narrative of His Crucifixion, Burial, Resurrection, and Ascension could not be written
till after His Ascension had occurred. When there were so many men still living who had
seen and conversed with our Lord after His Resurrection (I Cor. xv. 6), it was not
necessary to compose books to inform men of what they were day by day hearing from living
witnesses (Acts i. 21, 22), who could be cross-questioned, as a book could not be. Besides
this, the Risen Lord had commanded His disciples to preach the Gospel (i.e.
the Good News), not to write it in the first instance. When we read St. Paul's Epistles we
see what that Gospel
(بشارة) was. We
must remember that the earliest of these Epistles (I
and 2 Thess.) were written only about twenty-two or twenty-three years after the Ascension
of Christ, and we see in these and the other Epistles of St. Paul the very same doctrines
which we Christians hold to-day.
When the first generation of Christians was passing away, God's Holy Spirit directed
the Gospels to be written for the benefit of posterity. St. Mark's was finished before the
fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., and probably between 65 and 66 A.D., at Rome. Mark was not
only a friend and companion of the Apostles and other early disciples, but he was always
in the early Church spoken of as the interpreter of St. Peter. The Gospel according to St.
Mark rests therefore, humanly speaking, in large measure on the information supplied by
St. Peter himself. Of course Divine Inspiration did not alter that information; it merely
directed Peter and Mark what to record and what not to record, bringing to Peter's
remembrance what Christ had said to him (John xiv. 26; xv. 26), and guarding him from
error. St. Matthew's Gospel was also written before 70 A.D.; St. Luke's Gospel probably
between 60 and 70 A.D.; St. John's between 90 and 100 A.D., when the "beloved
disciple" was a very old man. We have therefore two Gospels written by two Apostles,
Matthew and John, a third by the chosen friend of an Apostle and probably
at his dictation, and a fourth by Luke, the friend of St. Paul. Luke tells us that he had
most carefully, made inquiries about every matter he records (Luke i. 3, 4) from
eye-witnesses. There is no real doubt that much of what we read in the first two chapters
of his Gospel came from the lips of the Virgin Mary herself.
It may be objected that all this is not Inspiration. It is not such inspiration as is
imagined by some Muslims, who believe the story that the Qur'an was written down on the
Preserved Tablet ages before the creation of the world, and sent1 down to the
lowest heaven on the Night of Power, and then dictated to Muhammad by the Angel Gabriel
verse by verse, as occasion required. Inspiration of that kind seems to us Christians to
be most undesirable, and it is certainly incapable of proof with regard to the Qur'an, as
is shown in the book entitled "The 2 Original Sources of the Qur'an".
All thoughtful men will perceive that, even were we to suppose that any Holy Book was
composed in heaven in this way and sent down to men, it would be impossible to prove
that all this had really occurred. But the Christian view of Inspiration is that God Most
High, in causing a Divine Revelation to be written down for the guidance of men, used not
merely the Prophets' hands, but also their brains, minds, memory, intellect, spirits, so
that the message was God's, the words those of the writers (compare John xvi. 13).
We must here explain away a difficulty which stands in the way of many of our Muslim
brothers when seeking the truth. Some say, "The Injil which Christians now have
cannot be the Injil which was sent down unto Jesus, because there are now four separate Anajil
(اناجيل), not one Injil, and they were not composed