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Excerpt from the Book:The Bible and the Qur’an at the Edge of Renaissance

Posted by on Jan 18th, 2010 and filed under Magazine, Opinion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

The Bible and the Qur’an at the Edge of Renaissance: A Judeo-Christian-Muslim Compass to a World of Peace

By LINDA “iLham” BARTO

WITH an uncommon blend of spiritual insight and scientific logic, The Bible and the Qur’an at the Edge of Renaissance encourages and guides the reader toward a broader understanding of the Scriptures, including the Tanakh (Jewish Bible), the New Testament, and the Qur’an.  The author beckons readers to focus on the consonant values of all religions of light to wonderfully and vigorously affect the world for a global, spiritual renaissance.

Here is an excerpt from Chapter 6:  Is Jesus the Son of God?

“Do we not all have the same Heavenly Father?  Didn’t the same Creator make us every one?” (inspired by Malachi 2: 10).

“Jesus is God and the Son of God,” screamed a radio preacher, “and anyone who says he isn’t doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”

Many people, however, find the Trinitarian language confusing and limiting, as does Christian author Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer:

The concept of the Trinity –God, Son, and Spirit— tries to convey the mystery of God.  Although it attempts to communicate that Jesus incarnates God in unique and remarkable ways, it can easily fall prey to religious arrogance and distort the character of God.  This is especially true when the uniqueness of Jesus is defined in sacrificial terms in which the blood sacrifice of God’s only Son is what “saves” humanity or a select group of believers.  The concept of the Trinity should be seen as one very human attempt to speak about the mystery of God.  It should never be seen as immutable, dogmatic truth or be treated as a litmus test for authentic faith.[1]

In a powerful observation, Professor Bloom writes on the near-demise of God the Father as Jesus replaced Yahweh (the God of Moses):

When Americans say “Jesus helps” and “Jesus saves,” they unknowingly rely upon the root meaning of the name Joshua (Yeshua), which is “Yahweh helps” or “Yahweh saves.” ….

A pragmatic separation between Yahweh and Jesus widens, and Yahweh has not survived in Christianity, but only in the Allah of Islam.  The dying God has also turned out to be Yahweh, and not Jesus.[2]

According to evangelical Christians, belief in Jesus as “the Son of God” is imperative to eternal salvation.  Questioning Jesus’ being the Son of God is a delicate matter; as far as Christians are concerned, there is no discussion.  But what exactly does the term “Son of God” mean?

“How can God have a son?” asks the Qur’an in almost child-like intuitiveness, “when He has no wife?” (inspired by Surah 6: 101).

Faustus, a bishop of the fifth century, used ancient, extracanonical texts to justify his belief that Jesus did not become the Son of God until after his baptism –the water baptism being symbolic of the spiritual baptism.  This metaphorical meaning of “Son of God” would be met with much less resistance than the literal interpretation so offensive to Jews and Muslims.   Reportedly, some early Catholic priests taught that Gabriel carried God’s sperm and impregnated Mary by sticking it in her ear.  That was Dark Ages thinking for sure!

Giving a new and innovative perspective, scientist Harold Morowitz explains Jesus the Son as a form of divine emergence:

The third aspect of the divine for Trinitarians is the Son, involving incarnation and resurrection.  This is far more abstract than the demands of most Christian dogmas.  For traditional monotheists, this incarnation is man being made in the image of God.  For philosophers, this is God’s transcendence, the volitional aspect of the divine, reified in the activities of humans.[3]

Christian author and renowned scientist Henry Morris explains the Church’s traditional view of Jesus as the Son of God.  In his booklet, “God’s Only Begotten Son,” Morris, supporting the King James Version (KJV) wording of “only begotten son,” writes:

Angels are several times called the sons of God (ie, Job 38: 7) since they had no fathers, being directly created by God.  Likewise, Adam was called the son of God (Luke 3: 38), because he was directly created.  The same applies even to fallen angels (Genesis 6: 2) and even to Satan (Job 1: 6) because they also were created beings.  The term is also used in a spiritual sense, of course, for those who have become ‘new creations’ in Christ Jesus by faith (2 Corinthians 5: 17, Ephesians 2: 10, etc).  In this sense, we also are “sons (children) of God” (ie, 1 John 3: 2) by special creation –not physically, but spiritually.  But it is never applied in this sense to Christ, for He is not a created son of God..., but a begotten Son of God.  He never had a beginning, for He was there in the beginning (John 1: 1).[4]

The King James Version states:

God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3: 16, KJV).

The words “only begotten” are translated from the Greek word monogenes, literally, ‘one of a kind,’ and, according to The Hebrew-Greek Key Study Bible, means ‘unique’;[5] so, the verse should say “...He gave (or sent) His unique son....” In fact, it is translated this way in some Bibles in other languages including French and Russian.  Dr. Morris, however, is representative of the majority of Christians who believe in Jesus as God’s “begotten son.”

Further, the New Testament Greek pais theou identifies Jesus as a ‘servant of God,’ as is shown in new translations, but the KJV rendered the reference as ‘son’ (ie, Acts 3: 13).  This serves as an example of how the use of the word son was exaggerated as the early Church inculcated a literal meaning.

I have researched various, non-pagan meanings of Son of God and offer the following evaluation:

1.  Jesus as God’s messenger.

Although the New Testament was written in Greek, the originally spoken Aramaic word for son would have been bar.  Like the Hebrew ben, bar was used figuratively to show Jesus’ unique relationship to God.  James Strong gives one definition of ben as “a son (a builder of the family name) in the widest sense (of lit. and fig., relationship, including grandson, subject, nation, quality, or condition, etc).”[6] In this sense, then, Son of God could be used to define a ‘builder’ who brings sinners back into the universal family of God.  As God’s messenger, Jesus would fit this definition, as would all the prophets and witnesses.

2.  Jesus as the Messiah.

In Jesus’ time, Philo Judaeus, a Jew educated in both Judaism and Greek philosophy, reflected Greek thinking in his Judaic writings.  Writing in Greek, Philo substituted logos (the unseen power that controls the universe) for the Divine Wisdom and, to express its relationship to God, gave it metaphoric titles of the “Image of God” and the “Son of God.”  The New Testament writer of John adopted Philo’s view (ie, John 1: 1 in which logos is translated to “Word”).  At some point, an Aramaic or Greek version of Son of God apparently began being used as a metaphor for Messiah (Christ); ie: “...the high priest...said..., ‘I adjure thee by the Living God that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God’” (Matthew 26: 63, KJV), and “the high priest asked..., ‘Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?’” (Mark 14: 61, KJV); but, “...the governor asked..., ‘Art thou the King of the Jews?’” (Matthew 27: 11, KJV).  When Jesus answers in the affirmative, he is accused of blasphemy (ie, Mark 14: 62-64) as if the title of Messiah denoted a unique connection to God.

Many Jews believe that the spirit of Messiah walks among the faithful and waits for the right time to appear physically.  In John 10: 30-36, Jesus justifies himself with a quote from the Jewish Bible:  “I had accepted all of you as divine beings –children of the Most High God– even though you will die just as other men and fall as any princes” (inspired by Psalms 82: 6-7); [KJV:  “I have said, ‘Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the Most High.  But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes’”].  In the Hebrew context, “children of the Most High God” denotes positions of authority on behalf of God’s justice.  If Jesus is indeed to return as the Messiah, then the definition of Son of God as ‘a position of authority’ and as ‘God’s representative’ would be fitting.

It is believed that Messiah will sit in the highest governmental position during the Messianic Era (which is yet to come).  In rabbinic literature, however, the designation for Messiah is “Son of David.”  Is it possible that early Christian scribes changed “Son of David” to “Son of God”?  Perhaps, but “Son of God” was also used by early Jews to refer to anyone believed to have a unique spiritual connection to God; ie, Ezra the Scribe was referred to as “the Son of God” in rabbinic writings and was called “the eternal Scribe.”

3.  Jesus as a spiritual being.

In Abdulla Yusef Ali’s translation of the Qur’an, Ali points to the Bible’s frequent use of the term sons of God.[7] Writing in the early 1930’s, Ali used the King James Bible; modern English translations do not use son of God as liberally as indicated in the Hebrew manuscripts.  According to scholars of the ancient Hebrew language, the phrase ben Eloheem (literally translated, ‘son of God’) was used idiomatically to specify different types of relationships.  Its archaic usage was often not interpreted well.  Today, however, many translators attempt to substitute what is perceived to be the intended meaning of a word or phrase rather than give a literal interpretation.

Yusuf Ali mentions the use of sons of God in the book of Job:  “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundations, ...when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” (Job 38: 4, 7; KJV).  The modern Tanakh substitutes “divine beings” for “sons of God,” and most modern Christian Bibles use “angels.”  [It is apparent that the quote from Job refers to creation before the time of Humanity, so “sons of God” could not describe a group of people (as implied by Yusuf Ali), unless it was used to refer to the souls of Jews to be born; such a definition (‘human souls’) has not been used by translators, however.]  We may assume, then, that Son of God can be translated to ‘divine being’ or ‘spirit’.  The Qur’an teaches that Jesus is God’s “Word bestowed upon Mary, and a spirit emanating from Him” (inspired by Surah 4: 171), so if Son of God means ‘a spirit,’ then Jesus fits that description.  We are all, however, spiritual beings.

Do not separate heading from paragraph.  Go to next page if necessary.

4.  Jesus as a man of special creation.

Genesis tells of Humanity’s beginnings; therefore, “sons of God” in Genesis 6: 2 could not (as implied by Yusuf Ali) refer to the Jews who appear later in the Bible story.  The meaning of “sons of God” in this verse has long been the subject of debate among Christian and Jewish scholars.  Is it possible that it refers to created men (rather than begotten men)?  In reference to his being created rather than conceived, Adam is referred to as “the son of God” (Luke 3: 38).  Although the assumption has been made that Adam’s sons and daughters married one another, there is no evidence to dispel the theory that God provided mates for them from other families.  The Scriptures name Adam and Eve as the first couple, but isn’t it possible that, with Adam and Eve as a pattern from which to develop all of Humanity, God created other human beings with nearly identical DNA base ordering?[8]

According to the lost-and-found Book of Enoch, the “sons of God” in Genesis 6: 2 were angels that were given human form in order to watch over, guide, and protect the newly created humans.  They were called “Watchers.”  I think that the word ‘angels’ in this sense has a broad definition to include spirits.  The Watchers, then, could have been angelic spirits; ie, the jinn of the Qur’an.  According to Enoch (Idris of the Qur’an), the angels or spirits, once given human bodies, began to experience human desires.  They forsook the duties God had given them and chose fully human wives for themselves.  (I am not trying to persuade one to believe in the theory of the Watchers; I am merely suggesting a possible reason for the use of “sons of God.”)

Whether God created humans as He did Adam and Eve or created human bodies for already-existing spirits, we could say that “sons of God” means ‘created men.’   Without arguing whether or not the Scripture is authentically part of the original Torah, substituting “created men” for “sons of God,” my interpretation is this:

When Humanity had grown in number on Earth, and daughters were born, (the created men) saw that the daughters of humans were beautiful, and the men married any of them they chose. ....  It was then, as well as later, that the Nephilim [a race of giants (described in Numbers 13: 32-33)] appeared on the earth.  When (the created men) had children with the daughters of humans, the children became the mighty warriors and heroes of ancient times.  The Lord saw that Humanity’s wickedness had become great, and that people were only inclined to do evil.  The Lord felt great sorrow because of Humanity, and He said, ‘I will destroy all creation –people and animals.’  But the Lord found goodness in Noah (inspired by Genesis 6: 2, 4-8).

I suggest, then, that son of God may be translated to ‘a created man’ which is how Muslims perceive Jesus.  “Jesus is like Adam whom God created from dust.  God said, ‘Be!’ and he was” (inspired by Surah 3: 59).

5.  Jesus as a recipient of honor.

In the New Testament, the meanings of Jewish Scriptures referring to David and to Israel were extended to include Messiah; ie, “For unto which of the angels said He at any time, ‘Thou art My son, this day have I begotten thee’?  And again, ‘I will be to him a father, and he shall be to Me a son’?” (Hebrews 1: 5, KJV, quoting Psalms 2: 7 and 2 Samuel 7: 14, used in Hebrews to describe Jesus).

Israel as a nation is referred to as God’s son:  “...Thus saith the Lord, Israel is My son, even My first-born” (Exodus 4: 22, KJV).  In this idiomatic usage, “My son” identifies Israel as the recipient of God’s favor.  This favor, however, is also individualized:  “...The Lord hath said unto me, ‘Thou art My son; this day have I begotten thee’” (Psalms 2: 7, KJV; the modern English Tanakh says “fathered” instead of “begotten”).  This favor was extended specifically to King David:  “I have found David My servant; with My holy oil have I anointed him....  He shall cry unto Me, ‘Thou art my Father, my God, and the Rock of my Salvation’” (Psalms 89: 20, 26; KJV).  Although Saul was the first king of Israel (1 Samuel 9), the Bible favors David as God’s “first-born”:  “Also I will make him My first-born, higher than the kings of the earth” (Psalms 89: 27, KJV).  Jesus is also called God’s “first-born” (Romans 8: 29).  Romans states, however, that Jesus is the “first-born among many brethren.”  This implies that Jesus is the first of many chosen sons and daughters in the universal, spiritual family initiated with the spreading of the Gospel.  So apparently, in Jewish literature, “first-born” means ‘favored’ or ‘chosen.’  In this sense, Muslims hold Jesus in high esteem.

The angels said, “O Mary, God gives you glad tidings of a Word from Him; he will be called Jesus the Messiah, Son of Mary.  He will be honored in this world and in the life hereafter, and he will be among those nearest [to God]” (inspired by Surah 3: 45).

Zechariah, John [the Baptist], Jesus, and Elijah are all in the ranks of the righteous (inspired by Surah 6: 85).

6.  Jesus as a member of the faith family.

In his footnote, Abdulla Yusuf Ali points out that terms like “son of God” and “beloved,” as in “He giveth His beloved sleep” (Psalms 127: 2), “if used figuratively,...refer to the love of God” but, used literally and exclusively, “as if God loved only the Jews” [or only Christians or Muslims] make “a mockery of religion.”[9] It is for this reason that use of phrases like children of God should be used only in a context clearly referring to the universal faith family.

Yusuf Ali explains that not only was Muhammed literally orphaned, but also anyone who did not know of or had not accepted God’s love and grace was spiritually orphaned.[10] In the same figurative sense, the Bible teaches that we become God’s adopted children when we trust in Him and submit to Him.

When we were spiritually immature, we were in bondage of sin; but, when the time was right, God sent His son, begotten of a woman and born into the knowledge of God’s laws, to redeem those cursed by the judgment of God’s laws, so that we might be adopted as God’s children.  And because we are His children, God has sent the spirit of Jesus to speak to each soul and remind that God is our Father.  So you are no longer a slave [to sin] but a child of God and His heir (inspired by Galatians 4: 3-7).

As an adoptive parent myself, I can understand the idea of rescued sinners as God’s begotten children even though they are spiritually adopted.  I have often told my daughter that, even though she was almost five years old when we were finally blessed by her, she was born to us, her adoptive parents, but born through another couple.  This undoubtedly was the intent of the New Testament writer who explained that “we [the non-Jews] delight also [along with the Jews] in God through Jesus who brought us atonement” (inspired by Romans 5: 11).

All the Scriptures teach a consonant message of unity and harmony, which should include all people:

How good and pleasant it is when the family of God dwells together in unity!” (inspired by Psalms 133: 1).

There is no difference between Jews and non-Jews; God is Lord of all and richly blesses everyone who relies on Him (inspired by Romans 10: 12).

The believers [in the Qur’an], the [practicing] Jews, the followers of the Nazarene [ie, Christians], the Sabeans,[11] and any others who believe in God and the Last Day and do what is right will find their reward with their Lord where there will be no fear or grief (inspired by Surah 2: 62).

The phrase Son of God, then, identifies a person belonging to the family of God. Great care should be taken, however, in using such references so that only a spiritual relationship is indicated.

7.  Jesus as the Son of Adam.

In the New Testament accounts, Jesus refers to himself as the “Son of Man,” or, reflecting the Hebrew language, the “Son of Adam,” a title for Messiah in the Book of Enoch.  This phrase is used in the King James Version of Daniel and refers to the one to whom God has given the power to rule.  In the Tanakh, it is rendered, “One like a human being...” (Daniel 7: 13).  In another verse the King James’s “Son of God” is rendered “a divine being” in the Tanakh (Daniel 3: 25).  This person is presented to God, “the Ancient of Days,” and is given the rights of Messiah (Daniel 7: 13).

Son of God, then, can be understood as a synonym for Messiah.  Jews, Christians, and Muslims believe in and hope for the Messianic Age, and Christians and Muslims believe that Jesus will return to act with God’s authority.  God appointed Jesus “as a sign and a mercy for Humanity.  This is a matter decreed!” (inspired by Surah 19: 21).

8.  Jesus as the begotten Son of God.

Is God the Father of Jesus?  The meanings of father include:  “(1) A male parent.  (2) A male who functions in a paternal capacity with regard to another….  (3) Any male ancestor….  (4) A man who creates, founds, or originates something.  (5) Capital F.  (a) God.  (b) The first member of the Trinity. ….”[12]

Although many people imagine God as male, His (for lack of a better pronoun) total being is one of infinitely greater attributes than we are able to comprehend.  If one refers to God as “Father” in the context of His being our Creator, Sustainer, and Guardian, then God is in essence being given the title of Father of Fathers, or Creator of Creators, as being above all us mortals He has created as His representatives on Earth.  If the reference is intended as literal, however, then we must again consider the word beget.

In the dictionary, two definitions are given of beget:   “(1) To father; sire.  (2) To cause to exist.”[13] By definition #1, Jesus does not fit the description of a literally begotten Son of God because no Scripture describes God as procreating in human fashion; this is a pagan idea.  Definition #2 may be applied to Jesus, but no more so than to every other person, creature, plant, and material in existence.

According to a Shi’ite tradition, a group of Christians argued with Prophet Muhammed about God’s being the Father of Jesus.  They offered, “According to the Bible, Jesus said, ‘I am returning to my Father.’

Muhammed answered:

If you go by the Bible, then you should say that all the people that Jesus addressed were God’s sons as Jesus was His son, because, according to the Bible, Jesus said, “I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God” [John 20: 17].  That which is in the Bible, therefore, invalidates what you think –that only Jesus was God’s son.  You say that only Jesus is His son because He the Exalted distinguished him by that which he did not distinguish others.  You know, however, that Jesus was chosen for something for which the group was not chosen; yet Jesus said, “I am returning to my Father and your Father.”  So you are wrong to distinguish Jesus as God’s only son after he said this to others who were not distinguished.  You narrated the words of Jesus, but you erred in interpretation.  Besides, how do you even know that by “Father,” Jesus wasn’t thinking, “I go to Adam” or “to Noah” and be raised up and united with them?  Adam is his father and your father, and so is Noah.  But he really did not mean anything other than what he said.[14]

The Christians offered no more opposition and said, “We never before met a disputant as the one we met today, and we will think more on this matter.”

Yusuf Ali writes:

The greatness of Jesus arose from the Divine command, “Be,” for after that he was –more than dust– a great spiritual leader and teacher.[15]

According to many scholars, the metaphor of God the Father was corrupted in Biblical times and used to justify and reinforce the abusive, patriarchal family and political structure characteristic of the Israelite society.  Jesus sought to rectify the abuse of the Father metaphor.

When Jesus uses “Father” imagery to name God, however, he is doing more than assigning power to God that had been claimed by abusive human fathers.  He is redefining the meaning of power itself.  ….  God, according to Jesus, is not a powerful, finger-pointing, male authority figure, emotionally removed and ruling from afar with an iron fist.  Jesus’ intimacy with the intimate Father…is the spiritual ground from which he challenges and undermines the abusive power that characterized the patriarchal household, Roman rule, and the Temple establishment and that infected and distorted the character of God within the tradition.[16]

As the Church evolved, however, the metaphorical meaning of God the Father was tossed in preference of God as actual parent. The Qur’an seeks to rectify the Church’s misinterpretation of Jesus’ “Father imagery”:

It is not consonant with the majesty of God Most Gracious that He should beget a son.  Every being of Sky and Earth must come to God in servitude (inspired by Surah 19: 92-93).

Further, the Qur’an continues the work begun by Jesus in challenging the abusive patriarchal rule still existing in some Middle Eastern societies and elsewhere, but the Qur’an’s approach is in providing exact instructions and guidance, assigning personal and community responsibilities, and specifying laws and courtesies that result in fairness and equality.

The Qur’an transforms radical tribal adherence to male lineage by redefining the individual and the community in ways that weaken the absolute authority of patriarchal kinship.[17]

It is unfortunate that Islamic leaders have strayed from the Qur’anic guidance.

However revolutionary this message was, it was forgotten soon after it was revealed.  Muslim societies started drifting back to tribalism and male chauvinism, leading to a situation where women were reduced to non-entities in Muslim families and societies.  The Divine laws of equality and gender relationships were forgotten.  The contributions of women in constructing Muslim civilization were overlooked.  The message that all are equal in the eyes of God was dismissed and buried.  Today many Muslim women live under the worst kind of social and religious rule in Muslim societies.[18]

Finally, Jesus seems to have transcended the barrier of time to give us his own guidance as he speaks in stunning lost-and-found words:

When you see the One not begotten of woman, prostrate yourselves and worship Him, for that One is your Heavenly Father (inspired by Thomas 0: 15, Nag Hammadi Codices).

Muhammed beautifully and simply describes Jesus:

Whoever believes in the One True God; that Muhammed is His messenger; that Jesus is God’s servant, His messenger, His Word breathed into Mary, and a spirit emanating from God; and that Heaven and Hell are real; shall be received by God into Heaven (Hadeeth: Bukhari).

Christians generally believe that Jesus carries the DNA of God,[19] and many Christians are well equipped to argue this concept.  Christianity has led many people to faith –people who otherwise would have been abandoned to a life of darkness.  The uncompromising insistence that, in order to be saved, one must believe in specific doctrine, however, actually denigrates God’s power to save.  Jesus taught salvation through repentance and through adherence to God’s will (ie, Matthew 4: 17; 5: 17-20).  As a holy messenger leading people to God’s truths, Jesus became an instrument to salvation, but many Bible readers find non-Trinitarian meanings to Jesus’ words of oneness with God and with God’s purpose.  Certainly people have the divine right to seek God’s guidance in interpreting the Scriptures until the day such matters will be settled.

God said, “O Jesus, I am willing you to die [in your physical form] and then raising you [body and soul] to Me.  I will clear you of the false accusations made by the blasphemers.  On the Day of Resurrection, I will declare your followers superior over those who reject faith.  On that day, you [all Humanity] will return to Me, and I will judge among you concerning the matters about which you dispute” (inspired by Surah 3: 55).

[Another excerpt may be found on www.Lit-by-Linda.com.]


[1] Ibid (n 27), Nelson-Pallmeyer, p 342.

[2] Ibid (n 31), Bloom, p 183-184.

[3] Ibid (n 11), Morowitz, p 198.

[4] Henry Morris, “God’s Only Begotten Son,” (El Cajon, CA: Institute of Creation Research).

[5] Ibid (n 23), Zodhiates, p 2095, n 3666.

[6] James Strong, Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers), p 21 of “Hebrew and Chaldee Dictionary,” n 1121.

[7] Ibid (n 38), Ali, n 718.  The verse to which Ali refers (Surah 5: 18) is concerned with the arrogant misuse of the Father metaphor.

[8] I say “nearly identical” because DNA scientists have determined that all Humanity, as we know it today, descended from the same two parents.  According to the Bible, Humanity descended from Noah who descended from Adam and Eve, but we do not know the ancestry of Noah’s daughters-in-law.  It has been assumed that they also descended from the Adam and Eve of the Bible.  Isn’t it possible, however, that there were other, almost clone-like, created people that figured into their ancestry?  Was there a fourth race that was wiped out by the flood?  (I find the emergence theories of Humanity unconvincing.  Also, DNA recovered from a Neanderthal fossil unearthed in Germany’s Neander Valley has proven that the DNA, differing from human DNA in 27 places, does not resemble human DNA closely enough to determine that Neanderthals are our ancestors.)  Isn’t it possible that, when the Scriptures name Adam and Eve as the first couple, the meaning is that they are the first parents in the lineage of modern humans, but that pre-Adam humans existed outside the Garden of Eden and that their descendants were completely annihilated by the flood of Noah.  Adam and Eve were the first people created in numinous time, but not necessarily the first people existing in linear time on Earth.

Also, whether the flood of Noah was global or local is a question of enduring debate.  After having studied evidence presented from both sides of the debate, I suggest that there was global flooding, but all land was not covered by floodwaters.  I theorize that there were enclaves of spared lands on which wildlife, including that unknown to Noah, was preserved.

[9] Ibid (n 38), Ali, n 718.

[10] Ibid, nn 6181-6184.

[11] See n 86.

[12] The New Book of Knowledge Dictionary (Houghton Mifflin Company).

[13] Ibid.

[14] Re-written for grammatical clarity and correctness from the interpretation of the Tafsir of al Imam al Askari in:  Mahdi Muntazir Qaim (trans. Legenhausen and Qaim), ibid (n 56), p 118, 120.

[15] Ibid (n 38), Ali, n 398.

[16] Ibid (n 27), Nelson-Pallmeyer, p 15.

[17] Michael Sells, Approaching the Qur’an:  The Early Revelations (Ashland, OR: White Cloud Press, 1999), p 127.

[18] Aslam Abdullah, “The Real Gender Issues, Islamic Horizons (Plainfield, IN: The Islamic Society of North America, May/June 2005), p 24.

[19] Christian enthusiasts concerning the Shroud of Turin hope to learn of the “DNA of God” from blood scrapings from the shroud [Ian Wilson, The Blood and the Shroud (New York: The Free Press, 1998), pp 242-244].  The Shroud of Turin is thought to have been the burial cloth of Jesus.  Experts have determined that the weave of the cloth itself is particular to the time and region of Jesus.  (Earlier carbon tests dating the shroud to medieval times were shown to be inaccurate due to a bioplastic coating caused by bacteria and fungi.)  First century fabrics are rare, and grave garments are generally in poor condition because of the adverse chemical climate involved with decaying bodies.  According to textile expert Mechthild Flury-Lemburg, the Shroud of Turin is well preserved because it “was not kept in a tomb; the crucified man was only for some hours wrapped in that linen” (PBS interview, “Secrets of the Dead,” April 2004).

Scientists are at odds in trying to explain the shroud’s negative image which has some X-ray-like features.  The image is that of a badly beaten man with all the markings of Jesus’ experience as told in the New Testament.  One theory is that blood, sweat, fresh spices, and body heat caused bacteria to grow wherever the body touched the cloth, then when Jesus’ spirit returned to the inanimate body, the body was revitalized with a burst of radioactivity that burned the image onto the cloth.  Modern experiments have proven this possibility, but the only known natural occurrence of a shroud-like image was left on the mattress cover of a cancer patient who died in 1981.

I have not heard of any DNA testing, but the blood type was found to be AB and matches the blood type on a different cloth, with a different chain of caretakers, believed to have covered the face of Jesus.  Based on some speculation and some uncertain accounts, the Shroud of Turin can be traced back through time to find it, before becoming property of the Catholic Church, in the hands of Muslims (eighth century) and a Jew, Joseph of Arimathea, who first provided the burial cloths, then returned to the empty tomb to find them.  Reportedly, Joseph folded the shroud and placed it in a box, after which it began its history of passage.

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