Responses to Shibli Zaman

Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools ...

Shibli Zaman has tried to interact with my response to Osama Abdallah regarding the Lord Jesus’ prayer in Luke 23:34.

Seemingly not satisfied with his studies of the Semitic languages, Zaman has ventured into tackling issues related to the Greek. But as we shall see, his interaction with the Greek isn’t any better than his Semitic abilities.

Zaman begins his article, Forgive Them, For They Know Not Greek, by chiding me for wrongly transliterating the Greek word aphes:

First of all, when dealing with Greek transliteration, "aphes", as Mr. Shamoun has written, renders ap-h-es (απηες) which is meaningless. When dealing with Greek transliteration one must be careful to note that the English letter "h" represents the Greek letter eta (η).


Zaman’s claim here is actually an indication of his error, not mine. The first thing that needs to be stated is that aphes is spelled alpha, PHI, epsilon, sigma. As anyone can see, the h comes from the letter phi. The Greek letter phi (φ) is traditionally rendered as ‘ph’ in our English words PHase, PHoto, PHarmacy etc. One can choose to spell the Greek either as ph or f, since even in English the words ph is pronounced f.

Since Zaman is fond of Strong’s Concordance, note how this source spells the base word of aphes:

[Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, James Strong, LL.D., S.T.D, Greek-English Dictionary; actual scan]

The pronunciation help of Strong's uses the letter ‘f’, but the transliteration renders the word aPHiemi using the common method of displaying the Greek letter φ as ‘ph’.

It turns out that Zaman’s Greek is absolutely meaningless here since he falsely accused me of not transliterating the Greek correctly, when in fact I did. All the while he himself erroneously assumes that the only way one can derive the spelling aphes is if the word were spelled alpha, PI, ETA, epsilon, sigma in Greek.

The major problem I have with Zaman’s error here is that he comes off as an expert of Semitic and, presumably, Biblical languages. Yet throughout his writings and online dialogues he has shown that he is not qualified to make comments on the Biblical languages due to the many linguistic mistakes and false accusations he hurls against others on issues which, as we have just seen, he is mistaken. (Cf. this discussion regarding Zaman's frequent struggles with transliterations for various languages.)

Zaman next mentions the issue of the authenticity of the passage:

The double brackets immediately catch the eye. The reason they are there is because this phrase "Father forgive them; for they know not what they do" is missing in some of the earliest manuscript evidence. Most Biblical scholars question its veracity, as the only evidence for its early date are implicit references from 3rd century CE patristic writings.


It is irrelevant to us whether the reading is genuine or not, since neither Orthodox Christology nor the veracity of the NT documents are called into question by it.

The reason why I chose to treat it as genuine, and write an entire article explaining its precise meaning within Luke’s context, was to undermine a potential Muslim argument that may have been leveled against me. Had I simply brushed it aside and called into question its genuineness, then Osama could have accused me of evading what he thought was a devastating argument against the Deity of Christ.

With this just said, it is to be noted that the UBS4 Greek New Testament text give the reading an A rating. Renowned NT Greek scholar and textual critic Dr. Bruce M. Metzger explains why:

23:34 omit verse 34a [[‘ο δε Ιησους ελεγεν, Πατερ αφες αυτοις ου γαρ οιδασιν τι ποιουσιν.]] {A}

The absence of these words from early and diverse witnesses as P75 B D* W Θ ita, d syrs copsa, bo mss al is most impressive and can scarcely be explained as a deliberate excision by copyists who, considering the fall of Jerusalem to be proof that God had not forgiven the Jews, could not allow it to appear that the prayer of Jesus had remained unanswered. At the same time, the logion, though probably not a part of the original Gospel of Luke, bears self-evident tokens of its dominical origin, and was retained, within double square brackets, in its traditional place where it had been incorporated by unknown copyists relatively early in the transmission of the Third Gospel. (Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament Second Edition A Companion Volume to the United Bible Societies’ Greek New Testament Fourth Revised Edition, p. 154; bold emphasis ours)

According to the UBS, double brackets imply that the

"enclosed passages, which are usually rather extensive, are known not to be part of the original text, but an addition at a very early stage of the tradition. They are included with the text in this way because of their antiquity and the position they have traditionally enjoyed in the church (e.g., Jn 7.53-8.11)." (UBS’ Greek New Testament Fourth Revised Edition, p. 2; bold emphasis ours)

And that they

... enclose passages which are regarded as later additions to the text, but which are of evident antiquity and importance. (Ibid., p. 909; bold emphasis ours)

NA 27 lists the MSS that contain the reading. They are:

Codex Sinaiticus (4ad), original reading
Codex Alexandrinus (5ad)
Codex Ephraemi Syri Rescriptus (5ad)
Codex Bezae (5ad), 2nd corrector
Codex Regius (8ad)
Codex Athous Lavrensis (8ad)
Codex Climaci rescriptus (8ad)
Majority Text ("supported by the majority of all manuscripts" NA27, p. 12).
Minuscule Family 1 (14ad)
Minuscule 33 (9ad)
Old Latin
Syriac (Peshitta, Curetonianus, Harklensis)
Coptic Bohairic
Irenaeus (2ad)!!!

The last entry is especially strong since it is a quote from Irenaeus, and provides support that the reading was known from the 2nd century AD! Here is the quote in question:

... And from this fact, that He exclaimed upon the cross, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do,"348 the long-suffering, patience, compassion, and goodness of Christ are exhibited, since He both suffered, and did Himself exculpate those who had maltreated Him. For the Word of God, who said to us, "Love your enemies, and pray for those that hate you,"349 Himself did this very thing upon the cross; loving the human race to such a degree, that He even prayed for those putting Him to death ... (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 3.18.5;

This means that Zaman’s claim that the reading is found only in "implicit references from 3rd century Patristic writings" is false.

UBS4 lists the following Lectionaries:

.. vg, syr, cop, arm, eth, geo, slav, Diatessaron Jacobus-Justus, Irenaeus (already mentioned), Hippolytus, Origen, Eusebius, Eusebian, Canons Ps-Ignatius Apostolic Constitutions, Gregory-Nyssa, Amphilochius, Didymus, Ps-Clementines, Ps-Justin, Chrysostom, Cyril, Hesychius, Theodoret; Ambrosiater Hilary Ambrose Jerome Augustine //include verse with asterisks E.

Hence, there is very good evidence to accept it as a genuine reading and this has led many commentators to accept the variant as original to Christ.

For instance, Archibald T. Robertson, considered to be one of the greatest NT Greek scholars of all time, stated:

Father forgive them (πατερ, αφες αυτοις). Second aorist active imperative of αφιημι, with dative case. Some of the oldest and best documents do not contain this verse, and yet, while it is not certain that it is a part of Luke's Gospel, it is certain that Jesus spoke these words, for they are utterly unlike any one else. Jesus evidently is praying for the Roman soldiers, who were only obeying, but not for the Sanhedrin. Cast lots (εβαλον κληρους). Second aorist active indicative of βαλλω. See Mark 15:24; Matthew 27:35. John 19:23 shows how the lot was cast for the seamless garment, the four soldiers dividing the other garments. (Online source)

The Rev. W. Robertson Nicoll writes:

Ver. 34. Pater, etc.: a prayer altogether true to the spirit of Jesus, therefore, though reported by Lk. alone, intrinsically credible. It is with sincere regret that one is compelled, by its omission in important MSS., to regard its genuineness as subject to a certain amount of doubt. In favour of it is its conformity with the whole aim of Lk. in his Gospel, which is to exhibit the graciousness of Jesus. (The Expositor's Greek Testament, Vol. #1, pp. 639-640, edited by Nicoll, M.A., LL.D & Alexander Balman Bruce, D.D., Professor of Apologetics, Free Church College, Glasgow, reprinted 1988)

A.R.C. Leaney comments:

Father, forgive them. The words have the support of S* A C Old Latin vg syr. cur and pesh, Mcion Iren Or Aug, and their omission in other MSS. may be due to the conviction, common in Gentile Christian circles, that God did not forgive the Jews for the crucifixion, but punished them for it by the destruction of Jerusalem. Cf. Origen, Contra Celsum, vii. 42. Luke is in the main following Mark closely here, and the words ascribed by him to the Lord may well be due to his own pen, the motive being to show that the prisoner himself did not condemn the Romans for their part in his execution. (Cf. Acts iii. 17; xiii. 27; 1 Cor. ii. 8.) (Leaney, Black's New Testament Commentaries: The Gospel According to St. Luke [Adam and Charles Black, London, 1966], p. 284)

G.B. Caird notes:

The prayer of Jesus is omitted by Codex Vaticanus, Codex Bezae, and other important manuscripts, but it is well attested in other manuscripts, and most modern textual critics accept it as a genuine part of the text. It could be taken to refer either to the Roman soldiers or to all those responsible for the crucifixion. In the light of Acts 3:17, 19; 7:59f. It is probable that the sentence stood in the original text of Luke and that Luke himself took it to refer to the Jews. It has been suggested that the prayer may have been excised from an early copy of the Gospel by a second-century scribe who thought it incredible that God should pardon the Jews and, in view of the double destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 and 135, certain that he had not in fact done so. (Caird, Westminster Pelican Commentaries: Saint Luke [Westminster, Philadelphia, 1963], p. 251; bold emphasis ours)


... The prayer for His enemies is omitted in some MSS (see RSVmg), but the textual evidence for its retention is extremely strong ... (New International Commentary Based on the NIV, F.F. Bruce, General Editor [Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapid MI; February 1, 1999 Revised edition- ISBN: 0310220203], pp. 1225-1226; bold emphasis ours)

Zaman next tries to tackle with the Greek. Let us see how he does:

II. Scholarly vs. proletarian evidence

Mr. Shamoun proceeds:

"According to Greek Grammarian William D. Mounce: 'There is no more forceful way in the Greek language to tell someone to do something than a simple imperative - particularly the second person imperative. Especially when such a command is given regarding a specific situation, the one giving that command sees himself as an authority figure. He expects those addressed to do exactly as he has ordered." (Basics of Biblical Greek Grammar [Zondervan Publishing House: Grand Rapids, MI 1993], p. 302; bold emphasis ours)"

It is unfortunate for Mr. Shamoun who appealed to it, Basics of Biblical Greek Grammar is a very novice textbook. With all due respect to its author, it is not an exhaustive reference for Greek grammar by any stretch. The author also happens to be a pastor and devout Christian.

The two standard grammar references for Greek are A Greek Grammar for Colleges by Herbert Weir Smyth, PhD, Harvard Eliot Professor of Greek Literature, Harvard and A Greek Grammar by William Watson Goodwin, Harvard Eliot Professor of Greek. Regarding imperatives Smyth states:


What is truly unfortunate is that Zaman didn’t bother to take the time and read Mounce’s work. In light of his mistakes throughout this article, it is apparent that Zaman is a novice and needs to go back and educate himself with Mounce’s Basics of Biblical Greek Grammar. It may save him from being exposed for making such novice mistakes.

Second, the sources referred to by Zaman may be standards for the Classical Greek, but THEY ARE NOT NECESSARILY STANDARDS FOR BIBLICAL GREEK which is what we are actually dealing with. Mounce’s work isn’t meant to be an EXHAUSTIVE Greek grammar, but a textbook that introduces the student TO BIBLICAL GREEK. It is quite apparent that Zaman can’t tell the difference between the two. Besides, to quote sources that deal with the use of Greek terms in the classical period, or in Greek literature in general, doesn’t tell us much regarding how these same words were used in either the LXX or during the NT period since the NT WAS WRITTEN IN KOINE GREEK, WITH A STRONG SEMITIC MIX, NOT CLASSICAL GREEK. Even though Classical Attic Greek became the foundation of Koine Greek, the two are still different.

The following is an excerpt from the article on the Greek language in the digital Encarta Encyclopedia, written by Morton Smith and George E. Duckworth. It tells the story in nontechnical language. Smith is Professor of Ancient History, Columbia University, and author of Ancient Greeks; Duckworth is the late Giger Professor of Classics, Princeton University:

From the Ionic dialect developed the Attic, the standard form of classical Greek. It was the language of Athens and the surrounding district of Attica and differed from the other Ionic forms chiefly in its contraction of vowels. Because of the political supremacy of Athens during and after the 5th century BC and the dominant role of Athenian art, philosophy, and drama, the Attic dialect superseded all others and became the chief literary language. Its influence was enhanced through its use by the greatest contemporary intellects, including the playwrights Aeschylus, Euripides, and Sophocles, the orator Demosthenes, Plato, and the historians Thucydides and Xenophon. With the conquests of Alexander the Great and the extension of Macedonian rule in the 4th century BC, a shift of population from Greece proper to the Greek settlements in the Middle East occurred. In this period, known as the Hellenistic, the Attic dialect, spoken by the educated classes as well as by the merchants and many emigrants, became the language common to all the Middle East. As the Greeks mixed with other peoples, linguistic changes took place, Attic became the foundation of a new form of Greek, Koine, which spread throughout all areas of Greek influence. Koine was the language of the court and of literature and commerce throughout the Hellenistic empires.

Koine soon became differentiated into two groups, literary Koine and the vernacular, or popular, tongue. The literary language was spoken and used by the educated upper classes, who until the Roman conquest maintained a vigorous and independent intellectual and artistic life and, while not forgetful of the great writers of earlier times, developed the language to meet their own needs, especially those of abstract thought on the fields of philosophy, grammar, and the social and physical sciences. At the same time the language was simplified by elimination of many irregular or unusual grammatical forms, and changes of pronunciation took place. The musical quality of pure Athenian Attic was lost; vowel values began to be leveled out and diphthongs to have a single sound.

The vernacular tongue, on the other hand, was less influenced either by classical reminiscences or by the new developments of Hellenistic thought. It borrowed more freely from the vocabularies of Middle Eastern languages and suffered more severely from breakdown of the traditional grammar. It is known mainly from letters and documents on papyrus, and only slowly came to be used in literary works by lower-class writers. Of these the most important are the four Gospels of the New Testament, which, however, show a peculiar form of Koine, with a strong Semitic admixture. Later church fathers wrote in the literary language. ["Greek Language," Microsoft (R) Encarta. Copyright (c) 1994 Microsoft Corporation. Copyright (c) 1994 Funk & Wagnall's Corporation.]

This should make it clear that determining word meaning and usage by appealing to the grammar, vocabulary and style of classical Greek is erroneous. Koine Greek is its own genre, its own dialect.

Yet, we will play his game and go along with his quotes since, as we will see, they end up supporting my position.

Finally, for some strange reason Zaman felt the need to refer to Mounce’s background as a devout Christian and Pastor. The only reason we see for even bothering to mention Mounce’s background is to "poison the well", so to speak. Zaman seemingly thinks that by mentioning Mounce’s background he will cast doubt on his ability to comment on Greek Grammar? Does Zaman think that he, a Muslim, is somehow more qualified than Mounce? Does Zaman think that only non-Christians are qualified to write Greek Grammar books, whereas Christians are incapable of doing so due to their devotion to Christ? What does a person’s religious background have to do with one’s ability to speak and write on Greek?

For those interested to know what are Mounce’s qualifications, here it is taken from a link supplied by Zaman’s own link:


  • Ph.D. 1981, in New Testament. Aberdeen University, Aberdeen, Scotland.
  • M.A. 1977, in Biblical Studies. Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, California.
  • B.A. 1975, in Biblical Studies, minor in Greek. Bethel College, St. Paul, Minnesota; Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, Kentucky, 1971-74.

Professional experience

  • 1997 - present. Professor of New Testament, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.
  • 1992 - 1997. Writer, Spokane, Washington.
  • 1992 - 1997. Associate pastor, Garland Avenue Alliance Church, Spokane, Washington.
  • 1982 - 1992. Azusa Pacific University, Azusa, California. Full professor.
  • 1981-82. Rockmont College, Denver, Colorado. Assistant professor and ski coach.

Books published

The Basics of Biblical Greek

A first year Greek grammar in use at over 150 schools in the United States. Textbook and workbook (Zondervan, 1993).

A Graded Reader of Biblical Greek

A second year graded reader that introduces students to twenty texts (including the LXX and the Didache) and helps them through the difficult grammar and vocabulary. Teaches intermediate grammar inductively and cross references Daniel Wallace's "Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament." Difficult forms are keyed into "The Morphology of Biblical Greek" (Zondervan, 1995).

The Morphology of Biblical Greek

An advanced grammar showing why Greek words inflect as they do (Zondervan, 1994).

The Analytical Lexicon to the Greek New Testament

A computer generated analytical that parses all the forms of words in the Greek New Testament. Includes a dictionary of all the words' meanings and is keyed into "The Morphology of Biblical Greek" for further study (Zondervan, 1993).

Profiles in Faith

Sunday School curriculum (Gospel Light, 1985).

A Theological German Word List

Privately published, 1979. Co-authored. 81 pp.

The Complete Concordance to the God's Word Translation

World, 1995. Co-edited.

Manual for macBible, a Bible search program

Zondervan, 1993

Books under contract

The Pastoral Epistles. Word Biblical Commentary Series (Word, 1997).

The NIV English-Greek Study Bible:NT (Zondervan, 1998).

Greek for the Rest of Us (1999)


  • ChurchWorks. Church management
  • DonorWorks. Fund Raising and donor tracking.
  • FlashWorks. Flashcard for learning languages.
  • ParseWorks. Parsing program for working with inflected forms.


  • Alpha Chi Teacher of the Year Award, Azusa Pacific University, 1987-88.
  • A half and full "Blue" from the University of Aberdeen for basketball on the University team and the Scottish National Collegiate team.
  • Graduated from college summa cum laude.

Does Zaman claim to match these qualifications and credentials in any way? On what basis does he think he is called to dismiss Bill Mounce’s publication(s) with contempt?

It seems clear to me that Zaman is guilty of the genetic fallacy and the fallacy of circumstantial argumentum ad hominem. If Zaman wasn’t trying to cast doubt on Mounce’s ability to comment on NT Greek Grammar by referring to his religious background then what need was there for Zaman to even bother bringing it up? Besides, who is more qualified to speak on NT Greek Grammar than a devout Christian, especially when the NT documents were written for Christian believers? In the words of the Apostle Paul:

"This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned." 1 Corinthians 2:13-14

Some more comments regarding Zaman's choice of reference books:

After dismissing Bill Mounce's grammar textbook on Biblical Greek with his ad hominem argument, Zaman then continued with recommending instead these alternative books:

The two standard grammar references for Greek are A Greek Grammar for Colleges by Herbert Weir Smyth, PhD, Harvard Eliot Professor of Greek Literature, Harvard and A Greek Grammar by William Watson Goodwin, Harvard Eliot Professor of Greek.

This is actually a rather misleading statement for several reasons. First, these gentlemen are not currently professors at Harvard — they held this chair roughly a century ago — and, naturally, both of these books date from the same time! Second, even though these books are still widely used, among scholars they are hardly "THE two standard grammar references for Greek."

Here is a comment on Zaman's above quoted statement by Dr. Daniel B. Wallace, professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary, and author of the standard textbook Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics [Zondervan; 1997]:

He did err in citing Smyth and Goodwin as the standard Greek grammars. They are old and good for Attic Greek, not Koine. The best grammars for the New Testament are especially Blass-Debrunner-Funk and A. T. Robertson. As for the particular construction in question, unquestionably Buist M. Fanning's Verbal Aspect is the authority, yet the Muslim seemed completely unaware of these works. Even on a classical (Attic) Greek level, he did not cite the best works. Better than either Smyth or Goodwin would be Debrunner-Schwyzer's 3-volume grammar (still the best for classical Greek) and Gildersleeve's two-volume work. Debrunner-Schwyzer is only in German, so perhaps that's why he didn't know about them. But Smyth's work actually has in its original title "Greek Grammar for Schools and Colleges." In other words, it was a high school grammar!

Even though Zaman loves to contemptuously label me a mere "web-surfer", one can find quite a bit of good and useful information on the web. In fact, had Zaman done some web-surfing on this issue, he could have found all this information himself and would not have had to face the embarrassment that his statement is now corrected by others.

For example, in the preface of Smyth's A Greek Grammar for Colleges, first edition 1920, we read:

THE present book, apart from its greater extent and certain differences of statement and arrangement, has in general, the same plan as the author's Greek Grammar for Schools and Colleges. (Source)

In other words, although being without doubt a good grammar reference that has stood the test of time, it is for the beginning students, or novices, as Zaman likes to call them, since Smyth's grammar does not assume any prior knowledge of Greek. It is certainly designed to last longer than the first year of Greek studies, but it is for students in the process of learning the language.

There is even an updated edition that seems to have escaped Zaman's attention:

Herbert Weir Smyth. Greek Grammar. Revised by Gordon M. Messing. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1956.

Note that this revision under the shortened title is itself already nearly 50 years old! Zaman refers to this book by its original title of the 1920 edition, perhaps because his underfunded neighborhood library only has the ‘outdated’ first edition on their shelves.

What about the second book? We find, for example, these comments:

A Greek Grammar, new edition, William Watson Goodwin, (London: Macmillan, 1894, and many reprintings), A standard "school grammar". Covers all the basics and much more. But not the standard reference at the highest level, and don’t believe all you read. (Greek Syntax Bibliography; emphasis mine)

William W. Goodwin's Greek Grammar (Revised and Enlarged, Boston 1900): this famous school grammar ... an expanded version of his Elementary Greek Grammar, published in 1870, is influenced by his more scholarly masterpiece Syntax of the Moods and Tenses of the Greek Verb, but remains essentially a handbook for students, in spite of its 470 pages. (Systematic Grammar: Morphology and Syntax; emphasis mine)

Finally, the Harvard University site, INTER LIBROS: Gateway for Classics and Medieval Studies Research at Harvard, does not even list Goodwin (their own former professor) among the recommended resources for studies of the Greek language!

As good as these two books were and in many respects still are (particularly the work by Smyth), they certainly are not, and actually never were, the most scholarly reference books on Greek grammar. These books were designed for the learning student and not for the working Greek scholar. Nowhere could I find these two listed as "the standard" references on a scholarly level. And that was, after all, Zaman's point in this section which he had given the title "II. Scholarly vs. proletarian evidence".

Books do not become THE standard just because they are the ones found on the shelves of Zaman's local neighborhood library.   Further enlightening observations about Zaman's expertise in the Greek language can be found in the article Shibli Zaman on Etymology [Revisited].

The most serious blunder in this case was, however, the fact that Zaman pointed again to references for Attic Greek, when the text under discussion is in Koine Greek. This is one of several examples indicating that Zaman apparently works under the wrong assumption that languages are ‘stagnant’.

Jochen Katz

We now turn to Zaman’s quotations from the Greek grammar books of his choice:

"IMPERATIVE [1835] The imperative is used in commands and prohibitions (negative μή). All its tenses refer to the future. a. Under commands are included requests, entreaties, summons, prescriptions, exhortations, etc. b. For the tenses of the imperative, see 1840; for the infinitive used as an imperative, see 2013.

POSITIVE (COMMANDS) [1836] In exhortations άγε, φέρε, ίθι (usually with δή, sometimes with νύν), often precede the imperative: άγε δὴ ακούσατε come listen X. Ap. 14 , άγετε δειπνήσατε go now, take your supper X. H. 5.1.18 , αλλ' ίθι ειπέ but come, say P. G. 489e .

[1837] πας is sometimes used with the second person in poetry: άκουε πας hear, every one Ar. Thesm. 372.

[1838] The third person may be used in questions: ουκουν κείσθω ταυτα; shall these points be established P. L. 820e. Cp. 1842 a.

[1839] The imperative may be used in assumptions (hypothetical imperative), to make a concession, or to grant permission: εμου γ' ένεκ' έστω let it be assumed as far as I am concerned D. 20.14 , ούτως εχέτω ως σὺ λέγεις assume it to be as you say P. S. 201c . So even as a protasis: δειξάτω, καγὼ στέρξω let him set it forth and I will be content D. 18.112 ."
[A Greek Grammar for Colleges, Herbert Weir Smyth, nos. 1835-1839]

To further clarify the role of imperatives in Greek, Goodwin states:

"250. The imperative is used to express a command, an exhortation, or an entreaty. E.g. Λέγε, speak thou. Φευγε, begone! Ελθέτω, let him come. Χαιρόντων, let them rejoice. ́Ερχεσθον κλισίην Πηληιάδεω Αχιληος. Il. i. 322. Ζευ, θεωρὸς τωνδε πραγμάτων γενου. AESCH. Cho. 246."
[Syntax of the Moods and Tenses of the Greek Verb, William Goodwin, no. 250]


Let me quote Zaman’s sources to see how he obviously doesn’t understand what he is reading:

IMPERATIVE [1835] The imperative is used in COMMANDS and prohibitions (negative μή). All its tenses refer to the future. a. Under commands are included requests, entreaties, summons, prescriptions, exhortations, etc. b. For the tenses of the imperative, see 1840; for the infinitive used as an imperative, see 2013.

"250. The imperative is used to express A COMMAND, an exhortation, or an entreaty ...

Second, Zaman gives the misleading impression that I somehow denied that imperatives could refer to entreaties, requests etc. Again, here is what Zaman failed to grasp:

He also says that the imperative "is the mood of command ..." and that the "imperative mood is used when a verb expresses a command. IT IS ALSO USED TO ENCOURAGE OR ASK SOMEONE to do something." (Ibid., pp. 303, 307)

In reference to imperatives which function more as requests and entreaties than commands, Mounce states:

"This is called the ‘IMPERATIVE OF ENTREATY.’ YOU DO NOT ‘COMMAND’ GOD TO DO SOMETHING; YOU ‘ENTREAT’ HIM, both in English and in Greek, e.g., ‘Give us this day our daily bread.’ (‘Give’ is an imperative.)" (Ibid., p. 307, n. 5)

Since Zaman is fond of quoting sources, here is the Friberg definition of imperative:

"The Imperative mood indicates a COMMAND, entreaty, or an exhortation. It expresses the appeal of one person’s will to another person and intention rather than probability or possibility." (The Analytical Greek New Testament, Timothy and Barbara Friberg, Pasons Technologies electronic edition, 1999; emphasis ours)

And here's how the Greek Bible software of Gramcord defines the imperative:

Action/State Represented as the Original Speaker's (COMMANDER'S) Intention or Desire to be Fulfilled/Realized by Another.

I had also written:

Instead of assuming what Jesus would’ve or could’ve have said, we need to deal with what Jesus actually did say. Once we do this, instead of disproving the doctrine of the Trinity, a careful exegesis of the passage, AS WELL AS AN EXAMINATION OF THE ENTIRE CONTEXT OF LUKE, actually provides strong support for it.


Now in order to establish the case that the Lord Jesus wasn't simply asking or encouraging the Father to forgive them, but making a demand based on his relationship to the Father as the divine Son, WE NEED TO READ ALL THAT LUKE HAS TO SAY ABOUT THE PERSON AND WORK OF CHRIST. ONCE THIS IS DONE, it becomes quite evident that Jesus is indeed the Sovereign Lord of all creation, the Father's eternally beloved Son, and because of this he is able to make certain demands of the Father.

It is quite clear that I set out to prove my case by looking at the overall context of Luke’s Christology, AND NOT MERELY ON THE USE OF THE IMPERATIVE. In other words, I determined that Jesus’ use of the imperative WITHIN THE CHRISTOLOGICAL CONTEXT OF LUKE leads one to conclude that the Lord Jesus was making certain demands to the Father. That all Zaman could do was misrepresent my argument and give the misleading impression that I somehow denied that imperatives could refer to requests and entreaties, only serves to expose the utter shallowness of his attempted rebuttal. It only shows that Zaman is a master of logical fallacies and likes to produce straw man argumentation.

Zaman now proceeds to knock down the straw man he has erected:

In light of the above quote from Goodwin, Mr. Shamoun's statement, "He wasn't simply making an entreaty" ends up all the more incongruous as is the rest of his sad affront to Biblical Greek grammar. Furthermore, no one in their right mind would say the phrase "let them rejoice" is a command establishing divinity between two entities. Thus, as the unnecessary dogma forced upon the text is peeled away, Mr. Shamoun's myth of master and subordinate quickly fades away.

The fact that this type of relationship was even implied is absolutely unbelievable. In spite of his valueless denials to the contrary, it is startling that in his zealotry to exaggerate the status of Christ, eventually he ends up heretically placing him even above the Father!


What is incongruous and unbelievable is not my arguments at all, but rather Zaman’s misrepresentation of my position. First, I never claimed that the use of the imperative demonstrated a master and subordinate situation or that it establishes divinity between two entities. Here is what I did say:

To put it simply, Jesus' use of the imperative shows that he was actually demanding that the Father forgive the individuals responsible for dividing up his clothing. He wasn't simply making an entreaty. We need to point out that by saying that Christ commanded his Father to perform a specific function, we are not implying that there is competition within the Godhead. Rather, we are simply highlighting the point that the Lord Jesus has the authority to make demands SINCE HE IS EQUAL TO THE FATHER IN ESSENCE and is the object of the Father's infinite and eternal love. Yet, these demands are not done out of a dictatorial spirit, but out of a spirit of mutual love and the assurance that whatever Christ asks for he shall definitely receive:

So the only myth is Zaman’s manhandling of my article and deliberate lies, especially when he claims that I somehow end up "heretically placing" the Son "even above the Father." On the contrary, I am giving the Son the same honor that I give the Father:

"Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son JUST AS THEY HONOR THE FATHER. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him." John 5:22-23

And as all creation shall do:

"And they sang a new song: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.’ Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they sang: ‘Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!’ Then I heard EVERY CREATURE in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: ‘To him who sits on the throne AND TO THE LAMB be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!’ The four living creatures said, ‘Amen,’ and the elders fell down and worshiped." Revelation 5:9-14

The actual one being heretical here is Zaman for choosing to follow a false religion which dishonors God’s beloved Son:

"Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us… Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist - he denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also." 1 John 2:18-19, 22-23

"We accept man's testimony, but God's testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son. Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life." 1 John 5:9-12

Therefore, Zaman’s false analogy that my example is similar to saying that someone commanding another person to rejoice implies divinity is simply that, a false analogy AND A STRAW MAN OF THE WORST KIND. This shows that Zaman cannot grasp how CONTEXT affects the meaning of words and fails to distinguish the sense of a word with its referent.

Zaman apparently is unable to accurately read what is before him and/or grasp my arguments. Yet, I do find it hard to accept that Zaman simply misunderstood my argument and tend to think that he deliberately misrepresented my position since he knew that he couldn’t deal with the actual points presented in my paper.

To repeat my actual point: It is not the imperative IN AND OF ITSELF that determines divinity, BUT RATHER THE CONTEXT AND THE REFERENTS WITHIN THAT CONTEXT THAT WILL HELP DETERMINE THE PRECISE FORCE OF THE IMPERATIVE. If the data demonstrates that the referent in question is God then one is confident in saying that the imperative is being used to issue a command. Yet, even here the context may suggest that God is simply exhorting believers to do something, not necessarily commanding them.

Furthermore, I am aware (and have never stated otherwise) that imperatives are used in contexts where a person in a position of authority is issuing a command to someone without this implying that the person in question must therefore be a divinity. It would only demonstrate that IN THAT SPECIFIC CONTEXT the person in question has the authority to command others to do what he wants. Case in point:

"God will judge those outside. ‘EXPEL (exarate) the wicked man from among you.’" 1 Corinthians 5:13

Paul can demand that the wicked man be expelled from the Church and expect to be obeyed since he had authority from Christ to issue such commands:

"This is why I write these things when I am absent, that when I come I may not have to be harsh in my use of authority - the authority the Lord gave me for building you up, not for tearing you down." 2 Corinthians 13:10

Obviously, just because Paul uses the imperative here to make demands doesn’t imply he is God. NOR (I need to repeat this so that Zaman gets it this time) HAVE I EVER SAID IT DID!

In the case of Luke 23:34, I had demonstrated that Luke’s Christology leads one to safely conclude that Jesus’ use of the imperative was a command directed to the Father and not simply an entreaty or request. I clearly showed that Luke portrays Jesus as the Sovereign Lord of all, the beloved Son of God and the Source of salvation. It therefore becomes quite evident that Zaman doesn’t really have anything substantial to say and can only resort to false analogies, straw men, ad hominems etc.

Zaman next tries to pull a fast one over his readers:

III. Grammatic nuances unaccounted for

Moreover, in the context of this verse from the Gospel of Luke, afes (αφες) also matches the conditional subjunctive. That it is "conditional" means a request is made due to a variable or condition. That it is "subjunctive" means the possibility is expressed without knowledge of outcome, or that the possibility is remote. The fact that the variable "..for they know not what they do" is suffixed to the plea "Father, forgive them.." establishes this. This is further clarified in the Liddel-Scott-Jones Greek-English lexicon under entry IV of afihmi (αφιημι):

"IV. c. acc. pers. et inf., suffer, permit one to do a thing, α. τινὰ αποπλέειν Hdt.3.25 , cf. 6.62, al., etc.: with inf. understood, ηνίκα προικ' αφιασιν (sc. θεασθαι) οι θεατρωναι Thphr.Char.30.6 : c. subj., άφες εκβάλω Ev.Matt.7.4 , cf. Arr.Epict.1.9.15; άφες εγὼ θρηνήσω POxy.413.184 (i A. D.); άφες ίνα . . Arr.Epict.4.13.19; ουκ ήφιεν ίνα . . Ev.Marc.11.16:--Pass., αφείθη σχολάζειν Arist.Metaph.981b24 ."
[Greek-English Lexicon, Liddell & Scott, New Edition, Stuart Jones & McKenzie (LSJ),]

Note that the above entry references Matthew 7:4 which states:

η πως ερεις τω αδελφω σου αφες εκβαλω το καρφος εκ του οφθαλμου σου και ιδου η δοκος εν τω οφθαλμω σου

"Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me (αφες) pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye"

What does this verse have to do with divinity, or commands between a master and subordinate? Nothing.


Zaman’s subheading along with his statement regarding conditional subjunctives implies that Luke 23:34 contains a subjunctive and that I somehow neglected it. The problem with Zaman’s claim is THAT THERE ARE NO SUBJUNCTIVE VERBS IN LUKE 23:34! Aphes is an imperative, with all the other verbs being indicatives, with one participle. So how can I account for a Greek nuance that is not found in the text!

It is true that aphes can appear with a conditional subjunctive, as in Luke 17:3 ("if he repents, forgive him"). A conditional subjunctive would normally be rendered like this verse, that is with an "If ... then" relationship - a "protasis" (if) and "apodosis" (then) construction. But this is definitely NOT the case in 23:34 since we don't have that here - as if Jesus were saying, "If they don't know what they're doing, forgive them." No 1st year Greek student would make such a bizarre assertion! Zaman is making things up again.

Zaman may try to pull a fast one and claim that his wording didn’t imply that there was a subjunctive in the passage in question, but that the structure of the verse MATCHES the conditional subjunctive. If so, then he has failed to convey that since his appeal to Matthew 7:4 further complicates matters. Unlike Luke 23:34, Matthew 7:4 HAS A SUBJUNCTIVE, namely ekBaloo (pull out) which means that IT DOES FALL UNDER THE CATEGORY OF A CONDITIONAL SUBJUNCTIVE. Matthew 7:4 doesn’t simply MATCH a conditional subjunctive clause, BUT CONTAINS A CONDITIONAL SUBJUNCTIVE.

Furthermore, even if I were to concede that Luke 23:34 does match a conditional subjunctive, this would not support Zaman’s case in the least. The only thing that this would imply is that Christ’s intercession on behalf of the Roman guards was conditioned on their ignorance. In other words, Christ in his mercy interceded for the Romans BECAUSE they were unaware of what they were doing and to whom they were doing it.

Yet, there was no condition which Christ had to meet in order to have his prayer answered by the Father.


The grammatical construct of the phrase "father forgive them" in Luke 23:34 is afes autois (αφες αυτοις) wherein the verb afes (αφες) is followed by the dative autois (αυτοις). The only other instance of this type of grammatical construct is in Matthew 5:40 which is the following in Greek:

και τς <sic!> θελοντι σοι κριθη ναι <sic!> και τον χιτωνα σου λαβειν αφες αυτω και το μια τιον <sic!>

"and if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also."

Thus, was Christ establishing that his disciples to whom he taught these words and the multitudes who heard him were also "objects of love" in the "Godhead"? No. It is more than abundantly clear that imperatives are not restricted to commands, but are often simple requests or entreaties. The concept of some imposing command upon a complicit God is no more than a figment of Mr. Shamoun's imagination.


After having accused me of using a wrong transliteration for αφες it is somewhat amusing to find that Zaman misspelled the three underlined words in his Greek quotation of Matthew 5:40. Anyone who knows the least bit of Greek would have immediately seen that those are not proper Greek expressions and have no meaning as written.

Zaman somehow imagines that his appeal to Matthew 5:40 will offset my arguments. First, I am going to challenge Zaman to quote any part of my article where I said or even implied that imperatives are RESTRICTED to commands. Zaman is constantly demonstrating that he has mastered the art of straw man argumentation.

Second, Zaman’s blasphemous assault on God as complicit only demonstrates his hate towards the true God and the depravity of his own mind. It demonstrates the truthfulness of the following passages:

"For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." 1 Corinthians 1:18

"To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted." Titus 1:15

It never ceases to amaze us how Muslims like Zaman could have the nerve of attacking the true God when their own false book presents their false god as a liar and a deceiver, which are characteristics of Satan - Cf. John 8:44; S. 3:54-55; 4:142; 8:30, 43-44; 17:16.

Third, Zaman picked the worst example to use since the context shows that Christ’s use of the imperative here WAS A COMMANDMENT directed to his disciples, and not simply a request or entreaty:

"Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His DISCIPLES came to him, and he began to teach THEM saying ... Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you BECAUSE OF ME. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you." Matthew 5:1-2, 11-12

"You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ BUT I TELL YOU that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell." Matthew 5:21-22

"You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ BUT I TELL YOU that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart." Matthew 5:27-28

"It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery." Matthew 5:31-32

"Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.’ BUT I TELL YOU, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God's throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one." Matthew 5:33-36

"You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ BUT I TELL YOU, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you." Matthew 5:39-42

"You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ BUT I TELL YOU: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven ..." Matthew 5:43-45a

The preceding examples show that Christ was teaching his followers what it meant to be his disciple. Christ was giving them orders and commandments that they had to follow if they were truly his disciples:

"Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ Therefore everyone who hears THESE WORDS OF MINE AND PUTS THEM INTO PRACTICE is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears THESE WORDS OF MINE AND DOES NOT PUT THEM INTO PRACTICE is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.’ When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one WHO HAD AUTHORITY, and not as their teachers of the law." Matthew 7:21-29

As scholars have noted, the manner in which Jesus instructed his followers on the Mount demonstrates Christ’s divine authority. Noted Christian apologist and philosopher William Lane Craig states it best:

"... The typical rabbinical style of teaching was to quote extensively from learned teachers, who provided the basis of authority for one's own teaching. But Jesus did exactly the opposite. He began, ‘You have heard that it was said the men of old ...’ and quoted the Mosaic Law; then he continued, ‘But I say to you ...’ and gave his own teaching. Jesus thus equated his own authority with that of the divinely given Torah. It's no wonder that Matthew comments, ‘When Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he taught as one who had authority, and not as their scribes’ (Matt 7:28-29).

"But it's not just that Jesus placed his personal authority on a par with that of the divine Law. More than that, he adjusted the Law on his own authority. Although Jewish scholars have attempted valiantly to assimilate Jesus' ethical teachings to the tradition of Judaism, Jesus' opposition of his own personal authority to the divine Torah given through Moses is the rock upon which all such attempts are finally broken. Take, for example, Jesus' teaching on divorce in Matt 5:31-32 (cf. Mark 10:2-12). Here Jesus explicitly quotes the teaching of the Law (Deut 24:1-4) and opposes to it, on the basis of his own authority, his teaching on the matter. In the Markan passage, he declares that Moses does not represent the perfect will of God on this matter and presumes to correct the Law on his own authority as to what really is the will of God. But no human being, no prophet or teacher or charismatic, has that kind of authority. ‘Jesus,’ observes Witherington, ‘seems to assume an authority over the Torah that no Pharisee or Old Testament prophet assumed the authority to set it aside.’

"In his provocative dialogue A Rabbi Talks with Jesus, the eminent Jewish scholar Jacob Neusner explains that it is precisely on this basis why he, as a Jew, would not have followed Jesus had he lived in first-century Palestine. Explaining that for a Jew the Torah is God's revelation to Moses, he asserts,

Jews believe in the Torah of Moses ... and that belief requires faithful Jews to enter a dissent at the teachings of Jesus, on the grounds that those teachings at important points contradict the Torah ...

And therefore, because that specific teaching was so broadly out of phase with the Torah and the covenant at Sinai, I could not then follow him and do not now either. That is not because I am stubborn or unbelieving. It is because I believe God has given a different Torah from the one that Jesus teaches; and that Torah, the one Moses got at Sinai, stands in judgment of the torah of Jesus, as it dictates true and false for all other torahs that people want to teach in God's name.

"Given the supremely authoritative status of the divinely revealed Torah Jesus' teaching can only appear presumptuous and even blasphemous. In effect, as Robert Hutchinson put it, ‘Neusner wants to ask Jesus, "Who do you think you are — God?"’ Neusner himself recognizes that ‘no one can encounter Matthew's Jesus WITHOUT CONCURRING THAT BEFORE US IN THE EVANGELIST'S MIND IS GOD INCARNATE.’ But if Jesus' opposition of his personal teaching to the Torah is an authentic facet of the historical Jesus — AS EVEN THE SKEPTICAL SCHOLARS OF THE JESUS SEMINAR CONCEDE — then it seems that Jesus did arrogate to himself the authority of God. According to Robert Guelich, ‘one must not shy away from the startling antithesis between God has said to those of old / But I say to you since here lies not only the key to the antithesis but to Jesus' ministry.’" (Craig, Reasonable Faith - Christian Truth and Apologetics [Moody Press, Chicago 1984; revised edition 1994], pp. 246-247; bold and capital emphasis ours)

Craig goes on to say in regards to Jesus’ "Truly, truly I say to you" statements:

"Second, Jesus' use of ‘amen’ expresses his authority. The expression frequently attributed to Jesus, ‘Truly, truly I say to you,’ is historically unique and is recognized on all hands to have been used by Jesus to preface his teaching ... Ben Witherington in his acclaimed study of the Christology of Jesus explains the significance of Jesus' use of the phrase ‘Amen, I say to you’:

It is insufficient to compare it to ‘thus says the Lord,’ although that is the closest parallel. Jesus is not merely speaking for Yahweh, but for himself and on his own authority.... This strongly suggests that he considered himself to be a person of authority above and beyond what prophets claimed to be. He could attest to his own truthfulness and speak on his own behalf, and yet his words were to be taken as having the same or greater authority than the divine words of the prophet. Here was someone who thought he possessed not only divine inspiration... but also divine authority and the power of direct divine utterance. The use of amen followed by ‘I say unto you’; must be given its full weight in light of its context — early Judaism.

"That Witherington's analysis is correct is evident from the complaint of the orthodox Jewish writer Ahad ha' Am: ‘Israel cannot accept with religious enthusiasm, as the Word of God, the utterances of a man who speak in his own name — not "thus saith the Lord," but "I say unto you." This "I" is in itself sufficient to drive Judaism away from the Gentiles forever.’" (Ibid., p. 248; bold emphasis ours)

Craig concludes with the words of Horst Georg Pöhlmann:

"Horst Georg Pöhlmann in his Abriss der Dogmatik reports, ‘In summary, one could say that today there is virtually a consensus concerning that wherein the historical in Jesus is to be seen. It consists in the fact that Jesus came on the scene with an unheard of authority, namely with the authority of God, with the claim of the authority to stand in God's place and speak to us and bring us to salvation.’ This involves, says Pöhlmann, an implicit Christology. He concludes:

This unheard of claim to authority, as it comes to expression in the antithesis of the Sermon on the Mount, for example, is implicit Christology, since it presupposes a unity of Jesus with God that is deeper than that of all men, namely a unity of essence. This ... claim to authority is explicable only from the side of his deity. This authority only God himself can claim. With regard to Jesus there are only two possible modes of behavior: either believe that in him God encounters us or nail him to the cross as a blasphemer. Tertium non datur.

There is no third way." (Ibid., p. 252; bold emphasis ours)

Jewish writer Alfred J. Kolatch concurs with Craig. Kolatch explains why most Jews are unwilling to embrace Jesus as a prophet:

This thesis is rejected because none of the prophets of Israel spoke in his own name; none ever presented himself as the originator of his own prophecies. The Jewish prophets considered themselves the mouthpiece of God. God, they believed, was speaking through them. For this reason, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the other Hebrew prophets introduce their prophecies and admonitions with the words, "Thus saith the Lord."

When Jesus introduces his prophecies and admonitions, he does so with the words, "I say unto you," clearly suggesting that he saw himself as the authority. This attitude is reflected in many New Testament passages. In Matthew (9:6), for example, Jesus represents himself as "the Son of Man who has power on earth to forgive sins." In John (13:13), Jesus says, "Ye call me ‘Master’ and ‘Lord’; and ye say well; for so I am." Since Jesus portrayed himself as more than a spokesman of the Lord, Jews are unable to accept him as a prophet. (Kolatch, The Second Jewish Book of Why [Jonathan David Publishers, Inc., Middle Village NY, 2000; ISBN: 0-8246-0305-2], p. 72; underlined emphasis ours)

Hence, Zaman’s appeal to Matthew 5:40 to deny my case is no more than a figment of his own imagination since what he imagined was a defense of his claims actually works against him and proves my point! It proves that IN THIS CONTEXT Christ’s use of the imperative demonstrates his divine sovereignty and coequality with the Father!

Zaman introduces the following smokescreen as if this too will somehow prove his case:

V. Pre-Christian usage of afihmi (αφιημι)

In light of these aforementioned evidences, let the reader examine this statement of Mr. Shamoun to qualify his hypothesis' utter invalidity:

"Rather, we are simply highlighting the point that the Lord Jesus has the authority to make demands since he is equal to the Father in essence and is the object of the Father's infinite and eternal love."

Let us see if this imperative usage of afihmi (αφιημι) in ancient Greek literature has anything at all to do with such an inane notion.

"..Let me go! (αφες) Ah, what a journey it is that I, unhappiest of women, am making!"
[Alcestis, Euripides, 262]

"..cede (αφες) to me the honors and the house that are mine from my father"
[Heraclidae, Euripides, 810]

"Old Man: Argue that point with others, but surrender (αφες) that letter to me. Menelaus: I shall not let go. Old Man: Nor will I let loose my hold.."
[Iphigenia Aulidensis, Euripides, 309]

"Teiresias: Let me go (αφες) home. For you will bear your own burden to the end, and I will bear mine, if you consent."
[Oedipus Tyrannus, Sophocles, 320]

All are invited to read through these ancient Greek texts in order to peruse context and have a better understanding of this word's usage in opposition to Mr. Shamoun's flawed understanding of it.


Indeed, Zaman’s examples would have been quite forceful in refuting me HAD I SAID THAT IMPERATIVES ARE ONLY USED TO COMMAND OR ORDER SOMEONE, OR THAT THE USE OF THE IMPERATIVE SHOWS THAT THE PERSON IS DIVINE. Since this is not what I said, Zaman’s examples are quite irrelevant in refuting my argument.

Furthermore, Zaman’s constant emphasis that the imperative is also used for requests and entreaties gives the misleading impression that imperatives are not used in relation to commands.

Therefore, here are some examples FROM THE NT of imperatives that are clearly commands/demands made to others, and are definitely not mere entreaties or requests:

"Therefore go AND MAKE DISCIPLES (matheeteusate) of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit," Matthew 28:19

"Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit cried out, ‘What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are - the Holy One of God!’ ‘BE QUIET! (Phimootheeti)’ said Jesus sternly. ‘COME OUT (exelthe) OF HIM!’ The evil spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek. The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, ‘What is this? A new teaching - AND WITH AUTHORITY! He even GIVES ORDERS to evil spirits AND THEY OBEY HIM.’" Mark 1:23-27

"‘But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins ...’ He said to the paralytic, ‘I tell you, GET UP (egeire), TAKE (aron) your mat and GO (hupage) home.’ He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, ‘We have never seen anything like this!’ Mark 2:10-12

"Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out - the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. When the Lord saw her, HIS HEART WENT OUT TO HER and he said,Don't CRY (Mee klaie).’ Then he went up and touched the coffin, and those carrying it stood still. He said, ‘Young man, I say to you, GET UP (egertheeti)!The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother. They were all filled with awe and praised God. ‘A great prophet has appeared among us,’ they said. ‘God has come to help his people.’ This news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding country." Luke 7:11-17

"About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem. Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw HIS GLORY and the two men standing with him. As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, ‘Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters - one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.’ (He did not know what he was saying.) While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. A voice came from the cloud, saying, ‘This is MY SON, whom I have chosen; LISTEN TO HIM (autou akouete).’ When the voice had spoken, they found that Jesus was alone. The disciples kept this to themselves, and told no one at that time what they had seen." Luke 9:28-36

"He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’ ‘Who are you, Lord?’ Saul asked. ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ he replied. ‘Now GET UP (anasteethi) and GO (eiselthe) into the city, and you will be told what you must do.’" Acts 9:4-6

"But the Lord said to Ananias, ‘GO! (Poreuou) This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.’" Acts 9:15

"In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘SET APART (‘Aphorisate) for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off." Acts 13:1-3

"I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. On the Lord's Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, which said: ‘WRITE (grapson) on a scroll what you see and SEND IT (pempson) to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.’" Revelation 1:9-11

"Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be EARNEST (zeeleue), and REPENT (metanoeeson)." Revelation 3:19

"At this I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, ‘Do not do it! (Hora mee) I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. WORSHIP (proskuneeson) God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.’" Revelation 19:10

"And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’ Also he said, ‘WRITE (Grapson) this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’" Revelation 21:5 ESV

In light of these preceding examples, I would like to invite the readers to examine my claim and see whether:

  1. Imperatives can be used to command or demand others to do something.
  2. Luke presents Jesus as the divine Son of God who is coequal with the Father in essence.
  3. Based on Luke’s Christological framework, one can safely make the assertion that Jesus’ use of the imperative wasn’t simply a request or entreaty, but a demand made to the Father in love.

Zaman concludes:

VI. Conclusion

There are numerous other examples, but this is more than sufficient to display that this has nothing to do with establishing the divinity of either the addresser or the addressee, nor does it have anything to do with the superiority of either the addresser or the addressee. It is merely a plea for dispensation in spite of what some would allow their fanciful imaginations to muster to the contrary.


There are, indeed, numerous other examples which sufficiently expose Zaman’s manhandling and gross misrepresentation of my points. Zaman’s alleged "rebuttal" has failed to refute my original contention that the use of the imperative within the Christological context of Luke clearly shows that Jesus Christ is the Sovereign Lord of all creation, the eternally beloved Son of God and the Author of salvation. Based on this, the Son can lovingly demand the Father to answer certain requests and have his demands answered.

Before concluding, we would like to respond to a potential argument that Zaman may bring up. It seems to have become Zaman’s trademark to falsely accuse us, and others, of committing ad hominems against him. Zaman presumably does this in order to get sympathy from his readers, which would be a form of the fallacy of ad misericordium.

Zaman thinks that it is an ad hominem to expose his gross etymological errors, misrepresentations of sources and logical fallacies. Yet, this only shows that Zaman doesn’t really understand what an ad hominem truly is. In the words of his fellow Muslim Shabir Ally who, in justifying his ad hominem slurs against Robert Morey, wrote:

The REF reporter said that Dr. Badawi and Shabir had argued ad hominem, which means that instead of dealing with the ideas academically we attacked the character of the man who presented the ideas. Here the REF reporter echoes Dr. Morey himself, for he made the same claim in his debate with me. He and the REF reporter say that even if Dr. Morey is a liar his ideas may still be true.

As I have already pointed out, however, my approach has never been to attack the character of my opponent. I have dealt with his ideas in an academic fashion. I checked the sources of his information and his sources reveal his ideas to be false. The act of checking his references also revealed that he does not always make accurate quotations. Some of the comparisons between what he quoted and what his sources actually do say reveal discrepancies which throw doubt on his academic integrity. If he handled his references in such a manner as to raise questions of his honesty in dealing with the issue it is not for me to come up with the answers to such questions. It is for him and for the REF reporter to come up with answers. They have to show that the sources do actually say what Dr. Morey quoted them to say. This they have not done ...

It may prove helpful at this point if I further explain what is an ad hominem fallacy and what is not. One commits the ad hominem fallacy when one attacks the person instead of refuting his ideas. It is not ad hominem if in addition to pointing out the errors in the ideas one also shows how the person arrived at those incorrect ideas in the first place. If this means exposing the deceptive tactics such as the use of misquotes, then this reflects not on the expositor, but on the deceiver. It is also useful and legitimate for a debater to show that whereas his opponent poses as a scholar on a given subject, he has in fact proved inadequate or incompetent in dealing with the subject; or, worse yet, that he has proved dishonest in dealing with the subject. This of course does not prove that everything he says is wrong, since even the devil speaks the truth sometimes. But it does establish the need for caution before accepting everything he says -- hook line and sinker. (Source:; bold emphasis ours)

The following web site, in defining what an ad hominem is, states:

Argumentum ad hominem

Argumentum ad hominem literally means "argument directed at the man"; there are two varieties.

The first is the abusive form. If you refuse to accept a statement, and justify your refusal by criticizing the person who made the statement, then you are guilty of abusive argumentum ad hominem. For example:

"You claim that atheists can be moral -- yet I happen to know that you abandoned your wife and children."

This is a fallacy because the truth of an assertion doesn't depend on the virtues of the person asserting it. A less blatant argumentum ad hominem is to reject a proposition based on the fact that it was also asserted by some other easily criticized person. For example:

"Therefore we should close down the church? Hitler and Stalin would have agreed with you."

A second form of argumentum ad hominem is to try and persuade someone to accept a statement you make, by referring to that person's particular circumstances. For example:

"Therefore it is perfectly acceptable to kill animals for food. I hope you won't argue otherwise, given that you're quite happy to wear leather shoes."

This is known as circumstantial argumentum ad hominem. The fallacy can also be used as an excuse to reject a particular conclusion. For example:

"Of course you'd argue that positive discrimination is a bad thing. You're white."

This particular form of Argumentum ad Hominem, when you allege that someone is rationalizing a conclusion for selfish reasons, is also known as "poisoning the well".

It's not always invalid to refer to the circumstances of an individual who is making a claim. IF SOMEONE IS A KNOWN PERJURER OR LIAR, THAT FACT WILL REDUCE THEIR CREDIBILITY AS A WITNESS. It won't, however, prove that their testimony is false in this case. It also won't alter the soundness of any logical arguments they may make. (Source:; bold and capital emphasis ours)

As stated by this source, appealing to a person’s circumstances or use of lying is not always an ad hominem, provided that one presents evidence to support one’s accusation. In other words, to attack a person’s character while failing to produce evidence to support one’s claim is one thing. Yet, providing evidence to support one’s accusation that a person is willfully lying, misrepresenting one’s position or evading the arguments through the use of cheap debate tricks and logical fallacies is quite another thing altogether. Unlike Zaman who has failed to demonstrate where we have committed an actual ad hominem against him, or misrepresented him, our responses document where he has both misrepresented and mocked us.

Now Zaman, how about offering a real reply this time to my points instead of skirting around the issues?

We remain forever in the service of God’s immortal Son and eternal Savior, Jesus Christ, our beloved Lord and King. Amen. Come Lord Jesus, Come. We love you forever.

Sam Shamoun

Responses to Shibli Zaman
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