Sunday, 9 June 2019

Marrying one’s own daughter in Islam is HARAM!

Is it allowed in Islam to marry biological daughters produced out of adultery?
By Ibn Anwar
A couple of hours ago I saw a video on youtube of an unfair dialogue between the notorious Christian_Prince and brother Abu Shaab/The_Spirit_Of_Truth. The dialogue was conducted in Christian_Prince’s room on Paltalk. In that video Abu_Shaab was made to quote from Al-Qurtubi’s tafsir which apparently suggests that a man can get married to his daughter who is produced from adultery. Abu_Shaab was not allowed to fully explain the whole issue as he was dotted again and again by Christian_Prince the clown of Christianity. Christian_Prince gloated in the video like the clown that he is saying,”God allows him to have sex with his daughter by marrying her” and that “in Islam you can marry your daughter”. The tafsir of Al-Qurtubi is used to score these cheap worthless points. In this article we shall expose Christian_Prince for what he really is, a snake and a fraud!
First and foremost, I challenge Christian_Prince and his lackies to show me where Allah or God gave permission to marry one’s own daughters in the Qur’an. Trust me he will not be able to produce a single verse which says anything close to what he claims Islam allows. In fact, we read in the Qur’an:
 حُرِّمَتْ عَلَيْكُمْ أُمَّهَٰتُكُمْ وَبَنَٰتُكُمْ وَأَخَوَٰتُكُمْ وَعَمَّٰتُكُمْ وَخَالَٰتُكُمْ وَبَنَاتُ ٱلأَخِ وَبَنَاتُ ٱلأُخْتِ وَأُمَّهَٰتُكُمُ الَّٰتِي أَرْضَعْنَكُمْ وَأَخَوَٰتُكُم مِّنَ ٱلرَّضَٰعَةِ وَأُمَّهَٰتُ نِسَآئِكُمْ وَرَبَائِبُكُمُ ٱلَّٰتِي فِي حُجُورِكُمْ مِّن نِّسَآئِكُمُ ٱلَّٰتِي دَخَلْتُمْ بِهِنَّ فَإِن لَّمْ تَكُونُواْ دَخَلْتُمْ بِهِنَّ فَلاَ جُنَاحَ عَلَيْكُمْ وَحَلَٰئِلُ أَبْنَائِكُمُ ٱلَّذِينَ مِنْ أَصْلَٰبِكُمْ وَأَن تَجْمَعُواْ بَيْنَ ٱلأُخْتَيْنِ إِلاَّ مَا قَدْ سَلَفَ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ كَانَ غَفُوراً رَّحِيماً
Prohibited to you (For marriage) are:- Your mothers, daughters, sisters; father’s sisters, Mother’s sisters; brother’s daughters, sister’s daughters; foster-mothers (Who gave you suck), foster-sisters; your wives’ mothers; your step-daughters under your guardianship, born of your wives to whom ye have gone in,- no prohibition if ye have not gone in;- (Those who have been) wives of your sons proceeding from your loins; and two sisters in wedlock at one and the same time, except for what is past; for Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful” (Surah Al-Nisa’ 4:23)
The verse itself totally destroys Christian_Prince’s accusations. It categorically forbids marriage to daughters. But, one might ask what about Al-Qurtubi’s tafsir? Well, it is just that..a tafsir. And I know as pointed out by the tafsir of Qurtubi that there are scholars who claim that a man is allowed to marry the child who is conceived out of adultery because she isn’t really his daughter. However, this in truth is a very minority view. There is no explicit injunction anywhere in the Qur’an or Sunnah to support this position. It is claimed that Imam Al-Shafi’e gave his permission as seen in the tafsir of Qurtubi quoted by Christian_Prince. This view purpotedly from Imam Al-Shafi’e is fraught with problems. Firstly, according to Ibn Taimiyyah
هذا يقوله من ليس من أصحاب الشافعي وبعضهم ينقله عن الشافعي ومن أصحاب الشافعي من أنكر ذلك عنه
“That was not narrated from Al-Shafi’e companions. Some narrated that from Al-Shafi’e, and there are from his companions who rejected that he said that”. (Majma’ Al-Fatawa)
Even if one were to accept that Imam Al-Shafi’e actually gave such a fatwa it is as mentioned before a very minority view. As such, a Muslim is not obligated to adhere to it since 1. There is clear injunction against it from 4:23, 2. The majority of scholars from all the madhaheeb especially the Hanafiyyah, Hanbaliyyah and Malikiyyah agree against it. And in Islam we are commanded to hold fast to the majority.
“Follow the great mass (as-Sawad al-Azam) for he who kept himself away from it, in fact would be thrown in Hell Fire.” (Ibn Majah, Mishkat, 1/174)
Thus we see the overwhelming majority position:
It is haraam for a man to marry his illegitimate daughter, or his illegitimate sister, or his (illegitimate) son’s daughter, or his daughter’s daughter, or his brother’s daughter, or his sister who is illegitimate. This is the view of most of the fuqaha’.”
Al-Mughni (7/485)
It says in al-Mawsoo’ah al-Fiqhiyyah (36/210):
It is haraam for a man to marry his illegitimate daughter, because of the clear meaning of the verse (interpretation of the meaning):
“Forbidden to you (for marriage) are: your mothers, your daughters…”
[al-Nisa’ 4:23]
because she is his daughter in a real sense and in linguistic terms and she was created from his water (i.e. sperm), so the illegitimate son is forbidden (in marriage) to his mother.
This is the view of the Hanafis and of the Maalikis and Hanbalis.
Tafsir Ibn Kathir:
This honorable Ayah is the Ayah that establishes the degrees of women relatives who are never eligible for one to marry, because of blood relations, relations established by suckling or marriage. Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that Ibn `Abbas said, “(Allah said) I have prohibited for you seven types of relatives by blood and seven by marriage.” Ibn `Abbas then recited the Ayah,(Forbidden to you (for marriage) are: your mothers, your daughters, your sisters…) At-Tabari recorded that Ibn `Abbas said, “Seven degrees of blood relation and seven degrees of marriage relation are prohibited (for marriage).” He then recited the Ayah,(Forbidden to you (for marriage) are: your mothers, your daughters, your sisters, your father’s sisters, your mother’s sisters, your brother’s daughters, your sister’s daughters) and these are the types prohibited by blood relation.” (Translation of Ibn Kathir)
“It has been reported that Imaam Ash-Shaafi’ee, may Allaah have Mercy on him, permitted this. However, this is a weak opinion and it is not given any consideration.”
Tafsir Jalalayn:
Forbidden to you are your mothers, in marriage, and this includes the paternal and maternal grandmothers; and daughters, including their children, if they should lower themselves [to such standards]; …” (Tafsir Jalalayn)
Tafsir Qur’an Karim:
“In these verses Allah explains about women who are forbidden to a man in marriage, namely: your step-mother (father’s wife), your mother, your daughter …” (Prof. Dr. H. Mahmud Yunus, pg. 110, Tafsir Qur’an Karim)
Tafsir Ma’riful Qur’an:
“Similarly, if a person fathers a daughter by indulging in zina(fornication/adultery) with a woman, the girl thus born will be governed by the rule which applied to a daughter and marriage with her too will not be correct.” (Mufti Shafi’ Usmani, Ma’riful Qur’an, Volume 2, pages 376-377)
‘Umdat Al-Salik or Reliance of the Traveller which is a compendium of fiqh rulings is a collection of the most relied upon positions in the Shafi’e madhhab. There is not a single instance where it says men can marry their daughters if they are born out of wedlock. Instead it clearly states,

        … يحرم(بعنى التا، ثيم و عد م  الصحة)نكاح …والبنات

“It is unlawful (meaning both sinful and legally invalid) for a man to marry…the daughters…”(Reliance of the Traveller, p. 527)
The verdict is thus:
Islam PROHIBITS men from marrying their daughters. Nowhere does God allow such a thing. CHristian_Prince is a joke.
Allahu’alam Bisawab


Nice article mashaAllah. The hadith about sawad e azam is so important in order to stick to the straight path. By the way, what does the bible say about marrying daughters? Is there any verse in the New Testament that says marrying daughters is forbidden.There is a list of forbidden women in Leviticus 18:6-18 but I dont see daughter as a forbidden category, and I dont know if any other verse forbids sex with daughters. Even if there be a verse that says having sex with daughters is forbidden a smimilar command should be in the NT as well for it to be applicable to christians since as per christian doctrine after christ all unclean stuff have been made clean including pork, so what is stated in OT may not be applicable for them as they are under a new covenant.
But there is a problem, in the OT chapter genesis 19:30-36, God narrates a story of incest and ends it like this;
37: And the firstborn bare a son, and called his name Moab: the same is the father of the Moabites unto this day.
38: And the younger, she also bare a son, and called his name Benammi: the same is the father of the children of Ammon unto this day.
The narrator doesnt mention even once that such relations are a sin, infact to the reader it seems like the person narrating it is telling how things happen in a very calm and normal manner, in the way mothers tell bed time story for their kids. And when I combine it to Leviticus 18:6-18 , and find no reference of a daughter as illegal for sex, i fall in serious doubt. I hope I am missing something all this while coz no matter how hateful christians maybe,I still like to read the bible and would like to see nothing but good in it.
Lastly, I would like to know what christians have to say about this verse;
But if any man thinks that he is behaving himself unseemly toward his virgin daughter, if she be past the flower of her age, and if need so requires, let him do what he will; he is not sinning; let them marry” (1 Corinthians 7:36).
Different translations have different words used, so maybe bro Ibn Anwar can check whether the greek bible is similar to this translation or not. Thanks.

Saturday, 8 June 2019



A recent publication by Dan Brubaker has received quite serious praise from a crowd of individuals who do not seem to have read it and those that have read it cannot seem to articulate what about it was meant to be praiseworthy in the first place. Having read it myself roughly a week or two ago, I forgot about its existence as I was thoroughly nonplussed about its contents, I proceeded with my Ramadan (and subsequently my Eid) until today when I thought to myself that perhaps I can do a very brief review of the work in an effort to put to some use the time I invested in having read the very short book.
To begin with, I have had several interactions with missionaries who seem to consider this book to be one of the greatest literary pieces ever published, yet I cannot seem to find anyone who is able to explain to me why this is the case. Most of my conversations about this work have followed generally the same line of reasoning:
This book proves that the Qur’an is corrupt and has not been preserved!
Can anyone reference the page on which this claim is made?
This book is groundbreaking because it shows that the Qur’an has changes to it!
Changes in the sense that someone somewhere inserted a word or verse or chapter into one of these manuscripts which eventually came to be seen as part of the Qur’an today? No.
Changes that show the early Muslims had a different Qur’an!
A different Qur’an in what sense?
That it contained different words that they had to correct!
Do you mean the words which were omitted by the initial scribe, noticed and then corrected by the same scribe (or in some cases, later ones)?
Yes.That doesn’t make it a different Qur’an then, all that makes it is someone writing, making an error while writing and then correcting that error.
But it is an intentional change!
Well yes, I would imagine that if someone wrote something and realised they made an error that they would have intentionally chose to correct it.
He says that some of the corrections were later!
Not exactly, he only comes to this conclusion because the nib (writing tip of the writing instrument – think of a lead pencil’s point) was different, the same scribe could have had more than one nib, especially if they were untrained and prone to error, as some of the manuscripts clearly demonstrate some scribes were untrained. It is also possible that there was an initial scribe with one writing instrument (think of a pen, or a pencil), what scholars call the initial scribe or the prima manus and then there was a corrector or secunda manusreviewing the work of the first scribe who used a different nib or the same nib (but due to difference in writing ability their corrections were more noticeable). Therefore a difference in the nib (writing instrument) or in the stroke of the hand of the scribe (or corrector) would appear different but would not necessitate it being centuries later (that conclusion is a matter of interpretation and not one of a factual or immutable nature).
These are how most of my conversations have gone, indeed one specific conversation comes to mind where a missionary could not believe I had read the book so quickly because it took years of research to write. He could not grasp that a man can take 100 years to write a book, but that it does not mean it takes 100 years to read it. I have tried to understand what missionaries find so impressive about the book, it has been difficult to find one that has actually read it. I was able to find one and some of his reasons were as follows:
It is impressive because he shows that corrections were made.
Is he the first person in the world to recognize that authors (scribes) can make mistakes and then correct their mistakes?
Is he the first person in the world to study Qur’anic manuscripts?
Doesn’t he thank Islamic Universities, libraries and institutions for help with his manuscript studies?
Didn’t he claim to have consulted Islamic scholarly works on understanding some corrections?
So what exactly was impressive if he was not the first to notice any of these things and especially that he received help from pre-existing Islamic literature and Arab-Islamic institutions on this topic?
On the other hand however, what I have managed to notice is that from those who have actually read the very brief book, there is a trend they have all noticed. There are four things to note:
  1. These corrections were allegedly made in different cities.
  2. At different times.
  3. By different scribes.
  4. Towards the accepted Qira’at of the Qur’an.
If the argument was that the Qur’an which is read today was a recent invention (though this is not the argument he himself makes), then how is it possible for all of these different people, in different places, in different times to invent the exact same Qira’at of the Qur’an as we have it today? The only reasonable and sensible conclusion is because they had the same Qur’an, they could not all make the same corrections towards the text of the Qur’an as we have it today, if they did not know what the correct Qira’at of the Qur’an was in the first place. In other words his short book is not a proof of anything negative about the Qur’an, rather it is a proof that scribal errors made by unknown scribes (and in many cases, clearly untrained in Arabic nahw) were seen as such and did not enter into the authentic and well-known transmissions Qira’at of the Qur’an.
The fact that Muslims read these individual copies and went to the effort to ensure they were properly written, demonstrates their careful concern for the accurate transmission of the Qur’an, if they had left the errors without correction then that would have been a cause for concern. In many cases, Dan’s inability to understand Arabic nahw allowed him to choose examples which didn’t make much sense, especially in the cases where:
  1. The scribe omitted or repeated a word due to confusing it with another verse (homoeoteleuton or homoeoarcton).
  2. The scribe omitted or repeated a word due to copying the letters as shapes (unable to understand what they are writing, they are able to identify shapes but don’t know words or what the words mean).
  3. The owner preferring another Qira’ah and requesting it be changed to that reading.
What is perhaps the most intriguing is that these errors before being corrected were exclusively done to singular manuscripts which when compared to manuscripts from the same time period, it can easily be seen that contemporaneous manuscripts do have the correct reading and do not have the same error, thus certifying that these were not legitimate readings that were long forgotten, but that they were genuine errors that were supposed to be corrected.
All in all, nothing about the book is novel, nothing about it is ground-breaking and nothing about it affects any beliefs that Muslims have about the Qur’an, to the contrary it serves as a good evidence for the preservation of the Qur’an that after almost a decade of research for the sake of advancing Christianity, and with a team of volunteers behind him, he could find only 20 examples of corrections stemming from largely untrained scribes. On the other hand, that we have early manuscripts of the New Testament from professional publication houses (scriptoria) with text-clusters (multiple manuscript traditions from the same time period) showing significant and meaningful changes, and additions, demonstrates to us why the missionaries need to inflate meaningless corrections to obfuscate from the faith-crisis they are experiencing.
and Allah knows best.

Friday, 7 June 2019

Biblical Taqiyyah (Dissimulation)

The Bible teaches and promotes dissimulation
by Ibn Anwar BHsc. (Hons), MCollT
To accuse Islam of teaching dissimulation(taqiyyah) and its adherents of practising it is one of the most common tactics employed by critics and detractors of Islam in their relentless crusade to demonise the faith. Many Christians gladly hop on the bandwagon peddling the mantra at every street corner, shouting to one and all, “Muslims do taqiyyah. Never believe them!”.  Do Christians never lie? “No, real Christians will not lie!” answers the deluded cultic Christian. The more edified ones will concede saying, “yes, Christians do lie as well, but the difference between Islam and Christianity is that the Bible does not teach or promote lying in any way while the Qur’an and Sunnah do.” Really? Even a “white lie” is sinful according to the Bible? “Yes, even a white lie is wrong. No such thing as a white lie!” says the confident Christian.
In this article we will not concern ourselves with what taqiyyah truly means in Islam and whether its representation by its critics is accurate or not. That execrcise can be done at a later date. In the meantime, it is sufficient to mention here that most Muslims have never heard of the term in their entire life as is readily admitted by so called ex-Muslims themselves (refer to the video at the end of the article). In this article we will unpack the question of whether the Bible is truly immune from promoting dissimulation or deception. Our first subjects are Shiphrah and Puah, the midwives of Exodus 1. Who were these fine women exactly? Let us turn to Exodus 1:15-22.
The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, whose names were Shiphrah and Puah,“When you are helping the Hebrew women during childbirth on the delivery stool, if you see that the baby is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live.”The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live. Then the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and asked them, “Why have you done this? Why have you let the boys live?”
The midwives answered Pharaoh, “Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women; they are vigorous and give birth before the midwives arrive.”
So God was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became even more numerous.And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own.
Then Pharaoh gave this order to all his people: “Every Hebrew boy that is born you must throw into the Nile, but let every girl live.” (Exodus 1:15-22)
In summary, Pharoah instructed Shiphrah and Puah to murder newborn Hebrew male babies. They did not follow through with the order as they feared God. They let the boys live. The Phraoah found out that they did not complete their task and summoned them to answer for their failure. They feigned innocence and ignorance by deceiving the king that they could not reach the women on time when they gave birth. Their lives were clearly spared by their deception and God rewarded them for their deed without reproaching their lie in any way. Is this not a clear example of dissimulation? President of the Multnomah Bible College and Biblical Seminary in Portland, Oregan, Dr. Daniel R. Lockwood writes:
“The faith of the midwives, named Sephirah and Puah, is a breathtaking story (Exod. 1:15-22). Pharoah personally gives them their ghoulish assignment, probably to discourage any disobedience. But surprisingly they conspire to disobey Pharaoh and deceive him. And their plan works.
Furious, Pharoah declares an all-out genocide on Hebrew male infants. Yet he accepts the midwives’ story with little investigation, and we are privy to the reason why. These women fear the Lord and obey him; and, though they likely expect to die, God favors them with both life and prosperity.” [1] (emphasis added)
Biblical scholar Jopie Siebert-Hommes writes:
“Because the midwives fear Elohim, they allow the children to live. To them there is no room for killing a son.
Identifying the story as a ‘deception story‘, Culley maintains that the midwives ‘stand between the king and the people’.” [2] (emphasis added)
Siebert-Hommes also notes that it is due to their deed that they are praised writing that “The midwives alone earn themselves a name by their conduct”. [3]
Rabbi Drorah O’Donnel Setel commenting on Exodus 1 and the actions of the midwives identifies what they did as deception:
“Their work entails an understanding of the connection between transformation and risk, although the means by which they rebel against Pharaoh reiterates a biblical pattern of female deception…” [4]
A Theological Introduction to the Old Testament states:
“The Hebrew midwives, Shiphrah and Puah, deceive the pharaoh and thwart his genocidal command to destroy Israel’s male children (Exod. 1:15-22).” [5] (emphasis added)
It is clear then that most scholars do agree that Exodus 1:15-20 portray two women who saved children through deception. But does that mean that lying is permitted simply because those two women did it? We have already seen that Lockwood for one recognises that the women are blessed because of their deed which was without a doubt deception to reach a righteous goal. Why would God favour those who commit a heinous sin if indeed lying is in every case without exception a heinous sin? In Exodus 1:15-20 it is clear that not every kind of deception is dishonourable and condemned by God. There can be exceptions especially when life is at stake. Lockwood is not alone in his understanding. Conservative Jewish scholar and rabbi Reuven Hammer writes:
“Shiphrah and Puah, the Hebrew midwives who resist Pharaoh’s command to kill male babies, are the very symbol of righteous conduct (Exod. 1:17). They are given the highest compliment when the Torah says that “they revered God.”” [6]
Even the conservative apologist Norman Geisler acknowledges the deed of the midwives as a lie:
“Some would prefer calling this not a “lie” but an “intentional falsification.” Call it what we will, it does not change the fact that it would be morally wrong —unless, of course, one is obeying a higher moral law in so doing. I prefer calling it a “lie” so that it is clearly understood that lying as such (without a higher conflicting law) is wrong.” [7]
What Geisler is saying is that in a case where there is a higher moral law at stake the law on lying is superseded hence making it permissible. In the case at hand the sanctity of life and mercy supersede the general unlawfulness of lying. It is through the deception or manipulation of the midwives that God’s plan came to fulfillment as noted by The IVP Women’s Bible Commentary:
“Masters and mistresses of the art of manipulation abound in the biblical story. In some instances manipulation is condemned within the narrative —David’s attempt to manipulate Uriah after impregnating his wife or Jezebel’s orchestration of Naboth’s murder—but some manipulative measures enable the fulfillment of the promises to Abraham. This is true particularly of manipulative actions by women.
In almost all of these stories the character and role of the women as women enables their manipulation to succeed and God’s purposes to be fulfilled…Shiphrah and Puah are by virtue of their midwifery able to save Israelite baby boys…” [8]
Did God approve of their manipulation, dissimulation, lying, deception? According to the Christian and Jewish biblical scholars He certainly did. Elizabeth Cady Stanton in her The Woman’s Biblewrites:
“The children of Israel multiplied so rapidly that Pharaoh became alarmed, lest the nation should become mightier than the Egyptians, so he ordered all the males at birth to be slain. To this end he had a private interview with the midwives, two women, Shiphrah and Puah, and laid his commands upon them. But they did not obey his orders, and excused themselves on the ground that the Jewish women seldom needed their services. Here we have another example of women who “feared God,” and yet used deception to accomplish what they deemed right.
The Hebrew God seemed well pleased with the deception, and gave them each a house for their fidelity in saving the lives of his chosen children.” [9] (emphasis added)
Glen H. Stasses from Fuller Theological Seminary and David P. Gushee who is Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics at Mercer University write:
“Bonhoeffer’s stance can be supported by numerous biblical texts that explicitly or implicitly offer divine approval to acts of deception or even dishonesty in conditions of oppression, injustice or war. The most important of these is the story of the Hebrew midwives Shiphrah and Puah lying to Pharoah in order to save the lives of the male Hebrew babies ((Ex. 1:19); God responded by blessing them with children of their own.” [10] (emphasis added)
Stasses and Gushee in the above clearly recognise the biblical permissibility for lying and deceiving in certain cases of adverse difficulty in times of oppression, injustice and war. Why should God hold you accountable for saving a life even if it involves manipulation? If you were tied up by a Nazi officer who intends to kill your parents who are hiding in the basement and the Nazi believes that you know their whereabouts are you obliged to reveal their location and forbidden from giving the evil Nazi false directions through dissimulation? Any sane and reasonable minded individual will acquiesce that in such an instance it would be permissible, nay the right thing to do to mislead in order to preserve the sanctity of life which is one of the greatest gifts from God. And by saving your parents’ lives you would be upholding the age old command to “honour thy parents.”
Christian theologian and apologist Paul Copan writes:
The Hebrew midwives Shiphrah and Puah in Egypt (Exod. 1:15-21) engaged in deception. Because they “feared God,” they resisted Pharaoh, who wanted to put innocent Hebrew male babies to death. These women “did not do as the king of Egypt had commanded them, but let the boys live” (v. 17). When confronted by Pharaoh, they used deception: “Because the Hebrew women are not as the Egyptian women; for they are vigorous and give birth before the widwife can get to them.” The divine response? “God was good to the midwives”; and “because the midwives feared God, He established households for them” (vv. 20,21). Note the close connection between fearing God, resisting Pharaoh (including using deception), and receiving God’s approval” [11] (emphasis added)
Paul Copan agrees with the other Christian commentators and scholars that the reason why God blessed the two women is because they saved the Hebrew children through deception.
Commenting on the verses The Applied Old Testament Commentary states:
“Lying is almost always wrong in God’s sight, but there are rare exceptions. The Egyptian midwives deceived Pharaoh, but God honored them for it (Exodus 1:19-21)…” [12](emphasis added)
Let us now turn to our second case namely, Rahab of Jericho. In the story of Rahab and the two spies we see yet another clear example of deception that is not condemned, but is in fact regarded as an act deserving of praise. The story is found in Joshua 2:
“Then Joshua son of Nun secretly sent two spies from Shittim. “Go, look over the land,” he said, “especially Jericho.” So they went and entered the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there.
The king of Jericho was told, “Look, some of the Israelites have come here tonight to spy out the land.”So the king of Jericho sent this message to Rahab: “Bring out the men who came to you and entered your house, because they have come to spy out the whole land.”
But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them. She said, “Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they had come from. At dusk, when it was time to close the city gate, they left. I don’t know which way they went. Go after them quickly. You may catch up with them.” (But she had taken them up to the roof and hidden them under the stalks of flax she had laid out on the roof.) So the men set out in pursuit of the spies on the road that leads to the fords of the Jordan, and as soon as the pursuers had gone out, the gate was shut.
Before the spies lay down for the night, she went up on the roof and said to them, “I know that the Lord has given you this land and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you. We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Seafor you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed.When we heard of it, our hearts melted in fear and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.
 “Now then, please swear to me by the Lord that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you. Give me a sure signthat you will spare the lives of my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them—and that you will save us from death.”
“Our lives for your lives!” the men assured her. “If you don’t tell what we are doing, we will treat you kindly and faithfully when the Lord gives us the land.”
So she let them down by a rope through the window, for the house she lived in was part of the city wall. She said to them, “Go to the hills so the pursuers will not find you. Hide yourselves there three days until they return, and then go on your way.”” (Joshua 2:1-16)
In summary, the two spies found sanctuary in Rahab’s  house. The king of Jericho suspected that they had gone into her house and called on Rahab to give them over to him. Rahab hid them and lied to the king and misled him about their whereabouts. She then helped the spies to escape. Before they did escape however, we learn from the story the real motive behind Rahab’s deception to save their lives. Besides recognising the reality of the God of the Hebrews the reason why she decided to risk her life to save them by deceiving the king was because she wanted the lives of her family and herself to be spared when they the Hebrew people would conquer the land in the future. In short, God did not punish her for her deception that she constructed to save herself and her family, rather her name is preserved in Hebrews 11:31 and James 2:25. God saved her due to her deception which saved the spies.
Identifying Rahab as a true heroine Phyllis Silverman Kramer writes:
“Surely Rahab is to be classified as a heroine who acted independently, endangering her life three times for the spies: she first hid them among the flax of her roof (2.4), then deceived the king of Jericho by having him think he was pursuing the spies when actually they were still in her home (2.5-7), and finally helped them escape over the city wall (2.15). Rahab’s deception followed a motif seen in the books of Genesis and Exodus, where women lied in order to save someone. An example from each book was Sarah pretending to be Abraham’s sister, and Shiphrah and Puah telling Pharoah the Hebrew women delivered their babies before arrival.” [13]
Copan after commenting on the midwives writes about Rahab as well:
“The same is true of Rahab of Jericho (Joshua 2). She is commended elsewhere (Heb. 11:31; James 2:25) as one who displayed “faith” in God by hiding two Hebrew spies, deceiving the authorities, and sending the spies off in a different direction. According to James 2, she is praised in part for her deception: “she received the messengers and sent them out by another way.” [14] (emphasis added)
Stasses and Gushee utilises Rahab’s story also as an example of divinely approved act of dishonesty and deception:
“Bonhoeffer’s stance can be supported by numerous biblical texts that explicitly or implicitly offer divine approval to acts of deception or even dishonesty in conditions of oppression, injustice or war… Rahab the prostitute lied to protect the Israelite spies (Josh 2:4-6; cf. Heb 11:31).” [15](emphasis added)
Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at McMaster University Philippa Carter writes:
“Rahab is also a liar and a traitor— or more benignly, a part of the complex of biblical stories that relate how God’s plan is forwarded by means of deception. The biblical view of deception is complex. It seems that God can use even deception to forward divine purposes.” [16] (emphasis added)
The above shows that Carter agrees with the others that God Himself according to the Bible uses deception to fulfill His plan and reward Rahab with life and security for her deed  despite the fact that she was not a righteous saint. Conservative scholar and Professor of Bible at the conservative Moody Bible Institute, W. H. Marty  under the entry of ‘deception’ writes:
“Deception is the intentional misleading of another person through word or deed. Though deception can be used for good purposes (such as when the Hebrew midwives deceived Pharaoh to save the lives of the newborn makes [Exodus 1:19]), it is most often used to describe the unethical exploitation of another person or the teaching of erroneous doctrine.” [17]
It is clear from the above definition that some acts of deception are exempted from being labelled as evil or sinful. And the example Marty gives of one such deceptive deed that is regarded as good is the midwives of Exodus 1. He concludes his article with the following:
“Deceit, the deliberate misleading of another person, can serve good or evil purposes. When it is used for evil it is a deadly sin.” [18]
Lying according to Marty insofar that it serves evil purposes is sinful. If it aims at good and harms no one then it is permitted and is even classified as good.
Let us turn to our third case, 1 Kings 2:22 which is somewhat different from the previous two as here we have the biblical God actively participating and decreeing the deception Himself.
“”‘By what means?’ the LORD asked. “‘I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouths of all his prophets,’ he said. “‘You will succeed in enticing him,’ said the LORD. ‘Go and do it.'” (1 Kings 22:22)
In this narrative we find the biblical God commissioning a lying spirit to lie and deceive Ahab. The Christian apologist will shout, yell and stomp their feet saying that we are misrepresenting the verse and misinterpreting it. Anyone who reads the text for himself can see that the plain meaning that it imparts is that the biblical God directly commanded an entity to deceive someone. This is in fact a very Christian understanding and interpretation. Minister, theologian and Dean of Graduate Studies at the Christian college New Saint Andrews College, Peter Leithart writes:
“Dismissing the distinction between God’s permission and God’s doing as an “evasion,” Calvin insists that God does as he pleases, including in his dealings with Ahab: “Whatever men or Satan himself may instigate, God nevertheless holds the key, so that he turns their efforts to carry out his judgments. God wills that the false King Ahab be deceived; the devil offers his services to this end; he is sent, with a definite command, to be a lying spirit in the mouth of all the prophets.” This cannot be reduced to a bare permission: “It would be ridiculous for the Judge only to permit what he wills to be done, and not also to decree it and to command its execution by his ministers” (Calvin 1960, 1.18.1). Calvin’s suggestion that the volunteer deceiver is the devil cannot be sustained; but Calvin is right to insist that Yahweh wills to deceive Ahab. Yahweh does not merely step aside to permit the spirit to deceive Ahab, but actively solicits a volunteer and orders him to follow through with his plan. The deception of Ahab is an expression of God’s purpose, not mere allowance. [19] (emphasis added)
In the above we see that the great protestant father John Calvin strongly believed that God Himself instructed the spirit to lie and deceive to fulfill His judgment. Though the identification of the spirit may be questionable the interpretation is spot on as Leithart makes clear.
Even the conservative apologetic work Hard Sayings of the Bible whose goal is to clear up difficulties found in the Bible authored by such scholars as F.F. Bruce is forced to concede that the biblical God did indeed deceive Ahab and the plain meaning of the text shows that He did more than just permit the lying spirit’s mission:
“God can be described as deceiving Ahab only because the biblical writer does not discriminate between what someone does and what he permits. It is true, of course, that in 1 Kings 22 God seems to do more than permit the deception. Without saying that God does evil that good may come, we can say that God overrules the full tendencies of preexisting evil so that the evil promotes God’s eternal plan, contrary to its own tendency and goals.” [20]
Notable biblical commentators Jerome T. Walsh and Christopher T. Begg in the New Jerome Biblical Commentary comments on the verse:
“Micaiah’s third speech is unsolicited; he recounts a scene he witnessed in Yahweh’s heavenly court to explain the disagreement between his oracle and that of Ahab’s court prophets. The prophets are truly inspired; but the spirit sent by Yahweh is a deceiver. It is Yahweh’s purpose to mislead Ahab and so lure him to destructionYahweh’s opening question to the heavenly court is already duplicitous: “Who will lure Ahab to fall upon [i.e., both “attack” and “die upon”] Gilead Heights?” The prophets’ ambiguous oracle ( v 6) is due to the “misleading spirit” whom Yahweh commissions to the deed.” [21] (emphasis added)
Walsh and Begg are even more explicit in their recognition that the text says that Yahweh was duplicitous (deceiving) and commanded an entity to commit deception so that His plan can come to fulfillment.
Other examples of deception by God’s elect include 2 Kings 8:10, Jeremiah 38:24-27, 1 Samuel 16:1-5, 1 Samuel 21:1-3 and 1 Samuel 27:8-12. In all of these instances God did not condemn what they did in any way. The Christian now will be vexing and say, “But you see those are all in the Old Testament! We are now under the New Covenant and we follow the New Testament!” This is the kind of response one often gets from Christians when they are cornered by their own Bible which includes the Old Testament. However, we have saved the best for the last. We do in fact have an example from the New Testament as well. It comes from none other than Jesus himself in John 7.
“Go to the feast yourselves; I am not going up to this feast, for my time has not yet fully come.” So saying, he remained in Galilee. But after his brothers had gone up to the feast, then he also went up, not publicly but in private.” (John 7:8-10)
One does not have to be a biblical scholar to easily discern from the above narrative that Jesus tells his companions that he is not going with them, but immediately after they go he follows suit but does so quietly away from prying eyes. If this is not lying what is? The difficulty posed by the narrative was felt early on by Christian scribes and writers. If you were to compare the above verses which are taken from the New Revised Standard Version to other versions of the Bible you will see that there is a minor yet significant difference. While the above has Jesus saying “I am not going up to this feast” other versions add “not yet” to it hence dissolving the apparent difficulty and exonerating Jesus from deception. Admittedly there are very ancient manuscripts that attest the reading “not yet,” but they are not beyond suspect. Many scholars in fact dismiss them as later scribal alteration. Wayne Campbell Kannaday who is Assistant Professor of Religion and Philosophy at Newberry College, Newberry, South Carolina has an excellent detailed treatment on the subject. To objectively weigh the value of variant readings let us turn to Kannaday’s careful scrutiny.
Not to go” or “Not yet to go“? That is the question broached by the variant reading located at John 7:8. Does Jesus flatly deny that he is going to Jerusalem, or does he merely indicate a delay in his travels? Response to this question assumes some urgency when the reader notices in verse 10 that Jesus does, in fact, travel “in secret” to Jerusalem and arrives there shortly after his brothers. Of course, no problem exists if the reading οὔπω is regarded as “original,” as is indicated by several of our most reliable manuscripts; but if ουκ issued from the writer’s pen, the inconsistency between his words and deeds in verses 8 and 10 makes Jesus vulnerable to accusations of deceit, duplicity, or indecisiveness.” [22]
What we learn from the above is that if indeed Jesus did not say “I am not going yet” and simply said “I am not going” then Jesus can be construed as having deceived his brothers. In fact, the vast majority of scholars believe that “not yet” is a later addition of scribes who wanted to reconcile the clear difficulty that the verses pose. Kannaday continues:
“Substituting οὔπω in place of ουκ in verse 8, of course, resolves this problem, which is why the majority of scholars believe this to be the product of a concerned scribe. Yet, not everyone concurs. The UBSGNT Committee, in spite of Metzger’s confident assertion that οὔπω was early on introduced by a scribe seeking to ameliorate the conflict between verse 8 and 10, still assigns it to only a {C} rating.” [23]
Though a minority of scholars disagree with the conclusion that “not yet” is a later addition, the preeminent textual critic Metzger makes it plain that:
“The reading οὔπω was introduced at an early date (it is attested by P, ) in order to alleviate the inconsistency between ver. 8 and ver. 10.” [24]
His conclusion as stated by Kannaday is held by most scholars. Let us proceed with Kannaday’s evaluation of the external manuscript evidence.
“With regard to external evidence, Ernst Haenchen points out that οὔπω boasts an impressive set of credentials, among them P66 p75 B L T W. Other apparatus in addition marshal θ ψ 070 0105 0250 ∫1.13 Maj f g q syp.h ac pbo in support of οὔπω as “original.” Supporting ουκ in its claim to priority are some similarly reliable witnesses: א D K 1241 lat sy&c bo. Here, as is often the case, mainly “Western” witnesses (reading ουκ) oppose the remaining lines of transmission. Still, the most striking sources in support of οὔπω are the two ancient papyri, p66 and p75. The weight of their testimony requires closer scrutiny.
P66 is generally ascribed a date around 200 C.E.; the editors of P75 place it between 175-225 C.E. Both stand as ancient and important witnesses to the textual tradition. Scholars some time ago became mindful of the unparalleled excellence of the testimony shared by the pair of manuscripts, p75 and Codex Vaticanus (B), and frequently view it as representing the best type of the third-century texts. Some scholars even regard P75 as the de facto exemplar of Vaticanus. Perhaps, though, the p75—Vaticanus line of tradition is best understood as the quintessential representative of the “Alexandrian” text, which, it should be recalled, bears characteristics of a highly polished, skillfully edited text. P66, similarly, has been described as the product of a scriptorium, a composite recension manufactured by a “careless” scribe who was evidently correcting his own work against at least two other manuscripts. This copyist frequently abandoned Johannine style in an effort to impose on the text a more vernacular Greek, “thereby revealing at a very early period a scribal attitude that removes difficulties and seeks the best sense of the text rather than showing a rigid concern for the preservation of the ‘original text.'” Therefore, both P66 and P75 report a text that is both very old, on the one hand, but that bears marks of intentional shaping or polishing, on the other. Both papyri reflect the concern of their scribes to produce an improved (in their view) text, not just preserve an “original” one. This statement is not intended to diminish the importance of these papyri as witnesses. I simply mean to specify that no pair of manuscripts, even ones as old and reliable as these papyri, can be assumed to harbor the “original” text.
So we are left, as stated earlier with a familiar plight: a “Western” reading standing virtually alone against the rest of the corpus. Textual criticism, though, is not a numbers game; variants must be evaluated on the basis of the quality of witnesses and not their quantity. A Johaninne reading that locates its lineage in Sinaiticus, Bezae, and the Old Latin tradition bears a reasonable claim to antiquity, and a “Western” reading that does not reflect expansion or embellishment must be taken particularly seriously. In short, external evidence will not decide this case.” [25]
The above shows that just because there are very old manuscripts that contain attestation for “not yet” (οὔπω) that does not mean that they are original. The two manuscripts that are often used to propel the idea of the originality of “not yet” are evidently unreliable. It should be reiterated that most scholars affirm that “not yet” is an addition to the original text. Kannaday goes on to cite R. H. Lightfoot who favours οὔπω as the original word of the evangelist based on intrinsic probabilities. In opposition to Lightfoot, Kannaday cites Rudolf Schnackenburg who “finds this approach untenable…” Later, Kannaday cites C. K. Barret who agrees that οὔπω is not original and is a later insertion: “C. K. Barret on the basis of transcriptional probabilities expresses certainty that οὔπω represents the modification, one grounded in the efforts of early copyists to reconcile the “superficial contradiction” between verse 8 and 10.” [26] Kannaday also cites Raymond Brown who agrees with Barret and the others on the originality of ουκ over οὔπω. Though neither Barret nor Brown see the absence of οὔπω as proof of Jesus’ deception, they nevertheless agree that it is something that was added later.
Kannaday continues:
“Apart from the v. l. under dispute, οὔπω is employed in the Fourth Gospel ten times. Of those instances, a full half of them are associated with prophetic allusion to the hour/time of Jesus, and two others are related to things that occur when his hour does come (the giving of the Spirit and his ascension). Moreover, three of the four times the evangelist places the term on the lips of Jesus it is in the declaration, “My hour/time has not yet come.” Thus, the majority of the occurrences of οὔπω in the fourth Gospel refer to the hour of Jesus.
In terms of informing intrinsic probabilities, these data seem compelling. The writer-editor of the Fourth Gospel appears to have been very deliberate in his use of the term, οὔπω, incorporating it into his pronouncements about the hour of Jesus almost as a formula. This much seems evidence: the author of the Fourth Gospel consistently used  οὔπω whenever he wished to signal that the arrival of the καιρος was still pending; and, when the writer placed it on the lips of Jesus, the term is used exclusively in the sense of a prophetic formula.
Unless, of course, the occurrence in John 7:8 (first occurrence) is taken to be “original.” If this is so ἐγὼ οὔπω [rather than οὐκ] ἀναβαίνω εἰς τὴν ἑορτὴν ταύτην, ὅτι ὁ ἐμὸς καιρὸς οὔπω πεπλήρωται stands as the singular exception to John’s otherwise careful and reserved use of this term. Presumably, one could argue that it is the entire sentence that constitutes the prophetic formula, so that the Johannine pattern actually consists of a doublet form of  οὔπω. No such doublet appears, however, in John 2:4 or John 20:17, to cite just two examples. John’s pattern is that the prophetic formula punctuates the second half of a sentence; nowhere else does οὔπω invade the prefacing remarks of Jesus.
So the question remains. Is this the only instance in John’s narrative where he violates an otherwise carefully prescribes and consistent use of the term οὔπω? Is this the conclusion best drawn from the data that has been presented? Or is it more likely that οὔπω is not “original” in the first instance of 7:8, and that its entry into this verse us the result of a scribe’s perspicacity rather than the author’s lassitude? In my judgment, the latter appears more likely.” [27] (emphasis added)
Kannaday expertly shows that John methodologically uses “not yet” in specific cases that deal with prophetic pronouncements and that John 7:8 with οὔπω (not yet) singularly departs from John’s consistent use of the term. As Kannaday points out this is indicative of the fact that the evangelist most probably did not depart from his consistent method and that the use of “yet” in John 7:8 is a later scribal addition.
Further more, Kannaday makes an exceptionally important point in the following:
“On the other hand, ample reason to motivate an informed scribe to the effect this particular change in the text did exist in the form of a pagan intellectual who drew attention to this verse to the detriment of the Jesus movement. Among the extant fragments of his work that are most clearly attributable to Porphyry is one that called attention to his very verse, and called into question the Jesus described there. Here Porphyry noted that Jesus first denied that he would visit Jerusalem, but then proceeded to arrive there (John 7:8-10). His words have survived in Jerome’s Adv. Pelag. (II.17), and read as follows:
Jesus iturum se negavit, et fecit quod prius negaverat. Latrat Porphyrius; inconstantiae ac mutationis accusat, nescius omnia scandala ad carnem esse referenda.
Judging from these remarks, it is easily ascertained that Porphyry’s text read οὐκ in verse 8. Moreover, he percieved between verses 8 and 10 either a breech of etiquette or an act of erratic vacillation (inconstantiae ac mutationis). In either case, Jesus’ behavior as recorded in this rendering of John’s narrative hardly reflected that of a holy figure boldly and decisively executing a foreordained, divine plan. This passage, then, is a text that was specifically elisted by a pagan critic to denounce either the wavering disposition of Jesus or the historical infelicities of the gospel accounts. In any event, Porphyry adduced this text to the detriment of Christians.
The simple change of οὐκ (not) to οὔπω (not yet), however, effectively quelled any impression of inconsistent action on the part of Jesus as seen in the comparison of verses 8 and 10. No longer, then, did the text present Jesus one moment asserting his decision not to journey to Jerusalem, only to change his mind and go there; rather, through the technology of scribal revision, John’s narrative stated without equivocation that Jesus would not yet go up to Jerusalem along with his disciples, suggesting that he would, as he did, find his way there later. That move would have rendered impotent efforts on the part of pagan critics like Porphyry to adduce this text for antagonistic purposes.” [28]
It would seem that the preponderance of data rule in favour of Metzger. Kannaday as it appears concludes that it is indeed a scribal addition where οὔπω is concerned in John 7:8. The fact that someone as early on as the philosopher Porphyry could have picked up on the problem posed by John 7:8 without the addition of οὔπω shows that early scribes most probably reacted by substituting “not” with “not yet” to resolve the difficulty. Taking into consideration the historical propensity of early scribes to edit biblical texts to suit their agenda it becomes even more probable that John 7:8 with οὔπω is certainly a scribal addition. Without the saving value of οὔπω (not yet) in John 7:8 as Kannaday rightly points out,  “the inconsistency between his words and deeds in verses 8 and 10 makes Jesus vulnerable to accusations of deceit, duplicity, or indecisiveness.”James Ronald Royse cites the biblical scholar Comfort:
“Comfort, Encountering the Manuscripts, 286, states: “In John 7:8, the scribe added ‘yet’ to Jesus’ statement, ‘I am not [yet] going to this feast,’ in order to avoid any misconception about Jesus’ character.” [29]
Biblical scholars Keith Elliott and Ian Moir write:
“At John 7:8 do we read ‘I am not going to this festival’ or ‘I am not yet going to this festival’? The manuscripts divide between ouk (not) oupo (not yet). ‘Not’ (in Sinaiticus and Bezae) makes Jesus contradict himself – see verse 10- and thus might be the original, although many critics would prefer the alternative reading oupo in Papyri 66 and 75, Vaticanus and the Majority Text.” [30] (emphasis added)
As we have seen in Kannaday’s detailed treatment on the textual evidence for John 7:8, papyri 66 and 75 are suspect and cannot be used as definitive proof for the originality of οὔπω. In the absence of substantive backing for “not yet” and the retention of “not” we are reduced to Elliott and Moir’s recognition of Jesus contradicting himself which paves way for deception on his part. The plain meaning of the text does show that Jesus was being dishonest and deceptive which is what the early scribes noticed and that motivated them to change the text. Catholic author Stephen K. Ray recognises this as well as he writes:
“In fact, some of the Greek New Testament manuscripts appear to have been tampered with to “cover” for Jesus’ apparent dishonesty, by adding the word “yet”, as in, “I do not go up to the destival yet”.” [31]
New Testament scholars Eugene Boring and Fred Craddock in their The People’s New Testament Commentary plainly state that “yet” is a later scribal addition and having the verse with only “not” is the original:
7:8 (yet)Some manuscripts reflect scribal efforts to keep Jesus from contradicting himself or changing his mind, by inserting “yet” (see v. 10 and NRSV note) but the original text read simply “not.” As in 2:4-7 and 11:5-11, the point is not duplicity or pettiness, but the divine initiative so important to Johannine theology. Jesus never does anything at the behest of others but, as the one who represents God, acts only unilaterally.” [32] (emphasis added)
The reconciliatory excuse proposed above that “Jesus never does anything at the behest of others” is simply not true. In Matthew 15:22-28 Jesus after some prodding by the woman and his disciples gives in and responds to the woman’s petition. In Mark 5:22-23, Luke 8:41 and Matthew 9:18-19 we have Jesus answering the call of Jairus and agrees to do as he asks. In Mark 12:29-30 Jesus responds to a challenge levelled against him by a scribe. These and many other such examples indicate that Jesus did indeed perform deeds at the behest of others. Thus the amelioratory tact is untenable and duplicity on Jesus’ part according to John 7:8 remains strongly viable.
The late minister and Bible translator Jay P. Green says without any ambiguity that the verse as it stands without the addition of “yet” makes Jesus out to be a liar:
“Besides the instance of an omitted word making Jesus to be a sinner liable to Judgment (Matt. 5:22), there is another verse where six of the new versions make Jesus to be a liar. In John 7:8, in the NASK, NRSV, REB, NAB, GNB, CEV, by rejecting the little word yet (ouro – # 3768), Jesus is reported as telling a lie… The NASB, NRSV, REB, NAB, GNB, CEV, AND JWV all also have Jesus saying flatly: ‘I am not going up to this feast.’ By leaving out the word yet these versions make Jesus to tell a lie, as is proven by the fact that shortly thereafter He did go up to the feast.”[33]
John 7:8 shows that Jesus deceptively went to the feast when he had told his disciples that he would not go. In the foregoing discussion we have seen clear examples of deception on the part of major and well known biblical figures with many of their deceptive actions having been blessed by the biblical God. We have also seen a clear example of the biblical God ordering an entity to commit deception in order to deceive Ahab. Christian detractors should think twice before they try to attack Islam on dissimulation or taqiyyah as it is a practice that is deeply rooted in their own books, history and tradition.
Though we do not condone every single detail of the following video the so called “ex-Muslim” presenter does make an excellent case in refuting the nonsense that Muslims go around doing ‘taqiyyah’:

To be fair we should note that not all Christian thinkers believe that lying is permissible in certain circumstances. One such individual is Saint Augustine who was vociferously against deceit of any kind according to most commentators on his thoughts on the subject. That absolutist position however received little support from other Christians of his age. The textual critic Bart Ehrman in his recent publication Forgery and Counterfeit writes:
“When Augustine wrote his two famous treatises on lying — the two most famous discussions from all of Christian antiquity — he staked out clear and precise positions both on what constituted a lie (a fissure between thought and utterance that is evident to the speaker in an act of speaking undertaken precisely with the intent of creating the fissure) and when telling a lie was admissible (never, under any circumstances whatsoever). But it is important to recall, with Paul Griffiths, the most compelling commentator on Augustine’s position, that especially with respect to the latter point, “Few Christians agreed with him when he wrote.”
On the contrary there was a widespread notion among thinkers from Socrates to Chrysostom — that is, throughout the entire period of our concern, and considerably prior — that lying was in some circumstances acceptable and not, necessarily, morally condemned.
Christian authors could and did appeal to numerous instances from Scripture itself in order to justify their own practices of lying and deception (as Augustine notes, disapprovingly): the midwives of Exodus 1:15-22, who protected the Hebrew babies from the unjust wrath of Pharaoh; Abraham and Isaac, who saved their own skins, and the posterity of Israel, by lying about their wives (e.g., Genesis 22); Rahab, who lied about the spies in Joshua 2; Michal, whose deception in 1 Samuel 19:11 saved David, the father of the future messiah; Jonathan, who lied to protect him a chapter later; and Jesus himself, who declared he was not going to Jerusalem in John 7, knowing full well that he was; and after his resurrection when he deceived his two followers on the road to Emmaus by assuming a false appearance in Luke 24. Even God is said to have employed deception in Scripture, most famously in Jeremiah’s lament, “O Lord, you have deceived me and I have been deceived” (Jer. 20:7).
We do not know, of course, what explanations or excuses forgers made to themselves when they engaged in their acts of conscious deception. But it has plausibly been argued by such scholars as Norbert Brox and Armin Baum that these authors — some of them? most of them? — subscribed to the secular and biblical idea of the “noble lie” — that it was better in some circumstances to practice deception so that a greater good might result. As Brox stresses:
Notions that those kinds of deceptions, lies, and tricks carried out for the sake of truth and for the effective communications of truth, were expressly permitted were widespread, even if other contemporaries held different views… Thus we cannot continue to say that all forgers (including Christian ones) must have forged with a troubled conscience. [34] (emphasis added)
What we learn from Ehrman is that many if not most Christian thinkers and teachers dissented from Augustine’s absolutist approach and felt that in certain occasions to weave a lie is permissible. These included among others Origen, Didymus, Chrysostom, Jon Cassian and Theodoret. [35]
The fact that the master theologian Origen permitted deceit is also mentioned in the A General Index to the Paublications of the Parker Society and it also mentions that another major church father Jerome followed the same view along with Tyndale and the prominent Catholic intellectual body the Jesuits:
“Lying… allowed by Turks and Jesuits, Rog. 120; Origen permitted lying in some cases, and Jerome seems to follow him, 2 Bul. 115; Tyndale thinks there are cases in which dissembling is allowable, 2 Tyn. 57;…” [36]
The Catholitc Encyclopedia also notes:
“Origen quotes Plato and approves of his doctrine on this point (Stromata, VI). He says that a man who is under the necessity of lying should diligently consider the matter so as not to exceed. He should gulp the lie as a sick man does his medicine. He should be guided by the example of Judith, Esther, and Jacob. If he exceed, he will be judged the enemy of Him who said, “I am the Truth.” St. John Chrysostom held that it is lawful to deceive others for their benefit, and Cassian taught that we may sometimes lie as we take medicine, driven to it by sheer necessity.” [37]
Declared as Doctor of the Church Saint John Chrysostom who was  Archbishop of Constantinople as mentioned above taught that lying in certain cases is allowed. In fact, he not only believed in its permissibility, rather as we shall see he also considered it a noble practice in an appropriate context. Let us refer to his own words:
“But my admirable and excellent Sir, this is the very reason why I took the precaution of saying that it was a good thing to employ this kind of deceit, not only in war, and in dealing with enemies, but also in peace, and in dealing with our dearest friends.
Do you see the advantage of deceit? And if any one were to reckon up all the tricks of of physicians the list would run on to an indefinite length. And not only those who heal the body but those who attend to the diseases of the soul may be found continually making use of this remedy. Thus the blessed Paul attracted those multitudes of Jews: with this purpose he circumcised Timothy, although he warned the Galatians in his letter that Christ would not profit those who were circumcised. For this cause he submitted to the law, although he reckoned the righteousness which came from the law but loss after receiving the faith in Christ. For great is the value of deceit, provided it be not introduced with a mischievous intention.
And often it is necessary to deceive, and to do the greatest benefits by means of this device, whereas he who has gone up by a straight course has done great mischief to the person whom he has not deceived.” [38] (emphasis added)
Chrysostom felt unabashed to champion the cause of deception as we see in the above quotation. What is also very interesting is that he uses Paul as one of his examples to illustrate the goodness of deception in certain cases. Chrysostom is in accord with Muslims who indicate instances in Paul’s letters and elsewhere of his cunning and deceptive methods (Philippians 1:18, 2 Corinthians 12:16 and Romans 3:7).
Bishop of Caesarea Eusebius who is dubbed “Father of Church History” is another major patristic figure who also permitted lying. Edward Gibbon the noted historian comments and reports from Eusebius:
“I shall only observe, that the bishop of Caesarea seems to have claimed a privilege of a still more dangerous and extensive nature. In one of the most learned and elaborate works that antiquity has left us, the thirty-second chapter of the twelfth book of his Evangelical Preparation bears for its title this scandal proposition, “How it may be lawful and fitting to use falsehood as a medicine, and for the benefit of those who want to be deceived.”Ὅτι δεήσει ποτὲ τῷ ψεύδει ἀντὶ φαρμάκου χρῆσθαι ἐπ´ ὠφελείᾳ τῶν δεομένων του τοιουτου τροπου” (Page 365, edit. Graec. Rob. Stephani. Paris, 1544.)” [39] (emphasis added)
Some Christian apologists have tried to exonerate Eusebius from the idea that he promoted deception in a number ways. New Testament historian Michael Licona and the New Testament scholar Gary Habermas in their The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus (pp. 274-277) have both tried to assuage the plain meaning of the text by arguing that the context of the chapter does not promote deception, but something other than that. They also suggest a different translation for the word “falsehood” in the verse to “useful fiction” appealing to one translator. In our view after reading their explanation carefully it is hardly convincing and seems quite disingenuous. Michael Licona’s desperation to clear up Eusebius’ name is evidently clear elsewhere as we shall see. It is not the context of “”How it may be lawful and fitting to use falsehood as a medicine, and for the benefit of those who want to be deceived.” that determines a different interpretation than the obviously plain meaning of the title , but rather Mike Licona’s preconceived bias which is self-evident in the following:
“So I hope we can lay to rest this crazy thought that Christians, including me, think it is okay to lie to others to accomplish good. Christians do not believe this, as is clear throughout our scripture.” [40]
The above is Licona’s conclusion in a Q & A session after answering a question on the claim that Eusebius permitted lying. It is his uncompromising belief that it is inconceivable for Christians to lie that motivates him to believe that Eusebius did not mean deceive when he wrote the word deceive. It is a delusion of the highest order to believe that Christians do not lie or believe in lying as we have clearly proven that they certainly do in the foregoing discussion. It is not only conceivable but probable that Eusebius believed deceiving meant deceiving when he used the word in the title in question especially in light of the fact that his own hero (refer to the Catholic Encyclopedia which describes Origen as Eusebius’ hero) Origen taught just that. Moreover, at the time hardly anyone sided with the absolutist viewpoint that lying is always wrong no matter what as was later prescribed by Augustine. It was a commonly held position that lying in duress or to promote Christian ideology was allowed and not blameworthy as Ehrman notes in his work above. In addition, American theologian, minister and academic Timothy Dwight who was also the president of Yale University writes:
“There have not been wanting persons in every age, who have holden the doctrine, that Lying is in some cases lawful. Among these, have been many professed Moralists, and at least some Divines. Particularly, the very respectable Writer, whose opinions I have several times questioned, Archdeacon Paley has taught this doctrine in form in his system of Moral Philosophy. At the head of these men we find the celebrated name of Origen. This Father, with an indistinctness of discernment, which characterizes not a small number of early writers in the Christian Church, as well as most others at the same period, appears to have believed, that a falsehood might be lawfully told, in order to promote the cause of Christianity.” [41] (emphasis added)
Licona is clearly misguided in his false belief that Christians do not believe that lying is permissible in order to advance Christian causes or to protect life under duress. Let us move a few centuries forward. Thomas Aquinas is another important figure in Christian thought. Though Acquinas is often identified as an absolutist when it comes to the question of lying, he does not in fact label every kind of lying as mortal sin as he writes, “But a lie is not always a mortal sin.” [42]
Commenting on Aquinas’ position Herant Katchadourian writes:
“St. Thomas Aquinas had a more qualified view and subsumed lies under three categories: lies that serve a good purpose; lies told in jest; and lies that are malicious and do harm. Only the last constituted a mortal sin; the first two could be pardoned.” [43]
The celebrated Saint Alfonso Liguori who was an Italian theologian and Catholic bishop believed that equivocation which means “to use equivocal language especially with intent to deceive” (Merriam-Webster dictionary) is in some cases permitted. John Henry Newman writes:
“St. Alfonso Liguori, it cannot be denied, lays down that an equivocation, that is, a play upon words, in which one sense is taken by the speaker, and another sense intended by him for the hearer, is allowable, if there is a just cause, that is, in a special case, and may even be confirmed by an oath.” [44]
Saint Ignatius Loyola who is the patron saint of many Catholics is quoted to have said:
“We should always be disposed to believe that which appears to us to be white is really black, if the hierarchy of the church so decides.” [45]
The father of the reformation Martin Luther himself condoned lying:
“What harm would it do, if a man told a good strong lie for the sake of the good and for the Christian church… a lie out of necessity, a useful lie, a helpful lie, such lies would not be against God, he would accept them.” [46]
The Dictionary of Biblical Imagery under the entry Stories of Deception which gives a non-exhaustive list of stories about deception in the Bible after including the Egyptian midwives of Exodus 1 as one of the examples states the following:
In the Bible then, deception can be either good or bad. It can be God’s means of deliverance and retribution on evil kings or nations. ” [47] (emphasis added)
Rodney Basset, David Basinger and Paul Livermore in the Psychology & Christianity Integrationwrite:
“There are three types of cases, then, in which a form of deceit is approved within Scripture and Christian theology: (1) Deception may be necessary to protect life or the integrity of life. (2) God may deceive a person who had determined to go contrary to the divine will in order to further his plan of salvation. (3) Deception may be used to test or reveal the truth about character and behavior.” [48]
In The Friend. A Religious and Literary Journal edited by Robert Smith we read the following:
“If wars are to be waged at all, they must be carried on by such means as their nature demands. Falsehood to any extent, when required for the purpose of deceiving an enemy, must be tolerated. In fact, the necessity of of uttering falsehood in order to carry on the stratagems of war, is assigned, by Milton, to show, not that wars are anti-christian, but that uttering falsehood, with the unquestionable intention to deceive, is sometimes justifiable.” [49]
The well known conservative Christian apologist Norman Geisler whom we have already cited in the main text elsewhere writes:
“…the Bible indicates that there are occasions when intentional falsifying (lying) is justifiable. Rahab intentionally deceived to save the lives of Israel’s spies and was immortalized in the spiritual hall of fame (Heb. 11). Nowhere does the Bible condemn Rahab for this deception; second her falsehood was an integral part of the act of mercy she showed in saving the spies’ lives; third, , the Bible says, “Rahab … shall be spared, because she hid the spies we sent” (Josh 6:17). But the real concealment was accomplished by deceiving the authorities at her door.God blessed her because of the deception, not in spite of it. Hence, her “lie” was an integral part of her faith, for which God commanded her (Heb. 11:31; James 2:25).
In the story of the Hebrew midwives we have an even clearer case of divinely approved lying to save a life. For Scripture says, “God dealt well with the midwives; and … he gave them families” (Exod. 1:20-21 RSV). Nowhere in the text does God ever say they were blessed only for their mercy and in spite of their lie. Indeed, the lie was part of the mercy shown. For mercy sometimes supersedes Justice (James 2:13).” [50] (emphasis added)
In the above we learn that Geisler understands that the cases of the midwives and Rahab are clear examples of deception used for righteous purposes. He disagrees with Augustine’s understanding that the blessing given to the midwives was simply on the mercy they showed and not with the act of deception which as Geisler points out is integral to the application of mercy that they displayed. Geisler makes it clear that God blessed their lying/deceiving action as a good thing and rewarded them for it. Saving a life then is paramount and if lying facilitates the protection of life then it is justifiable and good.
Bernard Hoose cites Ronald Preston in his article Truth and lies in the book Christian Ethics: An Introduction:
“It seems clear that there are occasions when it is right to tell a lie, but most of the time people tell lies when they should not.” [51]
The above shows that lying is not in and of itself evil and sinful. Rather, there are appropriate instances when lying is justifiable and there are instances when it is not.
The so called “Shakespeare of Divines”, theologian of the Church of England  Lord Bishop of Down, Connor and Dromore, Jeremy Taylor writes:
“To tell a lie for charity, to save a man’s life, the life of a friend, of a husband, or a prince, of a useful and a public person, —hath not only been done in all times, but commended by great and wise and good men. Ου νέμεσις χαϊ ψευδός υπέρ ψυχής αγορείειν, “To tell a lie to save a life is no harm,” said old Pisander. Thus the Egyptian midwives are commended, because by their lie they saved the Israelitish infants: “O magnum humanitatis ingenium! O pium pro salute mendacium.” says St. Austin of them: “It was an excellent invention of kindness, and a pious lie for the safety of the innocentes:” and St. Ambrose and St. Jerome commend them so, that they supposed them to receive eternal rewards. The same was the case of Rahab; to whom it should seem that Phinehas who was one of the spies, had given instruction and made in her fair dispositions to tell a lie for their concealment. For when she had hidden Caleb, Phinehas said to her, “Ego sum sacerdos.’ Sacerdotes vero, quippe angelorum similes. si volam, aspectabiles suntl si nolunt, non cernuntur.” She made no use of that, but she said directly they were gone away. Concerning which lie of hers St. Chrysostom cries out, “Ω καλου ψευδος, ω καλου … ου προδιδοντος τα εια αλλα Φυλαττοντος την ευσι βειαν, “O excellent lie! O worthy deceit of her that did not betray the divine persons, but did retain piety!” thus we find St. Felix telling a lie to save his life from the heathen inquisitors.
Felicem sitit impietas ——
Felicemque rogant, Felix ubi cernitur: et non
Cernitur ipse, nec ipse ver est, cum sit prope. longe est.
——— persensit et ipse faventis
Concilium Christi, ridensque rogantibus infit,
“Nescio Felicem quem quaeritis:” ilicet illi
Praetereunt ipsum; discedit at ille platea,
Illudente canes Domino frustratus hiantes.
They asked where Felix was; himself answered, that “he knew not Felix whom they looked for:” and yet no man finds fault with this escape. “Deceptio et mendacium semper alias mala res, tunc tantum sunt usui quando pro remedio sunt amicis curandis, aut ad vitandum apud hostes periculum:” they are the word of Celcus in Origen: “A lie is otherwise evil, only it is then useful when it is for remedy to cure the evils of ours friends, or to avoid the evils from our enemies.” [51]
What is interesting about the above is that we have a quotation from Augustine  cited by Taylor that seems to suggest that he was not after all completely against the idea of lying. The addendum has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that the practice of deception is a deeply rooted Christian tradition that can be traced back to the early days of Christianity. Major Christian thinkers and figures have all conceded and some even excitedly promoted the idea that deception, dissimulation and lying in certain cases are not only permitted, but also highly praiseworthy.

[1] Lockwood, D. R. (2012). Unlikely Heroes: Ordinary People with Extraordinary Faith A Biblical and Personal Reflection on Hebrews 11. Portland, Oregan: Multnomah University. p. 187
[2] Siebert-Hommes, J. (1998). Let the Daughters Live! The Literary Architecture of Exodus 1-2 as a Key for Interpretation (Janet W. Dyk, trans.). The Netherlands: Koninklijke Brill. p. 113
[3] Ibid. pp. 112-113
[4] Setel, D. O. (1998). Exodus. In Carol A. Newsom & Sharon H. Ringe (eds.), Women’s Bible Commentary. Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press. p. 34
[5] Birch, B. C., Brueggemann, W., Frethem, T. E. & Petersen, D. L. (2005). A Theological Introduction to the Old Testament. Nashville, Tennessee: Abingdon Press.
[6] Hammer, R. ( 2011). The Torah Revolution: Fourteen Truths that Changed the World. Woodstock, Vermont: Jewish Lights Publishing. p. 87
[7] Geisler, N. (1981). Options in Contemporary Christian Ethics. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books. p. 91
[8] Powell, C. M. (2001). Ephesians. In Catherine Clark Kroeger & Mary J. Evans, The IVP Women’s Bible Commentary. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press. p. 700
[9]  Stanton, E. C. (1895). The Book of Exodus. In The Woman’s Bible. New York: European Publishing Company. pp. 69-70
[10] Stasses, G. H, & Gushee, D. P. (2002). Kingdom Ethics: Following Jesus in Contemporary Context. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press. pp. 386-387
[11] Copan, P. (2008). When God Goes to Starbucks: A Guide to Everyday Apologetics. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books. p. 34
[12] Kramer, P. S. (2000). Rahab: From Peshat to Pedagogy, or: The Many Faces of a Heroine. In George Aichele (ed.), Culture, Entertainment and the Bible. Sheffield, England: Sheffield Academic Press Ltd. p. 157
[12] Hale, T. & Thorson, S. (2007). The Applied Old Testament Commentary: Applying God’s Word to your Life. Great Britain: David C. Cook. p. 448 fn. 14
[14] Copan, P. Op. Cit.
[15] Stasses, G.H., & Gushee, D. P. Op. Cit.
[16] Carter, P. (2001). Joshua. In Catherine Clark Kroeger & Mary J. Evans, The IVP Women’s Bible Commentary. Op. Cit. p. 119
[17] Marty, W. H. (2004). Deception. In Tim Lahaye & Ed Hindson (eds.), The Popular Encyclopedia of Bible Prophecy. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers. p. 77
[18] Ibid. p. 78
[19] Leithart, P. J (2006). 1 & 2 Kings: Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible.Grand Rapids, Michigan: Brazos Press.
[20] Kaiser Jr., W. C. K., Davids P. H., Bruce, F. F. & Brauch, M. T. (1996). Hard Sayings of the Bible. Downers Grove, Illinois: Intervarsity Press. p. 230
[21] Walsh, J. T. & Begg, C. T. (1990). 1-2 Kings. In Raymond E. Brown, Joseph A. Fitzmyer & Roland E. Murphy (Eds.), The New Jerome Biblical Commentary. New Jersey: Prentice Hall. p. 174
[22] Kannaday, W. C. (2004). Apologetic Discourse and the Scribal Tradition: Evidence of the Influence of Apologetic Interests on the Text of the Canonical Gospels. Atlanta, Georgia: Society of Biblical Literature. p. 91
[23] Ibid.
[24] Metzger, B. (2002). A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament. Stuttgart, Germany: Deutsche Bibeldesellschaft. p. 216
[25] Kannaday, W. C. Op. Cit. pp. 91-92
[26] Ibid. p. 93
[27] Ibid. pp. 95-96
[28] Ibid. pp. 96-97
[29] Royse, J. R. (2008). Scribal Habits in Early Greek New Testament Papyri. The Netherlands: Koninklijke Brill. p. 541 n. 738
[30] Elliott, K. & Moir, I. (1995). Manuscripts and the Text of the New Testament. London: T&T Clark Ltd. p. 54
[31] Ray, S. K. (2002). St. John’s Gospel: A Bible Study Guide and Commentary for Individuals and Groups. San Francisco: Ignatius Press. p. 175
[32] Boring, M. E., & Craddock, F. B. (2004). The People’s New Testament Commentary. Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press. p. 312
[33] Green, J. P. (1994). The Gostics, The New Versions, and The Deity of Christ. Lafayette, Indiana: Sovereign Grace Publishers. p. 108
[34] Ehrman, B. D. (2013). Forgery and Counterforgery: The Use of Literary Deceit in Early Christian Polemics. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 134-136
[35] Ibid. p. 134 n. 134
[36] Gough, H. (n.d.). A General Index to the Publications of the Parker Society. London: Cambridge University Press. p. 502
[37] Anon. (n.d.). Lying. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. Retrieved from
[38] Chrysostom, J. (2007). Treatise Concerning the Christian Priesthood (W. R. W. Stephens, trans.). In Philip Schaff (ed.), Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers First Series Volume IX. New York: Cosimo Inc. p. 38; See also Ehrman, B. D. Ibid. pp. 545-546
[39] Gibbon, E. (n.d.). The Miscellaneous Words of Edward Gibbon, Esq. London: B. Blake. pp. 766-767
[40] Licona, M. R. (2006). Paul Meets Muhammad: A Christian-Muslim Debate on the Resurrection. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books. p. 82
[41] Dwight, T. (1825). Theology; Explained and Defended, in a Series of Sermons, Vol. III. New-Haven: S. Converse. p. 496
[42] Acquinas, T. (2007). Summa Theologica, Volume V – Part III, Second Section & Supplement. New York: Cosimo Inc. p. 2800
[43] Katchadourian, H. (2009). The Bite of Conscience: Guilt. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press. p. 44
[44] Newman, J. H. (2006). Apologia pro Via Sua. Middlesex: The Echo Library. p. 177
[45] O’Clock, G. D. (2005). Isaiah’s Leper: A Catholic Asks the Question: “Would Jesus Have Anything to do With the Roman Catholic Church?”. Lincoln, Nebraska: iUniverse. p. 48
[46] Given, M. D. (2001). Paul’s True Rhetoric: Ambiguity, Cunning and Deception in Greece and Rome. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Trinity Press International. p. p. 81 n. 170; See also Katchadourian, H. ibid.
[47] Anon. (1998). Stories of Deception. In Leland Ryken, James C. Wilhoit & Tremper Longman III, Dictionary of Biblical Imagery: An Encyclopedic Exploration of the Images, Symbols, Motifs, Metaphors, Figures of Speech and Literary Patterns of the Bible. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press. p. 200
[48] Basset, R. L., Basinger, D. & Livermore, P. (2007). Lying in the Laboratory: Deception in Human Research from Psychological, Philosophical, and Theological Prespectives. In Daryl H. Stevensen, Brian E. Eck & Peter C. Hill (eds.), Psychology & Christianity Integration: Seminal Works that Shaped the Movement. Batavia, Illinois: Christian Association for Psychological Studies. p. 341
[49] Anon. (1837). Observations on War. In Robert Smith, The Friend. A Religious and Literary Journal, Vol. 10. Philadelphia: Adam Waldie. p. 322
[50] Geisler, N. L. (2010). Christian Ethics: Contemporary Issues & Options. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic. pp. 105-106
[51] Hoose, B. (1998). Truth and lies. In Bernard Hoose, Christian Ethics: An Introduction. London: Continuum. p. 274
[52] Taylor, J. (n.d.). The Whole Works of the Right Rev. Jeremy Taylor, Vol. III. London: Frederick Westley and A. H. Davis. pp. 428-429

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