November 28, 2022

Validation of Luke's Special Material, Semitisms in the Gospel of Luke

Semitisms in the Gospel of Luke

Based on analysis from James Edwards, The Hebrew Gospel & The Development of the Synoptic Tradition (2009)


Validation of Luke's Special Material - Semitisms in the Gospel of Luke

A primary reason for holding Luke to be the most reliable of the Synoptics is that double and triple tradition material in Luke, material shared by Luke with Mark or Matthew, is more primitive in Luke than in Mark and Matthew. However, there is further evidence that Luke is based on the earliest gospel traditions. This is seen by evaluating the material that is unique to Luke with no parallel in Mark or Matthew, known as Special Luke (Luke's Special Material unique to Luke in comparison to the other Synoptic Gospels). This special Material, not shared with Matthew or Mark, constitutes approximately 50% of the Gospel of Luke.

The key point to consider is that Luke's Special material is highly Semitic in syntax and vocabulary. Numerous scholars, in addition to Robert Lindsey of the Jerusalem school, have made a study of the strong Semitic influence exhibited in Luke. Below is a list of Scholarly works in English:

James Edwards, in the introduction of the seminal book The Hebrew Gospel and the Development of the Synoptic Tradition, likens the ability to identify the Semitic character of the Gospel of Luke as to seeing faint Hebrew characters underling the Greek text of an ancient document:

In the ancient world, a scribe or author would often rub the writing off an old parchment in order to reclaim the surface for a new text. The result was called a palimpsest. A complete erasure of the first hand would practically destroy a parchment, so palimpsests were treated more kindly and invariably variably retain the faint but visible ligatures of the original lettering beneath neath the most recent text. Reading the Greek NT with a knowledge of biblical Hebrew is like reading a palimpsest. The Hebrew thought world, like a subtext, often lies faintly beneath the Greek surface. But in the Gospel of Luke - or at least in parts of it - the subtext became much more visible. The Hebrew words seem to have been erased less completely than elsewhere in the Gospels. They are more evident, intrusive, and inescapable. Like rocks and coral reefs, they lay barely submerged beneath Luke's Greek. Nor did Luke seem to make an effort to tame or camouflage the Hebraisms. Their primitive and alien dignity seem to be consciously retained without Hellenizing or harmonizing to Lukan style. They give every appearance of coming from a source that the author valued and attempted to preserve. (James R. Edwards, The Hebrew Gospel and the Development of the Synoptic Tradition, p. xx)

Edwards found that in the half of Luke that is “Special Luke,” Luke exhibits approximately a 400% increase in Semitic character. This bears witness that Luke did not attempt to diminish the Semitism in his Hebraic source material by altering them to conventional Koine Greek standards. Luke is faithful to the extrinsic literary standards of his source material.

However, in pericopes (scenes) that Luke shares with Matthew and mark, Semitic influence decreases or disappears altogether. The half of Luke's gospel shared with Matthew and Mark exhibits a Koine Greek style, relatively free of Semitisms and not particularly dissimilar from the Greek of Matthew and Mark (Luke being the least embellished of the three).

The evidence that Luke utilized a Hebrew source in the composition of his Gospel is the focus of this article. Scholars have long noted that Luke contains an abnormally high number of Semitisms in comparison with Matthew and Mark. An example is Gustav Dalman who wrote:

“Hebraisms proper are special characteristics of Luke. There is reason, therefore, for a closer scrutiny of the style of this evangelist with its wealth of Hebraisms.” (G. Dalman, The Words of Jesus, 38.)

This fact can be attributed to the theory that Semitisms derive from an original Hebrew Gospel authored by an apostolic witness. James Edward tested this very hypothesis in his extensive book, The Hebrew Gospel & The Development of the Synoptic Tradition. His approach was to chart the individual Semitisms of Luke verse by verse, to see if they occurred in statistically greater numbers in passages unique to Luke. For example, if Luke utilized the Hebrew Gospel as a source, we should expect to see traces of it in those parts of Luke not dependent on Mark.

Edward presented the data necessary to test his thesis in Appendix II of his book. This appendix lists by chronological chapter and verse every Semitism. He identified some 700 for which there is reasonable certainty in Luke while passing over many more that weren't quite as certain. The Appendix clearly demonstrates that when Lukan material parallels Matthew and/or Mark, it shows on the whole no greater Semitic influence than Matthew or Mark. The result, consistent with Edward's hypothesis, is the overwhelming bulk of Luke's Semitisms occurs rather in material unique to Luke. Correspondingly, semitisms occur nearly four times more often in Special Luke than in material shared in common with Matthew or Mark.

The case for Semitic influence is further strengthened when clusters of Semitisms occur in portions of a document that otherwise and in other portions is drafted in conventional Koine Greek. Davila noted, “If we found blocks of text containing a high density of Semitisms alongside blocks of good Greek... we could conclude that the writer was either incorporating translated Greek passages into the work or translating passages from a Semitic source in some places while writing in his or her normal style in others. This appears to be the case with Acts.” (Davila, “How Can We Tell If a Greek Apocryphon or Pseudepigraphon Has Been Translated from Hebrew or Aramaic?”38-39.)

It might be surprising that Davila's axiom is actually more true of Luke than of Acts. The Appendix that Edwards provides, exhibits the distinct concentrations of Semitisms that occur in various sections of Luke. This eliminates the idea that Luke was trying to deliberately create a Semitic style, to emulate the Septuagint, since Semitisms in Luke do not occur in consistent proportion throughout.

Rather, the ebbs and flows of Semitisms in Luke can be reasonably explained by the premise of a Semitic prototype for portions of Luke with high Semitic concentrations. We have reason to believe that because the unusual or awkward words, phrases, idioms, and expressions that can be identified as “Semitisms” appear with uncharacteristic frequency in an author who otherwise writes cultivated Greek, and because those linguistic abnormalities, ranging from the slightly unusual to the virtually impossible, that this is explained as the result of normal Hebraic linguistic conventions being incorporated into Luke form a principal source.

Overview of The Analysis

On the basis of the Semitic analysis provided by Edwards there are four conclusions that can clearly be evidenced. (Shown in Appendix II, James R. Edwards. In the Hebrew Gospel and the Development of the Synoptic Tradition)

  1. Semitisms are not exclusive to the first two chapters of Luke, as is often supposed. Although there is a steady stream of Semitisms in Luke 1-2, concentrations Semitisms continue throughout other parts of the Third Gospel. Particularly strong concentrations of Semitisms occur in Luke 4:4-30; Luke 5:1-12; ch. 7; the end of ch. 9; the latter half of ch. 10; and throughout chapters 13-19 and 24. In Luke 24, the number and density of Semitisms exceed their number and density in any other chapter in the Gospel.
  2. The vast majority of Semitisms are unique to Luke and not shared in common with Matthew or Mark. In Appendix II of The Hebrew Gospel, there is a total of 703 Semitisms listed. Of this number, 653 are unique to Luke. They appear either in Special Luke or as Lukan additions to material shared in common with Matthew or Mark. That is, they do not appear in the other two Synoptics. 93% of the Semitisms in Luke are unique to Luke. Of all Luke's Semitisms, only 2% (15) appear in common with both Matthew and Mark; 4% (26) appear in common with Matthew, and only 1% (9) appear in common with Mark. The comparatively high number of Semitisms in Luke demands an explanation.
  3. Appendix II of The Hebrew Gospel reveals that Semitisms occur in much higher frequency in content unique to Luke than in passages that Luke shares in common with Matthew or Mark. The Gospel of Luke contains a total of 1151 verses, exactly half of which (574 verses) are unique to Luke (Special Luke), having no parallel with Matthew or Mark. These 574 verses contain a total of 504 Semitisms that account for 72% Semitisms in Luke. They account for 77% of the 653 Semitisms unique to the Third Gospel. Again, 72% of the total number of Semitisms in Luke occur in material unique to Luke! This evidence indicates a highly Semitic source incorporated by Luke. Semitisms appear in Special Luke, appear nearly four times as often as they appear in those sections of Luke that are shared in common with Matthew or Mark.
  4. Appendix II of The Hebrew Gospel shows 10 verses that are completely Semitic and completely unique to Luke (Special Luke) including some verses with as many as 6 Semitisms or more (Luke 5:12a, Luke 5:17, Luke 9:51; Luke 17:11; and Luke 21:34, are entirely Semitic) According to Edwards, “They beg to be translated back into standard biblical Hebrew.” (p. 145) Of the hyper-Semitic verses, there are several observations to make, including that they are not limited to one particular section of Luke, as they are dispersed throughout the Gospel. Another noticeable observation is that all but Luke 21:24 stand at the beginning of Lukan pericopes. On 14 occasions, the hyper-Semitic verses occur to introduce pericopes that are exclusive to Luke (Special Luke). 
This is further evidence that validates the material unique to Luke (Special Luke) as deriving from a primitive Hebraic source. This suggests that a Semitic source played a substantive role in the composition of Luke's Gospel. The source material, a prior Hebrew exemplar, is thus the primary basis for the twenty pericopes in Luke comprising hyper-Semitic introductory verses. This is especially true of the 14 instances of hyper-Semitic verses that introduce pericopes in material unique to Luke (Special Luke).  Luke follows the order and sequence of the Hebrew Gospel, where Mark departs from it. Edwards' conclusion is as follows:

This Semitic source thus appears to have been a primary source, into which the author of Luke integrated supplementary elementary material.

 This hypothesis has been anticipated and explained by several scholars. The earliest and also most precise is J. Vernon Bartlet, "The Sources of St. Luke's Gospel;" who argued that a single source of unusual Semitic character (which he thought was a conflation of several eral earlier sources) played a primary role in the composition of Luke, both supplying the balance of material in the Third Gospel that was not found in Mark, and also influencing the form in which Marks material was represented in Luke. "All these phenomena suggest the presence in various parts of Luke of a source parallel with Mark even in sections which at first sight appear dependent on Mark alone: and this result will be found to prove the best working hypothesis in every part of his Gospel" (p. 323, emphasis in original). Also in the nineteenth century in Germany, R. Handmann, Das Hebrder-Evangelium, 130-42, rightly recognized that the Hebrew Gospel was not a later compilation of the Synoptics, but rather an earlier independent dependent Palestinian Christian Gospel, which, along with the Gospel of Mark, influenced the formation of Luke and Matthew. (James R. Edwards. The Hebrew Gospel and the Development of the Synoptic Tradition (2009) p. 146 and footnote 82)

Edwards makes the analogy of Luke being like a church that was reduced to rubble in the second world war and was rebuilt using the same stones salvaged from the rubble and reset in the new church in the exact places they occupied in the original—the old stones not having been altered to conform to a new configuration.  In a similar sense, Luke had not altered his source material or paraphrased it into his masterful Greek (such as exhibited in the prologue of Luke 1:1-4). Luke took his creditable sources “as found” and he incorporated them with fidelity and integrity to honor the legacy of the primitive tradition. (p. 148)


What further substantiates Luke as a creditable authority incorporating the eyewitness character of the Hebrew Gospel grounding special Luke, is the high proportion of named individuals in constructions that appear in Special Luke. Again regarding material unique to Luke (Special Luke), named individuals appear in an exceptionally high frequency, whereas anonymous individuals appear with relatively low frequency. Of the named 44 named individuals in the Gospel of Luke, 28 of them (64%) occur in Special Luke.  Of the 45 anonymous individuals in Luke, only 14 (31%) appear in Special Luke. 

Edwards, based on this evidence, states:

Material in Special Luke appears to be more directly linked to named, eyewitness testi, whereas material in the half of Luke shared in common with Matthew and Mark appears to derive more generally from anonymous tradition. The evidence of named individuals in Special Luke thus corroborates the evidence dence of Semitisms in Special Luke. If the earliest gospel traditions rest on greater eyewitness testimony, then probability argues that the many proper names in Special Luke, like the Semitisms, derive from the Hebrew Gospel of Matthew. (James R. Edwards. The Hebrew Gospel and the Development of the Synoptic Tradition (2007) p 144) 

This corresponds to the observation of Richard Bauckman, who makes the case that individual names were remembered and preserved in the Gospels because they contributed, most often as eyewitnesses, to the gospel tradition. (Richard Bauckman, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony, 58-60.

For more, see the Hebrew Gospel and its relationship with Luke

For more on solving the synoptic problem, see the site

November 27, 2022

Arguments against Islam

10 arguments against Islam

  1. The contradictions between the Quran and the Hadiths. See
  2. The Quran presents a revisionist history of the Old Testament. Bible stories are rewritten in a way that appeals to the Islamic ethos. 
  3. The roots of Islam are Gnostic Christian and Jewish sects
  4. The Quran is not inspired – eclectic assortment of poetic writings – lacking context and structure – other pre-Quranic poetry was superior.
  5. The issues with the text of the Quran – written partially under a demonic influence.
  6. Islam presents a revisionist history of who Muhammad is. — there is a lack of textural preservation of the Quran
  7. We do not need another prophet. Jesus is the Messiah who was to come after Moses. He is God’s chosen one who will judge and reign in an everlasting kingdom and the fulfillment of the OT prophecies.  We have all the revelation we require through the preaching of the Gospel by the Apostles. This includes the forgiveness of sins, favor with God, and the gift of the Holy Spirit.
  8. Islam lacks baptism which the prophet John, Jesus, and his disciples preached in the book of Acts. The apostles preached to all the nations a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Islam regards John and Jesus as true prophets, but they don't follow the commandments of them and their disciples. 
  9. The Apostolic writings of the New Testament reveal the truth about the Gospel and Christ better than Islam.
  10. Islam is a works-based legalistic religion and lacks the means to have a relationship with God and experience his presence and power. 
    1. Christianity = Father-Son relationship with God
    2. Islam = Master-Slave relationship with God only

Jesus, not Muhammad, is the fulfillment of Deuteronomy 18:15...

Deuteronomy 18:15 (ESV) 

  15 “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen—

Acts 3:19-26 (ESV) 

  19 Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, 20 that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, 21 whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago. 22 Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you. 23 And it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.’ 24 And all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came after him, also proclaimed these days. 25 You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ​‘And in your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed.’ 26 God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.”

For more see: 

Refutation of Islam YouTube Videos:

A primary authority for refuting Islam: Quranic Studies; Sources And Methods Of Scriptural Interpretation, Wansbrough

Refutation of Islam YouTube Videos

 Select YouTube videos refuting the Quran and Islam

Bible vs. Quran

Historical Critique of the Quran's Origins, Jay Smith

A Crushing Critique of the Contradiction, Qira'at Qurans, Jay Smith

Historians Now Doubt How Islam Began, Al Fadi & Jay Smith CIRA series

Muhammad's bio is 200 yrs too Old, Ad Fadi & Jay Smith CIRA series

A primary authority for refuting Islam: Quranic Studies; Sources And Methods Of Scriptural Interpretation, Wansbrough


Quranic Studies; Sources And Methods Of Scriptural Interpretation

John Wansbrough, Prometheus (2004)

Internet Archive:


One of the most innovative thinkers in the field of Islamic Studies was John Wansbrough (1928-2002), Professor of Semitic Studies and Pro-Director of London University's School of Oriental and African Studies. Critiquing the traditional accounts of the origins of Islam as historically unreliable and heavily influenced by religious dogma, Wansbrough suggested radically new interpretations very different from the views of both the Muslim orthodoxy and most Western scholars. Originally published in 1977, Quranic Studies presents an in-depth textual exegesis of the Quran based on form analysis. Noting the persistent use of monotheistic imagery stemming from Judeo-Christian sources, he interpreted the rise of Islam as the development of what was originally a Judeo-Christian sect. As this sect evolved and differentiated itself from its Judeo-Christian roots, the Quran also evolved and was continuously in flux for over a century. Wansbrough concluded that the canonization of the text that we today call the Quran, and even the emergence of the concept of “Islam,” probably did not occur till the end of the eighth century, more than 150 years after the death of Muhammad. Although his work remains controversial to this day, his fresh insights and approaches to the study of Islam continue to inspire scholars. This new edition contains a valuable assessment of Wansbrough's contributions and many useful textual notes and translations by Andrew Rippin (professor of history, University of Victoria).

From the Inside Flap

Many believe that the academic study of the Quran lags far behind the study of the Bible while being, as the same time, closely modeled after it. Not only are the relevant scholarly resources of the Quran less numerous than those available in biblical scholarship, but comparatively speaking the variety of methods employed to deal with the scriptural text has been severely limited. One of the first groundbreaking efforts in Islamic studies was made by John Wansbrough in his unique work QURANTIC STUDIES: SOURCES AND METHODS OF SCRIPTURAL INTERPRETATION. Written between 1968 and 1972, this revolutionary analysis had a profound effect on the study of Islam. It produced, in the minds of many, a wholly new dichotomy in the approach used in Islamic studies: on one side, the skeptical revisionists, and on the other, the trusting traditionalists. Well ahead of his time, Wansbrough questions the very basic assumptions of previous scholars in a way that had never before been attempted. Working with the heritage of Joseph Schacht and Ignaz Goldziher before him, Wansbrough approached the Quran in a manner that sees the Muslim tradition as grounded in the dogmas of later centuries. Freed from these constraints, new questions relevant to contemporary scholars had to be asked.

Wansbrough was the first to analyze carefully the documents from the first four centuries of Islam that describe the rise of the Quran to the position of absolute authority in the Muslim community. Although these works were known to exist, no modern scholar had actually read them and tried to make coherent sense of the material. Wansbrough carved out new areas of inquiry and debate for scholars and lay enthusiasts alike.

QURANIC STUDIES deserves serious attention, as a stimulating work of scholarship. Its allusions to biblical and Arabian underpinnings have captured many people's attention and led to numerous exchanges and debates among scholars and others, especially regarding Wansbrough's claim that the Quran was not written down until the third-century hijri (ninth century CE), countering traditional Muslim claims that it originated in the time of Muhammad and was written down shortly thereafter. In response, some decried the publication of QURANIC STUDIES, seeing it as a major impediment to fostering a trust of nonsectarian scholarship among Muslims. Now readers can judge for themselves.

About the Author

John Wansbrough (1928-2002) was Professor of Semitic Studies and Pro-Director of London University’s School of Oriental and African Studies. Besides Quranic Studies, he also published The Sectarian Milieu (1978), Lingua Franca in the Mediterranean (1996), and many scholarly articles.

See Also, The Sectarian Milieu: Content and Composition of Islamic Salvation History

John Wansbrough, Prometheus (2006)

Critiquing the traditional accounts of the origins of Islam as historically unreliable and heavily influenced by religious dogma, Wansbrough suggested radically new interpretations very different from the views of both the Muslim orthodoxy and most Western scholars. In The Sectarian Milieu Wansbrough "analyses early Islamic historiography – or rather the interpretive myths underlying this historiography ― as a late manifestation of Old Testament 'salvation history.'" Continuing themes that he treated in a previous work, Quranic Studies, Wansbrough argued that the traditional biographies of Muhammad (Arabic sira and maghazi) are best understood, not as historical documents that attest to "what really happened," but as literary texts written more than one hundred years after the facts and heavily influenced by Jewish, and to a lesser extent Christian, interconfessional polemics. Thus, Islamic "history" is almost completely a later literary reconstruction, which evolved out of an environment of competing Jewish and Christian sects. As such, Wansbrough felt that the most fruitful means of analyzing such texts was literary analysis. Furthermore, he maintained that it was next to impossible to extract the kernel of historical truth from works that were created principally to serve later religious agendas. Although his work remains controversial to this day, his fresh insights and approaches to the study of Islam continue to inspire scholars.

November 26, 2022

Inconsistencies between the Quran and Hadiths

Testimony from an Ex-Muslim:

Since I was 17 until now (26 yo), I have finished reading the whole Quran at least 1 time each year.

The Islam described in the Quran is 180° different from the Islam you see in the world right now.

The actual problem with Muslims is that they don't follow their own Holy book.

They follow Satanic and nasty narrators and 95% of them have no idea what they are doing and what's the message of Quran.

If you don't believe me, next time when you see a Muslim face-to-face ask them this simple question:

How many chapters are there in Quran? (The answer is 114).

They will become red and stare at your face.


The Prophet said: “If somebody (a Muslim) discards his religion, kill him.” (Bukhari 4:52:260)


“There is no compulsion in religion” [2:256]

“Therefore remind, for you are only a reminder. You are not a watcher over them” [88:21-22]

“Then whosoever wills, let him believe, and whosoever wills, let him disbelieve” [18:29]


I (Muhammad) have been ordered to fight against people till they testify that there is no god but Allah, that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah, and they establish prayer, and pay Zakat. (Muslim 22)


“Had your Lord willed, all those on earth would have believed altogether. Will you then compel people until they become believers?” [10:99]


The Prophet said: Beware! I have been given the Quran and something like it, yet the time is coming when a man replete on his couch will say: Keep to the Quran; what you find in it to be permissible treat as permissible, and what you find in it to be prohibited treat as prohibited. (Abi Dawud 4604)


“Say: If men and jinn should combine together to bring the like of this Quran, they could NOT bring the like of it, though some of them were aiders of others” [17:88]


The Prophet once delivered a speech in front of us wherein he left nothing but mentioned everything that would happen till the Hour. (Bukhari 6604)


Say: “I do not say to you that I possess the treasures of God, nor do I know the unseen, nor do I say to you that I am an angel. I merely follow what is inspired to me.” [6:50]

[Quran 7:188 ] Say (O Muhammed), “I have no power to benefit myself, or harm myself. Only what God wills happen to me. If I KNEW THE FUTURE, I would have increased my wealth, and no harm would have afflicted me. I am no more than a warner, and a bearer of good news for those who believe.”

[Quran 6:50] Say (O Muhammed), “I do not say to you that I possess the treasures of God. Nor do I know the future. Nor do I say to you.


The Prophet entered a garden and told me to guard its gate. Then a man came and asked permission to enter. The Prophet said, “Permit him and give him the good news that he will enter Paradise.” Behold! It was Abu Bakr. Then Umar came, and the Prophet said, “Admit him and give him the good news that he will enter Paradise.” Then Uthman came and the Prophet said, “Admit him and give him the good news that he will enter Paradise. (Bukhari Volume 9, Book 91, Number 367)


Say: “I am no different from the other messengers, nor do I know what will happen to me or to you. I only follow what is inspired to me. I am no more than a clear warner” [46:9]


Narrated Al-Bara bin Azib: Allah's Apostle was given a silken garment, and its beauty and delicacy astonished the people. On that, Allah's Apostle said, “No doubt, the handkerchiefs of Sad bin Muadh in Paradise are better than this.” (Bukhari Volume 4, Book 54, Number 472)


“No person knows what is being hidden for them of joy, as a reward for what they used to do” [32:17]


A man from Bani Aslam came to Allah's Apostle while he was in the mosque and called him saying, “O Allah's Apostle! I have committed adultery.” When the man had given witness four times against himself, the Prophet called him and said, “Are you insane?” He replied, “No.” The Prophet then said to his companions, “Go and stone him to death.” We caught him at Al-Harra and stoned him till he died. (Bukhari 7:63:196)


“The adulteress and the adulterer, you shall LASH each of them a hundred LASHES. Do not let pity for them overcome you in applying God's religion if you believe in God and the Last Day, and let a group of believers witness their punishment” [24:2]


indeed, you (Muhammad) are of great moral character. [Quran 68:4]


Muhammad is a torturer... (Narrated by Abu Qilaba, attributed to Anas. Bukhari 1:4:234; also Bukhari 7:71:590)

Muhammad is a plunderer… (Narrated by Ibn ‘Umar. Bukhari 4:88 )

Muhammad is a mass murderer… ( Bukhari 5:59:362 and Muslim 19:4364)

Muhammad is a child abuser…(Narrated by As-Saburah. Abu Dawud 2:494 and 2:495)

Muhammad is a child killer…(Bukhari 4:52:256)

Muhammad is a wife beater…(Muslim 4:2127)

Muhammad is a male chauvinist:

Evil omen is in the women, the house and the horse.” Narrated Abdullah bin ‘Umar. Bukhari 7:62:30; also Bukhari 7:62:31 and 7:62:32

Muhammad is a cross-dresser:

Then the Prophet said to her (Um Salama): Do not hurt me with Aisha, for the inspiration did not come upon me when I was in a women’s garment (fee thawb imra’ah) except that of Aisha. Bukhari 2393

Muhammad is a hypocrite:

The Messenger of Allah forbade facing the Qiblah when urinating. But I saw him, one year before he died, facing the Qiblah (while urinating). Narrated by Jabir. Ibn Majah 1:325:1

Final Remarks

You see, they call themselves Submitter (Muslim) but they don't submit to the words of Their God.

They don't deserve that name.

Their religion is far away from “Submission/Islam”.

The problem is deep. You as a Muslim must believe in every single verse of Quran, it's an obligation in your religion and you can't reject even 1 verse. But you Muslims actually reject verse 6:114 where God says the only book of religious law is Quran!

It's not about only one ignorant Muslim, literally, all of my Muslim friends and every Muslim in my family have no clue how many chapters the Quran is.

I'm not an Atheist, I'm Monotheist, but you can call me apostate if you like.

The Hebrew Gospel in the Early Church and it's relation to Luke


Attestation to the Hebrew Gospel, The principal source for Luke

Excerpts from James Edwards, The Hebrew Gospel & The Development of the Synoptic Tradition.


Summary of early Christian writings attesting to the Hebrew Gospel.

There is an extensive and diverse testimony in the early centuries of Christianity to an early Hebrew Gospel. Seventeen church fathers attest to the Hebrew Gospel. The combined testimony to the Hebrew Gospel in the early centuries of Christianity amounts to more than two dozen witnesses. Of these witnesses, a dozen attribute it specifically to the apostle Matthew and eleven specify that it was written in Hebrew. The geographical locations of these witnesses range from Lyons and Rome in the west to Alexandria and North Africa in the south, India in the east, and Jerusalem and Constantinople in between. These points do not exhaust the extent of a map of the world in late antiquity, but they come close to most of its borders. Perhaps more important than persons and places is the actual reputation of the Hebrew Gospel in the early church. Although the Hebrew Gospel does not appear in the canonical lists of either Origen or Eusebius, it occupied the “disputed” category of a select six or eight books throughout early Christianity and is cited more frequently and positively alongside canonical texts than any non-canonical canonical document of which I am aware. (742-750)

Origen on the Hebrew Gospel

The tradition of a Hebrew Gospel was continued in the third century by Origen, whose reputation as a textual critic and exegete was unsurpassed in the ancient church. Origen's work concentrates overwhelmingly on the four canonical Gospels, but on occasion, he refers (and not disapprovingly) to noncanonical Gospels. Among these are the Gospel of Peter, the Protoevangelium of James, and the Gospel of the Hebrews. He refers to the last sometimes without further comment and sometimes with a qualifying phrase such as “if one receives it.” (Hom. Jer. 15:4; Comm. Matt. 15:14. Origen cites Enoch and the Prayer of Joseph with similar equivocations; M.-J. Lagrange, 'T vangile selon les Hebreux, RB 31 (1922), 173.

These parenthetical qualifications, which also appear in Eusebius, imply that the Hebrew Gospel cannot be cited with the same authority as canonical texts. Despite these reservations, Origen's references to the Hebrew Gospel indicate its widespread recognition in the early church and its enduring status in the emergent canon. (477-482)

Eusebius on the Hebrew Gospel

Eusebius's summary of the canonical status of various texts in circulation at the beginning of the fourth century is critical for a proper assessment of the Hebrew Gospel. He follows Origen's earlier threefold classification of Recognized Books, Disputed Books, and Rejected Books. The summary occurs in Ecclesiastical History 3.25 and is worth quoting at length since it preserves the most “authorized” report port of the emerging NT canon - and the Hebrew Gospel in relation to it - in the early fourth century... it does seem clear that Eusebius places the Gospel of the Hebrews and the Book of Revelation in the same category. Both enjoy wide recognition (Eusebius twice notes that the documents specified in this summary are “known to most”). The designation of Rejected Books “illegitimate,” “bastard” is an important clue to Eusebius's judgment of them. Their lack of ecclesiastical paternity, i.e., that they neither derive from nor transmit authorized tradition, makes them suspicious in the eyes of Eusebius and of the churches as a whole. That the Gospel of the Hebrews brews is not explicitly included in the rejected category but mentioned in correlation with the Book of Revelation strongly suggests that it, like the Revelation, fell into the Disputed Books of Eusebius's taxonomy. James R. Edwards. (498-526) Kindle Edition. 

Quotations from the Hebrew Gospel in Early Christianity

Specific quotations from the Hebrew Gospel occur only in Ignatius of Antioch, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Didymus of Alexandria, Eusebius, Epiphanius, Jerome, Sedulius Scottus, and perhaps the Talmud.(755-756)

The comparison of Hebrew Gospel quotations with Synoptic optic texts requires careful lexical analysis. In several instances, judgments must be made with generous margins of uncertainty. Nevertheless, the mass of material from the Hebrew Gospel is large enough to reveal a pattern of correspondence with the Gospel of Luke that appreciably exceeds its correspondence with either Matthew or Mark.(762-764)

Four reputable witnesses in the early church - Ignatius, Origen, Eusebius, and Jerome - cite a text that bears an unmistakable correlation to Luke 24:39. None of the four, however, ascribes it to Luke. The most complete witness to the citation comes from Jerome, who ascribes it to the Hebrew Gospel, and by implication to the apostle Matthew. Jerome will not be alone in preserving a putative first-person testimony of the apostle Matthew in the Hebrew Gospel. (Vir. ill. 2.11.) (867-869) 

Origen sees a redundancy in Jesus requiring the rich man to dispense with his wealth after having confessed to keeping all the commandments, including the commandment to love your neighbor. Because it is redundant, Origen argues it is a later addition of canonical Matthew. He saw it as unwarranted considering the command to “Go, sell all you possess and distribute it among the poor, and come, follow me,” which contains the substance of the commandment to “love your neighbor as yourself.”Origen believed the Hebrew Gospel preserved the most primitive version of the story, not exhibiting the commandment to “love your neighbor as yourself.” Since Origin uses the Hebrew Gospel for exegesis and is investing it with authority over canonical Matthew, he treats the Hebrew Gospel as an authority despite an opening declaimer to the contrary. In this case, Luke 18:18-23 reflects the Hebrew Gospel, exhibiting a reading that is preferred over Matthew's account of the rich man of Matt 19:16-22. In comparing Luke 18:18-23 with and Mark 10:17-22, the wording of Luke is nearer to the wording of the Hebrew Gospel. The command to the rich man, of the Hebrew Gospel to “Sell all you possess and distribute it among the poor, and come, follow me,” more closely matches the wording of Luke than either Matthew or Mark. 

It can also be noted above that Matthew adds other interpolations, shown in bold, as compared to the more primitive Luke.  These interpolations correspond to Matthew's emphasis on righteousness and perfection through keeping the commandments.

Another example of how Luke is the closest match with the Hebrew Gospel is the absolute use of “the Lord.”  In the narrative that is common in the Hebrew Gospel, this appears more frequently in Special Luke (the material of Luke not seen in Mark or Matthew) than in sections paralleled by Mark or Matthew. Additionally, only in Luke 12:14, Luke 22:58, and Luke 22:60 is “Man” used as a form of address as used in the Hebrew Gospel. The content, imagery, and wording of the Hebrew Gospel, as quoted by Origen, also bears a distinct relationship with the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus in Luke 19:19-31.

Eusebius in Theophania 4.22 makes reference to “the Gospel that has come to us in Hebrew characters” when he quotes a passage that is related to the parable of the Talent/Minas of Luke 19:11-27 and Matt 25:14-30. Much of the Greek terminology and phraseology in the quotation is special or unique to Luke, This includes nine Greek terms that are all characteristic of or unique to Luke-Acts among the Gospels. Both lexically and thematically, Eusebius's quotation of the Hebrew Gospel bears a clear relationship to the Gospel of Luke. 

Epiphanius of 315-403, who was Bishop of Salamis, is known to have made eight references to the Hebrew Gospel. Epiphanius associates the Hebrew Gospel with the Ebionite sect when he addresses the “Ebionite” heresy. Modern scholars often refer to the Hebrew Gospel that Epiphanius associates with the Ebionites, as “the Gospel of the Ebionites.” This naming does not come from Epiphanius or any other church father. Epiphanius simply references it as “Hebrew Gospel” which he further describes as a corruption of the Gospel of Matthew. 

The eight quotations of Epiphanius confirm (1) the quotations correspond predominately with Luke (not nearly as close to canonical Matthew) and (2) they are quotations from an original Hebrew Gospel authored by the apostle Matthew. 

The first quotation of Epiphanius is as follows:

In what they [the Ebionites] call the Gospel according to Matthew, which, however, is not complete but forged and mutilated—they call it the Hebrew Gospel—it is reported: “There appeared a certain man by the name of Jesus about thirty years of age, who chose us. And having come to Capernaum, he entered the house of Simon who was called Peter, and having opened his mouth, said, “As I passed beside the Lake of Tiberias, I chose John and James the sons of Zebedee, and Simon and Andrew and Thaddaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the Iscariot, and you, Matthew, I called while you were sitting at the tax table, and you followed me. You therefore I desire to be twelve apostles for a witness to Israel.'” (Epiphanius, Panarion 30.13.2-3)

There are six specific ways that this passage is linked to the Gospel of Luke:

  1. The mention of Jesus being “about thirty years of age” parallels Luke 3:23. Luke is the only gospel that mentions Jesus' age.
  2. Reference to “the Lake of Tiberias” is only made in Luke. Moreover, the word for “lake” is not used in Mark, Matthew, or John, which uses sea, but is exclusive to Luke among the canonical gospels. 
  3. Luke 4:38 is verbatim with the mention of entering the house of Simon. Mark and Matthew's wording of the same event does not match the way Luke does.
  4. As compared to the wording of Mark 3:16 and Matt 10:2, the wording of Luke 6:14 more closely corresponds to the further clarification of Simon's name as “Peter” as indicated by the quote.
  5. With respect to the list of apostles, the reference to “Simon the Zealot” is unique to Luke (6:15), and the order of “John and James,” rather than “James and John,” is found only in Acts 1:13. These are both Lukan matches with the quote
  6. Virtually verbatim with Luke 1:5 is the phrase “there appeared a certain man by the name of Jesus”
Another key Epiphanius citation that connects Luke with the Hebrew Gospel reads:

After many things had been said, it continues, "When the people had been baptized, Jesus also came and was baptized by John. And as he arose from the water, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Holy Spirit of God in the form of a dove descending and entering into him. And a voice came from heaven, saying 'You are my beloved Son, in you I am pleased''; and again, "Today I have begotten you.' And immediately a great light shone on the place. When John saw it, it is recorded that he said to [Jesus], 'Who are you, Lord?' And again a voice from heaven came to him, 'This is my beloved Son, on whom my pleasure rests.' And then, it is reported, John fell before him saying, 'I beg you, Lord, to baptize me.' But he prevented it saying, 'Let it be, for in this way it is necessary for all things to be fulfilled.'" (Epiphanius Panarion 30:13.7-8)

Numerous correspondences between the above quote with Luke are as follows: 
  • The indication that Jesus was being baptized with the people corresponds solely to Luke 3:21, as also does the reference to the “Holy Spirit” in “the form of a dove” corresponding to Luke 3:22.
  • The first expression of the voice from heaven addresses Jesus in the second-person singular, which Luke does, but Matthew uses the third-person singular
  • With regard to “out of the heaven” Luke is in the singular corresponding to the citation, whereas Matthew and mark are in the plural (heavens).  
  • The reference to the “opening” of heaven corresponds to the verb of Luke 3:21 as opposed to Mark.
  • The divine pronouncement, “Today I have begotten you,” a quote from Psalms 2:7, only occurs in the Western text of Luke 3:22 but is absent from any texts of Matthew or Mark. 

Another notable quotation of Epiphanius regarding the Hebrew Gospel is: 

For having removed the genealogies of Matthew, they begin, as I said earlier, by saying that “It came to pass in the days of Herod king of Judea, when Caiaphas was chief priest, a certain man named John came baptizing a baptism of repentance in the Jordan river,” etc.  (Epiphanius, Panarion 30.14.3)

This quotation is related more specifically to Luke 1:4 and Luke 3:2 than to the Synoptic parallels of Mark 1:4 and Matt 3:1-2 as follows:

  • Various phrases are a verbatim match to the opening line of Luke's infancy narrative of Luke 1:5.
  • The reference to the high priesthood of Caiphas is found only in Luke 3:2. 
  • The reference to “the baptism of repentance in the Jordan river” matches Luke 3:3 more closely than the parallels of Matt 3:1 or Mark 1:4
  • This introduction by Epiphanius, Luke 1:5 corresponds to the beginning of the body of the Hebrew Gospel. The body did not begin the birth of Jesus as recorded in Matt 1:18.

Other quotes by Epiphanius of the Hebrew Gospel are of a higher affinity with Luke than with Matthew. For example, specific verbs are used that are characteristic of Luke and Acts, but are absent from Matthew. With respect to the Gospel of the Ebionites, we see the closest correlation with Luke than with Matthew. 

James Edwards summarizes his findings regarding the Gospel of the Ebionites understood from the citations of Epiphanius as follows: 

The Hebrew Gospel cited by Epiphanius is not, as is often assumed, a general harmony of the Synoptic Gospels. Nor again are Epiphanius's citations of the Hebrew Gospel default reproductions of Matthew, nor do they favor Matthew. A synopsis of the above evidence, divided between passages in the Gospel of the Ebionites, that are either clearly or possibly related to the various Synoptic Gospels, reveals the following:

Luke:   13 Clearly, 14 Possibly
Matthew: 6 Clearly, 5 Possibly
Mark 3 Clearly, 3 Possibly

(James R. Edwards, The Hebrew Gospel & the Development of the Synoptic Tradition,Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, 2009, p. 76)

We see more than twice as many correlations between Luke and the Gospel of the Ebionites than with Matthew and Mark combined. Epiphanius's citations of the Gospel of the Ebionites show clear and repeated similarities to material unique to Luke.

Reviewing the citations from Jerome of 345 to 419,  reveals many more correspondences of the Hebrew Gospel with Luke than with Matthew. In numerous instances, and especially in Jerome's Commentary on Matthew, Jerome appealed to the Hebrew Gospel, as Origen and Didymus also did, to interpret a canonical text, especially canonical Matthew. Thus, at least three church fathers attest to the Hebrew Gospel being a hermeneutical authority in the patristic period, despite its non-canonical status. 

Taking Stock of the Hebrew Gospel in the Early Church

The widespread and enduring testimony in early Christianity to a Hebrew Gospel is the single most important conclusion of the first two chapters. The evidence is more considerable than even specialists in the field often imagine. The tradition of an original Gospel written in Hebrew is attested by twenty church fathers - Ignatius, Papias, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Pantaenus, Hegesippus, Hippolytus, Origen, Eusebius of Caesarea, Ephrem of Syria, Didymus of Alexandria, Epiphanius, John Chrysostom, Jerome, Theodoret, Marius Mercator, Philip Sidetes, the Venerable Bede, Nicephorus, and Sedulius Scottus. When references to the Hebrew Gospel by Pope Damasus, the Islamic Hadith, the scholia of Sinaiticus, and tractate Sabbat in the Babylonian Talmud (see Chapter Seven) are added to this number, the list lengthens to over two dozen different witnesses. It is highly probable, moreover, that the scholia in Codex Sinaiticus derive from several sources rather than a single source. The Hebrew Gospel is therefore identified by name in at least two dozen patristic sources. Jerome references the Hebrew Gospel twenty-two times. Combined, there are some seventy-five different attestations to the Hebrew Gospel, extending from the late first century to the early tenth century. Several of these references appear in Latin authors of late antiquity and the early Middle Ages, and this is significant, for “the period from roughly 550 to 750 was one of almost unrelieved gloom for the Latin classics on the continent; they virtually ceased being copied. It is true that patristic and ecclesiastical texts fared better during this wintry interlude than did the Latin classics. Nevertheless, repeated references to the Hebrew Gospel from Latin authors of the period attest to the depth of its roots in ancient church tradition. 

Specific witnesses to the Hebrew Gospel come from Lyons, Rome, Constantinople, Jerusalem, and Alexandria, and as far east as India. Those points are roughly coextensive with the Roman Empire in the same centuries, with the exception of India, which was well beyond its eastern frontier. Twelve fathers attribute the Hebrew Gospel to the apostle Matthew, and eleven specify that it was written in Hebrew. No other noncanonical document occupied the “disputed” category in canonical deliberations in the early church as long and consistently as did the Hebrew Gospel. To my knowledge, no other noncanonical text was cited as frequently and positively alongside canonical texts in early Christian exegesis. More important, witnesses to the Hebrew Gospel are as ancient as patristic witnesses to any of the four canonical Gospels. The Hebrew Gospel was the most highly esteemed noncanonical document in the early church. (Locations 1348-1363, Kindle Edition.)

 The one factor that did compromise the Hebrew Gospel in the eyes of the early church was its (often exclusive) use by Jewish Christian communities such as Ebionites, Nazarenes, and others. These groups were early and increasingly rejected by “normative” Gentile Christianity for their adherence to Jewish rites and customs, their rejection of the apostle Paul, their Christological aberrations (primarily in denying the deity of Jesus and affirming adoptionism), and for their resistance to integration into the larger Gentile church. Negative judgments of such groups cast an inevitable shadow on the Gospel used by them. Guilt by association was increased by claims of alterations of the text of that Gospel in accord with aberrant Jewish customs and theology, real or imagined. Among the known detriments of canonization—or reasonable inferences of such—the establishment of the Hebrew Gospel by Jewish Christians as a rival tradition to the emerging Greek canonical tradition of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John certainly jeopardized the standing of the Hebrew Gospel in later Gentile Christianity, and almost certainly played a negative—and perhaps decisive role in debarring it from inclusion in the NT canon. (Kindle Locations 1374-1381)

The preeminence and pervasiveness of the Hebrew Gospel in the early church was due to a residual though unofficial authority with which it was endowed by early church testimony. No noncanonical text appears in patristic prooftexts as often and as favorably as does the Hebrew Gospel. The single most important evidence of this is that in their canonical deliberations both Origen and Eusebius place the Hebrew Gospel in a rare middle category of “disputed” works, along with the book of Revelation, James, 2 Peter, Jude, and 2-3 John. As late as the early ninth century Nicephorus continued to retain the Hebrew Gospel, along with the book of Revelation, the Apocalypse of Peter, and the Epistle of Barnabas, in the disputed category. The placement of books into the recognized, disputed and rejected categories was not due to the judgment of any single church father or even of a church council, but rather to the reception and use of a given document within confessing ecclesiastical communities. The various works, in other words, were declared either authentic or spurious on the basis of their homiletical, catechetical, and disciplinary usefulness in active churches. The placement of the Hebrew Gospel in the disputed category attests to the very considerable status that it possessed in widespread Christian communities over long periods of time. (Kindle Locations 1381-1389). Kindle Edition. 

Perhaps more important than the formal position of the Hebrew Gospel in the canonical taxonomy of the early church was its practical viability as an auxiliary resource in patristic hermeneutics. Clement's Stromata prefaces a quotation from the Hebrew Gospel with “it is written;” a terminus technicus for the written Word of God. In seeking to demonstrate the superiority of the Christian revelation to Greek philosophy, Clement assigns greater authority to the Hebrew Gospel than to Plato! In his exegesis of Isa 11:1-2, Jerome quotes sixteen canonical texts; in the same exegesis there are only two noncanonical texts—and both come from the Hebrew Gospel. Origen, Didymus, and Jerome all appeal to the Hebrew Gospel to assert a proper interpretation (or correct a false interpretation) of sacred Scripture. They reference the Hebrew Gospel, in other words, as a defacto authority over Scripture. (Kindle Locations 1389-1394)

Holtzmann says it “rank[ed] as equal to the Johannine Gospel in value;” (O. Holtzmann, The Life of Jesus, 46.)

Findlay's assessment is that several fathers, Origen among them, felt compelled to show that their opinions did not conflict with the Hebrew Gospel. (A. F. Findlay, Byways in Early Christian Literature, 50)

Pierson Parker, who in an article on the Hebrew Gospel of some seventy years ago wrote that “. . . it can be shown that ... the Gospel according to the Hebrews is not Matthean, and is to be related to the non-Markan Markan portions of Luke.”” (P. Parker, “A Proto-Lukan Basis for the Gospel According to the Hebrews,” 472. Many scholars have recognized similarities between the Hebrew Gospel and Luke without pursuing them further)

The foregoing analysis shows the unusually strong correlation of the Hebrew Gospel and the Gospel of Luke. Of the 41 texts considered, 25 demonstrate an explicit or close thematic likeness to the Third Gospel. Three-fifths of the purported citations of the Hebrew Gospel, in other words, exhibit stronger agreement with Luke than with Matthew and/or Mark. Moreover, over, the texts cited with reference to Luke are, on the whole, longer excerpts of the Hebrew Gospel. Longer texts provide more comparative data, and multiple instances of longer texts constitute stronger evidence for relationships between two texts than do agreements of single words, short phrases, or isolated details, which may be coincidental. Patristic citations of the Hebrew Gospel are thus not of a “general Synoptic text type.” On the contrary, they demonstrate a clear affinity with the Lukan text. (A point emphasized by R. Handmann, Das Hebrder-Evangelium, 128, and recognized but not argued by O. Holtzmann, The Life of Jesus, 51) (Kindle Locations 1442-1461). 

The composite evidence points rather persuasively to the conclusion that the Hebrew Gospel is not, as commonly assumed, a compilation of the Synoptics, but rather one of the sources of the Gospel of Luke to which the author alludes in his prologue (Luke 1:1-4). The Hebrew Gospel authored by the apostle Matthew may have been translated into Greek quite early. Jerome mentions such a translation into Greek prior to his own, and given the pervasiveness of Greek in the Mediterranean world, this is not at all surprising. At a somewhat later date, the Hebrew Gospel evidently underwent textual alterations in accordance with the tenets of the Jewish Christian sects that used and copied it. Evidence of at least two such recensions appears in Epiphanius and Jerome... Not surprisingly, the original Hebrew Gospel suffered changes at the hands of its host communities and interest groups.(Kindle Locations 1467-1474)... 

Nearly a century ago M.-J. Lagrange asked the same question and came to virtually the same conclusion. “If the Gospel (of the Ebionites) is no nearer to Matthew than it is to Luke, why is it named for Matthew? It surprised Epiphanius that he could find no other cause than an original Hebrew Matthew. His thought was that the Gospel in question depended on a Hebrew writing. (1480-1482).

The most economical hypothesis that satisfies the foregoing evidence is that the author of the Third Gospel utilized an early Hebrew Gospel (perhaps in Greek translation) as one of the sources to which he refers in his prologue (Luke 1:1-4). (1489-1491) 

The various patristic citations of the Hebrew Gospel, and especially the latest and most numerous texts cited by Epiphanius and Jerome, continue to evince a pronounced correlation with the Gospel of Luke, as opposed to Matthew or Mark or the Synoptic tradition in general. Whatever “delta”effect the textual tradition of the Hebrew Gospel underwent, it appears to have remained integral enough to be referred to as “the Hebrew Gospel.” It is with this or some similar epithet that Eusebius at the beginning of the fourth century continues to refer to it, as do Epiphanius and Jerome nearly a century later. The plenary evidence of the fathers justifies the conclusion that the original Hebrew Matthean Gospel and the “Hebrew Gospel” constituted a continuous and integral textual tradition.

This conclusion is supported most recently by P. F. Beatrice, “The Gospel According to the Hebrews' in the Apostolic Fathers;' 191, who argues that the Hebrew Gospel was composed “In the first century CE, [and was] not a document written by Greek-speaking Alexandrian Jewish-Christians in the first half of the second century. The existence of other Judaeo-Christian Christian gospels, such as the Gospel of the Nazoraeans and the Gospel of the Ebionites, whatever ever their relationship may have been, appears to be at least improbable, and at any rate should be judged a superfluous hypothesis. Only one Judaeo-Christian gospel, the Gospel of the Hebrews, seems in fact to be sufficient to explain coherently and economically all the data supplied by the ancient sources, (4531-4535, and footnote 87)

Select Summary Thesis points

  1. (Patristic quotations from the Hebrew Gospel exhibit a stronger correlation with the Gospel of Luke, and especially material in Special Luke, than they do with either Matthew or Mark
  2. Patristic quotations from the Hebrew Gospel exhibit a stronger correlation with the Gospel of Luke, and especially material in Special Luke, than they do with either Matthew or Mark (ii) The Hebrew Gospel was most plausibly a source of the Gospel of Luke, and specifically either the primary or sole source of Special Luke. 
  3. The Semitisms in Luke cannot be properly explained as "Septuagintisms;" i.e., as imitations of the language and style of the LXX. Nor can they be explained as reliance on an Aramaic spoken Vorlage. Semitisms in Luke are most plausibly explained by reliance on the Hebrew language of the original Hebrew Gospel.
  4. The Hebrew Gospel was not a compilation of the Synoptic Gospels, but repeatedly and distinctly similar to Luke.
  5. Semitisms appear in Special Luke nearly four times as often as they appear in those sections of Luke that are shared in common with Matthew and/or Mark. 
  6. The distinct and unusually high number of Semitisms in Special Luke is most plausibly explained by Luke's reliance on the Hebrew Gospel for those parts of his Gospel not shared in common with Matthew and/or Mark. 
  7. The Hebrew Gospel, although not specified, is most probably one of the eyewitness sources that Luke used as a source of the Third Gospel and to which he refers in the prologue. 
  8. It appears that the Hebrew Gospel, at least in order and sequence, forms the Grundtext of the Gospel of Luke, into which Luke integrated grated material from Mark.
  9. A sum of 177 verses in Luke does not appear to derive either from the Hebrew Gospel or from Mark. These verses, which are present in one form or another also in Matthew, could be accounted for in various ways, none of which is conclusive. The verses, which I refer to as the double tradition, do not appear to have derived from a hypothetical sayings source, however, and thus cannot be explained or associated with the traditional "Q" hypothesis. 
  10. A plethora of evidence, including factors related to the design, style, vocabulary, and historical allusions in canonical Matthew, argue for Matthean posteriority, i.e., that the Gospel [of Matthew] was the final and consummate Gospel in the Synoptic tradition

(James R. Edwards. The Hebrew Gospel and the Development of the Synoptic Tradition (2009). pp. 260-261)

For more on solving the synoptic problem, see the site


November 25, 2022

Purpose in Prayer, E.M. Bounds


Excerpts from Purpose in Prayer by E.M. Bounds (1980)

About the Author

EDWARD MCKENDREE BOUNDS was born in Shelby County, Missouri, August 15, 1835, and died August 24, 1913, in Washington, Georgia. After serving several pastorates, he became the editor of the St. Louis Christian Advocate.

He was a forceful writer and a very deep thinker. He spent the last seventeen years of his life with his family in Washington, Georgia. Most of the time he was reading, writing and praying. He rose at four A.M. each day for many years and was indefatigable in his study of the Bible. His writings were read by thousands of people and were in demand by the church people of every Protestant denomination.

Book Quotations

Prayer became a settled and only condition to move His Son’s Kingdom. “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened” (Lk 11:9). The strongest one in Christ’s Kingdom is he who is the best knocker. The secret of success in Christ’s Kingdom is the ability to pray. The one who can wield the power of prayer is the strong one, the holy one in Christ’s Kingdom. The most important lesson we can learn is how to pray.

 MORE PRAYING and better is the secret of the whole matter. More time for prayer, more relish and preparation to meet God, to commune with God through Christ—this has in it the whole of the matter. Our manner and matter of praying ill become us. The attitude and relationship of God and the Son are the eternal relationship of Father and Son, of asking and giving—the Son always asking, the Father always giving:

Ask of me, and I will give thee the nations for thine inheritance,
And the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.
Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron;
Thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.
PSALM 2:8-9

 When we calmly reflect upon the fact that the progress of our Lord’s Kingdom is dependent upon prayer, it is sad to think that we give so little time to the holy exercise. Everything depends upon prayer, and yet we neglect it not only to our own spiritual hurt but also to the delay and injury of our Lord’s cause upon earth. The forces of good and evil are contending for the world. If we would, we could add to the conquering power of the army of righteousness, and yet our lips are sealed, our hands hang listlessly by our side, and we jeopardize the very cause in which we profess to be deeply interested by holding back from the prayer chamber.

But not all praying is praying. The driving power, the conquering force, in God’s cause is God Himself. “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great things, and difficult, which thou knowest not” (Jer 33:3) is God’s challenge to prayer. Prayer puts God in full force into God’s work. “Ask me of the things that are to come: concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands, command ye me”—God’s carte blanche to prayer. Faith is only omnipotent when on its knees, and its outstretched hands take hold of God, then it draws to the utmost of God’s capacity; for only a praying faith can get God’s “all things whatsoever.”

Our paucity in results, the cause of all leanness, is solved by the apostle James: “Ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may spend it on your pleasures” (Ja 4:2-3).

 IT WAS SAID of the late C. H. Spurgeon that he glided from laughter to prayer with the naturalness of one who lived in both elements. With him the habit of prayer was free and unfettered. His life was not divided into compartments, the one shut off from the other with a rigid exclusiveness that barred all intercommunication. He lived in constant fellowship with his Father in heaven. He was ever in touch with God, and thus it was as natural for him to pray as it was for him to breathe.

That is the attitude with regard to prayer that ought to mark every child of God. There are, and there ought to be, stated seasons of communion with God when, everything else shut out, we come into His presence to talk to Him and to let Him speak to us; and out of such seasons springs that beautiful habit of prayer that weaves a golden bond between earth and heaven. Without such stated seasons the habit of prayer can never be formed; without them there is no nourishment for the spiritual life. By means of them the soul is lifted into a new atmosphere, the atmosphere of the heavenly city in which it is easy to open the heart to God and to speak with Him as friend speaks with friend.

Thus, in every circumstance of life, prayer is the most natural outpouring of the soul, the unhindered turning to God for communion and direction. Whether in sorrow or in joy, in defeat or in victory, in health or in weakness, in calamity or in success, the heart leaps to meet God.

November 24, 2022

Acts 15:20, Eating Strangled Meat and Blood, The Jerusalem Council in Acts


Excerpts from “The crucial issue of eating blood and strangled meat from the decree of the council of Jerusalem in Acts 15:20”

Yeo Toon Hang, 2015, ThM Thesis
 Internet Archive link:


The issues of “eating blood” and “eating strangled meat” appear to be rather unessential, for they seem to refer to a religious rule for diet. For most people, these issues will never be their concern or might never pertain to them throughout their whole lives. The related issue, “eating the food sacrificed to idols,” is quite foreign to most American and European Christians, for they do not live in countries where they are surrounded by pagan temples, idols, and idol foods. However, to those who live in Asia, these issues are part of their daily lives. In some places, temples and shrines are located on almost every single block of the street. 

In the Oriental Christian community, these issues of “eating blood” and “strangled meat” have received a lot of attention because different interpretations regarding the controversy have caused much confusion. One faction sees that God’s command to humans not to eat blood or meat that contained blood was meant for believers both in the Old Testament and the New Testament, yet the other group, believes that these four prohibitions should not apply to contemporary Christians, for the decree was to help to establish a relational bridge between Jewish Christian and Gentile believers. Ironically, we have seen some churches and “godly” followers of Christ endeavoring to be faithful to their interpretations of the truth, yet being led to separate from each other due to their different positions on this matter.

Because existing interpretations on the issues of “eating the strangled meat” and “eating blood” from different scholars provide contradictory advice to their readers, surely these interpretations have confused many as well. Actually, misunderstandings about what the Bible teaches will be likely to mislead believers, especially since many think that Paul holds different perspectives even in his own letters. For Paul comments, “we are neither the worse if we do not eat, nor the better if we do eat” (1 Cor. 8:8 NASB) and “All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify” (10:23 NASB).

In response to these problems of different views and questions regarding Paul’s view, we will attempt to find a reasonable interpretation that provides practical value, and, through this study, we hope we will help churches and Christians that have been affected by these issues.

The question of the prohibition of eating blood and strangled meat was raised in the decree of the Council of Jerusalem. When Gentiles began to be converted to Christianity, some Jewish Christians came to Paul and Barnabas and required that Gentile believers be circumcised in order to be saved (Acts 15:1). Paul and Barnabas debated with them, and this event led them to go to Jerusalem to seek an answer from the leadership of the Jerusalem church. After long debates and testimonies, the Council made its judgment, with James’ leadership, and issued a decree for the Gentile believers. James concluded, “Therefore, I am determining not to trouble the Gentiles when they convert to God, but to write them in order to abstain from (things) of defilement of idols, and the fornication, and the strangled meat, and the blood” (Acts 15:20). The same matters were mentioned again in the same context when the letter to the Gentile churches was written, but in a different order. The letter concludes, “that you abstain from things sacrificed to idols, blood, things strangled, and from fornication; if you keep yourselves free from such things, you will do well. Goodbye” (Acts 15:29). The third appearance of the same content may be found at the end of Paul’s third missionary journey. He ended his trip with a visit to Jerusalem. While in Jerusalem, Paul went to visit James and all the leaders of the Jerusalem church. They brought out again the issue about the letter of the council which warned about abstinence from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality (Acts 21:25). Luke records James’ conclusion three times in Acts, and thus it should be worthwhile for us to study it carefully.

Our study will begin with defining the prohibitions against eating strangled meat and blood. Some believe that these two prohibitions are actually one issue. Let us see what scholars say about this matter.

The Meaning of Abstaining from the Blood

What does the blood mean in this decree of the Council of Jerusalem? From a Jewish Christian perspective, David H. Stem comments that it could be “drinking animals’ blood, or failing to remove it from meat, or figurative, a metaphor for murder.”  (David H. Stem, Jewish  New Testament Commentary (Clarksville: Jewish New Testament, 1992), 277) 

Actually, most scholars define the blood in this context as falling into all of or one of these three meanings.

Marshall sees blood in the Decree as blood itself, or blood within the meat, and as a food regulation. He believes that Jewish Christians who were accustomed to Jewish law adhered to the food regulations from Leviticus 17:8-13. (Marshall, Acts, 243, 253)

Wycliffe believes that in the context blood refers to food or diet, and James’
proposal of abstaining from the blood is merely to prevent Gentile believers from unintentionally offending their Jewish brothers and sisters:

The blood refers to the pagan custom of using blood as a food. The last two requirements involved the same offense, for the Jew who believed that “the life is in the blood” (Lev 17: 11) regarded the eating of any blood particularly offensive. The decree was issued to the Gentile churches not as means of salvation but as basis for fellowship, in the spirit of Paul’s exhortation that those who were strong in faith should be willing to restrict their liberty in such matters rather than offend the weaker brothers. (Harrison, The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, 1152).

In Schnabel’s view, the word refers to abstinence from “the spilling of blood” (murder), and, quite possibly, means a prohibition from eating blood products. (Schnabel, Acts, 64)

 Witherington sees the abstinence of blood as related to drinking or tasting blood during the worship of idols in pagan temples, and he believes that the word could mean “murdering.” (Witherington, Acts, 464. Stem holds the same position, yet he believes that it could also refer to the abstinence from eating meat that had blood in it. Stem, Jewish New Testament Commentary, 148)

Yehoshua comments, “[James] renders the Christian interpretation of table fellowship impossible. Scholars should have known that the eating of bacon, even ‘well done,’ next to a Jewish believer, would certainly offend him, as all the Jewish believers continued to keep the Law of Moses (and dietary laws) after the resurrection.”  (Yehoshua, Lifting of the Veil, 150)

In summary, the prohibition of “eating blood” refers to a literal drinking of animals’ blood or blood products, and eating meat that still contained blood from it. It is quite convincing to say the definition of “eating blood” is related to pagan worship.

Are These Two Issues Considered as One?

Acts 15:20 says, “but to write them in order to abstain from things of defilement of idols, and the fornication, and the strangled meat and the blood.”

Wycliffe and F.F. Bruce see the issues of abstaining from “strangled meat” and “eating blood” as connected, and one issue. Bruce comments that these two abstinences should be the same. The reference to “the strangled meat and the blood” means “eating flesh with blood in it... was expressly forbidden in Jewish law (Lev 17:10-14) because the life or soul (Heb. nephesh) resided in blood. The prohibition goes back to Gen. 9:4.” (F.F. Brace, The Acts of the Apostles (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1970), p. 300)

Bruce believes that 

At a later time, when the issue dealt with by the apostolic council was no longer a live one, the provisions moved by James and adopted by other leaders were modified so as to become purely ethical injunctions; thus the Western text makes James propose that Gentile converts “abstain from idolatry, from fornication and from bloodshed.” (Bruce, The Book of the Acts, p. 296)

Yehoshua comments that “scholars like to connect strangled with the fourth rule, blood, but however logical this may seem, it is not what Yakov [James] meant.” He explains that James would have added other regulations regarding permissible kinds of animals in Leviticus 11 if he wanted to be more cautious. (Yehoshua, Lifting of the Veil, 143)

Cyprian and Tertullian both observe that these two rules fall one right after the other in the list, and we should consider them as the same issue. These two prohibitions are about the abstinence from eating blood and meats containing blood. (Yehoshua, Lifting of the Veil, 149)

My conclusion is that the prohibitions regarding strangled meat and the blood have two major meanings. 

First is the rule for the Gentile believers to stop eating blood as food, for it has been offered to idols. In other words, this prohibition against drinking blood is associated with the prohibition against defilement by idols. 

The second is related to the previous point: to abstain from the meat with blood in it, which is the meat sacrificed to idols.

Acts 15:20 Conclusion

 Luke’s presentation of the Apostolic Decree is to confirm that the gospel is for both Jew and Gentile. James’ decision is not his personal opinion but his exposition of the prophecy of Amos 9:11-12 based on Peter, and on Paul and Barnabas’ testimonies (Acts 15:16-18). An official letter is written and sent to Gentle Christians of Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia for affirming the teaching of salvation by grace alone and through faith alone, yet it requires them to abstain from things that are defiled by idols, from fornication, from strangled meat, and from blood.

The analysis of the original text shows that “strangled meat” may be defined as animals slaughtered without having the blood drained from them, and eating them is unlawful because blood represents life according to Mosaic law. “Blood” indicates “blood of human beings,” “blood of animals” or “blood that is in meat”; the word is a reminder of the commandment of not murdering, and of Jewish tradition of prohibiting from eating blood and meat containing blood.

From our analysis of its socio-historical background, we discover that these prohibitions are related to the contemporary pagan culture. “Idol food,” “fornication,” “strangled meat” and “blood” are affiliated with the rituals of pagan worship. Moreover, “strangled meat” and “blood” refer to pagan delicacies, and these two terms may point to “murder.” If the Judaism of the time saw “idolatry, illicit sexuality and bloodshed” (Peter J. Tomson, Paul and the Jewish Law: Halakha in the Letters of the Apostle to the Gentiles (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1990), 179.)

 As three cardinal sins, we may understand “these prohibitions presumably represent the minimum ethical standard Hellenistic Jews required of proselytes, which the decree adopts for Gentile converts to Christianity.” (Cheung, Idol Food in Corinth, 178.)

The study of the context of Acts 15:19-20 shows that James’ determination must be interpreted within the contexts of Acts 15:16-18 (pre-text) and 15:21 (post-text). The former context is related to Moses’ law for Gentile sojourners who lived among Israelites in Leviticus 17-18, and it was common knowledge for all Gentile sojourners. Therefore, it must not be applied as a normative teaching in today’s society. Also, the context of Acts 15:21 is James’ reminder to Gentile believers to be sensitive to Mosaic law that had been practiced by Jews for generations. In other words, these prohibitions are a pragmatic compromise and a reminder of the continuity of the authority of the Bible. (Bauckham, “James and the Jerusalem Church,” 464.)

Is Paul Consistent with the Jerusalem Council?

The related issues in Paul’s epistles, [are] especially in Galatians 2, 1 Corinthians 8-10, and Romans 14-15. Some readers may be confused due to the apparent inconsistency between the decree and Paul’s teachings regarding permission for eating food offered to idols.

The main message of Galatians is to direct us to see the fundamental teaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ; nobody, neither Jews nor Gentiles alike, can be justified by works of the Law, but are rather justified through faith in Jesus Christ (Gal 2:16). Therefore, the Gentile converts become like Jewish Christians, and they too are justified by grace through faith, not by observing the law. We believe that Paul’s message to the Galatians is the same as that of James; James’ conclusion of the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15:19-21) is to reaffirm the Gospel of grace alone, and the decree is unifying for Jewish Christians and Gentile believers through reducing the obstacles of fellowship. (p. 63)

For 1 Corinthians 8-10, the message concerns the issue of knowledge and love. According to Paul, the Corinthians might know that idols were nothing, and that food that was offered to idols was nothing. However, Paul reminded them to be aware of those who are weaker in faith; the stronger ones should not practice their freedom without considering others. Paul’s message was to lead them to a deeper consideration, which was “love.” Therefore, he repeatedly warned them to consider, or to benefit others, although they did have privileges. Loving others meant setting aside one’s rights and putting others before oneself; loving others meant doing all things for the glory of the Lord, not for himself or herself (1 Cor 10:31). Besides emphasizing the message of loving others, Paul also helps us see the actuality of involvement in worshiping pagan gods and its relationship with fornication or practicing prostitution. In addition, temple worship in 1 Corinthians 10 is related to fornication in 1 Corinthians 6, which explains that the prohibition of fornication in the decree of the council could be related to temple prostitution during the feast. (pp. 63-64)

The main message of Romans 14 -15 is about unity in the church. Some scholars see Paul as trying to reconcile between the strong and the weak. (Michael F. Bird, “The Letter to the Romans,” in All Things to All Cultures (eds. Mark Harding and Alanna Nobbs; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2013), 187)

With logical and persuasive writing, Paul presented his argument by stressing God’s plan of salvation for both Jews and Gentiles (chs.1-11). This salvation was first to Jews, then to the Gentiles. God’s redemptive history started since the fall of humanity. God’s original covenant of grace was fulfilled through Christ’s work (Rom 5:14-18). Jews and Gentiles were the same now before God, and all had to believe in Christ in order to be justified. Therefore, in the practical section of the letter, namely chapters 12 to 15, Paul urges them to serve together in one body, and let no issue such as food preferences due to dietary laws split the church. Paul’s purpose in reminding them is to have peace and a unified spirit in the church. (Ben Witherington III and Darlene Hyatt, Paul's Letter to the Romans (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2004), 327) (p. 64)

Paul’s view toward the four prohibitions in the Apostolic Decree is not different from James’ since they both acknowledge that all are saved by grace through faith, not by observing the Law of Moses. (p. 64)

The result shows us James’ determination in writing the Apostolic Decree to Gentile-Christians not as a theological order, yet for sociological and pragmatic reasons. In other words, this decree was applicable to the situation of the time and for certain areas, so it is not normative. (p. 81)

For other issues related to the Law and Legalism, see the site

James was not anti-Paul or a Judaizer


Was James Anti-Paul?

Matthew is much more of a Judaizing character than James is.

I don't see James in opposition to Paul to the extent that Matthew is. Paul and James can be much more easily harmonized than Paul and Matthew. Paul preaches good works through faith, but not in a legalistic way. Paul is not anti-good works, but rather anti-legalism.

James is actually pro-faith:

James 2:21-24 (RSV)
<21> Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar? <22> You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by works, <23> and the scripture was fulfilled which says, "Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness"; and he was called the friend of God. <24> You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.

James is advocating Faith + works (not legalism)

Not faith without works (no such thing)

Not works without faith (legalism)

James' reference to works is not an explicit reference to the Law, but to Abraham offering his son.

James emphasized faith, he was into faith healing…

James 5:14-15 (RSV)
<14> Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; <15> and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.

Also, James doesn't identify pure religion to be adherence to the complete Law of Moses, but rather to look after orphans and widows in their distress and keeping oneself from being polluted by the world. If James were a Judaizer, he would have made explicit reference to the Law.

James 1:27 (REV)
<27> Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

Finally, he affirmed that we are to be judged by the law that gives liberty (that is the Law of Christ, not the Law of Moses). Mercy triumphs over judgment!

James 2:12-13 (RSV)
<12> So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. <13> For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy; yet mercy triumphs over judgment.

Judaizers try to claim that James supports their views, but it is all conjecture. His statements are more aligned with Paul than Judaizers. 

Matthew is totally a different story. See Matthew is a Judaizing document:

That being said, James shouldn't be considered a foundational authority for understanding Apostolic Christianity. James was missing from various lists of NT authorities in the early church. The prevalent view within scholarship considers the Epistle of James to be pseudonymous. The real author chose to write under the name James, intending that the audience perceive James the brother of Jesus as the author.

Summary Thesis Regarding Luke, The Hebrew Gospel, James Edwards

Summary Thesis points regarding Luke

James R. Edwards. The Hebrew Gospel and the Development of the Synoptic Tradition (2009). pp. 260-261

  1. (Patristic quotations from the Hebrew Gospel exhibit a stronger correlation with the Gospel of Luke, and especially material in Special Luke, than they do with either Matthew or Mark
  2. Patristic quotations from the Hebrew Gospel exhibit a stronger correlation with the Gospel of Luke, and especially material in Special Luke, than they do with either Matthew or Mark (ii) The Hebrew Gospel was most plausibly a source of the Gospel of Luke, and specifically either the primary or sole source of Special Luke. 
  3. The Semitisms in Luke cannot be properly explained as "Septuagintisms;" i.e., as imitations of the language and style of the LXX. Nor can they be explained as reliance on an Aramaic spoken Vorlage. Semitisms in Luke are most plausibly explained by reliance on the Hebrew language of the original Hebrew Gospel.
  4. The Hebrew Gospel was not a compilation of the Synoptic Gospels, but repeatedly and distinctly similar to Luke.
  5. Semitisms appear in Special Luke nearly four times as often as they appear in those sections of Luke that are shared in common with Matthew and/or Mark. 
  6. The distinct and unusually high number of Semitisms in Special Luke is most plausibly explained by Luke's reliance on the Hebrew Gospel for those parts of his Gospel not shared in common with Matthew and/or Mark. 
  7. The Hebrew Gospel, although not specified, is most probably one of the eyewitness sources that Luke used as a source of the Third Gospel and to which he refers in the prologue. 
  8. It appears that the Hebrew Gospel, at least in order and sequence, forms the Grundtext of the Gospel of Luke, into which Luke integrated grated material from Mark.
  9. A sum of 177 verses in Luke does not appear to derive either from the Hebrew Gospel or from Mark. These verses, which are present in one form or another also in Matthew, could be accounted for in various ways, none of which is conclusive. The verses, which I refer to as the double tradition, do not appear to have derived from a hypothetical sayings source, however, and thus cannot be explained or associated with the traditional "Q" hypothesis. 
  10. A plethora of evidence, including factors related to the design, style, vocabulary, and historical allusions in canonical Matthew, argue for Matthean posteriority, i.e., that the Gospel [of Matthew] was the final and consummate Gospel in the Synoptic tradition

For more on solving the synoptic problem, see the site