Gnostic Jesus in Quran?

I found this passage in the Quran regarding Jesus:

‘He will say: “I bring you a sign from your Lord. From clay I will make for you the likeness of a bird. I shall breath into it and, by God’s leave, it shall become a living bird.”’(Sura 3:49)

There is a parallel for this story in the apocryphal Infancy Gospel to the Arabs (v 36):

‘Now, when the Lord Jesus had completed seven years from His birth, on a certain day He was occupied with boys of His own age. For they were playing among clay, from which they were making images of asses, oxen, birds, and other animals; and each one boasting of his skill, was praising his own work. Then the Lord Jesus said to the boys: The images that I have made I will order to walk. The boys asked Him whether then he were the son of the Creator; and the Lord Jesus bade them walk. And they immediately began to leap; and then, when He had given them leave, they again stood still. And He had made figures of birds and sparrows, which flew when He told them to fly, and stood still when He told them to stand, and ate and drank when He handed them food and drink.’

Does this indicate the likelihood that most of what Mohammad knew of Christianity came from the apocryphal writings and the Gnostics who wrote them? If so, wouldn’t that mean that Mohammad’s misunderstanding of the Christian Trinity as polytheistic was due his learning about Jesus from the Gnostics, with the polytheistic nature of their understanding of the Trinity.

For the record, the Church rejected this particular Infancy Gsopel from the Canon of the NT precisely because of stories like this. Miracles must have a message as a sign of God’s glory, etc but this miracle conveys nothing more than magic. The Quran castigated those who did not believed in this story ‘… and how thou didst shape of clay as it were the likeness of a bird by My permission, and didst blow upon it and it was a bird by My permission … those of them who disbelieved exclaimed: This is naught else than mere magic’ (Sura 5:110)

It is my belief that Mohammed probably new much less than what has been put forth in the Quran. I pray for Muslims everyday that they accept the real Jesus.

To answer the point, yes, the Quran clearly borrows from Gnosticism and the non-canonical beliefs that were floating around in the 7th century.

MJ

I have to disagree here, that miracle has nothing to do with magic !!!

Why it’s hard to believe that JESUS talked while he was infant, and created birds while he was a child!, He is the Son of GOD, He can do whatever He wants !!!

And probably that miracle had already sent a message as a sign of GOD’s glory not only for the children during that time, BUT also for Muslims nowadays.

Jesus was 100% man (and like all human new born babies they don’'t talk) but also 100% Divine, yet he had parents to take care of him.

Of course by the time he was 12 had a wisdom beyond his age, yet remained humble because as The Church teaches that he grew in stature and wisdom AND stayed under his parents authority.

And probably that miracle had already sent a message as a sign of GOD’s glory not only for the children during that time, BUT also for Muslims nowadays.

The Church rejects this book dear Sam. :cool:

MJ

I don’t doubt that Jesus could do so but the question was not whether he could do so, but whether the account of Jesus doing so was accepted by the Church.

It is likely that Mohammad was familiar with the Infancy Gospel to the Arabs - after all it was written for the Arabs. The book was not considered when the final Canon of the NT was approved in 325 because it was written later, believed to be sixth century. That particular story reflected a similar story in the Infancy Gospel of Thomas, written in (probably) second century by Gnostics. The Gospel of Thomas was rejected by the Church due to its Gnosticism.

The story of the birds coming to life probably did not sit well with Church thinking. Gnostics teaches a dualist nature of creation (spiritual = good; physical = bad) and takes great pains to depict Jesus’ divinity as any depiction of Jesus’ humanity is contradictory (as humanity = physical = bad). This is likely the Gnostic interpretation of the story of the clay birds but we will never know for sure. Christians, on the other hand, believe that Jesus was God made man and the Church took great pains to point out how Jesus voluntarily assume the limitations of being human (to say otherwise would be to water down the sacrifice of Jesus - the more painful a sacrifice of a humanly-limited God-man, the truer and greater the sacrifice he made). This story of the clay birds does not help to understand the humanity of the God-man.

Also, all the evengelists interpret the miracles of Jesus as the glorification of God. All miracles have a direct beneficiary - lepers cured, people raised from the dead, etc. They were all done for someone and to make someone (or many someones) better. There is no miracle in the Bible that was done for a trivial reason or just for the sake of showing that he is God - the resurrection is proof enough. There is no such beneficiary in making birds of clay fly, hence the Church rejected the Gospel of Thomas, among other reasons.

Anyway, my musing in my OP is how much of Mohammad understanding of Christian doctrines came from heretical sources. Also, the Christians he came across in his caravan travels in Egypt etc, were in a bitter theological dispute between Coptics and Catholics/Orthodox. I always wonder whether the history of the world would be different if Mohammad’s understanding of Jesus had come from valid Christians teaching and Christians was part of a united, and not a bickering, Church.

In fact, early Christian commentators treated Islam as a Christian heresy. Would I be surprised if Mohammad rejected the Trinity if he only understood it from Gnostic sources? Gnostics believed that Jesus was the only creation of God the father, the first and least flawed of all creation; and that the Son was the one who created Creation (there are variations to this belief). The first verse of Jn was directed at this Gnostic thinking, which is definitely polytheistic. Would Mohammad has rejected the Trinity if he had understood John’s prologue correctly and not Gnostic understanding?

Anyway, greetings to the land of the Prophet and God bless your faith journey.

Christianity, or any of the heretical offshoots [like Gnosticism], have never had a meaningful presence in Arabia. Even though Gnosticism came way before Muhammad’s ministry, do you think that Gnosticism was the normative worldview among christians of the 6th-7th century? It wasn’t. In order for your theory to be somewhat plausible, you would have to demonstrate that this belief system was active in the same areas of Muhammad’s preaching or, even better, that Muhammad knew the content of a gnostic treatise written centuries before his life and was making a point in specifically borrowing gnostic language.

It’s quite a stretch to say the least.

:slight_smile: I disagree, I don’t believe that JESUS needed his parents to take care of him, but He and THE MOST HIGH had planned it that way so it would be according to the traditions at that time where parents take care of their children, and children live in their parents house.

Of course by the time he was 12 had a wisdom beyond his age, yet remained humble because as The Church teaches that he grew in stature and wisdom

I believe He was teaching the wisdom itself.:slight_smile:

The Church rejects this book dear Sam. :cool:

I also reject that book, but I believe that miracle, since it’s also mentioned in Quran, so probably Muhammed had heard it from a Christian source at his time.

:slight_smile: Thanks jimkhong for your awesome informative post, however, how we assume that the miracle mentioned did not affect those children somehow, couldn’t it be imprinted in their memory, and when they had grown up they became faithful people, isn’t that something to glorify GOD!

Dear Sam, the point is Jesus was obedient to his Father’s Will. The Church never said (and neither have I said) he needed his parents. :slight_smile: However, he chose to be humble to be born in to a human family complete with Traditions, that’s why he is 100% man.

I believe He was teaching the wisdom itself.:slight_smile:

Can you be more specific? Where was he teaching wisdom? From the Word of God ie canonical scriptures or this (Gnostic) rejected scripture?

I also reject that book, but I believe that miracle, since it’s also mentioned in Quran, so probably Muhammed had heard it from a Christian source at his time.

You are free to make that choice to believe in such a miracle (and to call it important). However, you do realize you are actually picking what you like and rejecting what you don’t. Right? :dts: :smiley:

MJ

Thanks for the reply, drac. This is not an attempt to convert any Muslims but to clear any doubts in the minds of any Christians, and to explore Gnosticism, an area not well known but I find interesting.

By the 6th-7th century, Gnosticism was a dying religion, in no small measure because of the incorporation of orthodox Christianity into the civil conciousness of the Roman and Byzantine Empire. Gnosticism and other heresies were pushed out to the fringes of the Empire, very often to the deserts, to eventually die a slow death in isolated communities. Postscript: in the modern restorationist era, there is revivalist Gnostic movement but they do not any have direct continuity with historical Gnosticism.

We know that there are Gnostic Christians in Arabia or at least (& much less likely) it was the target of Gnostic missionaries as evidenced by the Infancy Gospel to the Arabs, written in the sixth century, just before the emergence of Mohammad. This Infancy Gospel carried many of the stories contained in the earlier (2-3rd century) Gospel of Thomas and thus we can ascertain the lineage of this Infancy Gospel from the Gospel of Thomas. The Gospel of Thomas was uncovered in 1945 as part of the Nag Hammadi library (though we of course knew about it centuries earlier), the adherents of which were self-proclaimed Gnostics. As such, we can safely surmise that the Infancy Gospel to the Arabs is clearly Gnostics and that there are Gnostic Christians among Arabs during the time of Mohammad.

In addition to the various miracles attributed to Jesus (curing of lepers, etc) there are two which are not from the Christian Bible: (i) the story of the clay birds mentioned in my OP and (ii) Jesus speaking as a baby in his cradle (actually I don’t have much of an issue with this miracle not because he spoke as a baby but more due to the content of what he said: that he has received the revelation from God - interesting isn’t it that the nabi had to wait until adulthood to receive the revelation from God over 23 years whereas Isa got the revelation in a much shorter time and already had the fullness of the revelation while still an infant, probably before he was born, probably implanted when Jibril spoke to Maryam - so, which do you think is the greater miracle: (a) revelation given to an illiterate Mohammad (there are actually two possible translations of the Arabic word so Muslim scholars debate whether he was really illiterate) or (b) implanting revelation in a mere babe or in the womb?).

But I digress: The two stories relating to Jesus’ childhood can be found from the gnostic Infancy Gospel to the Arabs. In addition, there are also stories relating to the childhood of Mary in the Quran which are again not in the Christian scriptures but were found in the Gospel of James. We do not know who wrote this Gospel but it was quickly rejected by the Church in early 3rd century soon after it appeared in the 2nd century. It was rather popular in some circles with over 100 manuscripts surviving today and one of the translations was Arabic. So, again it is of no great leap of logic to conclude that the apocryphal Gospel of James was known to Mohammad as evidenced by the inclusion into the Quran of stories known only in the Gospel of James. Again, it is of no great leap of logic to conclude that Mohammad’s knowledge of Christians and Christian beliefs came, at least in part, from Christians who are considered heretics by the Church and from writings rejected by the Church.

I haven’t had time to pull out the references to the suras and the heretical Gospels but would be happy to do so if you require.

Hi Martin, I know you have an interest in knowing about Islam but, for your debate with Sam, it is important to understand one fundamental difference between Christianity and Islam, among many other differences and among even many more similarities.

Christian concept of revelation is that revelation is continuous and embeded within a historical human context. God reveals himself to the Jews in the context of Jewish experience and Jesus’ teachings similarly draw on the political and social context of the Jewish world in his days. Also, revelation if only as much as is necessary for the salvation of those people it is directed to and further revelations continue on to this day as the Holy Spirit teaches modern societies and people about God.

Islamic belief, however, (If any Muslim think I am incorrect, please do not hesitate to correct me) is that revelation is one and complete. Therefore the revelation given to the messengers of God, Moses, David, Jesus and Mohammad, are all complete in their own right as they are all the same complete revelation - but of course the Jews and the Christians have misunderstood the true revelation and have instead falsified it when writing their scriptures. As such, when Jesus received the Gospel (note the singular, it is not the falsified four Gospels that we Christians have received), it was received complete. So, Jesus had the full wisdom of revelation as a babe and it did not grow in him as we Christians believed.

So, there are two very fundamental differences in the basis that underpin the different arguments that you and Sam brought up. Until you reconcile this fundamental difference, I doubt if you can even agree on what to disagree on.

Very simple: the Christians who wrote that story have died out as a sect. Can’t very done very much imprinting, could it?

On what basis would you reject that book? Do you reject it on the same basis that Muslims reject the Bible as the falsification by Jews and Christians or do you reject it on the same basis that the Christian Church did? Both rejections are based on different faith-values.

Muslims belief (again, Muslims may correct me if I am wrong) is that the Quran is the complete and sole true revelation of God. If the Quran says so, it is true because there is nothing required for Truth outside of the Quran as it is the earthly copy of the Eternal Book kept in heaven (sura 43:3). As such the Quran existed before any mufti did. Wisdom and reason are there to explain the Quran.

For Catholic/Orthodox Christians though, the scriptures is only part of revelation and is the written form of that part of our Traditions handed down by the Apostles. There are other revelations outside the Bible (Jn 21:25) and the Church, as the receipient & preserver of revelation, determines using reason which is an authentic revelation according to its magisterium. The Church and reason existed before the Gospels. Based on this, the Church determined that the gnostic gospels are not authentic revelation due to the reasons I mentioned, and by extension those stories contained within it were also rejected if they fall within the reasons that the Church has mentioned.

So, if you reject the gnostic gospels for the same reason as Islam does, then the Christian Gospels which does not echo the Quran should also be rejected. If you reject the gnostics gospels for the same reason that the Church does, then the story of the clay birds should also be rejected as it falls within the reason that the Church gave.

Hi Sam,

Good to see you active here.

Jesus definitely need his parents to take care of him. Otherwise they wouldn’t have to flee to Egypt. Mat 2:13. Obviously, as an infant, he need the basic things in life. Milk, food , shelter, protection, basic hygiene etc. He is 100% fully man, he thirsts, he hungers, suffers, he feels compassion, he feels sadness, he cries.

I also reject that book, but I believe that miracle, since it’s also mentioned in Quran, so probably Muhammed had heard it from a Christian source at his time.

He definitely had contacts with Christians even at a young age.

From Islamweb.net :

“Prophet Muhammad, sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam ( may Allaah exalt his mention ), met many Christians in his lifetime, both before he embarked on his Prophetic mission and after. These Christians included a monk called Baheerah, his wife Khadeejah’s relative Waraqah ibn Nawfal, and the Abyssinian king, An-Najaashi.”

"Another Christian was Waraqah ibn Nawfal, who was related to Khadeejah bint Khuwaylid may Allaah be pleased with her the wife of the Prophet, sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam ( may Allaah exalt his mention ). Waraqah was a respected man of his time and a well-known Christian scholar. He was also one of those who used to translate Christian holy texts into Arabic. "

If islamweb.net is a credible source, then it is clear than Mohammed had a Christian background prior to him and after receiving his revelations. Hence, his revelations could be influenced by his associations with these Christians. If the Christians had an influence in the revelations, they are definitely not main-stream Christians because of the gnostic slant of the messages that had crept into the Quran. If Waraqah is mainstream Christian, he would have known “many false prophets will arise” (Mat 24:11) and would not have supported Mohammed. Mainstream christian writings do not have new prophets coming after Jesus because his work is done, fully completed. The thing left for his apostles to do is to spread the Good News.

All His parables in the Bible are wisdom that humans cannot dream to match even in the 21st century…

I think I remember reading it online couple of years back and there was something about a false story regarding JESUS, ( a fight or something) I don’t recall the exact story but since that time I black listed it.

I believe He actually did that, but also I believe He didn’t have to do it if He wanted, but He had chosen the human way as a humble of Him.

:slight_smile: jimkhong, turn on your private messages!, I couldn’t reply your PM.

Oop, sorry. ok now?

Ok, thank you. I didn’t know that.

Yes, it’s true that he [Jesus] had spiritual knowledge as an infant. Yes, his knowledge of the Torah and Gospel was miraculous, but then again, all spiritual wisdom is miraculous because it cannot be attained solely through natural reasoning, but only by the gift of Allah/God [Qur’an 6:125]. Is it more impressive that Jesus [peace be upon him] got this knowledge all at once, as an infant, as opposed to Muhammad’s knowledge which was attained over many years? I suppose so.

However, I don’t believe that that shows that Jesus’ importance and/or closeness to God is superior to that of Muhammad [peace be upon them]. 1) because miracles are not the only thing that a prophet did, so it would be unwise to postulate a prophet’s importance or his level of closeness to God solely by the miracle(s) that he [the prophet] did. 2) we [muslims] are told not to make distinctions among prophets [Qur’an 3:84].

Note: You will sometimes see muslims say that Muhammad [peace be upon him] is “the best of all creation”, but I currently do not hold to that view. The Qur’an certainly doesn’t say that he’s the greatest of creation. Moreover, if a brother/sister were to show me a hadith where he is reported to have said that, I would seriously question its authenticity because I can recal reading a hadith wherein it says that he said, to his companions, “Say not that I am greater than Jonah” (he said this after overhearing a conversation they were having).

I just wanted to clear that up.

We know from the books of seerah that Muhammad [peace be upon him], prior to his first revelation, was a trader. The places he would travel to to do business were often many days away (by camel ride). I suppose it’s possible that he met some gnostics during his journeys and spoke to them about theology, but just because it’s possible, is that a good reason to believe that he integrated it into his revelations? (which, at this point, would not have been revelations at all, because if his understanding of Jesus [peace be upon him] consisted of stories he had cobbled together, he must have been lying about having heard the verses of the Qur’an from God, through Gabriel).

That would open up a much longer discussion about Muhammad’s character. I would think that there would be solid evidence if he indeed dialogued with gnostics. We know that he debated the jewish elders of Medina and trinitarian christian priests of Najran because there’s evidence of it.

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