A Muslim listening to a church father
It was a fascinating and a captivating read, that which I found in an epistle attributed to Clement of Rome [30-100 A.D.]. Although the letter itself does not say who wrote it, and whether it was Clement or another person, Clement’s authorship is the prevailing view amongst Christian scholars.
In any case, and regardless of who wrote the letter, I found myself listening to a pious man, who clearly wanted to serve God, who distinguished between God the Most High, and Jesus the High Priest. He believed in resurrection of the Dead to be judged by God, believed in Heaven and Hell, preached righteousness and the avoidance of evil. I really enjoyed reading his words.
Well, … I think he was ….. a … Muslim.
Clement apparently thought of the Hebrew Bible as divine scriptures, he repeatedly referred to Sayings of Jesus [not fount in New Testament] as authoritative. Apostolic epistles were important to him but not divine nor inerrant. He mentions the Gospel but there is no mention of the documents known collectively today as the New Testament.
I have found very interesting quotations from this early church father, two passage that caught my attention. In the first passage he quotes Proverbs 1:23-31, but his quotation has a major difference from text found in all current translations:
Clement’s: “Behold, I will bring forth to you the words of My Spirit, and I will teach you My speech.”
The current translations is:
[Prov. 1:23] “If you had responded to my rebuke, I would have poured out my heart to you and made my thoughts known to you.” (NIV)
The remaining verses (24-31) are very similar to current translations, and tell of God displeasure with the Israelites for disregarding his teaching and ill treating his prophets. The only major difference is in verse 23 above.
In the Hebrew Bible, The Spirit of God is that which comes to the Prophets.
Clement’s citation of the verse mentions the future coming of a prophet who shall teach the Speech of God, i.e. something very similar to The Quran. It is also very significant that the ONLY missing leaf from the manuscript of this letter is the one IMMEDIATELY after this quotation. Why is it significant, because this where we could have seen his comments on the verses he just cited. What a great loss this missing leaf represents.