that they (the Christians) invented. Therefore, God would not have sent a Prophet who was celibate. In addition, it is contrary the exhortation in the Torah to “go forth and multiply.” Thirdly, Yahya’s father, Zechariah prayed for a protector who would provide descendants (dhuriyyat) for his family. “There Zachariah called to his Lord; he said: My Lord! Bestow on me good offspring from Thy presence; truly Thou art hearing supplication.” (3:38) God gave him Yahya. God would not have sent a son to Zechariah who would not carry on the line of Jacob’s descendants because then God would not have answered the prayer of Zechariah. The word hasur is used only one time in the Quran and that is in regard to the Prophet Yahya. A major Arabic lexicon, that of Stanley Lane-Poole, states that when hasur is used alone, it means “concealer of secrets.” Prophet Yahya as a “concealer of secrets” plays a very special role in the life of Jesus. The second word that has been misinterpreted is waliy (19:5) which in this verse and many others in the Quran means “protector” not “heir or successor.” In this specific case, Zechariah prays to his Lord: “And truly I have feared my defenders after me and my wife has been a barren woman. So bestow on me from that which proceeds from Thy Presence a protector.” The third word that is misinterpreted is that of fard in (21:89): “And mention Zechariah when he cried out to his Lord: My Lord! Forsake me not unassisted and Thou art the Best of the ones who inherit.” It is usually translated as “heir,” but the same reasoning applies as above. The word “unassisted” refers to the fact that Zechariah did not want to be left alone without any protector. He feared for those who would defend him and his honor after he died, that they would be left without a protector and thereby could not defend his honor. The fourth misinterpreted word in relation to Prophet Yahya is sayyid. Prophet Yahya is referred to as a sayyid, chief in the Quran. The commentators have interpreted this to mean that he was a scholar of religious law, a wise man, a noble wise and pious man, and so forth. This was a prophet of God. Knowledge and wisdom were given to him by his Lord. The title given to Yahya by his Lord shows that Prophet Yahya is one who has authority over his people and not “noble” or “honorable” as this word is usually translated. Honor and nobility are good qualities but they fail to indicate that Prophet Yahya is given a role of leadership by his Lord. The fifth word is hanan which means “continuous mercy from Us” and not as it is usually translated. The word hanan is used once in the Quran and that is in reference to Prophet Yahya. This is an attribute given to Prophet Yahya by God in the Quran: “And continuous mercy from Us and purity. . . .” The names Yahya and Yuhanan are not the same as many assume. They possess two entirely different root letters. Hanan and hanna both derive from the Aramaic root h n n. The word hanna means tenderness/indulgence of God. On the other hand, the root word for Yahya is h y y. It means “life” or “he lives.” One does not need to be a linguist to see the obvious. In addition, I would like also to mention that this name and attribute given to Prophet Yahya can also be found in Sabean literature. The Sabians are mentioned in the Quran in verses (2:62), (5:69) and (22:17). In their canonical prayer book we find Yahya Yuhanna. It has been known that it is the practice of the Sabians to have two names, a real name and a special name. According to the Sabians, this prophet’s real name was Yahya (he lives) and his lay name was Yuhanna (John). Prophet Yahya is the only one given this name as the Quran clearly states: “O Zechariah! Truly We give thee the good tidings of a boy; his name will be Yahya and We assign it not as a namesake (samiyya) for anyone before.” Again, another word that we need to pay attention to is samiya. It is used twice in the Quran, once in reference to Yahya (19:7) “O Zechariah! Truly We give thee the good tidings of a boy; his name will be Yahya and We assign it not as a namesake (samiya) for anyone before.” The other time it is used is in reference to God. “. . . Knowest thou any namesake (samiya) for Him [God]?” (19:65) How interesting is that? In the famous Arabic lexicon Lisan al-arab the root word s m w means elevation or highness. RETHINKING JOHN THE BAPTIST Reflections by Jay R. Crook© (Md. Nur) on Agron Belica’s research on the Prophet Yahya (John The Baptist) Perhaps the strangest person in the New Testament is John the Baptist. Agron Belica’s recent research focuses upon the Biblical and Quranic material about John and his relationship with Jesus, and then ventures new interpretations and visions of their roles and relationship in the tumultuous events of 1st century Roman Palestine. Armed with copious quotations from the Bible, the Quran, and later Muslim commentators, Belica shoots a quiver-full of provocative ideas, hitting the target or creating doubts about past conclusions enough times to provoke us into reconsidering the standard image of the Baptist that has been handed down over the centuries. Quranic references to John are put under the microscope, offering new interpretations of certain key words and phrases. Perhaps it is time to reconsider the meager evidence of the New Testament and Josephus, and to rethink John the Baptist. But first, who was John the Baptist? According to Luke (Lk. 1:57), John was born in Judaea (traditionally, since the 6th century CE, in ‘Ain Karim, about five miles west of Jerusalem) to Zechariah and Elizabeth of priestly (Levite) ancestry shortly before Jesus, about 4 BCE. As a lad, he left home and went to the Wilderness of Judaea where he joined and was probably taught by hermits, quite possibly connected in some manner with the Essenes at Qumran. John was a lifelong celibate, as were the Essene elite. Josephus (see below) remarks: “These Essenes reject pleasures as evil, but esteem continence and the conquest over our passions to be virtue. They neglect wedlock, but look to choose out other persons’ children; and esteem them to be of their kindred, and form them according to their own manners.” This appears to have been a kind of adoption and a process of indoctrination. As the Essenes practiced baptism, and this practice was a characteristic of John’s preaching, he may very well have been adopted and educated by them, presumably with the acquiescence of his parents. John could also have been influenced, if not directly, by traditions of the Old Testament Nazirites, ascetics who also dedicated themselves to God and eschewed (with the notable exception of Samson) most of the ordinary comforts of family life. However, when John bursts upon the first-century CE Palestinian scene, he appears as a charismatic loner, attracting crowds with his urgent warnings to repent lest they be brought down in the cataclysm of impending doom, that is, the end of the word and Divine Judgment. At that stage of his career, he does not seem connected with any formal community, such as that at Qumran. In many respects, the Baptist was less worldly than Jesus, who often immersed himself in the social occasions of daily life, such as feasts and weddings. John’s theology and preaching are infused with the fiery eschatological ideas of his period, that the Day of Judgment was near: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” he cried (Mt. 3:2). These were beliefs that he shared with the Qumran community. However, instead of restricting salvation to an elite few, as did the Essenes, he worked to open it to all through the sacrament of baptism. Repent and be reborn through baptism was his message (see Mk. 1:4). He attracted a considerable following and the admiration of Josephus. Many also believe that his influence is to be seen in the beliefs and practices of the Mandaeans of lower Mesopotamia, who practice baptism and venerate John, while regarding Jesus as a false messiah. In the Quran, where John the Baptist is referred to as Yahya, he is mentioned by name but five times, whilst the name of Jesus is found twenty-five times. The remarkable circumstances of John’s birth are mentioned, but not his kinship with Jesus, nor are his baptismal activities—his most familiar characteristic in Christian tradition. John is held in great esteem in Islam as a prophet, but unlike Moses, David, Jesus, and the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon them all, he is not considered the recipient of a revealed book. However, his importance in the history of religion is validated by these words in the Quran: God gives thee [Zechariah] the good tidings of Yahya, one bearing witness to the Word of God, one who is honored, one who is chaste, one who is a prophet from amongst the doers of righteousness. (Q. 3:39) In another verse, God says: We gave him wisdom whilst he was a child [a reference to John’s having left his home as a boy to be taught by hermits, perhaps the Essenes?] and compassion from Our Presence, and purity and he was devout and kind to his parents and he was not oppressive or rebellious. Peace be upon him the day he was born, the day he dies, and the day he is raised alive! (Q. 19:12-15) John (Yahya) was also instructed to take hold of the Book with firmness. (Q. 19:12) Which book? According to the Commentary known as al-Jalalayn, the book is the Torah. The words are sometimes taken to imply that he was given a special message to be promulgated amongst a people or all mankind. Nothing about the circumstances of his death is said in the Quran. Yet, these verses are an extraordinary commendation from his Creator! Truly, John was a great man of God and deserves more than the cursory attention he is usually given as the herald of Jesus and the victim of Salome. In his work, Agron Belica discusses these Quranic references in considerable detail, often raising questions that invite us to reconsider their traditional interpretations. The sometimes fragile Jewish independence that was the fruit of the revolt of the Maccabees in c.167 BCE against Alexander the Great’s Seleucid successors to the eastern portion of his empire was ended by the entrance of the Roman general Pompey into Jerusalem in 63 BCE. The yearning to restore that independence gave rise to the messianic movements that periodically convulsed Palestine during the next two centuries. Palestine was governed directly or indirectly first by Rome and later by the Eastern Romans (Byzantines), until the Muslim Caliph Umar entered Jerusalem in 634 CE and established Islamic hegemony. The period of John the Baptist, encompassing most of the events being discussed herein, was about forty-five years long, from c. 5 BCE to c. 37 CE; much shorter (ending at c. 27 CE) if one agrees with the New Testament chronology. It was an era of messianic excitement unparalleled in Israel’s history. Prophets proclaimed imminent coming of the Messiah, and several claimants to the title had already arisen, raised armies that fought heroically to regain Jewish freedom, but ultimately failed to prevail against the might of Rome. Despite these failures, the Jews continue to pray and work for a messiah who would deliver them from Roman oppression. The Christian movement, under Paul’s guidance, later decided that Jesus was that messiah, even though he had failed to re-establish Jewish independence, and transformed the expected worldly salvation into a spiritual one. For information about John the Baptist, we have two primary ancient sources: the New Testament and the writings of Josephus. The principal reason for John’s inclusion in the New Testament gospels is to introduce and validate Jesus as this Messiah, not to celebrate John. To perform this task, in the Biblical narrative, John appears suddenly from the wilderness (probably the sparsely populated regions of southern and eastern Judaea), preaching salvation with the cleansing baptism by which the baptized signified their repentance and spiritual rebirth or recommitment. The oldest of the canonical gospels, that of Mark thought to have been probably composed at Rome c. 65-70 CE, says the most about him. This is Mark’s description of John: “Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, and had a leathern girdle about his waist, and ate locusts and wild honey,” (Mk. 1:6). Luke, writing in Greece c. 80-90 CE, whilst focusing on John’s baptismal activities (also mentioned by Mark), omits any description of his manner of living. Matthew (c. 85 CE), usually more concerned with Jewish matters, merely paraphrases Mark: “Now John wore a garment of camel’s hair, and a leather girdle around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey.” (Mt. 3:4) In the pericope about John’s sending his disciples to question Jesus about his teachings, Matthew (written c. 85 CE, at Antioch in Syria) manages to link implicitly the followers of John with the “despised” Pharisees (Mt. 9:14). Luke omits Matthew’s identification of John’s followers with the Pharisees, but puts a speech into the mouth of Jesus that minimizes John’s importance (Lk. 7:24-28). Characteristically, John concentrates upon the Baptist’s introduction of Jesus and remarks (disparagingly?) that John performed no miracles (Jn. 10:41). Perhaps to emphasize Jesus’ precedence over John, in another place John reports that Jesus had baptized more disciples than John (Jn. 4:1). According to John (Jn. 1:35-42), there was something of a group desertion of several of John the Baptist’s disciples to Jesus after John had pointed Jesus out to them and declared: “Behold the Lamb of God!” This is consistent with the Christian idea that John was merely a forerunner and had ceded leadership to Jesus almost as soon as he (John) had begun his mission. However, since (again according to the gospels) John had to send disciples to Jesus to find out about his teachings, one may be forgiven if he wonders whether the whole business of Jesus’ baptism by John and his enthusiastic endorsement of the mission of Jesus as the true Messiah is little more than a pious fiction perpetrated by the authors of the fourfold gospel. Surely, if John had acted the way the gospels show him doing, he would have kept himself informed about the man whom he would then have believed to be the expected Messiah and would have had little need to send a special delegation to question Jesus (Mt. 11:2-6; Lk. 7:18-23). Of the four canonical gospels, only Luke establishes the kinship of John and Jesus, but all agree that John baptized Jesus. Apparently, John himself was the originator of this sacramental innovation as a missionary tool. His activities attracted great crowds from Jerusalem and its environs, a circumstance that would certainly have been a source of concern for the religious and political establishment of the time, always wary of challenge or insurrection, and was perhaps viewed unfavorably by later Christians who wanted nothing in the Bible to detract from the uniqueness of the Christ. In any event, having accomplished this task, John virtually disappears from the gospels, except for the odd reference and the mention of his death at the hands of Herod, which, in gospel chronology, occurred some two years before the disappearance of Jesus. According to many Christian students of the New Testament, the Baptist’s career lasted but six months. To us, that would seem too short a time to accommodate his rise to prominence, the spread of his teachings, the perception of the threat he posed, and the events of his final days. Let us now first compare the description of John in Mark cited above with that of our only other roughly contemporary source for these events, the Jewish historian Josephus (born 37-38 CE, died c.100 CE). He had some considerable experience with the type of anchorite represented by John. In his Life, he writes: “When I was informed that one whose name was Banus, lived in the desert and used no other clothing than grew upon trees, and had no other food than what grew of its own accord, and bathed himself in cold water frequently, both day and night, in order to preserve his chastity, I imitated him in those things, and continued with him three years.” Thus, it is clear that Josephus had personal knowledge of the kind of ascetic that John represents, but chronological problems make it unlikely that he had ever met him. Now, Josephus has considerable authority as a witness to the tumultuous events of first-century CE Roman Palestine. He was a Jewish general in the Jewish-Roman war of 66-73 CE—a major rebellion against Roman rule—but switched sides when he realized the impossibility of defeating the Roman war machine. Despised and regarded as a traitor and apostate by patriotic Jews, he spent much of the rest his life in acts of self-justification. Fortunately for us, these acts included two major histories, without which we would be much poorer in our knowledge of the Palestine of the New Testament era. The first was The Jewish War, written about a decade after the event; the second, the monumental Antiquities of the Jews (93 CE), a somewhat secularized account of the history of the world and role of the Jews in it that parallels the Bible in scope, beginning with the creation but continuing past the end of the Old Testament (c. 400 BCE) until his own time. More importantly for our purposes, Josephus refers to several New Testament figures by name: Jesus, his brother James, and John the Baptist. Although Paul (who would have been a contemporary of Josephus) appears not to have been mentioned by Josephus, there is a tantalizing reference to one Saul (the birth name of Paul) involved in riots some time after the disappearance of Jesus. However, that is beyond our brief, but the passage in the Antiquities relating to John is worth quoting in full for its information and implications: Now, some of the Jews thought that the destruction of Herod’s army came from God, and that very justly, as a punishment for what he did against John that was called the Baptist; for Herod slew him who was a good man and commanded the Jews to exercise virtue, both as to righteousness towards one another, and piety towards God and so to come to baptism; for that the washing [with water] would be acceptable to Him, if they made use of it, not in order to the putting away [or remission] of some sins [only,] but for the purification of the body; supposing still that the soul was thoroughly purified beforehand by righteousness. “Now, when [many] others came to crowd about him, for they were greatly moved [or pleased] by hearing his words, Herod, who feared lest the great influence John had over the people might put it into his power and inclination to raise a rebellion, (for they seemed ready to do anything he should advise,) thought it best, by putting him to death, to prevent any mischief he might cause, and not bring himself into difficulties by sparing a man who might make him repent of it when it should be too late. “Accordingly he was sent a prisoner, out of Herod’s suspicious temper, to Macherus, the castle I before mentioned, and was there put to death. Now the Jews had an opinion that the destruction of this army was sent as a punishment upon Herod, and a mark of God’s displeasure against him.” Thus Josephus. What does the New Testament say about John’s fate? The oldest canonical gospel, Mark, introduces the story with a preamble: “King Herod heard of it [the activities of Jesus and his disciples]; for Jesus’ name had become known. Some said, ‘John the baptizer has been raised from the dead; that is why these powers are at work in him.’ But others said, ‘It is Elijah.’ And others said, ‘It is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.’ But when Herod heard of it, he said, ‘John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.’” (Mk. 6:14-16) From this we learn that apparently John also possessed miraculous powers. Jesus’ deeds are likened to those of John, and John is linked with another strange Biblical character from the Old Testament who too possessed miraculous powers, Elijah. Now we flash backwards in time: “For Herod had sent and seized John, and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife; because he had married her. For John said to Herod, ‘It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother’s wife.’ And Herodias had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not, for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and kept him safe. When he heard him, he was much perplexed; and yet he heard him gladly. “But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and the leading men of Galilee. For when Herodias’ daughter came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests, and the king said to the girl, ‘Ask me for whatever thou wishest and I will grant it. ‘ And he vowed to her, ‘Whatever thou askest of me, I will give thee, even half my kingdom.’ And she went out and said to her mother, ‘What shall I ask?’ And [her mother] said, ‘The head of John the baptizer.’” The unnamed daughter is, of course, the notorious Salome of Christian tradition. Mark continues: “And she came in immediately with haste to the king, and asked, saying, ‘I want that thou give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.’ And the king was exceedingly sorry; but because of his oaths and his guests, he did not want to break this word to her. And immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard and gave orders to bring his head. He went and beheaded him in the prison, and brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl; and the girl gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard of it, they came and took his body, and laid in a tomb.” (Mk. 6:17-29) Luke gives a much shorter and more sober version, devoid of lurid domestic intrigue: “Now Herod the tetrarch heard of all that was done [by Jesus and his disciples], and he was perplexed, because it was said by some that John had been raised from the dead, by some that Elijah had appeared, and by others that one of the old prophets had risen. Herod said, ‘John I beheaded; but who is this about whom I hear such things?’…” (Lk. 9:7-9) Once again, John is compared to Elijah, as he is in other places in the New Testament. Herod Antipas’ familial situation is not mentioned at all. Matthew gives more a literate and reserved account containing the essentials of Mark’s tale, which it again virtually paraphrases. The author of John seems to ignore the Baptist’s death, perhaps considering its irrelevant to his purposes. Mark’s, the basic narrative, seems to make an effort to exonerate Herod for his action by introducing the frivolous story of Herodias’ jealousy and hatred and the suspension of his political acumen by acceding to Salome’s ghastly request. Is this, like the story of George Washington and the cherry tree, history or fable? The calm way John’s disciples come to collect his remains is in remarkable contrast to the melodrama of the circumstances of his death. May we infer from this that his death may not have been that dramatic? Josephus merely states that John was put to death. Josephus has a quite a lot to say about Herodias and Herod’s love for her, but nothing in connection with John. His silence is perplexing, unless the lurid but entertaining Biblical tale has no foundation of historical truth. We cannot cite Josephus’ silence to repudiate absolutely the veracity of the Biblical text and the roles of Herodias and Salome. Herod’s marriage to Herodias probably was the cause of some dissatisfaction among his Jewish subjects, but would a sane man—especially a ruling politician—have acquiesced to Salome’s grisly request? Notice how quickly, in the Biblical story, Herod qualified his offer of “whatever thou askest of me” to a mere “half my kingdom.” Slaying a very popular prophet at the whim of a dancing girl would surely been more offensive to his subjects than his marital misstep. The reasons given by Josephus, that Herod feared John’s popularity and the possibility that, acting like another messianic claimant, he might raise an insurrection against Herod’s rule, are much more plausible. In our opinion, this calculation, based on statecraft and realpolitik, is considerably more likely to have been the cause of John’s death in the dungeon of Macherus than Salome’s gyrations before Herod and his guests. Josephus does not mention the manner of John’s execution, but beheading is certainly a possibility. One may speculate, although without much supporting evidence, that he could have escaped to the eastern desert, as Macherus was located but a few miles from the eastern shore of the Dead Sea and some ten or twelve miles south of Mt. Nebo where Moses viewed Canaan before dying. However, that would be mere conjecture, attested neither by the Bible, nor by Josephus. Of course, the Bible story of Salome and John is so colorful and salacious, so entrenched in Christian and Western culture, that to reject it as history may seem mean-spirited. We must permit he reader to make his own decision. However, there still remain the chronological problems posed by Josephus’ text quoted above to consider, and it is now time to look at them. Accepting the death of John at Macherus as an historical fact, Josephus gives us one firm date: Herod Antipas’ defeat in battle at the hands of the Nabataean King Aretas IV (rgd. 9 BCE to 40 CE), whose daughter Herod had married and divorced. Angered by the perceived insult to his family and honor by this repudiation of his close kin, Aretas sought revenge by sending his troops into battle against Herod’s army. That occurred in 36-37 CE. In the Biblical story, John’s death is the direct result of his opposition to that marriage, therefore the order of events is Herod’s divorce, his marriage to Herodias, John’s criticism and death, and Aretas’ armed reprisal, not mentioned in the Biblical tale, but strongly affirmed by the evidence of Josephus. Consequently, the date of John’s death could not have been later than the date of that battle, 36-37 CE. The lower end of the dating is that of the New Testament, which indicates a date up to two years before the events of the Passion, usually given now as c. 29 CE. Thus, according the Bible, John died c. 27-29 CE. Reconciling the Bible and Josephus means that John died some time between c.27 CE, the downward limit, and 36-37 CE, the upward limit, a period of some ten years. If we hold that the Bible is correct, Josephus is wrong or, one might argue, that ten years had elapsed between the Herod’s insult to Aretas’ family honor and that both are correct. Since Josephus says only that John’s death occurred before the battle of 36-37 CE, is it realistic to suppose that Aretas waited ten years before avenging Herod’s insult? Josephus wrote: “Now, some of the Jews thought that the destruction of Herod’s army came from God, and that very justly, as a punishment for what he did against John…” Josephus then goes on give the proximate cause for this act, the fear of the prophet’s popularity and the possibility he might raise a rebellion. Does that not suggest a shorter interval between the events of John’s death and Herod’s defeat than ten years? Looked at another way, would Aretas have waited ten years to avenge a public insult to his family’s and therefore his personal honor? We have the divorce, the marriage, the criticism of Herod’s marriage by John, the fact of John’s popularity and the imminent possibility of still another messianic insurrection, John’s death, and the battle. Public insults demand a quick response, especially from rulers. Aretas would have become a figure of ridicule had he dithered about for ten years before seeking revenge. He was, after all, the king of the Nabataeans, a prosperous kingdom, with the ruins of his capital at Petra still one of the most spectacular sights in the world. Prof. Nineham agrees: “On the basis of the Synoptic Gospels (see especially Luke 3:1), it is usually assumed that John was executed in A.D. 29-30. On the other hand, Herod’s defeat by the Arabians, referred to in Josephus, took place not long before the death of Tiberius in March A.D. 37. The cause of the Arabian war was Herod’s repudiation of his first (Arabian) wife for Herodias, so, if the dates are to be reconciled, the Arabians must have waited a very long time before taking their revenge, and the Jews must have attributed Herod’s defeat to an event which had taken place six or seven years earlier. As we know nothing of the attendant circumstances, neither of these possibilities can be ruled out.” We need not be that cautious. Prof. Eisenmann thinks that Josephus’ text suggests a date of c. 36 CE for the death of John. Josephus’ text supports a rapid scenario. Aretas, not being obstructed by overzealous lawyers, would have sought to restore the honor of his family in the old-fashioned way, with swift, peremptory action, perhaps within a year or two of Herod’s act of lèse majesté. That would make Prof. Eisenmann’s suggested 36 CE quite plausible, superseding the traditional c. 27 CE based upon the Pauline New Testament. We think that the implications of the words of Josephus present a serious challenge to the received view, a view that is influenced by lingering ideas of Biblical infallibility. The alternative would require us to shift the date of the Jesus’ Passion from 29 or 30 CE to a date after 36 CE. However, here we encounter another problem. The Biblical evidence—the only source of information that we have about Paul—indicates that he never met Jesus in person. His conversion reputedly took place some time c. 34-36 CE. To move the crucifixion to a date as late as 36 CE or later would appear to be impossible. There is yet another piece of evidence to be considered when we look at the chronology of those momentous events in the Palestine of two millennia ago: the question of Jesus’ age at the time of his Passion. The text of the New Testament suggests that he was about thirty-three years of age. Josephus gives us no reliable evidence about his end. So, we must turn to the latest of the canonical gospels, that of John the Apostle, for a curious passage, again largely ignored, that touches on the question. It may represent a tradition unknown to or ignored by the Synoptics. At one point in his narrative, John depicts a debate between the Jews and Jesus that presumably occurred a few months before the Passion. According to the Synoptics, Jesus would have been about thirty-three. Jesus is speaking: “’Your father Abraham rejoiced that he was to see my day; he saw it and was glad.’ The Jews then said to him, “Thou art not yet fifty years old and hast thou seen Abraham?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Verily, verily, I say to you, before Abraham, I was, I am.’ So they took up stones to throw at him; but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple.” (Jn. 8:56-59) The tone of the passage and indeed of most of John is rather hostile to the Jews. Note that Jesus does not even admit to being one of them, saying “your father Abraham” instead of “our father Abraham.” Of course, this has to do with John’s divinization of the eternal Jesus and that need not detain us here. However, the phrase “not yet fifty years old” does arrest our attention. If a man be thirty-three, would one be likely to say to him, “you are not yet fifty” or rather “you are not yet forty”? The only reason the Jews would address him thus would be if he appeared to be middle-aged, in his forties. John Marsh, in his commentary on John, writes: “From the time of Irenaeus [c. 125 CE to 202 CE], this verse has been the reason why some scholars have held Jesus to have been between forty and fifty years old during the years of his ministry. But this is not a necessary inference. If there be any allusion to the years of levitical service, this would imply that the Jews were saying to Jesus, ‘If you are still, as you claim “in God’s service”, you cannot be fifty years old. How can you have known Abraham?” Prof. Marsh should be applauded for at least addressing the issue, though we are not persuaded by his argument. We have pointed out above that the Synoptics represent one rather closely related set of traditions, whilst John represents another set of traditions. The two views of Jesus are in many ways incompatible. In any case, John’s exalted vision of the ethereal divine Jesus is not really related to history, but more to the world of religious drama. However, even drama is rooted in reality at some level and therefore John may very well inadvertently preserve a genuine truth. Moreover, there is a verse in the Quran that supports this view of the older Jesus: He [Jesus] will speak unto mankind in his cradle and in his manhood, and he is one of the righteous. Q. 3:46) The word translated as “manhood” here is kahl, actually meaning “middle-aged, a man of a mature age.” The statement may very well reflect a tradition preserved in the oral literature of the Hejaz at the time of Prophet that is the context of the Quran. If this interpretation be correct, as well it may be, then the reference in John should be given much more weight. The statements in both the Gospel and the Quran may reflect the same tradition of the older Jesus in circulation, despite the prevalence of the Synoptics’ view of his age at the time of the Passion—or it may even reflect memories of the older, living Jesus who had survived the supposed crucifixion. After this review of the problems in establishing hard dates for the most of the events under discussion, we can probably say only one thing with certainty: we shall never be able to resolve all of the problems of this chronology without time travel. There are doubts about everything except the approximate year of Herod Antipas’ defeat by Aretas (c. 37 CE). The birth years of both Jesus and John are conjectures; the date of the alleged crucifixion of Jesus relies heavily upon those conjectures, although it is more probable than the birthdates. The sequence of the death of John and the crucifixion is thrown into doubt by the evidence of Josephus, the most impartial witness we have from that period. Furthermore, even the age of Jesus, traditionally thirty-three, at the time of his Passion (and therefore the dates of his birth) is compromised in the tradition cited by John and that of the verse in the Quran. If, for the sake of argument, we accept the theory of a longer life span for Jesus, say forty-five years instead of the traditional thirty-three, how are we to reconcile it with the events in the lives of John and Jesus? Neither Jesus nor John was evident in Palestine during the period of Paul’s activities, which commence in the middle of the 30s of the first century CE. Let us assume that the date of the Passion was indeed c. 30 CE or a bit earlier, as the New Testament would have it. For Jesus to have been middle-aged, let us say forty-five, he must have been born c. 16 BCE instead of 4 BCE. John the Baptist may also have been born about the same time. As Paul was born c. 1 CE, this would also make them much older than Paul, who died c. 67 CE, a relationship in ages that would seem more suitable than being virtual contemporaries as the traditional dating makes it. The alternative, that Jesus was born c. 4 BCE and the Passion occurred c. 40 CE, is virtually impossible, because the comments about his age clearly refer to a period shortly before the Passion and we bump in the beginning of Paul’s work c. 35 CE. The crucifixion must have taken place prior to that date. We have described above our reasons for believing the good possibility that John was in fact martyred after the crucifixion. As the kinship link between Jesus (Davidic) and John (Levite) may be a Lucan fiction, then John could have been born at any time, but his death must have occurred before Herod Antipas’ defeat, c. 37 CE. The fact that Paul does not mention John in his writings proves nothing. Of the gospels, only Luke speaks of a kinship between John and Jesus. According to Luke, both of John’s parents were Levites. His mother Elizabeth was relative of Mary, the mother of Jesus, so presumably she also was a Levite—if we may rely upon Luke’s evidence. As we have noted above, the canonical gospel-writers introduced John the Baptist primarily as the herald of the coming of Jesus and had very little to say about him thereafter. Since both men were active in their missions at roughly the same time in an area smaller than Connecticut, it would be strange if they had not had more contact, especially if they were kin. Since we believe that the gospel writers were desirous of putting the focus on Jesus and did not want to confuse the issue with a charismatic competitor, their comparative silence is not entirely unexpected. This should not be taken to imply that we feel that Jesus and John were any in sort of competition for followers, God forbid! However, their later propagandists may have been less tolerant. Consider the fate of the Essenes, an influential community of that era; they are not mentioned at all by the fourfold gospel, even though their views on the Messiah were quite apposite to the nature of the mission of Jesus. Moreover, they were hardly a secret society; there was even a Gate of the Essenes in Jerusalem at the time of Josephus! Yet, there is not a word about them in the Bible. In the gospels, Luke writes about the beginning of the fame of John and his preaching and baptizing: “As the people were in expectation, and all men questioned in their hearts concerning John, whether perhaps he were the Christ [Messiah].” (Lk. 3:15) Of what were the people in expectation? The Messiah would, among other things, release them from the yoke of Rome. What did the priest Zechariah, his father, say about John at his birth? “And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest… to give knowledge and salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins through the tender mercies of our God…” (Lk. 1:76,77) and John: “And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, ‘Who art thou?’ He confessed, he did not deny, but confessed, ‘I am not the Christ [Messiah].’ And they asked him, ‘What then? Art thou Elijah?’ He said, ‘I am not.’” (Jn. 1: 19-20) Though not claiming to be the Messiah, John was a charismatic prophet of considerable repute on his own. The fact that he acknowledged the precedence and greater importance of Jesus links them together implicitly, despite the gospel writers’ relative silence. The lingering fear that he posed a threat as a potential messiah probably contributed to Herod Antipas’ decision to have him executed, as they thought had executed Jesus. So, for the sake of argument, we may postulate that the connection between Jesus and John, both shepherds in the fields of salvation, probably had more direct or indirect contact than the texts of the canonical gospels would suggest. Furthermore, there is the question of the messiahship, a question that may possibly also involve the Essenes. We have mentioned the strong possibility of John’s having Essene connections above. The Essenes had proposed two complementary messiahs: the Priestly and the Royal to rule the ideal Jewish state. They had also proposed two antithetical characters: the Teacher of Righteousness and his foe the Wicked Priest. These two were apparently real people and there has been much speculation about their identities. The Mandaeans, whom we have mentioned above, may have had Essene connections and their parallel to the Essene dichotomy, John the Baptist in opposition to Jesus, hints at stronger links between the two groups. Does their position reflect some earlier Essene approval of John the Baptist and disapproval of Jesus, for whatever reason? There were some in Judaea at that time who thought that John might really be a messiah but that he was concealing the fact out of caution. Not that he was the Davidic or Royal Messiah, but rather the Priestly Messiah. John was of Levite descent and therefore at least qualified by descent to be a candidate for that role. If Jesus were the Davidic (Royal) Messiah and John the Priestly Messiah, their relationship would be more understandable and take on a different hue. One may speculate that the delegation of inquiry sent by John to Jesus probably wanted to know his plans, possibly with a view to a declaration of their joint messiahship. Apropos of this topic, Prof. Mowry writes: “Interestingly, some of John the Baptist’s followers apparently thought of him as one who fulfilled the hope for a priestly Messiah. In the nativity stories of John, as they are preserved in Luke’s gospel, we read that the ‘poor’ of Israel will rejoice at his birth because it signifies the arrival of the day of redemption (Lk. 1:46-55) What is said in praise of John as the wonder child (Lk. 1:16-17) who would create a prepared people by transforming them into obedient children of God expresses the ideals of deeply pious rural priests. It is not surprising, therefore, that John, as the son of such a priest, could be regarded as fulfilling the hopes of those looking for a Messiah from the tribe of Levi. This does not necessarily imply that John the Baptist had such messianic views, or that he thought of himself as fulfilling the promises of a Messiah…” As real or potential messiahs, Jesus and John each posed a potential challenge to different aspects of the ruling establishment that supported Roman rule. Both had to be eliminated to preserve the status quo. John the Baptist met that fate at Macherus, most likely after the Passion of Jesus—unless he managed to escape from the castle into the eastern desert and flee to lower Mesopotamia where some of his followers would flee and where the Mandaeans would later be centered. opprobrium” ,” as uttered in modern Christian XE “Christians” sermons and even in popular speech is now synonymous with dry formalism, false piety, and hypocrisy. The adjectival form “pharisaical” is a pejorative, a word redolent of hypocrisy, self-righteousness, and legalistic hair-splitting. This is truly an insult to the pious Jews XE “Jews” who were the ancestors of modern Judaism XE “Judaism” . The term is now imbued with such odium that one hesitates to make the obvious parallel to Islamic XE “Islam” institutions: the Pharisees XE “Pharisees” were a class much like those of the ‘ulama and their supporters who defend the people (not as successfully as one might wish) from the oppressions of the rich and powerful in modern Islam XE “Islam” . The opponents of the Pharisees, the Sadducees XE “Sadducees” , were the establishment priesthood whose center of power and livelihood was the Temple XE “Temple, the (Jerusalem)” and its rites and worship. They reveled in robes and patronage, much like those of the ‘ulama XE “ulama (‘ulama)” who were called “court theologians” in recent imperial Iran XE “Iran” , and their like in other Muslim XE “Muslims” states. (From the section on the Pharisees in the writer’s The New Testament: An Islamic Perspective, pp. 70-72; also found in Introduction to the New Testament, pp. 71-73.) “’I tell you, among those born of women, none is greater than John; yet he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.’” (Lk. 7:28) John: The writer of John (working c. 100 CE or later) was almost certainly not John the disciple of Jesus and definitely not the John of Patmos, who is credited with Revelation (c. 96 CE). Rev. J.C. Rylaarsdam, the author of the article on John the Baptist in Dictionary of the Bible, edited by James Hastings, suggests that the birth story of John originally circulated amongst his followers and was later attached to the birth story of Jesus by the author of Luke-Acts in order to establish kinship, thus further validating the mission of Jesus by linking the popular John to him. (Hastings, pp. 509-10) Hastings Dictionary of the Bible, p. 509. Josephus, Life, 2. In a footnote, the translator, William Whiston, suggests that this Banus may well have been a disciple of John. Others go even further and propose that this Banus was in fact John himself, name disguised for political reasons. Since Aretas IV’s victory over Herod Antipas is firmly dated 35-36 CE, and Josephus was born about a year or so later, it would be impossible for Banus to have been a bi-name for John the Baptist, as Josephus’ three-year sojourn in the desert would have occurred c. 51-54 CE, long after the reign of Herod ended in 39 CE. However, Banus was certainly of the type of John, a prophet repelled by the corruption of the world. Josephus, Antiquities, XX. 9.4. Of course, such an identification of the rioter Saul with the Saul/Paul of the New Testament is rejected by most Christian scholars. The name Saul was and is a common name amongst Jews; however, we know that Paul, according to his own words, was involved in a number of riots and the time is right. Such a circumstance invites speculation. See also the writer’s discussion of this issue in The New Testament: An Islamic Perspective, pp. 405 & 504, or in the separate volume taken from that, Paul and Early Christianity, pp. 13 & 108. The brackets [ ] in this direct quotation from Josephus are found in the printed text. Otherwise, any brackets used in this article are explanatory material introduced by its author. I.e., John’s (power). Macherus (also spelled Machaerus): A Maccabaean fortress, situated about 5 miles from the eastern shore of the Dead Sea rebuilt by Herod the Great on the edge of his Kingdom, it frequently served Herod Antipas as a fortress palace. It later became a center of Jewish resistance to Roman rule. Josephus, Antiquities, XVIII, 5.2. Material between brackets [ ] in quotations from the Bible is by the writer of this article. “Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy brother’s wife; she is thy brother’s nakedness.” (Lev. 18:16) “If a man takes his brother’s wife, it is impurity; he has uncovered his brother’s nakedness, they shall be childless.” (Lev. 20:21) See also Deut. 25:5. There is an exception for levirate marriage, an arrangement by which, if a man dies without issue, his brother would take his widow, and the firstborn would be declared the son of deceased man. This fiction was done to preserve the dead man’s lineage. The Biblical story of John’s death and Salome’s role is the subject of numerous works of art, including paintings, poems, books, films, plays—that of Oscar Wilde is the most famous amongst speakers of English—and operas. Richard Strauss’ masterpiece Salome, based upon the Wilde play, still firmly retains its popularity on the world’s operatic stages. According to Luke, this Herod was at first glad to see Jesus when the latter was brought before him during the events of his trial, but later mocked him for his silence (Lk. 23:8-11). “At that time Herod the tetrarch heard about the fame of Jesus; and he said to his servants, ‘This is John the Baptist, he has been raised from the dead; that is why these powers are at work in him.’ For Herod had seized John and bound him and put him in prison, for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife; because John said to him, ‘It is not lawful for thee to have her.’ And though he wanted to put him to death, he feared the people, because they held him to be a prophet. “But when Herod’s birthday came, the daughter of Herodias danced before the company and pleased Herod, so that he promised an oath to give her whatever she might ask. Prompted by her mother, she said, ‘Give me the head of John the Baptist here on a platter.’ “And the king was sorry; but because of his oaths and his guests, he commanded it to be given. He sent and had John beheaded in prison, and his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother. And his disciples came and took the body and buried it; and then they went and told Jesus.” (Mt. 14:1-12) Josephus. Antiquities, XVIII.5.1. D.E. Nineham, Saint Mark. Pelican New Testament Commentaries. Penguin, revised 1969, p. 173. Prof. Nineham’s reference to Luke points us to a good example of how Luke, more concerned with chronology than any of the other canonical gospel writers, fixes a date, in this case the date of the beginning of John’s public mission: “In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, in the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness…” (Lk. 3:1-2) With all that information, one might think it would be easy to convert it into a fairly exact year in our present calendric system. However, our hopes may be somewhat moderated when Dr. Caird (G.B. Caird, Saint Luke. Pelican New Testament Commentaries. Penguin, 1963, p. 71) commences a discussion of this date with: “Luke’s date has been interpreted in three different ways…” The three different calculations would lead to (1) 28-29 CE, (2) 25-26 CE, or (3) 27-28 CE. Dr. Caird observes that the first would leave too little time between John’s appearance and the crucifixion (30 CE). He rejects the second because of a lack of evidence of coinage in Tiberius’ name for that year, although, if one accepts the historicity of Luke’s statements, it would a more reasonable time for the length for John’s mission prior to the beginning of Jesus’ public mission, which traditionally lasted three years, especially if one accepts 29 CE for the date of the Passion. The third calculation is based upon Jewish reckoning, but would also be a little tight for the complete mission of Jesus. Of course, this is all about the beginning of John’s ministry, not its end and is cited here so that the reader may appreciate the difficulties one encounters in Biblical chronology. Robert Eisenmann, James the Brother of Jesus, Penguin Books (1997). The patient reader may be interested in the fate of Herod Antipas after he had been defeated in battle by Aretas: at the urging of Herodias, Herod sought from the Roman emperor Caligula (rgd. 37-41 CE) the title of king. The couple went to Rome for this purpose, but Herodias’ brother Agrippa, coveting Herod’s territories, brought charges against Herod. This resulted in Herod’s banishment to Gaul (modern France) by Caligula, who was Agrippa’s friend, in 39 CE. Herodias stayed with Herod and he died there in Lyons, far away from Palestine. Herod Antipas had the longest reign of any Jewish ruler of the Second Temple period, some 43 years. Aretas IV remained on his throne until 40 CE. The extant text of Josephus, which might have given us some valuable information about this, has been tampered with by later Christian scholars, zealous in their devotion to the Christ, but perhaps indifferent to the value of historical truth. There are two references to Jesus in the Antiquities of the Jews of Josephus. One is thought to be genuine and merely attests to Jesus’ existence: “so he [Ananus, the high priest] assembled the Sanhedrin of the judgers, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others… (Antiquities, XX.9.9, p. 433) The other, found in XVIII.3.3. runs thus: “Now, there was about this time, Jesus XE “Jesus (the Christ)” , a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works,—a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews XE “Jews” , and many of the Gentiles. XE “Gentiles” He was [the] Christ; and when Pilate XE “Pontius Pilate”, at the suggestion of the principal men among us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him, for he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him; and the tribe of Christians XE “Christians” , so named from him, are not extinct at this day. And even now the tribe of Christians named after him is not extinct.” If this passage were genuine, it would be of immense value in verifying some events of the life of Jesus XE “Jesus (the Christ)” . Alas, it is not. Although attempts have been made to rehabilitate the paragraph, it is still regarded by most modern scholars as a later interpolation by Christian XE “Christians” hands—a cruel deception for the scholar, at best a pious forgery for the more charitable. (From the author’s The New Testament: An Islamic Perspective, pp. 135-6; also in Introduction to the New Testament, pp. 137-8.) John Marsh. Saint John. Penguin, 1968. In the dictionary Muhit al-Muhit, kahl is defined as “one who has turned gray… or one who has exceeded thirty or thirty-four until fifty-one.” George Sale also discusses this in a note to the verse in question “…and the passage [of the Quran] may relate to Christ’s preaching here on earth. But as he had scarce attained this age when he was taken up into heaven, the commentators choose to understand it of his second coming.” Sale, who published his translation of the Quran in 1734 CE, cites the commentaries of Jallalo’ddin. Al Beidawi. Medieval Muslim commentators, faced with a united Christian front on such issues as the age of Jesus, more often than not allowed themselves to be persuaded by the more established and colorful Christian traditions when they did not directly conflict with words of the Quran. See the writer’s section on “The Role of Oral Literature” in the Quran in both The New Testament: An Islamic Perspective and The Old Testament: An Islamic Perspective; or in Introduction to the New Testament and Introduction to the Old Testament. See the discussion of the birth stories in The New Testament: An Islamic Perspective, pp. 191-3, 201-16; or in Jesus, pp. 41-3; 51-64. Dr. Mowry’s footnote refers to Carl H. Kraaling, John the Baptist (NY, 1951), pp, 166-71, 181. Lucetta Mowry. The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Early Church. Univ. of Notre Dame Press (1962), pp. 163-4. Of course, this is all speculation, supposition, and deduction from too little hard evidence for a positive conclusion. Agron Belica speculates; all of us speculate. That is the part of our natural mental inquisitiveness that often leads to invention and new insights. Sometimes, even our wildest speculations are not so far from the truth. John the Baptist, this neglected and underestimated prophet, has found an enthusiastic advocate in Agron Belica. Let us hope that his efforts will encourage others amongst us to reconsider old “truths.” And God knows best. For this article, I have consulted several reference works, including the Encyclopædia Britannica, from the Standard Edition (2009), especially the articles on John the Baptist, Josephus, Herod Antipas, Essenes, and Mandaeans. I have also referred to the Encyclopædia of Religion and Ethics (Scribners, 1961), the Hastings Dictionary of the Bible, 1963 edition; the Jerusalem Bible (1966); the Oxford Annotated Bible (1962), and the Hughes Dictionary of Islam (1994). The Oxford Annotated Bible is the source of Biblical quotations, with occasional changes in punctuation, capitalization, and second-person singular. Essenes: Probably the first monastic movement in the Mediterranean world, they seemed to have appeared, mostly in Judaea, as a reaction to the oppressive rule of the Hellenistic Seleucids in the decades preceding the Maccabaean revolution of 167 BCE. Their beliefs and organization went through several phases during the course of their existence until they disappeared from history towards the end of the 1st century CE. Both Philo (c.20 BCE to c.50 CE) and Josephus estimate their number at about 4,000, perhaps an inflated number considering that the population of Judaea at that period that was probably fewer than 100,000. They were celibate and they eschewed family life and worldly connections, much like the Christians monks who, perhaps unwittingly, followed their example. Their identification with the Qumran community situated some 15 miles east of Jerusalem and the producers of the Dead Sea Scrolls is still disputed, but most scholars now accept it. Two figures, the Teacher of Righteousness and the Wicked Priest, are prominent in their writings and a number of attempts to identify by them have been made by scholars. During the period of John the Baptist and Jesus, Essene eschatological beliefs became more dominant and like many Christian evangelicals of our own period, they believed that the end of the world and the Day of Judgment were imminent and that only they would be saved. Amid the chaos of Roman Palestine, the community dispersed from Qumran some time in the second half of the 1st century CE. Josephus, The Jewish War, ii. 8.2, p. 476. The Nazirites were not an organized faction. They were usually individuals who were consecrated in some way to God, or felt themselves to be. Smith defines the term as: “one of either sex who was bound by a vow of a peculiar kind to be set apart from others for the service of God.” (Wm. Smith in Bible Dictionary, Family Library, 1975) The name means “one who is separated.” Among the outward signs of their calling were abstinence from wine, not cutting the hair, and avoidance of contact with the dead and all unclean food. The tradition goes back to the Old Testament XE “Old Testament” and continued through New Testament XE “New Testament” days: Joseph (the son of Jacob, not the husband of Mary XE “Joseph” is called a Nazirite XE “Nazirites” (Gen. 49:26) and perhaps the most famous Nazirite XE “Nazirites” of the Old Testament was Samson XE “Samson” , both of whose stories are discussed in The Old Testament: An Islamic Perspective. Despite the controversy about Nazareth XE “Nazareth” and the Nazarenes XE “Nazarenes” , Jesus XE “Jesus (the Christ)” does not seem to have been a Nazirite XE “Nazirites” , but both John the Baptist XE “John the Baptist” and James XE “James, brother of Jesus” the brother of Jesus were. (From the writer’s The New Testament: An Islamic Perspective, pp. 79-80, or Introduction to the New Testament, p. 80.) “John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” (Mk. 1:4) Mandaeans: sometimes called the “Christians of St. John (the Baptist).” Members of a sect that still survives in southern Iraq. The sect has affinities to dualistic Persian Manichaeism as well as Gnosticism, and it reveres John the Baptist but regards Jesus as a false messiah. They are noted for their bathing customs and the Arabs have also called them Al-Mughtasilah, “those who wash themselves.” (Muhammad Ali’s translation of the Holy Quran, Note 103). There is a tradition that its founders were a group who emigrated to the comparative safety of southern Mesopotamia, then ruled by the more tolerant (or indifferent) Parthians. If this be true , it is possible that disciples of John were among those who fled the oppressive Roman rule. They may be the Sabians mentioned in the Quran, along with the Jews and the Christians, as a People of the Book. Yahya (Ya=y[): The Quranic XE “Quran” note that John bore a name not given to any other—We have given the same name to none before (him) (Q. 19:7)—is qualified to mean any prominent person. This is probably connected with the verses in Luke XE “Luke” about the naming of John: “Now the time came for Elizabeth XE “Elizabeth” to be delivered, and she gave birth to a son… And on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they would have nmed him Zechariah XE “Zechariah” after his father, but his mother said, ‘Not so; he shall be called John.’ And they said to her, ‘None of your kindred is called by this name.” And they made signs to this father, inquiring what he would have him called. And he asked for a writing tablet, and wrote,’ His name is John XE “John the Baptist” .’ And they all marveled. And immediately (Zechariah’s) mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God.” (Lk. 1:57-64) It should also be remarked that John XE “John the Baptist, his name discussed” ’s name in Arabic XE “Arabic (language)” , Yahya, is applied only to John the Baptist XE “John the Baptist” and not to any of the other Biblical XE “Bible” Johns who are called Yuhanann[ or Y]=an[n in Arabic XE “Arabic (language)” . The form is pre-Islamic. The name would appear to be related to the root =-y-y or =-y-w meaning, “to quicken, animate, give live to” (especially the

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