The rabbnya, rabbnyn in the Koran, an extract from:

Gnter Lling, A Challenge to Islam for Reformation. The Rediscovery and Reliable Reconstruction of a Comprehensive pre-Islamic Christian Hymnal hidden in the Koran under earliest Islamic Reinterpretations, Delhi (Motilal Banarsidass Publishers) 2003, pp. 71-87

Trad. Text 96,18: sa-nadu z-zabniyata سندع ۱لزّبانية

Trad.Interpret.: We shall (for our part) call for the bailiffs (of hell) (?). (Rudi Paret)
We shall call the imps of hell. (Richard Bell)

To this verse Richard Bell gives the commentary: "Zabniya, a word the sense of which is not clear; it is usually taken as denoting the guards of hell; or the angels which carry off the soul at death." Indeed it is a curious, even an enigmatic word. According to the Arabian lexicographers the word zabniya is said to be the plural of zibniya, a likewise strange word the significance of which is paraphrased as "police soldier, watchman". But this explanation seems to be not so much theory as a flight of the imagination, since according to the rules of Arabic word formation the word form zabniya looks exactly like the formation of the abstract (similar to the English abstract created by the word extension -ship) from a basic word zabn. But such a basic zabn is unknown in Arabic, old or new. Beyond the Koran this word zibniya, zabniya is therefore extremely rare. In the Koran itself this doubtful "plural" zabniya appears only in our verse Sura 96,18 and is therefore a Koranic hapax legomenon as theologians call a word which only appears once in the whole Bible. When Islamic tradition understands by this personal "plural" (although it seems to be an abstract) the custodian angels of hell, this interpretation is not to be turned down per se, since in a verse of the Old Arabian poetess al-Hans (Aghn XIII.136,7) where this really rare zabniya is to be found (if its rasm is not much better to be read in the same way as we reconstruct it for 96,18: rabbniya) it denotes most probably warlike angels mounted on horses (compare also Ibn Hishm. ed. Wstenfeld, I,201,4).[73]

Nevertheless, although the general direction of traditional Islamic interpretation, namely that the plural object of the verb "calling for" in 96,18 is "angels" , seems approximately to fit the context, this traditional meaning, taking into consideration our hitherto conclusive and plausible reconstruction of the Sura, is unsuitable. Instead of malicious angels of hell we need for our hitherto reconstructed scenario the opposite: angels benevolent and helpful towards devout believers, if angels are to be looked for in this passage at all. But indeed, the word nd, the "High Council of God's highest angels as his counsellors" of Sura 96,17, cries for these high. benevolent and peaceful angels of God to come up in 96,18.

It is not a random coincidence that just this word az-zabniya ۱لزّبانيةof 96,18 is suspicious because it is so rare according to the untenable frame-narrative allegedly meaning "the custodian angels of hell". Yet a very slight change in the diacritical punctation of the rasm of this word brings to light just the thing which is needed to continue the line of thought of our reconstructed Sura 96 from verse 1 to our crucial point 96,18: if we read, removing one point and setting one additional doubling sign, ar-rbbaniya لرّّبّانية, [74]we have these "ruling or governing or powerful angels" (the short German expression "Herrschaftsengel" seems most fitting) before us which are commonly called the rabbnyn (plural) "the great or masterly ones" a term which corresponds to the Greek NT expression kyrioi "Lords". It can be counted as a small but nonetheless further element in our evidence that these "Herrschaftsengel" appear in 96,18 in the word formation of an abstract or collective noun: "Governing-Angel-ship" fitting well the collective expression ndiyah "His (God's) High Council (of the highest angels)" of verse 96, 17. For the traditional zabniya "imps or bailiffs of hell" we had to reject the grammatical abstractum since there are, as a rule, no institutional councils or groups or classes of fallen angels or imps or devils of hell known from biblical literature and beyond, while the angels of heaven are institutionally arranged in special classes and legions etc. Therefore only for the angels of heaven and especially for the "Herrschaftsengel", the rabbnyn, the abstract rabbniya, meaning the institution of these "Herrschaftsengel" per se, is a fitting expression. And only this abstract is suitable to be understood as a hypostasis or a synonym of God, which accounts to the same thing, as seems to be the case in Sura 96, 18.

Excursus on the rabbnyn, the Angels of the High Council of God in early Near Eastern theology and in the Koran as well as in the early Islamic religious literature.

It is clearly not possible to submit the angelology of the Koran as well as the angelologies of the preceding religions Judaism and Christianity as a whole to a thorough critical investigation merely on the basis of our discoveries as to the usage of Sura 96,18. This is the more so because there has been no ambitious research on this topic for decades and especially not from the point of view of liberal historico- and dogma-critical theology. So we can only point to some essential insights which lend credence to our proposed interpretation of Sura 96,18.

It is only because of the dominance of trinitarian Christian confessions in our theological faculties at all universities that clear evidence is ignored as to why the (Greek) title kyrios "Lord" is applied to the Messiah. It is a title which he holds originally only on account of his status as one (the highest) of the ruling angels.[75] Even the Greek transcription of the Aramaic and Arabic title of an Angel of the High Council of God rabbouni is encountered twice in the NT (Mark 10,51 and John 20,16) when Jesus Christ is addressed.[76] The church-theological hindrance to this insight into the special Christological aspect of general angelology, if Christ is an angel he is a created being; an aspect which had to be expunged from trinitarian Christianity , is at the same time an impediment to a greater interest in general angelology. Only at narrowed down points, where the church-dogmatical interest is not immediately menaced, are things comparatively clear and undisputed (but also in the sense of being not disputed though), namely that Late Judaism ("Sptjudentum") and ur-Christianity understand the world of angels as a world of certain classes of angels and that they name and invoke the highest class of them (in Greek) by the abstractum kyriots "Lordship, Herrschaft" (see e.g. Eph. 1,21; Col. 1,16; 2. Peter 2,10; Jude 8). Each member of this abstract kyriots "Lordship" is a kyrios "Lord" the Arabic equivalents of which are obviously rabbniya (collectivum) and rabbn (singular), rabbnyn (plural).

Of those further classes of angels[77] only that one is relevant to our problem, the members of which are called in the Greek NT the exousiai, "the authorities or powers" (see Eph. 3,10; 6,12; Col. 1,16; 2,15; Tit. 3,1; 1. Pet. 3,22). Obviously these NT exousiai appear also in the Koran, so for instance in Sura 30,35: am anzaln alaihim sultnan fa huwa yatakallamu bi m kn bihi yusrikn "or have we sent down on them a power/authority, that he would have spoken about what they have been associating with Him?" If we examine this text closely it is unmistakable that the sultn "the power or authority" is understood as a speaking person although the Islamic and Western Orientalist tradition passes over this given speciality. Undoubtedly, in this Arabic sultn "Power" (in Sura 69,29 occurring also in the form of an abstract: sultniya), corresponding to Greek exousia, we have before us a further trace of the last concrete vestiges of the Late Judaic and ur-Christian angelology tangible in the Koran.

But let us now turn again to our word rabbnya. This abstractum does not occur in the Koran except in Sura 96,18 as we have quite reasonably reconstructed it. But there are three places (Sura 3,79; 5,44; 5,63) where the cognate rabbnyn turns up, and to this rabbnyn must be added the hapax legomenon ribbyn (3,146). If one approaches these references from the working hypothesis "rabbanyn = kyrioi = "Angels of the High Council of God" (in the sense of the Late Judaic and ur-Christian angelology), it turns out that these passages clearly had originally this specific angelological meaning but were later reinterpreted and considerably reworked by Islamic redaction. Of these four texts the most conclusively reconstructable one is that of Sura 3,79f. Before, in 3,78, the theme of "the falsification of scripture by Jews and Christians" is touched upon. Then, with 3,79f, the text reads (we put our reconstruction mirror-symmetrically opposite the traditional text and its interpretation):

Mirror-symmetrical representation of Sura 3,79-80

Reconstruction

Verses

Traditional Interpretation

ما كان لبشر أن يؤتيه ألكتاب والحكم والنبوّة

(a) 79

ما كان لبشر أن يؤتيه ألكتاب و الحكم و النبوّة

ثمّ يقول للناس كونو عبادا لى من دون الله

(b)

ثمّ يقول للناس كونو عبادا لى من دون الله

ولكن كانوا ربّنيّن بما كنتم تَعَلَّمُون الكتاب وبما كنتم تَدَرَّسُون

(A)

ولكن كونوا ربّنيّن بما كنتم تَُعَلَّمُون الكتاب وبما كنتم تدْرُسُون

ولا يأمركم أن تتّخذوا الملئكة وانّبيّن أربابا

(B) 80

ولا يأمركم أن تتّخذوا الملئكة وانّبيّن أربابا

 

We have arranged the text in the sections a-b and A-B to make the logical structure of this text transparent. For the reconstruction we have only to change, what concerns the rasm-text, the كونو or (defectively written) كنو kn "be you (imperative plural)" in the first line of (A) on the right side, that is of the Islamic reinterpretation, which is obviously an "emendation" of the original text because the original text (see left side first line of A) had undoubtedly had at this place, as we shall see, كان or كن kna "it was" or even better كانوا or كنوا kn "they were" as the logically required resumption of the كان or كن kna "it was" of the first line of (a) (first line right and left). We shall return to this issue later on.

Translation of Sura 3,79-80

Reconstruction

Verses

Traditional Interpretation

It was not for a human being that Allah should give him the book and the powers of judgement and the prophetic office

(a) 79

It was not for a human being that Allah should give him the book and the powers of judgement and the prophetic office

and that man then could say to the people: "Be ye servants to me apart from Allah",

(b)

and that man then culd say to the people: "Be ye servants to me apart from Allah",

It was/were[78] rather Ruling Angels
by whom you learned the Book[79]
and by whom you were taught,

(A)

Be ye rather rabbis
in what you are teaching the Book and in what you are studying,

And He (God) does not command you to take the Angels and the Prophets to be (your) Lords.

(B) 80

And He (God) does not command you to take the Angels and the Prophets to be (your) Lords.

 

To understand this text the reader has to remember similar passages of the NT: Acts 7,53: "You received the law given by God's angels ..."; Acts 7,38: "(A prophet like me ...) It was he who kept company with the angel, who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our forefathers, and received the living utterances of God to pass on to us"; Ga1. 3,19: "(The law ...) and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator"; Heb.2,2: "For if God's word spoken through angels had such force that ...". But see also Sura 83,20f: "A book inscribed which the Near-Standing (angels) are witnessing."

Our reconstruction proves to be correct if one follows this clear line of thought: The idea (a) that man is not allowed to receive the Book and the powers of right judgement and prophecy from God directly is counterbalanced in (A) by the positive statement on this matter: that it is only the High Angels who get all this power directly from God by which to teach mankind. The same clear logical structure is inherent in the sentences (b) and (B): In (b) is explained why God chose his High Angels to teach mankind, namely because otherwise a human being vested with these powers might become cocky and desire to be worshipped by his fellow human beings. This idea is continued in (B) in the sense that neither human beings nor angels should be worshipped, even if, clad with the power of right judgement and prophecy, they had taught mankind the Book. (This is obviously a conscious opposition to the Christian trinitarian conception of Jesus Christ!)

These structurally neat lines of thought teach us exactly the same central idea of the prophet Muhammad's message: that Christ should not be worshipped as God although Christ is, according to the self-understanding of Jesus and to the ur-Christian and the ur-Koranic belief, the Angel of the High Council of God, an idea which is also expressed in Sura 4,172 although in this Koran verse a much more frequent recurring (8 times in the Koran) Arabic word is used for the Angels of the High Council of God: al-muqarrabn "those posted near (God)".[80] On the other hand the statement of Sura 3,79f is also a presentation of the earliest Islamic conception of prophetology (every prophet has been and is still an angel; see A. J. Wensinck, Muhammad und die Propheten. Acta Orientalia II [1924],168-198)[81] as well as being the credo of the prophet Muhammad as to his own prophetship: He undoubtedly believed, as we have already pointed out (see here p. 28f with note 3), that he is himself an Angel of the High Council of God, preexistent in this High Council of God before his lifetime and destined to return to this eminent place in afterlife (see H. Wehr, Muhammads letzte Worte. WZKM 51 [1952],283-286). This conception was done away with by growing Islamic Orthodoxy and finally replaced by the image of the prophet Muhammad as a mere human being. Looking at the text of Sura 3,79f from this point of view, it is impossible that the prophet Muhammad himself was the redactor who garbled the original version of this text 3,79f and left us with the flimsy incoherent sentences of 3,79f we read now according to orthodox Islamic and Western Islamicist tradition.

How corrupted the traditional text is can easily be seen from the fact that after these late redactors had reinterpreted the word rabbnyn "ruling archangels" as "rabbis" in the sense of exceptionally erudite human beings, any reason for the closing statement "and He (God) does not command you to take the Angels and the Prophets to be (your) Lords" had disappeared. After these redactors had given up the meaningful contrast between (a) "It was not for a human being ..." and (A) "It were rather Angels of the High Council of God ..." they construed their own new and deviating contrast by a change of the rasm-text because they made out of the original كان kna "it was" or كانوا kn "it were (plural)" an imperative كونوا kn "be ye" which should accord with the imperative in (b) "be ye servants to me". This alteration of the rasm-text (see later the same reworking operation in Sura 2,65 and 7,166 here p. 86f with note 92) is not as serious as one might at first think because we know from the oldest Koran codices that in the oldest period of writing Koranic texts the vowels in the middle of a word were defectively written, that is without matres lectionis. that is without the insertion of the rasm-sign ا for long - as well as of a و for long - and of an ي for a long -.[82] So these words here had originally been written كن and كنوا. In our case both of these different readings kn (active voice perfect tense) and kn (imperative) had usually been written with the same rasm: كنوا. It was therefore easy to read out of this rasm the meaning one was inclined to prefer. But when the writing of long vowels within the words by matres lectionis (ا و ى) became obligatory, the reading was already fixed once and for all, although wrongly in this case.

So when the Koran editors deliberately read into the rabbnyn-Angels of (A) erudite rabbis or theologians or scribes, they opposed these rabbis of (A) to the cocky human beings of (b) who, in consequence of their weak human nature, are usually prone to yeam to be worshipped because of their endowment with judgement and prophecy. But this new contrast is a very disputable one since these invented[83] rabbis of (A) are human beings like the cocky human beings eager to be worshipped on account of their pretended right judgement and prophecy as depicted in (b). Is not there in the Islamic reinterpretation just this danger, which the original Prophetic version of this text tends to exorcise, that the rabbis/ulam as human beings want, because of their knowledge and "right judgement", to be if not worshipped (although this sometimes happened and happens!), nevertheless to be classed higher than their fellow citizens and fellow believers? Regard in this context the condemnation of the rabbis and the attitude called for by Jesus Christ towards them as articulated in Matth. 23 of which only verse 7f may here be cited: "They like to be greeted respectfully in the markets and to be called by people 'Rabbi! Rabbi!'. But be not ye called Rabbi, for only one is your master and all ye are brethren." From this point of view the essential message of the crude orthodox Islamic reinterpretation of the original, obviously Prophetic text Sura 3,79f appears to be in its kernel of the same significance as that contained in the diametrical reversal of the original meaning of Sura 35,28 where the original sentence "Behold, as for his servants God is most worried (worried that they might not earn paradise!) about the ulam (= rabbis)" has by untenable editorial devices (although not altering the rasm) been recast into the clearly wrong and, until now, uncontested form: "Behold, among his servants it is the theologians who fear (= revere; although the underlying Arabic verb means clearly "are worried about") God most" (we shall discuss this obviously post-Muhammadan reinterpretation later in its broader context). A further clear circumstance which testifies against the orthodox Islamic interpretation of Sura 35,28 is that at the time of the Prophet there were no Islamic ulam = theologians yet, so that the prophet Muhammad`s original text was undoubtedly directed against the Christian or Jewish theologians (ulam) of his day. But that did not hinder these early orthodox Islamic Koran experts forging self-praise out of this disapproving saying of their Prophet, certainly against his intention. The Prophet held the position of Jesus as cited above.

Beyond these arguments, our interpretation is corroborated by the oldest Islamic Koran scholarship itself: In his collection of non-canonical Koran variant readings the well-known Arabian philologist Ibn Hlawaih (died 370 H. / 980 CE) lists as a transmitted old variant reading for our text Sura 3,79 instead of the traditional and therefore canonical active voice bi-m kuntum tuallimna l-kitba wa bi-m kuntum tadrusn "in what you (the rabbis!) are teaching the Book and in what you are studying" just this former reading of the passive voice: bi-m kuntum taallamna l-kitba wa bi-m kuntum tadarassn "by what/whom you have been taught the Book and by what/whom you have been given lessons".[84] This reading listed as an old version of the text is therefore without any doubt just that reading we are obliged to read the rasm-text with, if we are to retain the correct old understanding of rabbnyn as "the Angels of the High Council of God". By the way: we did not know of these early variant readings until a long time after establishing the reconstruction of the text with the logical, grammatical and theological arguments already displayed above. However, as long as this earlier reading was valid, this earlier text must have had also the writing كان kna or كانوا kn "It was/were (the ruling angels)" instead of the imperative كونوا kn "be ye (rabbis)" of the later deviating and obviously wrong orthodox Islamic interpretation (see above about the earlier defective writing of both of these variants as كنوا).

This is the first time in our critico-exegetical research that there occurs a corroborating, alternative, non-canonical reading for a problematic part of the Koran text, recorded by trustworthy old Islamic authorities. It is in content ur-Islamic, Prophetic and pre-orthodox. Its essential meaning has been deliberately neglected by Islamic Orthodoxy and has from then on never again been recognized as to its significance for the ur-Islamic and Prophetic dogma. The great many variant readings of the Koran text handed down to us by Islamic Koran scholarship have been regarded since the time of orthodox Islamic canonization of the Koran text as mere orthographic slips of the pen.[85] But in many cases of our dogma-critical reconstruction still to be performed, it will become clear that we have in a great deal of these transmitted Koranic variant readings the trustworthy markers to an older, and in its dogmatical content essentially other Koran: We shall see, although we cannot deal with the problem here in detail, that those variant readings, which have been transmitted or have anyway survived at all within the stream of transmission, are those which yield the least insight into the former meaning of the concerned problematic passages and especially not the dogma of the former Christian ur-Koran in general. This becomes apparent especially when we come across a series of similarly deviating reinterpretations of a certain, as to theme one and the same set of textual problems involving a series of texts scattered all over the Koran. If there is then a variant reading transmitted at all, it is always only transmitted for that similar text of this series of texts of the same theme, where this transmitted variant reading makes the least sense or gives the least insight into the original meaning of this text (see for this especially here Chapter III,2). It is therefore also not surprising that we have here for our text Sura 3,79 the reading of passive voices ('you were taught and you were given lessons) transmitted as old variant readings although this old reading does not make sense unless this text was read also with the variant كان kna or كانوا "it was/were (the ruling angels)" instead of the later orthodox Islamic reading (كونوا kn "be ye (rabbis)". But this certainly once extant variant reading كان or كابوا instead of today's كونوا is not transmitted by Muslim tradition, understandably, because the established Islamic Orthodoxy was naturally here as everywhere keen to stamp out the erstwhile Christian strophic form and the formerly Christian meaning of considerable parts of the Koran, and on blocking all possibility of a rediscovery of this Christian Koran and of a return to it. And we shall later on always see that the most important variant readings, as to their value for the unmasking of the opinionated Islamic reinterpretation of the original Koran text, have always purposely been done away with and not transmitted. It is always the less important or even insignificant and negligible old variants which have preferably been transmitted until our present time. But fortunately they suffice in principle as evidence for the reconstruction of the original text.

Sura 3,79f had therefore undoubtedly dealt with the rabbnyn, with the "Angels of the High Council of God", although the word rabnyn does not occur unreinterpreted in the Koran and beyond it, with the consequence that the great National Arabic Lexica (see for instance Lane s.v.) normally list for this rabbn only the meaning "one who devotes himself to religious services; who possesses a knowledge of God" because of having identified it with the Jewish term Rabbi (but see here note 83). But if we consult critical European Arabic lexica the original angelological meaning clearly comes to light, as when Reinhart Dozy lists in his "Supplement aux Dictionnaires Arabes" the following meanings: rabbn = "transcendant" (three times): hikmat rabbnya = "providence"; al-qudrat ar-rabbnya = "sympathie"; as-sirr ar-rabbn = "sympathie"; ilhm rabbn = "inspiration cleste"; rabbnyt = "cantiques a la louange du Seigneur". And under the word root bsbs E. Fagnan quotes in his "Additions aux Dictionnaires Arabes" the meaning at-tabasbus ar-rabbn "la faveur divine". These references to the word rabbn collected from the Arabic literature beyond the Koran show clearly, although indirectly, that rabbn is not a human, but an angelic, celestial or even divine issue. We call this evidence indirect because in these critical European lexica there is also no clear identification to be found: rabbn = "Angel of the High Council of God". But this is no wonder since the Late Judaic and ur-Christian angelology was suppressed by medieval orthodox Islam as far as it existed in the ur-Koran. And it was even more urgently suppressed by Judaism and Christianity itself in Christianity to wipe out the Arianic angel-Christology in favour of the new imperialistic trinitarian dogma of the Christian empire. And this medieval situation lingers on: Where reactionary theological faculties have until today, following church-political tactics, been capable of concealing to all neighbouring faculties and special branches of science as well as to the intellectual public in general the results of the dogma-critical research of the 19th and the first half of the 20th century summing up to the fact that Christ had undoubtedly originally been understood to be the highest Angel of the High Council of God, and thus a created being , until this truth had been extinguished by the imperialist Hellenistic and Roman Christianity where this is the case, it cannot be expected that Western Orientalists (and Islamicists), who anyhow since the 1920s have not shown themselves to be interested in theological and dogma-critical matters, would have engaged in earnest research into the erstwhile blossoming but later superseded angelic cosmology of the religions of the Near East. As a consequence of this apathetic indifference there are still missing the scholarly tools (editions of texts, indices etc.) which would enable a speedy collection of all references e.g. of the term rabbnyn and etymological congeners in the early Arabic as well as in the still earlier Jewish- and Christian-Aramaic literature, where these terms as a rule appear also only as meanwhile misinterpreted words. So we cannot expect more than the poor and corrupted remnants of a formerly magnificent angelological cosmology of which we might cite here some splinters: In the Targum Pseudojonathan to Deut. 34,6 there are the four angelic teachers of wisdom clearly called חכמתא רבני the "rabbnm of the wisdom (= of the Sophia חכמה)".[86] As to the New Testament we can note that the Greek term kyriots "Herrschaft, Lordship" in 2. Pet. 2,10 is rendered in an old Arabic manuscript from the St. Catherine Monastery at Mount Sinai as الرّبّونية ar-rabbniya.[87] A very interesting reference is Acts 26,5 in the same Old Arabic NT version. We read there that the Apostle Paul had been raised and taught bi afdala ilm il-rabbniyn[88] (or: rabbnn) "by the best knowledge of the Masterly Angels (of the High Council of God)" instead of what we read in the Hellenistic Greek text tradition at this place Acts 26,5: "I (Paul) belonged to the strictest group in our religion: I was a Pharisee." If we concede on the one hand that the Hellenistic development of Christianity meant the creation and completion of the trinitarian creed as well as, at the same time, the extinction of the Late Judaic and ur-Christian conception of the Messiah as the ''Angel of the High Council of God" (angel-Christology), accompanied by, as a side effect, the dismantling of the elaborate general angelology, and if we acknowledge on the other hand that Semitic (Aramaic and especially Arabian Christianity was a preferential area of retreat for the persecuted and therefore decreasing adherents to the ur-Christian angel-Christology and angelology (their last movement leading into the origin of Islam), then we must seriously take into consideration that the Old Arabic versions of Biblical texts, like the one from Mount Sinai cited above, are likely to contain the best, oldest and therefore least disturbed readings, especially as concerns angel-Christology in particular and angelology in general. From this point of view it is almost certain that the Old Arabic reading of Acts 26,5 concerning the apostle Paul and his archangelic teachers (of the High Council of God) is the oldest, truest biblical version of that biblical sentence. The Hellenistic image of Paul as a former Pharisee, uncontested by trinitarian Christianity to this day, is actually a misleading reinterpretation of this angelological term rabbnyn/rabbnyn/rabbnn translating this angelological term as if it were a synonym of "rabbis" or scribes. This is exactly what we have seen done (but in much later times) by the post-Muhammadan Koran editors. or, as with the early Hellenistic bible redactors. as if rabbnn were a synonym of "pharisees".[89] The whole old story that the apostle Paul himself was once a pharisee seems then most probably to have been nothing else than the simple and in content curious result of a tendentious (anti-angel-Christological and anti-angelological) Hellenistic reinterpretation of an originally angelological statement which was within Semitic tradition safely transmitted, namely translated from the original Aramaic into an Arabic version of the Acta Apostolorum. And the image of an ecstatic, taught by angels, fits the personal appearance of the apostle Paul as a whole much better than to view him as a former erudite Jewish Pharisee (see also H. Detering, Der geflschte Paulus, Dsseldorf 1995).

Another old Arabic text shows that the original meaning of rabbnyn lived on in the circles of Muslim mysticism so often accused by orthodox Islam of being heretical. The book of the Sf Abu Sad Ahmed Ibn s al-Harrz al-Bagdd with the title Kitb as-Sirr (The Book of the Secret) was condemned, so that it has not come down to us , and he was obliged to emigrate to Transoxania and later to Egypt where he died in 286 H./899 CE. But some of the sayings of his condemned book are transmitted by later authors. And so we find in the book of Abdallh as-Sarrg at-Tsi (died 378 H/988 CE) Kitb al-luma fi t-tasawwuf (Book of Eminent Citations on Mysticism; ed. Reynold A. Nicholson [Gibb Memorial Series XXII] London 1963; p. ٣٦٨ 1, 6ff) the following sentence of Abu Sad al-Harrz: "God has drawn the spirits of His Saints unto Himself and has granted them the delight of being able to continue His praise and of having become near to Him (al-wusl il qurbihi; which clearly recalls the term al-muqarrabn "the near standing angels"). But He had also been engaged in preparing already as beneficial to their (mortal) bodies delight of every kind, because the life of their bodies is the life of animal beings (ais al-hayawnyn) and the life of their spirits is the life of the rabbnyn (ais ar-rabbnyn which word can at this place not be interpreted otherwise than "the Master Angels of the High Council of God"!)".

But we have still to comment on the remaining Koranic references to the rabbnyn (Sura 5,44; 5,63 and 3,146), other than Sura 3,79f analysed earlier. The Koranic theme al- rabbnyn = "the Angels of the High Council of God" deserves a separate treatment in view of its central significance for the reunderstanding of the ur-Christian and ur-Islamic angel-Christology and angelology as much for the Koran as for the Bible, but we can only touch here in passing on these further Koranic references, offering only for one of them, for Sura 5,63, a more detailed analysis.

Both the word rabbnyn in 5,44 as well as that in 5,63 have a wa-l-ahbr "and the scribes (or: rabbis)" placed after it, which is an addition. Since already rabbnyn denotes rabbis or scribes in the Islamic reinterpretation, this produces a tautology. This wa-l-ahbr "and the scribes/rabbis" placed immediately after ar-rabbnyn is obviously nothing else but a commentary inserted by the post-Muhammadan Koran redactors to underpin the new Islamic interpretation of rabbnyn deviating from the original meaning "Ruling Angels of the High Council of God", a procedure which unavoidably produces this rather meaningless tautology. That this manipulation was once undertaken in 5,63 can be corroborated by an analysis of the structure of the broader context 5,60-64 and we shall display these highly problematic verses in a mirror-symmetrical juxtaposition of the traditional and the conclusive reconstruction of its original meaning. But we should comment first on the rabbnyn references in Sura 5,44 and 3;146 accumulating thereby some evidence valid also for the reconstruction of the third highly complicated reference in 5,63 within its considerably distorted context.

The context of the reference to rabbnyn in Sura 5,44 was probably even more distorted at the hands of orthodox Islamic redactors than the text of Sura 5,60-64 to be discussed next but one. But here in Sura 5,44 we can deal with the problem only by a general disqualification of the meaning which results from the editorial insertion of the word wa-l-ahbr after the word ar-rabbnyn to underpin the wrong meaning of the word ar-rabbnyn as "Rabbis", creating by this manipulation a questionable tautology. This obviously wrong meaning, of which we can be sure that it has never been a reading of the Prophet Muhammad, but that the later Koran editors are to be charged with it, consists in the fact that the now existing text reworked by the Koran editors reads (we cite only the central words): inn anzaln t-taur ... yahkumu bih l-nabyn ... wa r-rabbniyna wa-l-ahbr ... wa kn alaihi (al l-kitb = al t-taur) suhad "Behold! We have sent down the Torah ... by which the prophets make their judgments ... and the rabbniyn and the ahbr scribes (theologians) ... and they bear witness to it (the kitb =Torah)" and this sentence is immediately followed by the admonition: "Fear ye not the people (an-ns in the sense of "human beings") but fear ye Me!"

This text, reflected on in a sober light, reveals that there are two categories of beings of which the first is the class of celestial beings, namely the prophets who are altogether angels according to old Islamic conception (s. here note 3; by the way: "angel" means "messenger" = rasl = prophet!) and the rabbnyn if we take them for what they are understood to be in the older Jewish, Christian and Islamic religious literature. For these, and only for these celestial beings the idea is appropriate that they "bear witness" to (the wording of) the Holy Scriptures. And there is the other category "human beings" to which in this text alone belong the ahbr "the scribes". To say with regard to them that "they bear witness to (the wording of) the Holy Scriptures" is from the point of view of the older conception a blasphemy established by the Muslim Koran editors = ulam = ahbr themselves for the sake of enhancement of their religio-politcal position in early Islamic society. We can be sure that the prophet Muhammad would have angrily rebuked such a self-evaluation of the scribes. We can even clearly recognize his Prophetic position from the transmitted text in the following words "Fear ye not human beings but fear ye Me", and we have to imagine the prophets and angels of the High Council of God at the side of God in sharp contrast to human beings, "the scribes". So this last sentence, which obviously belongs to the original text, is a glaring contradiction in adjecto to the preceding main statement of the Koran text. We have therefore to cancel the words wa l-ahbr of this main text and to restore the original meaning of the word ar-rabbnyn: "the Archangels of the High Council of God". And again, as already in of Sura 3,80 and 35,28 (See here p. 74ff), we can perceive the spirit of the post-Muhammad early Koran editors who produced this text elevating themselves to the level of prophets and angels if not even higher.

Our next and last but one Koranic reference to rabbnyn to be analysed is Sura 3,146[90] although the word at this place is not rabbnyn but ribbyn "thousands". This reading of the rasm ربّيّون must be dismissed because of its untrustworthy meaning in this context, for the traditional interpretation of the immediate context is: "How many a prophet (has there been) along with whom many thousands fought ..." (transl. Richard Bell), a statement which seems very alien to the Koran as well as to the Bible, because throughout Koran and Bible the loneliness and forlornness of the prophets in the midst of their nations is a common characteristic of their lives. We therefore have to change the rasm slightly by the addition of a "water wave" to get ربّنيّون instead of the transmitted ربّيّون and then to read rabbnyn: "How many a prophet (has there been) alone with whom many Angels (of the High Council of God) fought ...". The idea that angels are fighting side by side with the prophets was very familiar at the time of early Islam[91] 91 and it fits the general opinion of that early time that the prophets themselves were angels and in some extraordinary cases even angels of the High Council of God. Under these circumstances it should now have become clear that we have here in the traditional text an editorial manipulation before us eliminating the rabbnyn-angels from the original Koran text.

And now to our last Koranic reference to the rabban~yun , as far as we can recognize them in the Koran thus far.

The broader context of 5,60-64 is very distorted in the same way have shown the text of Sura 5,44 to be. This distortion is already signalled from the fact that Richard Bell tried a rearrangement of the sequence of the verses of this section without a convincing result, and Rudi Paret gives in his not-assuring-translation a lot of comments and bracketed insertions, trying thereby to make clear that the text is extremely difficult to interpret. Furthermore, old Islamic Koran scholars have transmitted no less than 20 variant readings just for these five Koranic verses (MQQ No. 1930-1949). Some of these variant readings indicate (e.g. MQQ No. 1932) that some words after all have been inserted by later Koran editors. Our opinion is that these Koran editors inserted a lot more words than even the transmitted variant readings show today which have survived in the mainstream of tradition. We cannot expect that the orthodox guardians of Islamic tradition would have allowed the key words for the restoration of the former text to be transmitted and so, as a rule, the really crucial variant readings were not transmitted but instead diligently eliminated from the stream of tradition. To make the distortion of this section clear we should proceed in such a way that at first we display the text in a mirror-symmetrical juxtaposition of the transmitted text and its probable earlier meaning and shall discuss the problems afterwards (we shall underline the transmitted old variant readings of special importance [left side] and underline with a dotted line the late changes of the text by the post-Muhammadan Koran editors [right side]; the Arabic characters of the problematic words will only be discussed at places of importance):

Mirror-symmetrical Representation of Sura 5,60-64

Reconstructed Reading

Verses & verselines

Traditional Reading

qul hal anbiy'ukum basarun

60

qul hal unabbi'ukum bi-sarrin

wa min dlika matbatan `inda llh

2

min dlika matbatan `inda llh

man gadiba llhu `alaihim

3

man la`anahu llhu wa gadiba `alaihim

wa ga`alahum al-qiradata

4

wa ga`ala minhum al-qiradata

wa Insertion `ubbda t-tawgt

5

wa l-hanzra wa `abada t-tgta

ul'ika sarrun maknan

6

ul'ika sarrun maknan

wa adallu `an saw'i s-sabl

7

wa adallu `an saw'i s-sabl

wa ida g'kum ql mann

61

wa ida g'kum ql mann

wa qad dahal bi l-kufri

2

wa qad dahal bi l-kufri

wa hum qad harag bihi

3

wa hum qad harag bihi

wa llhu a`lamu bim kn yaktumn

4

wa llhu a`lamu bim kn yaktumn

wa tar minhum katran yusri`na

5

wa tar minhum katran yusri`na

f l-itmi wa l-`udwni wa akli s-suht

6

f l-itmi wa l-`udwni wa akli s-suht

la-bi'sa m kn ya`lamn

7

la-bi'sa m kn ya`lamn

lau l yanhhumu l-rabbnyna

63

lau l yanhhumu l-rabbnyna

Insertion

 

wa l-ahbru

`an qaulihimu l-itma

2

`an qaulihimu l-itma

wa aklihimu s-suhta

3

wa aklihimu s-suhta

la-bi'sa m kn yasna`n

4

la-bi'sa m kn yasna`n

wa qlati l-yahdu

64

 

yadu llhi magllatun .....

2

New section with new line of thought

..

64

wa qlati l-yahdu

 

2

yadu llhi magllatun

 

Recovered Reading

Verses & verselines

Traditional Reading (R. Bell)

Say: Aren't your prophets flesh

60

Say: Shall I tell you of something worse

and therefore with God in reputation of those

2

than that in the recompense (that awaits) with Allah? The one

 

3

whom (singular) Allah has cursed and

against whom (plural) He is angry

 

against whom (singular) He is angry

and whom He made bloodsuckers

4

some of whom He hath made apes

[cancel "swine"] and servants of idols?

5

and swine and servants of Tght

They are wicked as to (their) standing

6

they are in the worse position

And most erring from the right way.

7

and further astray from the direct way.

And when they come to you people say "We have believed".

61

And when they come to you they say "We have believed".

But they have entered in unbelief

2

though they have entered in unbelief

and in it they have departed.

3

and in it have departed.

Allah knoweth very well what they have been concealing.

4

Allah knoweth very well what they have been concealing.

Many oft hem does one see vying

62

Many oft hem does one see vying

in guilt and enmity

2

in guilt and enmity

and how they consume ill-gotten wealth

3

and in their consuming of what is prohibited (Bell: probably usury).

Surely evil is what they have been working.

4

Surely evil is what they have been working.

Why do the rabbnyn not restrain them

63

Why do the rabbis and scholars not restrain them

from their speaking of guilt

2

from their speaking of guilt

and of consuming ill-gotten wealth

3

and their consuming of what is prohibited?

Surely, evil is what they have been doing.

4

Surely, evil is what they have been doing.

The Jews say:

64

 

The hand of Allah is fettered.

2

New section with new line of thought

 

64

The Jews say:

 

2

The hand of Allah is fettered.

 

This section starts with the address in the preceding verse 59 (we left it aside because of no further significance for the theme of 5,60-64) y ahlu l-kitb "Oh people of the Book". It contains therefore an Islamic confrontation with the Jews and Christians. Because we know beforehand that the rabbnyn in verse 63 of this context have been seriously misinterpreted, we have to ask ourselves what might be wrong with the traditional interpretation of this context in general.

The first and general thing is that in the traditional reading of 5,60 there is a queer opposition between "that in the recompense" and "the one whom Allah has cursed". We would and should expect the juxtaposition of two kinds of the same category: two different persons or groups of people. And the second and main peculiarity is that, when in verse 61 line 1 it says "when they come to you", the context remains totally obscure as to the question of who these people are, being cursed by Allah and coming sometimes or often or always to the Jews and Christians.

Fortunately, the Islamic tradition has transmitted a string of variant readings especially for the opening lines of this text which show on principle that the beginning of this section had formerly been read in another way. So, for instance, the rasm بشّر أنبّئكم هل hal unabbi'ukum bi-sarrin "shall I tell you of something worse" was formerly not read in this way with a doubling of the b in the verb unabbi' but without (MQQ No. 1930). So we feel entitled to read this rasm in a totally different way: بشر أنبيكم هل hal anbiy'ukum (or: anbiykum) basarun "aren't your prophets flesh?" This statement touches then exactly on the central theme which the Prophet is stressing just before in the context around verse 5,44 with its rabbnyn there (see above p. 81f). And with this reading we get rid of the main problem of the context 5,60-64 namely the obscurity of these people who come sometimes or always to the Jews and Christians: It is their prophets. We must obviously conclude that all the mostly anonymous leading Jewish and Christian theologians over the centuries who propagated such doctrines as the trinity and the equality to God of Ezra as well as those who falsified the scripture of the Bible are included in this Koranic term "prophets", at least in this instance.

Once we have decided on this reading. all the other transmitted variants hintind at an earlier alternative content for this section fit our opening text exactly: "Aren't your prophets nesh". But for our reconstruction we have to insert a wa "and" after this introductory statement (see verse 60 line 2 double underlined). And then instead of matbat "recompense" there is transmitted the former reading matwabat (MQQ No. 1931) which runs with matbat "rank, reputation, recognition, appreciation, estimation etc." It is also very important that the traditionally given la`anahu llhu wa "Allah has cursed him and" was formerly not read at all, it would indeed have been laying it on too thick against what are nevertheless prophets of the Jews and Christians! And likewise conspicuous is that the former readings (MQQ No. 1932) have here in 5,60 twice plural pronouns instead of the singular pronouns of the traditional Islamic reading which therefore have to be cancelled.

But the greatest blunder the post-Muhammadan Koran editors made was in declaring that Allah had made some of these, in their reinterpretation, "obscure" enemies apes and swine which is again laying it on too thick and almost certainly not the language of the Prophet. The transmitted variant readings (MQQ No. 1932) from the really great authorities Ubai ibn Ka`b and Abdallh ibn Mas`d, late contemporaries of the Prophet, indicate that they had read this passage in a considerably different way although there is nothing transmitted as to whether they omitted "apes and swine". But I doubt decidedly whether these old Koran authorities actually did have "apes and swine" in their text to be edited, even though the rasm for the word for "apes" at least was present (although with a totally other meaning) in the original text as the Prophet and his contemporary companions knew it, while the word "swine" is certainly an insertion by the later Koran editors and would therefore not have been read by Ubai and Ibn Mas`d as we shall now reveal.

The Arabic word qiradatun here in Sura 5,60 line 4 is a plural and can be derived from two different Arabic words namely qird "ape" and qurd "tick (sticking to the skin of camels, cattle and sheep etc. and sucking blood from these animals)". The plural of "apes" is aqrud (pluralis paucitatis) and aqrd (nomen collectivum) or qurd. As far as a plural qiradatun is listed in the old Arabic lexica for "apes" the references for this plural are on principle taken from the misinterpreted Koran, and I am very doubtful whether this plural would occur in any of the texts of old Arabic profane literature without reference to the Koranic religious vocabulary. So it is also highly questionable whether qiradatun was originally a plural of qird "ape". Now to the other alternative: The word qurd "tick" has the nomen collectivum or pluralis multitudinis qurd or qirdn and the pluralis paucitatis aqridatun. But although the plural qiradatun is not listed in Lane's exhaustive dictionary, Reinhart Dozy (1820-1883) quotes in his "Additions" a qirdatun "tick(s)" which is, with regard to its word formation, obviously a pluralis paucitatis (an assessable number of ticks). It is quite possible that in the three extant Koranic references of qiradatun we should always read this qirdatun. But this is a difficult question to decide because the old Koran was written defectively with no indication from matres lectionis as to whether vowels were short or long. Anyhow, at this place had undoubtedly stood either qiradatun or qiradatun with the meaning "(an assessable number of) ticks". So we can now conclude: While the ape was for Arabia, even then, an exotic animal with no noteworthy role in old Arabic literature, it was just the opposite with the tick. The tick is a preferred metaphor for all aspects of life in old Arabic poetry and literature, because camels, sheep and cattle play such an ubiquitous role in old Arabian life. It is often also found in witty allusions as for instance when it is said of a stingy spinner woman: "She took all her wool with her not leaving even a tick" (cited by Lane s.v. in a broader context). Naturally the tick serves as a metaphor for a human bloodsucker, and this is obviously the intention here in Sura 5,60 line 4. Because this metaphor "bloodsuckers" correlates in this section with "those who consume ill-gotten wealth" in verse 62 line 3, there can be no doubt that indeed the Prophet used it in his accusation against the prophets (in a broader sense of"teachers": see above) of the Jews and Christians. It is only the later Koran editors who garbled the text of the Prophet.

There are in the Koran only two more references for qiradatun allegedly "apes" (Sura 2,65 and 7,166) in both of which these "apes" are spoken of similarly in a curious way: R. Bell renders the traditional compound kn qiradatan hsi'na, similar here and there, as "be ye apes slinking away" and R. Paret tranlates this, though not without expressing his grave doubt with a big question mark: "Werdet zu menschenscheuen Affen (become ye apes shy as to human beings)". But great old authorities read, as their transmitted variants reveal, at both of these places the adjective of qiradatun not as hsi'na "shy" but hssna "low, ignoble, vile, mean. paltry" (MQQ No. 211 and 2759). This description fits the tick, but not the ape. So it becomes clear that all the three Koranic references of qiradatun (or qirdatun) originally meant "ticks" and all of these references and their context have been distorted by post-Muhammadan Koran editors as to their quite natural original significance, namely the judgement of the Prophet about his adversaries: "They were paltry bloodsuckers/parasites!"[92]

But since we have come now to the conclusion that 5,60 line 4 reads originally "whom He made parasites (= ticks)", as a parallel expression to "who consume ill-gotten wealth" in verse 63 line 3 , the following "and swine" in 60 line 5 can easily be recognized as a late insertion because "bloodsuckers and swine" cannot pass as compatible in a saying.

At long last we are coming to the crucial sentence of verse 5,63 concerning the rabbnyn for which the discussion of verses 5,60-62 has only been the overture: After we have uncovered the original meaning of verses 5,60-62 it becomes clear that in verse 5,63 the wa l-ahbr "and the scribes" also has to be cancelled as a late misleading gloss, as we have shown to be the case for the context of Sura 5,44 (see above p. 81f). This passage now has to be interpreted, exactly according to the traditional interpretation while omitting the gloss "and the scribes" and taking ar-rabbnyn for what this word had originally meant , "Why do the angels of the High Council of God not restrain them from their speaking of guilt and their consuming ill-gotten wealth?" This is clearly the continuation of the line of thought starting from verse 5,60: "Why do the mighty angels of God and real prophets not hinder these false prophets from doing evil?"

Since the post-Muhammadan Koran editors had disfigured the text of 5,60-63 the last verse 64, "the Jews say: 'The hand of Allah is fettered'", no longer had any relation to the distorted line of thought from 5,60 to 63. And since they had in this way reinterpreted the broader context to pieces, they let verse 5,64 be the beginning of a new section with a new line of thought. So also the Western Islamicists trusting to the traditional blurred reinterpretation also allow a break here, Richard Bell even giving this new section a (misleading) special headline: "Retort to a Jewish gibe, probably occasioned by demands for contributions

But verse 5,64 is actually the neat continuation of the line of thought from Sura 5,60-63 since the sentence in verse 64 "The Jews say: The hand of Allah is fettered" is the direct answer to the question of verse 63 "Why do the mighty angels of the High Council of God not restrain the false prophets?" One has only to understand that within the old conception of God and his highest angels, both of them and they together are the same, God and his hypostasis , so that we could change the subjects of both of these verses: "Why does God not hinder the false Prophets" and the Jews would answer '"The hands of the angels of the High Council of God are fettered".

We have come to the end of the road in our excursus on the original meaning of rabbnyn in the Koran and elsewhere. But we should remark that with the last reference to rabbnyn in Sura 5,63 we have for the first time analysed in minute detail and reconstructed an Islamic single-sense text in the rasm-groundlayer of which had never been hidden a formerly Christian strophic hymn, because this text was obviously a text dictated by the Prophet himself. And so we have here our first example of how horribly the post-Muhammadan Koran editors garbled texts of their own Prophet and how their misinterpretations spread like the metastases of a cancer through the whole body of the Koran. The reader might now understand why from the time of the "redaction" of the Koran under the guidance of the third caliph Uthman onward all old pre-Uthmanic Koran codices, even those of most honoured companions of the Prophet, were as completely as possible confiscated and burned.

End of the excursus on ar-rabbnyn.



[73] According to the reasonable thesis of S. G. F. Brandon (Jesus and the Zealots. 1967, 320f shared by many New Testament scholars (see Brandon's note 2) Christ is himself the apocalyptic "terrible Rider on the White Horse, whose eyes are like a flame of fire ... He is clad in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God" (Rev. 19,12ff). Since Christ is on the other hand undoubtedly one (and the highest one) of the Angels of the High Council of God all the apocalyptic Riders together seem to belong to the High Council. If this is the case then it is possible that the warlike angels in the cited verse of the poetess al-Hans are themselves the apocalyptic Riders or at least are depicted according to an image of the apocalyptic Riders who were certainly well-known in Pre-Islamic Arabia. The reading rabbniya is therefore preferable here to the linguistically more phantastic zabniya.

[74] If regarded as a classical Arabic word it should be written rabbnya. But because the pre-Islamic Christian texts of the Koran were written in vernacular Arabic, and also for rhythmic and strophe metrical reasons, we should write the word in the form rabbniya to accord with the rhythmic pattern mawliya.

[75] See for this M. Werner, Die Entstehung des Christlichen Dogmas, 1954, 302-321 the Chapter "Das Wesen des Christus nach der urchristlichen Lehre (Engelchristologie)" esp. p. 307. The arguments brought forward by M. Werner have never been disproved. They are hushed up instead, understandably because otherwise these arguments would bring the end of 19 centuries of "Christian" trinitarian theology and belief.

[76] Both of these epithets addressed to Jesus occur where his angelic quality is important if not central: in Mark 10,51 Christ is healing a blind man and in John 20,16 Christ appears at his open grave and reveals himself unexpectedly as the Resurrected One. This address is uttered by Mary Magdalene in a somewhat frightened way, so that her exclamation could have been indeed an astonished: "My Lord!" in the sense of "My Lord-Angel!" Significantly Jesus answers immediately: "Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father!"; an exhortation which is to be understood as a consequence of his appearing here in his celestial i.e. his angelic apparition.

[77] About these classes of angels in the early Christian literature see Theologisches Wrterbuch zum NT, ed. Gerhard Kittel, Stuttgart 1933ff. s.v. angelos and there the given references to the scholarly discussion. Attention should also be paid to Fridolin Stier. Gott und sein Engel im Alten Testament, Mnster 1934. See here also note 72 although J. E. Fossum sticks to the old and as against the evidence amassed by Martin Werner, untenable view that the NT title "kyrios" for Jesus Christ was an adoption of the OT appellation of Yahweh as "Lord" under the influence of the trinitarian creed.

[78] In Arabic the introductory verb is normally not congruent in number and gender so that in Arabic here is word-for-word said "it was rather Ruling Angels ..." .This is important to estimate appropriately the parallelism of the two kna "it was" introducing the first line of (a) as well as of (A).

[79] For m "what" as relative pronoun referring to persons see J. Blau, Grammar of Christ. Arab., 441.

[80] In Sura 3,45 Jesus Christ is clearly classed as "one of the muqarrabn" that is "one of the near (to God) posted angels". Compare the Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 43a where Jesus is classed qarb le-malkt near (posted) to the Kingdom (of God)".

[81] The conception that prophets are angels is already to be found in the OT. See 2. Chron. 36,15f; Isa. 44,26; Hag. 1,12f.

[82] On the defective writing (= without matres lectionis) in the oldest Koran codices see Gerd-Rdiger Puin, Observations on Early Qur'n Manuscripts in Sana, in: S. Wild [ed.], The Qur'an as Text. Leiden 1996, p. 107-111.

[83] What has hitherto been written (see the literature pointed at by Paret, 1971, on Sura 5,63) about the etymology of rabbni is hard to endure, namely that rabbni should be derived from the Aramaic mode of addressing a teacher rabban "our Master/Teacher!". But this enclitic -an "our" has, as to its morphology, a short a and not a long one! And all these writers knew that such an interjectory address "Our Master", per se even semantically untenable as source for rabbni, could never adopt the Arabic nisbet- or descent-ending -: "'one who belongs to 'our Master!'"! Karl Ahrens chracterizes therefore rightly (ZDMG 84 [1930], 21) this rabbn as "the peculiar Arabic form with the ending -"! Indeed, rabb and rabbn are according to the rules of semitic word formation two different words with consequently different meanings like in Hebrew har "other" and harn "last" (this word-forming element -on or -an is akin to the postpositional Old South Arabic article n !) So when Adolf Wahrmund in his Handwrterbuch gives rabbn = "divine" he is right. But when he adds "plural rabbnyn = "theologian. rabbi" this is pure fantasy, although a fantasy since more than a millennium sold by trinitarian Christianity and Islamic Orthodoxy as a sound and alledgedly well founded meaning ! rabbnyn meant and means "the divine angelic masters or governors" and nothing else.

[84] Gotthelf Bergstrer, Ibn Halawaihs Sammlung nichtkanonischer Koranlesarten. p. 21. These variant readings, as we have reconstructed them as the original text of this Koran text, are listed also in the new voluminous compendium of transmitted early Koranic variant readings MQQ, vol. 2, p. 46 = No. 1104 as having been read by the early Islamic Koran experts Ab Amr. Nfi, Ibn Katr, sim, Mughid, Ab Htim and al-Hasan.

[85] This orthodox traditional view has again and hopefully for the last time been advocated by John Burton. The Collection of the Qur'an. Cambridge UP 1977 all over his book (e.g. p. 171): "None of these variants is of great import."). But his general view which makes a case for a vigorous orthodox Islamic jurisprudence in action already before the establishment of the orthodox Koran text seems to me untenable.

[86] J. Levy, Chaldisches Wrterbuch ber die Targumim, s.v. rabbn; see also William F. Albright, Recent Discoveries in Palestine. p. 158 n. 2.

[87] M. Dunlop Gibson. An Arabic version of the Acts of the Apostles and the Seven Catholic Epistles .., London 1899 Studia Sinaitica VII), p. 60,9.

[88] rabbnyn or rabbnyn or even rabbnn instead of rabbnyn are only variations in pronunciation and orthography of one and the same word related to different languages (vernacular, classical etc.).

[89] The word "pharisee" has on principle not been adopted in Arabic literature. This would explain why the Koran redactors did never arrive at the deviating interpretation rabbnyn = pharisees.

[90] There may be some additional places in the Koran where most probably the redactors have not commented on an existent rabbnyn placing after it an al-ahbr or something similar, but they have replaced the word rabbnyn in general by such commenting words.

[91] See e.g. J. Wellhausen. Muhammed in Medina. p.49f and 54ff.

[92] At both of these places (2,65 and 7,166) the sentence is kn qiradatan hasi'na "be ye apes slinking away" (R. Bell). But this kn "be ye" has obviously to be read as kn "they were" just like it has been the case in Sura 3,79-80 (see here p. 74ff) and all adduced evidence for the alteration of the rasm of this kn unto kn is valid also for these references in Sura 2,65 and 7,66. The sentence has therefore to be read as "they were ignoble bloodsuckers" and this was a statement of the Prophet about the teachers of the unbelievers about whom he was speaking.