Ibn Hazm (994CE-1064CE) was a Muslim scholar of great repute from Cordoba, during the Muslim Spain era. He is widely regarded as the “Father of Comparative Religion”. In his celebrated magnum opus entitled Kitab al-Fasl fi al- Milal wa al-Ahwa’ wa al-Nihal, he predated modern Biblical textual criticism by several centuries and as Krentz admits, Ibn Hazm’s criticisms generally represents the first, albeit rudimentary, systematic historic criticism of the Bible1. He had demonstrated his prowess in Biblical textual criticism by giving many examples of internal contradictions in the Bible.
The following Bible contradiction regarding the call of the first disciples was extracted from an unpublished thesis entitled Ibn Hazm On The Doctrine of Tahrif which cites Kitab al-Fasl fi al-Milal wa al-Ahwa’ wa al-Nihal2 and insha’allah this will be part of an ongoing series to reproduce extracts of Ibn Hazm’s criticisms of the Bible and Christianity, as well as further elaboration on our part to refine his arguments in order to solidify the charges against the Bible.
So which is the correct Gospel account concerning the call of Jesus’ first disciples? Ibn Hazm quotes Matthew 4, 12-223; Mark 1, 14-204; Luke 5, 1-115 and John 1, 35-426 and concludes that there are four basic contradictions contained in the Gospel accounts of the first apostles. They relate to:
(1) The time the first apostleship of Andrew and his brother Simon Peter commenced. Was it before the imprisonment of John the Baptist as Mathew and Mark records, or was it after the imprisonment of John as he himself claims?
(2) The place where the first apostleship took place. Was it at the place where the Messiah found Peter and Andrew entering their nets into the sea as they were about to fish as Matthew and Mark relates, or was it at the place where Andrew was standing with John when he heard him remark when the Messiah walked past saying “Behold the Lamb of God!”, as John records?
(3) The sequence of the first companionship. Did Simon, Peter and his brother Andrew jointly become the Messiah’s first apostles at the same point in time, or was it Andrew who became the Messiah’s first apostle and subsequently recruited his brother Simon?
(4) The conditions in which the Messiah found his first two apostles. Was it as they were entering their nets into the sea or was it as they were getting out of their boat in order to wash their nets after they had spent the entire night without catching any fish?
According to Ibn Hazm, one of these four confusing stories on the call of the first disciples of Jesus must be untrue. Such untruths, however, cannot be attributed to God, nor a Prophet, neither of any truthful person.
Ibn Hazm also points out that Saint John had translated the Gospel of Matthew from Hebrew to Greek and therefore he must have come across the differences in the two accounts. These clear contradictions are sufficient proof, Ibn Hazm claims, “that the Gospels are the works of accursed liars (min ‘amal kadhibin mal’unin).”7
- Edgar Krentz, The Historical Critical Method (Fortress Press, 1975), p. 4 [↩]
- Abdul Rashied Omar, Ibn Hazm On The Doctrine of Tahrif (unpublished thesis, 1992), p. 34 [↩]
- “Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee; And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying,The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up. From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him. And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them. And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him.” (Mt. 4: 12-22) [↩]
- “Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel. Now as he walked by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men. And straightway they forsook their nets, and followed him. And when he had gone a little further thence, he saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who also were in the ship mending their nets. And straightway he called them: and they left their father Zebedee in the ship with the hired servants, and went after him.” (Mk. 1: 14-20) [↩]
- “And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret, And saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets. And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon’s, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship. Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless, at thy word I will let down the net. And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake.And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord. For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken: And so was also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men. And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him.” (Lk. 5: 1-11) [↩]
- “Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples; And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God! And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye? They said unto him, Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwellest thou? He saith unto them, Come and see. They came and saw where he dwelt, and abode with him that day: for it was about the tenth hour. One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ. And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone.” (Jn. 1: 35-42) [↩]
- As cited from Abdul Rashied Omar, Ibn Hazm On The Doctrine of Tahrif (unpublished thesis, 1992), p. 34 [↩]