The "Paraclete" Is Not The Holy Spirit
In this article we can now discuss the famous "Paraclete" of the Fourth Gospel. Jesus Christ, like John the Baptist, announced the advent of the Kingdom of God, invited the people to repentance, and baptized them for the remission of their sins. He honorably accomplished his mission, and faithfully delivered the message of God to the people of Israel. He was not himself the founder of the Kingdom of God, but only its herald, and that is why he wrote nothing and authorized no one to write the Holy Gospel that was inscribed in his mind. He revealed the Gospel which meant the "good news" concerning the "Kingdom of God" and the "Pereiklitos" to his followers, not in writing, but in oral discourses, and in public sermons. These discourses sermons, and parables were transmitted by those who had heard them to those who had not. Later on it was that the sayings and teachings of the Master were reduced to writing. Jesus was no longer the Rabbi, but the Logos - the Divine Word; no longer the Forerunner of the Paraclete but his very Lord and Superior. His pure and true words were adulterated and mixed with myth and legend. For a time he was expected at any moment to come down from the clouds with legions of angels. The Apostles had all passed away; the second coming of Jesus Christ was delayed. His person and doctrine gave rise to a variety of religious and philosophical speculations. Sects succeeded one another; Gospels and Epistles under different names and titles appeared in many centers; and a multitude of the Christian scholars and apologists combated and criticized each other's theory. If there had been written a Gospel during the lifetime of Jesus, or even a book authorized by the College of the Apostles, the teachings of the Prophet of Nazareth would have preserved their purity and integrity until the appearance of the Periqlit - Ahmad. But such was not the case. Each writer took a different view about the Master and his religion, and described him in his book - which he named Gospel or Epistle - according to his own imagination. The high-soaring flight of thought concerning the Word; the prophecy about the Periqlit; the inexplicable discourse of Jesus upon his flesh and blood; and a series of several miracles, events, and sayings recorded in the Fourth Gospel were unknown to the Synoptics and consequently to a great majority of the Christians who had not seen it at least for a couple of centuries.
The Fourth Gospel, too, like every other book of the New Testament, was written in Greek and not in Aramaic, which was the mother-tongue of Jesus and his disciples. Consequently, we are again confronted with the same difficulty which we met with when we were discussing the "Eudokia" of St. Luke, namely: What word or name was it that Jesus used in his native tongue to express that which the Fourth Gospel has translated as "the Paraclete" and which has been converted into "comforter" in all the versions of that Gospel?
Before discussing the etymology and the true signification of this unclassical or rather corrupt form of the Paraclete it is necessary to make a brief observation upon one particular feature of St. John's Gospel. The authorship and authenticity of this Gospel are questions which concern the Higher Biblical Criticism; but it is impossible to believe that the Apostle could have written this book as we have it in its present shape and contents. The author, whether Yohannan (John) the son of Zebedee, or someone else under that name, seems to be familiar with the doctrine of the celebrated Jewish scholar and philosopher Philon concerning the Logos (Word). It is well known that the conquest of Palestine and the foundation of Alexandria by Alexander the Great opened up, for the first time, a new epoch for culture and civilization. It was then that the disciples of Moses met with those of Epicurus, and the mighty impact of the spiritual doctrines of the Bible on the materialism of the Greek paganism took place. The Greek art and philosophy began to be admired and studied by the Jewish doctors of the law both in Palestine and in Egypt, where they had a very numerous community. The penetration of the Greek thought and belles-lettres into the Jewish schools alarmed their priests and learned men. In fact, Hebrew was so much neglected that the Scriptures were read in the Alexandrian Synagogues in the Septuagint Version. This invasion by a foreign knowledge, however, moved the Jews to make a better study of their own law, and to defend it against the inauspicious new spirit. They endeavored, therefore, to find a new method for the interpretation of the Bible in order to enable the possibility of a "rapprochement" and reconciliation of the Biblical truths with the Hellenic thought. For their former method of a literal interpretation of the law was felt to be unworkable and too weak to stand against the fine reasoning of Plato and Aristotle. At the same time the solid activities of the Jews and their profound devotion to their religion often aroused against themselves the jealousy and hatred of the Greeks. Already, under Alexander the Great, an Egyptian priest, Manetho, had written libels or calumnies against Judaism. Under Tiberius, too, the great orator Apion had resuscitated and envenomed the insults of Manetho. So that this literature poisoned the people who, later on, cruelly persecuted the believers in the One true God.
The new method was accordingly found and adopted. It was an allegorical interpretation of every law, precept, narration and even the names of great personages were considered to conceal in them a secret idea which it attempted to bring to light. This allegorical interpretation soon arrogated to itself the place of the Bible, and was like an envelope enclosing in itself a system of religious philosophy.
Now the most prominent man who personified this science was Philon, who was born of a rich Jewish family in Alexandria in the year 25 before the Christian Era. Well versed in the philosophy of Plato, he wrote his allegorical work in a pure and harmonious Greek style. He believed that the doctrines of the Revelation could agree with the highest human knowledge and wisdom. What preoccupied his mind most was the phenomenon of the dealings of God, the pure Spirit, with the earthly beings. Following Plato's theory of the "Ideas," he invented a series of intermediary ideas called "the Emanations of the Divinity," which he transformed into angles who unite God with the world. The fundamental substance of these ideas, the Logos (Word), constituted the supreme wisdom created in the world and the highest expression of the Providential action.
The Alexandrian School followed the triumph of Judaism over Paganism. "But," as rightly remarks the Grand-Rabin Paul Haguenauer in his interesting little book Manuel de Litterature luive (p. 24). "mais d'elle surgirent, plus tard, des systemes nuisibles Li l'hebraisme" indeed noxious systems, not only to Judaism but to Christendom too!
The origin of the doctrine of the Logos is to be traced, therefore, to the theology of Philon, and the Apostle John - or the author of the Fourth Gospel, whoever he be - only dogmatized the theory of the "ideas" which had sprung up first from the golden brain of Plato. As remarked in the first article of this series, the Divine Word means the Word of God, and not God the Word. The word is an attribute of a rational being; it belongs to any speaker, but it is not the rational being, the speaker. The Divine Word is not eternal, it has an origin, a beginning; it did not exist before the beginning except potentially. The word is not the essence. It is a serious error to substantialize any attribute whatever. If it be permitted to say "God the Word," why should it be prohibited to say, God the Mercy, God the Love, God the Vengeance, God the Life, God the Power, and so forth? I can well understand and accept the appellation of Jesus "the Spirit of Allah" ("Ruhu l-Lah"), of Moses "the Word of Allah" ("Kalamu 'I-Lah"), of Muhammad "the Messenger of Allah" ("Rasul Allah"), meaning the Spirit of God, the Word of God, the Messenger of God respectively. But I can never understand nor accept that the Spirit, or the Word, or the Messenger, is a Divine Person having divine and human natures.
Now we will proceed to expose and confute the Christian error about the Paraclete. In this article I shall try to prove that the Paraclete is not, as the Christian Churches believe, the Holy Ghost, nor does it at all mean the "comforter" or the "intercessor;" and in the following article, please God, I shall clearly show that it is not "Paraclete" but "Periclyte" which precisely signifies "Ahmad" in the sense of "the most Illustrious, Praised, and Celebrated."
1. THE HOLY SPIRIT IS DESCRIBED IN THE NEW TESTAMENT AS OTHERWISE THAN A PERSONALITY
A careful examination of the following passages in the New Testament will convince the readers that the Holy Spirit, not only is it not the third person of the Trinity, but is not even a distinct person. But the "Paraclete" foretold by Jesus Christ is a distinct person. This fundamental difference between the two is, therefore, a decisive argument against the hypothesis of their being one and the same person.
(a) In Luke xi. 13 the Holy Spirit is declared to be a "gift" of God. The contrast between the "good gifts" which are given by wicked parents and the Holy Spirit which is bestowed upon the believers by God entirely excludes the idea of any personality of the Spirit. Can we conscientiously and positively affirm that Jesus Christ, when he made the above contrast, meant to teach his hearers that "God the Father" makes a gift of "God the Holy Spirit" to His earthly "children"? Did he ever insinuate that he believed the third person of the Trinity to be a gift of the first person of the Trinity? Can we conscientiously admit that the Apostles believed this "gift" to be God the Almighty offered by God the Almighty to mortals? The very idea of such a belief makes a Muslim shudder.
(b) In 1 Cor. ii. 12 this Holy Spirit is described in the neuter gender "the Spirit from God". Paul clearly states that as the Spirit which is in man makes him know the things that appertain to him so the Spirit of God makes a man know the things divine (1 Cor. 11). Consequently, the Holy Spirit here is not God but a divine issue, channel, or medium through which God teaches, enlightens, and inspire those whom He pleases. It is simply an action of God upon human soul and mind.
Just as the philosophy of Plato is not the Plato, and the Platonist Philon not the creator of that specific wisdom, so Peter was not God because of his enlightenment by the Spirit of God. Paul clearly sets forth, in the passage just quoted, that the human soul cannot discern the truths concerning God but only through His Spirit, inspiration, and direction.
(c) Again, in 1 Cor. vi. 19 we read that the righteous worshipers of God are called "the temple of the Holy Spirit" which they "received from God." Here again the Spirit of God is not indicated to be a person or an angel, but His virtue, word, or power and religion. Both the body and the soul of a righteous believer are compared with a temple dedicated to the worship of the Eternal.
(d) In the Epistle to the Romans (viii. 9) this same spirit that "lives" within the believers is called alternately "the Spirit of God" and the "Spirit of Christ." In this passage "the Spirit" means simply the faith and the true religion of God which Jesus proclaimed. Surely this spirit cannot mean to be the Christian ideal of the Holy Ghost, viz. another third of the three. We Muslims always wish and intend to regulate our lives and conduct ourselves in accordance with the spirit of Prophet Muhammad, meaning thereby that we are resolved to be faithful to the religion of Allah in much the same way as the Last Prophet was. For the holy Spirit in Prophet Muhammad, in Prophet Jesus, and in every other prophet was no other than the Spirit of Allah - praised be His Holy Name! This spirit is called "holy" to distinguish it from the impure and wicked spirit of the devil and his companions. This spirit is not a divine person, but a divine ray that enlightens and sanctifies the people of God.
(e) The Gospel formula, "In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit," even if authentic and truly prescribed by Christ, may be legitimately accepted as a formula of faith before the formal establishment of Islam, which is the real Kingdom of God upon earth. God Almighty in His quality of Creator is the Father of all beings, things, and intelligences, but not the Father of one particular son. The Orientalists know that the Semitic word "abb" or "abba," which is translated as "father," means "one who brings forth, or bears fruit" ("ibba" = fruit). This sense of the word is quite intelligible and its use legitimate enough. The Bible frequently makes use of the appellation "Father." God, somewhere in the Bible, says: "Israel is my first-born son"; and elsewhere in the book of Job He is called "the father of the rain." It is because of the abuse of this Divine Appellation of the Creator by Christendom that the Qur'an refrains from using it. From a purely Muslim point of belief the Christian dogma concerning the eternal birth or generation of the Son is a blasphemy.
Whether the Christian baptismal formula is authentic or spurious I believe there is a hidden truth in it. For it must be admitted that the Evangelists never authorize the use of it in any other ritual, prayer, or creed other than that of Baptism. This point is extremely important. St. John had foretold the Baptism with the Holy Spirit and fire by the Prophet Muhammad, as we saw in the preceding articles. The immediate Baptizer being God Himself, and the mediate the Son of Man or the Barnasha of the vision of Daniel, it was perfectly just and legitimate to mention those two names as the first and second efficient causes; and the name of the Holy Spirit, too, as the causa materialis of the Sibghatullah! Now the Divine Appellation "Father," before its abuse by the Church, was rightly invoked. In fact, the Sibghatullah is a new birth, a nativity into the Kingdom of God which is Islam. The Baptizer who causes this regeneration is directly Allah. To be born in the religion if Islam, to be endowed with the faith in the true God, is the greatest favor and gift of the "Heavenly Father" - to use the evangelistic expression. In this respect God is infinitely more beneficent than an earthly father.
As regards the second name in the formula, "the Son," one is at a loss to know who or what this "son" is? Whose son? If God is rightly addressed "Father," then one is curious, inquisitive, and anxious to know which of His innumerable "sons" is intended in the baptismal formula. Jesus taught us to pray "Our Father who art in heaven." If we are all His sons in the sense of His creatures, then the mention of the word "son" in the formula becomes somehow senseless and even ridiculous. We know that the name "the Son of Man" - or "Barnasha" - is mentioned eighty-three times in the discourses of Jesus. The Qur'an never calls Jesus "the son of man" but always "the son of Mary." He could not call himself "the son of man" because he was only "the son of woman." There is no getting away from the fact. You may make him "the son of God" as you do, but you can't make him "the son of man" unless you believe him to be the offspring of Joseph or someone else, and consequently fasten on to him the taint of illegitimacy.
I don't know exactly how, whether through intuition, inspiration, or dream, I am taught and convinced that the second name in the formula is an ill-fated corruption of "the Son of Man," viz. the Barnasha of Daniel (vii.), and therefore Ahmad "the Periqlytos" (Paraclete) of St. John's Gospel.
As to the Holy Spirit in the formula, it is not a person or an individual spirit, but an agency, force, energy of God with which a man is born or converted into the religion and knowledge of the One God.
2. - WHAT THE EARLY FATHERS OF THE NASARA (CHRISTIANITY) SAY ABOUT THE HOLY SPIRIT.
(a) Hermas (Similitude v. 5, 6) understands, by the "Holy Spirit," the divine element in Christ, namely the Son created before all things. Without entering into the useless or rather meaningless discussion whether Hermas confounds the Holy Spirit with the Word, or if it is a distinct element belonging to Christ, it is admitted that the latter was created before all things - that is to say, in the beginning - and that the Spirit in Hermas' belief is not a person.
(b) Justin - called the "Martyr" (100?-167? A.C.) - and Theophilus (120?-180? A.C.) understand by the Holy Spirit sometimes a peculiar form of the manifestation of the Word and sometimes a divine attribute, but never a divine person. It must be remembered that these two Greek fathers and writers of the second century A.C. had no definite knowledge and belief about the Holy Ghost of the Trinitarians of the fourth and the succeeding centuries.
(c) Athenagoras (110-180 A.C.) says the Holy Spirit is an emanation of God proceeding from and returning to Him like the rays of the sun (Deprecatio pro Christiarus, ix, x). Irenaeus (130?-202? A.C.) says that the Holy Spirit and the Son are two worshipers of God and that the angels submit to them. The wide difference between the belief and the conceptions of these two early fathers about the Holy Spirit is too obvious to need any further comment. It is surprising that the two worshipers of God, according to the declaration of such an authority as Irenaeus, should, two centuries afterwards, be raised to the dignity of God and proclaimed two divine persons in company with the one true God by whom they were created.
(d) The most illustrious and learned of all the ante-Nicene fathers and the Christian apologists was Origen (185-254 A C.). The author of the Hexepla ascribes personality to the Holy Spirit, but makes it a creature of the Son. The creation of the Holy Spirit by the Son cannot be even in the beginning when the Word - or the Son - was created by God.
The doctrine concerning this Holy Spirit was not sufficiently developed in 325 A.C., and therefore was not defined by the Council of Nicea. It was only in 386 A.C. at the second Ecumenical Council of Constantinople that it was declared to be the Third Person of the Trinity, consubstantial and coeval with the Father and the Son.
3. - The "Paraclete" does not signify either "consoler" or "advocate"; in truth, it is not a classical word at all. The Greek orthography of the word is Paraklytos which in ecclesiastical literature is made to mean "one called to aid, advocate, intercessor" (Dict. Grec.-Francais, by Alexandre). One need not profess to be a Greek scholar to know that the Greek word for "comforter or consoler" is not "Paraclytos" but "Paracalon". I have no Greek version of the Septuagint with me, but I remember perfectly well that the Hebrew word for "comforter" ("mnahem") in the Lamentations of Jeremiah (i. 2, 9, 16, 17, 21, etc.) is translated into Parakaloon, from the verb Parakaloo, which means to call to, invite, exhort, console, pray, invoke. It should be noticed that there is a long alpha vowel after the consonant kappa in the "Paracalon" which does not exist in the "Paraclytos." In the phrase (He who consoles us in all our afflictions") "paracalon" and not "paraclytos" is used. ("I exhort, or invite, thee to work"). Many other examples can be cited here.
There is another Greek word for comforter and consoler, i.e. "Parygorytys" from "I console."
As to the other meaning of "intercessor or advocate" which is given in the ecclesiastical word "Paraclete," I again insist that "Paracalon" and not "Paraclytos" can convey in itself a similar sense. The proper Greek term for "advocate" is Sunegorus and for "intercessor" or "mediator" Meditea.
In my next article I shall give the true Greek form of which Paraklytos is a corruption. En passant, I wish to correct an error into which the French savant Ernest Renan has also fallen. If I recollect well, Monsieur Renan, in his famous The Life of Christ, interprets the "Paraclete" of St John (xiv. 16, 26; xv. 7; 1 John ii. 1) as an "advocate." He cites the Syro-Chaldean form "Peraklit" as opposed to "Ktighra" "the accuser" from Kategorus. The Syrian name for mediator or intercessor is "mis'aaya," but in law courts the "Snighra" (from the Greek Sunegorus) is used for an advocate. Many Syrians unfamiliar with the Greek language consider the "Paraqlita" to be really the Aramaic or the Syriac form of the "Paraclete" in the Pshittha Version and to be composed of "Paraq," "to save from, to deliver from," and "lita" "the accursed." The idea that Christ is the "Savior from the curse of the law," and therefore he is himself too "Paraqlita" (1 John ii. 1), may have led some to think that the Greek word is originally an Aramaic word, just as the Greek sentence "Maran atha" in Aramaic is "Maran Athi," i.e. "our Lord is coming" (1 John xvi. 22), which seems to be an expression among the believers regarding the coming of the Last Great Prophet. This 'Maran Athi," as well as, especially, the baptismal formula, contains points too important to be neglected. They both deserve a special study and a valuable exposition. They both embody in themselves marks and indications otherwise than favorable to Christianity.
I think I have sufficiently proved that the "Paraclytos," from a linguistic and etymological point of view, does not mean "advocate, consoler, or comforter." For centuries the ignorant Latins and Europeans have been writing the name of Prophet Muhammad "Mahomet," that of Mushi "Moses." Is it, therefore, small wonder that some sturdy Christian monk or scribe should have written the true name in the corrupted form of Paraklytos? The former means the "most Illustrious, Praiseworthy," but the corrupted form means nothing at all except a standing shame to those who have for eighteen centuries understood it to signify an advocate or a consoler.