Friday, October 19, 2012

The Musannaf of Abd al-Razzaq al-San'ani as a Source of Authentic Ahadith of the First Century A.H. - by Harald Motzki

To those folk who are engaged in serious Islamic studies (Muslim and non-Muslim), the importance of the Hadith (i.e. speeches, reports, accounts of the actions and words of Muhammad) literature cannot be undervalued. There are six major/recognized collections by the Sunnis, known under the names of the compilers: al-Buhkari, Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj, Abu Daud, al-Tirmidhi, Ibn Maja, and al-Nasai; the Shia (who include material from their Imams), have added al-Kulayni, Ibn Babuya al-Qummi, Muhammad al-Tusi, and the massive Bihar al-anwar of Muhammad Baqir al-Majlisi (well over 100 volumes).

A much lesser known, but earlier, collection of hadith was the Musannaf of Abd al-Razzaq al-San'ani. One Islamic scholar has recently produced an informative essay that may vastly improve the status of Abd al-Razzaq's Musannaf. 

The above essay can be read online, and/or downloaded via THIS LINK

Grace and peace,


Athanasius: on God, His Son/Word and the Godhead - part 2

In the first installment of this series, I provided an extensive selection from Athansius that delineated his position on God, His Son/Word, and the Godhead with great clarity (LINK).

With this second installment, I would like to provide a few more selections from his corpus that should add even greater clarity to his view. The first group shall be from his De Decretis (or, Defence of the Nicene Definition) wherein, among other important issues, he delves into what Nicene Creed means by "of the essence" and "one in essence" (i.e. homoousios), with the final quote being once again from his 4th Oration/Discourse Against/Contra the Arians:

...I mean, "of the essence" and "one in essence," and that "the Son of God is neither a creature or work, nor in the number of things originated [γενητῶν not γενvητῶν], but that the Word is an offspring from the substance of the Father." (De Decretis - NPNF 2nd Series, 4.152)

Is it right to say that what is God's offspring and proper to Him is out of nothing? or is it reasonable in the very idea, that what is from God has accrued to Him, that a man should dare to say that the Son is not always ? For in this again the generation of the Son exceeds and transcends the thoughts of man, that we become fathers of our own children in time, since we ourselves first were not and then came into being ; but God, in that He ever is, is ever Father of the Son. And the origination of mankind is brought home to us from things that are parallel ; but, since ' no one knoweth the Son but the Father, and no one knoweth the Father but the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him,' therefore the sacred writers to whom the Son has revealed Him, have given us a certain image from things visible, saying, ' Who is the brightness of His glory, and the Expression of His Person;' and again, ' For with Thee is the well of life, and in Thy light shall we see lights;' and when the Word chides Israel, He says, ' Thou hast forsaken the Fountain of wisdom; ' and this Fountain it is which says, 'They have forsaken Me the Fountain of living waters?.' And mean indeed and very dim is the illustration compared with what we desiderate ; but yet it is possible from it to understand something above man's nature, instead of thinking the Son's generation to be on a level with ours. For who can even imagine that the radiance of light ever was not, so that he should dare to say that the Son was not always, or that the Son. was not before His generation? or who is capable of separating the radiance from the sun, or to conceive of the fountain as ever void of life, that he should madly say, ' The Son is from nothing,' who says, ' I am the life',' or 'alien to the Father's essence,' who says, ' He that hath seen Me, hath seen the Father"?' for the sacred writers wishing us thus to understand, have given these illustrations ; and it is unseemly and most irreligious, when Scripture contains such images, to form ideas concerning our Lord from others which are neither in Scripture, nor have any religious bearing. (Ibid. 4.157, 158 - bold emphasis mine.)

This then is quite enough to expose the infamy of the Arian heresy ; for, as the Lord has granted, out of their own words is irreligion brought home to them'. But come now and let us on our part act on the offensive, and call on them for an answer; for now is fair time, when their own ground has failed them, to question them on ours ; perhaps it may abash the perverse, and disclose to them whence they have fallen. We have learned from divine Scripture, that the Son of God, as was said above, is the very Word and Wisdom of the Father. For the Apostle says,' Christ the power of God and the Wisdom of God  ; ' and John after saying,' And the Word was made flesh,' at once adds, 'And we saw His glory, the glory as of the Only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truths,' so that, the Word being the Only-begotten Son, in this Word and in Wisdom heaven and earth and all that is therein were made. And of this Wisdom that God is Fountain we have learned from Baruch, by Israel's being charged with having forsaken the Fountain of Wisdom. If then they deny Scripture, they are at once aliens to their name, and may fitly be called of all men atheists, and Christ's enemies, for they have brought upon themselves these names. But if they agree with us that the sayings of Scripture are divinely inspired, let them dare to say openly what they think in secret that God was once wordless and wisdomless let them in their madness say, 'There was once when He was not,' and, 'before His generation, Christ was not;' and again let them declare that the Fountain begat not Wisdom from itself, but acquired it from without, till they have the daring to say, ' The Son came of nothing;' whence it will follow that there is no longer a Fountain, but a sort of pool, as if receiving water from without, and usurping the name of Fountain. (Ibid. 4.159, 160 - bold emphasis mine.)

Now with all the above in mind, add to this the previous published selection (LINK) and then what follows:

‘I and the Father are One.’ You say that the two things are one, or that the one has two names, or again that the one is divided into two. Now if the one is divided into two, that which is divided must need be a body, and neither part perfect, for each is a part and not a whole. But if again the one have two names, this is the expedient of Sabellius, who said that Son and Father were the same, and did away with either, the Father when there is a Son, and the Son when there is a Father. But if the two are one, then of necessity they are two, but one according to the Godhead, and according to the Son’s coessentiality with the Father, and the Word’s being from the Father Himself; so that there are two, because there is Father, and Son, namely the Word; and one because one God. For if not, He would have said, ‘I am the Father,’ or ‘I and the Father am;’ but, in fact, in the ‘I’ He signifies the Son, and in the ‘And the Father,’ Him who begot Him; and in the ‘One’ the one Godhead and His coessentiality. For the Same is not, as the Gentiles hold, Wise and Wisdom, or the Same Father and Word; for it were unfit for Him to be His own Father, but the divine teaching knows Father and Son, and Wise and Wisdom, and God and Word; while it ever guards Him indivisible and inseparable and indissoluble in all respects.

But if any one, on hearing that the Father and the Son are two, misrepresent us as preaching two Gods (for this is what some feign to themselves, and forthwith mock, saying, ‘You hold two Gods’), we must answer to such, If to acknowledge Father and Son, is to hold two Gods, it instantly follows that to confess but one we must deny the Son and Sabellianise. For if to speak of two is to fall into Gentilism, therefore if we speak of one, we must fall into Sabellianism. But this is not so; perish the thought! but, as when we say that Father and Son are two, we still confess one God, so when we say that there is one God, let us consider Father and Son two, while they are one in the Godhead, and in the Father’s Word being indissoluble and indivisible and inseparable from Him. And let the fire and the radiance from it be a similitude of man, which are two in being and in appearance, but one in that its radiance is from it indivisibly. (Orations/Discourses Against/Contra the Arians, Book 4.9, 10 – NPNF 2nd Series, 4.436 bold emphasis mine.)

All to the glory of God the Father and His Only-begotten Son...

Grace and peace,


Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Puritans: two exhaustive online resource sites

While engaged in some online research yesterday, I discovered two sites on Puritan authors that are nothing short of extraordinary concerning the number of resources which are made available to the public; with many of those resources being FREE.

Enjoy !!!

Grace and peace,


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Granville Sharp: his six rules of Greek NT grammar

Earlier today I received an email from another friend and brother in Christ who had questions about Granville Sharp's "rule". Granville Sharp actually produced six 'rules' of New Testament grammar, but it is his first "rule" that has received by far the most 'ink'. A concise summation of Sharp's six rules can be found at:

Sharp's book on these six rules can be read, and/or downloaded at:

The support for Granville Sharp's 1st rule within the Evangelical community has had a long and substantive history—the following articles/essays are some good representatives:

But, there has been solid opposition to Sharp; the first I am aware of came quite early on (1805) from the pen Calvin Winstanley. An online PDF version can be accessed at:

The most rigorous opposition that I have knowledge of has come via the former Jehovah's Witness, Greg Stafford, who has produced literally hundreds of scholarly pages on this issue, all of which can be accessed at:

Mr. Stafford is also currently writing a full length book on this topic, which is supposed to be released sometime this month:  

The Sharpest Rule: A Review and Restatement of Greek's Most Tragic Rule

I sincerely hope I have provided interested readers enough resources to delve into this subject with some serious depth.

As for myself, I remain 'open' to both sides, calling the ongoing grammatical debate a 'draw'. However, I suspect a number of folk will not give Stafford's copious contributions an objective look simply because he is a former JW, and will side with the Bowman's and Wallaces's without any serious reflection and study; IMO, to do so would be a huge mistake, for Stafford has more than 'held his own' with the best the Evangelical camp has had to offer. I shall end here with a firm exhortation to all interested parties that they read through the material without prejudice before drawing any firm conclusions.

Grace and peace,


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Inerrancy and the Bible: a recent panel discussion by members of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

The current president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (Albert Mohler online bio), with four other faculty members, recently held a panel discussion on the inerrancy of the Bible. The full discussion can be viewed via the following imbedded video (link to original video site):

I am going to refrain from commenting on this discussion for the moment, and instead, link to an Evangelical assessment of it:

Dr. Enns in his review lists some 34 points that were made by the panelists, and briefly shares his reflections on each of those points.

A lot to digest—looking forward to the thoughts of those who are interested in this important issue.

Grace and peace,


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Athanasius: on God, His Son/Word and the Godhead - part 1

I recently received an email from a friend and brother in Christ who has been in dialogue with a Reformed pastor who maintains that Athanasius' view of God and the Godhead (i.e. doctrine of the Trinity) is virtually identical to that of Augustine. This is nothing 'new', for this same notion is espoused by the vast majority of Catholic, Evangelical, and Reformed folk I have dialogued with on this topic. Unfortunately, the "vast majority" have 'got it wrong', for there exists some substantial differences between Athanasius and Augustine on this issue. I shall begin this new series on Athansius with the opening portion of his 4th "Discourse/Oration with the Arians", which is one of the best examples (there are quite a few spread throughout his large corpus of writings) of his thought on God, His Son/Word, and the Godhead [please note that in the following selection, Newman consistently translates οὐσια as 'substance', though I prefer the term 'essence']:

1. THE Word is from God ; for the Word was God, and again, Of whom are the Fathers, and of whom Christ, who, is God over all, blessed for ever. Amen. And since Christ is God from God, and God's Word, Wisdom, Son, and Power, therefore but One God is declared in the divine Scriptures. For the Word, being Son of the One God, is referred to ; Him of whom also He is; so that Father and Son are two, yet the Unity [μονάδα] of the Godhead [θεότητος] is indivisible and inseparable. And thus too we preserve One Origin of Godhead and not two Origins, whence there is properly a divine Monarchy. And of this very Origin the Word is by nature Son, not as if' another origin, subsisting by Himself, nor having come into being externally to that Origin, lest from that diversity a Dyarchy and Polyarchy should ensue ; but of the one Origin He is proper Son, proper Wisdom, proper Word, existing from It. For, according to John, in that Origin was the Word, and the Word was with God, for the Origin was God ; and since He is from It, therefore also the Word as God.

2. And as there is one Origin and therefore one God, so one is that Substance [οὐσια] and Subsistence [ὑπόστασις]  which indeed and truly and really is, and which said I am that I am, and not two, that there be not two Origins; and from the One, a Son in nature and truth, is Its proper Word, Its Wisdom, Its Power, and inseparable from It. And as there is not another substance, lest there be two Origins, so the Word which is from that One Substance has no dissolution, nor is a sound significative, but is a substantial Word and substantial Wisdom, which is the true Son. For were He not substantial, God would be speaking into the air, and having  a body, in nothing differently from men; but since He is not man, neither is His Word according to the infirmity of man. For as the Origin is one Substance, so Its Word is one, substantial, and subsisting, and Its Wisdom. For as He is God from God, and Wisdom from the Wise, and Word from the Rational, and Son from Father, so is He from Subsistence Subsistent, and from Substance Substantial and Substantive, and Being from Being.

3. Since were He not substantial Wisdom [ουσιώδης σοφία] and substantive Word [ενούδιος Λόγος], and Son existing, but simply Wisdom and Word and Son in the Father, then the Father Himself would have a nature compounded of wisdom and reason. But if so, the forementioned extravagances would follow; and He will be His own Father, and the Son begetting and begotten by Himself; or Word, Wisdom, Son, is a name only, and He does not subsist who owns, or rather who is, these titles. If then He does not subsist, the names are idle and empty, unless we say that God is Very Wisdom and Very Word. But if so, He is His own Father and Son ; Father, when Wise, Son, when Wisdom ; but these things are not in God as a certain quality ; away with the dishonourable thought; for it will issue in this, that God is compounded of substance , and quality. For whereas all quality is in substance, it will  clearly follow that the Divine One, indivisible as it is, must be compound, being severed into substance and accident.

4. We must ask then these reckless men ; The Son was proclaimed as God's Wisdom and Word ; how then is He such ? if as a quality, the extravagance has been shewn ; but if God is that Very Wisdom, then it is the extravagance of Sabellius. Therefore He is as an Offspring in a proper sense from the Father Himself, according to the illustration of light. For as there is light from fire, so from God is there a Word, and Wisdom from the Wise, and from the Father a Son. For in this way the Unity remains undivided and entire and Its Son and Word, is not unsubstantive, nor not subsisting, but substantial truly.

5. For unless it were so, all that is said would be said only in notion  and without a meaning. But if we must avoid that extravagance, then is a true Word substantial. For as there is Father truly, so Wisdom truly. In this respect then they are two ; not because, as Sabellius said, Father and Son are the same, but because the Father is Father and the Son Son ; and they are one, because He is Son of the Substance of the Father by nature, existing as His proper Word. This the Lord said, viz. I and the Father are One ; for neither is the Word separated from the Father, nor was or is the Father, ever Wordless; on this account He says, I in the Father and the Father in Me. (Discourses/Orations Against the Arians, Book IV.1-5 - English translation by John Henry Newman from A Library of Fathers of the Holy Catholic Church series, volume 19, Saint Athanasius: Select treatises in controversy with the Arians, Pt. 2, 1842, pp. 512-516 - bold emphasis mine.)

[Online pdf copy: HERE; alternate American edition, with some revisions - HERE; Migne's Greek text (PG 26)- HERE]

Contra Augustine, Athansius' 'One God' is the Father, not the Trinity; and yet, he forcefully maintains that the Godhead [θεότητος] is 'One' (i.e "the Unity" [μονάδα]). So, while maintaining the Monarchy of God the Father—that is the "one Origin" (in a number of texts, he substitutes 'Fountain' for 'Origin')—he also defends the view that the Son is also God, because via eternal begetting, the Son has the same essence/substance of the Father. But, though the Son is essentially 'God from God', and the essence of the two are 'one' he remains distinct from the Father, and 'substantially' so, such that in a very real sense they are 'two'.

More later, the Lord willing.

Grace and peace,