As such, this volume is ahelpful introduction to postmodernmethodologies that (although focused predominantly on biblical studies) can beused to discuss the formation and interpretation of scripture in morecomparative contexts.
But al-Kindi's more accurate study of Aristotlehad not entirely disposed of the older inaccuratepseudo-Aristotelianism which had prevailed amongst the imperfectlyinformed Arabs of an earlier day. Probably in the opening years of thetenth century and in Baghdad there was gathered a group of men whocalled themselves the the Brotherhood ofPurity" or "the Sincere Brethren", but is more probably intended toexpress the term "philosophers", at a time when the recent accession topower of the Buwayhid dictators produced a temporary experience oftoleration and free thought. Somewhere about A.D. 98o this groupproduced a body of epistles or essays which aimed at being a completeencyclopedia of philosophy and science. These essays are 52 in numberthe first fourteen deal with mathematics and logic, 15-31 with naturalscience, 32-41 with metaphysics, the remainder with mystic theology,astrology, and magic. Epistle 45 describes the organization and guidingprinciples of the brotherhood. Very commonly the Imam Ahmad is given asthe author of this work, but Shahruzi names five contributors, AbuHasan 'Ali b. Harun az-Zinjani, Abu Ahmad an-Nahajuri (or Mihrajani),Abu Sulaiman Muhammad ibn Nasr al-Busti (or al-Muqaddisi), al-'Awfi,and Zayd ibn Rifa'a. These letters were produced in or near Basra orBaghdad. The contents show a kind of obscure and crude type ofAristotelianism, such the earlier period of the revival of Greek as wascurrent in curate standard,science, before al-Kindi had set a more acbut references are made to older philosophies, to Hermes, Pythagoras,Socrates, and Plato, all confused and vague. Aristotle appears chieflyas a logician: the "Theology of Aristotle" and the "Book of the Apple"are accepted as genuine Aristotelian works. No reference is made toal-Kindi or his work, but Abu Ma'shar and other eighth or ninth centurywriters arc quoted. There is no trace of the influence of al-Kindi. Thedoctrine contained in these letters is eclectic, the world is describedas an emanation from God, the human soul as of celestial origin andstriving to return to God and to be absorbed in Him, a consummation tobe attained by wisdom, the of Gnostic and neo-Platonicwriters. The Qur'anis interpreted allegorically, and reference is madeto the Christian and Jewish scriptures, which are treated in a similarway. This teaching shows distinctly Shi'ite, probably Isma'ilian,tendencies, but the language in which it is expressed is involved andobscure, perhaps intentionally so with the intention of veilingspiritual teaching from the profane. The Batini or allegorical movementhad its roots in older nonMuslim thought, and presumably had survivedin Lower Mesopotamia where were many ancient creeds, all more or lessmixed up with politically subversive movements: this was the area inwhich the Khalif al-Mahdi had tried to suppress the Zindiqs or"atheists ", and in which the Qarmates afterwards had their beginnings,the home of the Isma'ilians, in any case definitely anti-'Abbasid andanti-Arab. In Islam this kind of Batini thought was strongest in theIsma'ilian sect, it had strong Gnostic tendencies and laid great stresson the spiritual and esoteric, as against the exoteric (Lewis, Camb., 1940, 44 sq.). This type of thought isinteresting as it represents the "wisdom "cherished by the Isma'ilians,by their adherents in the Fatimid khalifate in Egypt and later by theAssassins of Central Asia and Syria, offihoots of the Fatimids, andpresumably by the Druzes of the Lebanon. Though very far removed fromthe natural line of Islamic thought it still forms a living andvigorous branch of Islam, though it is not Arab
Scripture in context ii more essays on the comparative method
"He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches: He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death." ReV ii 11. This, it will be observed, was spoken, not to individuals, but to the church in Smyrna. In the preceding context, this church is urged, notwithstanding its trials and persecutions, to be faithful, and it should receive the crown of glory. At the close of this exhortation, the passage in review is introduced, in the way of warning, to show that the unfaithful would be hurt of the second death. Hammond says of this declaration: that is, if this church holds out constant, it shall not be cut off." This gives the true meaning: he that overcometh, that endureth through these trials and persecutions, shall continue, and receive praise of the Lord; but he that is unfaithful, and falleth away from the truth, as an unprofitable servant, shall be hurt of the second death, shall be and And that this prediction respecting the churches of Asia was literally fulfilled, - that the candlesticks of the unfaithful were removed from their places, - history has borne ample witness; as may be seen in Keith on the Prophecies, ch. viiI, and Newton's Diss. iiI After the reader shall have consulted these authors, he will see the force of Hammond's testimony, that the Jews used the expression "second death" "proverbially for final, utter, irrevocable destruction." A more perfect illustration of this use cannot be found, than in the history of those churches in relation to which the passage under consideration was spoken.