Prophecy in the Johannine Farewell Discourse :
The Advents of the Paraclete , Aḥmad and Conforter (al-Mu`azzi). Revised and Expanded Web Edition 2017>.
UPDATED BETA VERSION - IN PROGRESS
Last updated 01-07-2018
First published in the volume ed. Moojan Momen, Scripture and Revelation (= Baha'l Studies Volume Ill = Papers presented at the First Irfan Colloquium, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England, December 1993 and the second Irfan Colloquium Wilmette, USA March 1994), Oxford: George Ronald 1997.
A hymn by Mrs Emma C. Holmes entitled "The Comforter Has Come" was composed for the American Bahãï Convention of 191 1. Mountfort Mills (d. 1949, later the first chairman of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahãïs of America and Canada) sang it to the assembled congregation (SW 111/4:3). 1 It is a hymn celebrating the realization of promises contained in the Gospel of John about the coming of Bahã'Allãh as the Paraclete (Greek, paraclêtos) or "Comforter" according to the Authorized (King James; 1611) and Revised (1885) Versions of the Bible. Having said this it should not be thought that my purpose is to initiate nostalgic hymn singing -- noble though this might be! Rather, I wish to introduce my theme; namely, some aspects of the exegetical history of those sayings ascribed to Jesus which make mention of the advent of the Paraclete. I intend to set forth a few Christian, Muslim, Babi and Baha'i interpretations relating (directly or indirectly) to promises found in the Johannine 'Farewell Discourse' (of Jesus; Jn 13:31ff) where mention is made of the coming Paraclete. It will, I hope, be illustrated, that variants of the abovementioned hymn could have been "sung" in various "keys" by mainstream or heterodox members of major Abrahamic and related religions (i.e. Christianity and Islam, cf. Manichaeism). Interpretations of the paraclete sayings are central to Bahã'-Allãh Is claims. They have an important place in the Bahãã interpretation of the New Testament.
The Johannine Paraclete (paraclêtos): translation and Christian interpretation.
The Gospel of John records that Jesus referred to the Paraclete four times. Without citing the paraclete passages in full here (see Appendix One), it will be relevant to note the following words,
"And I [Jesus] will pray the Father, and he will give you another Paraclete, to be with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth (Jn 14:16) But the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things (Jn 14:26). . But when the Paraclete comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of Truth ( Jn 15:26)
. it is to your advantage that I [Jesus] go away, for if I do not go away, the Paraclete will not come unto you.." ( 2 =Jn 16:7) (trans. Revised Standard Version [adapted] see Appendix One).
The paraclete sayings of Jesus have, in one way or another, generated a wide range of interpretations which cannot all be registered here. Only a few points of translation and interpretation, largely relating to their personalized, messianic significance within various post-Christian religions, will be set forth. It will be clear that to some religious groups the coming of the Paraclete figure was a messianic event which fulfilled an aspect of the paraclete promises about Jesus' successor. Such, in varying ways, was the case within certain early streams of Christianity, Islam and the Bãbï and Bahãî religions.
The English loan-word Paraclete is a transliteration, via the Latin (Paracletus, so the Vulgate of Jerome d. 420 CE) of the Greek paraclêtos. 3 An extended active sense of this Greek word is most likely present in the Johannine paraclete texts (cf. 1 Jn 2:1).4 As depicted in the Fourth Gospel the multi-faceted Paraclete has a range of functions; including (directly or indirectly) instructing/ teaching', 'reminding', 'witnessing', 'exhorting', strengthening', 'helping' and 'comforting/ consoling'. It has become clear that no single translation could adequately sum up all dimensions of the role of the Johannine Paraclete. There is no single, wholly adequate English translation of paraclêtos. Searches for the historical background and origin of the title Paraclete have been largely unsuccessful. They have not served to settle the translation problems (cf. Smith, 'Paraclete' IDBS; EDNT 3:29; Casurella, 142).
Finding the active sense of "consoling / comforting" (Greek parakalein/ parakaleo, "to console / comfort") reflected in the Fourth Gospel's use of paraclêtos, many Greek Church Fathers presuppose that the Johannine Paraclete is basically a "Comforter" or "Consoler". Cyril of Jerusalem (c. 313-86 CE) for example, reckoned that, "He is called Paraklãtos because he comforts (parakalei) and consoles and helps our infirmity" (Cat. , Or. xvi. 20 cited DB2, 183; see also Bernard, John 11:497). This translation was also deemed appropriate inasmuch as the general aim of Jesus in the 'Farewell Discourse' was thought to be to "comfort" the disciples as he leaves them (see Behm, TDNT),
The English translation "Comforter" apparently goes back to the Yorkshire born English reformer and Oxford scholar John Wycliffe (13251384) who initiated a translation of the Bible into English. The translation "Comforter", as noted, was used in the highly influential Authorized Version (=KJV) of 1611 and the American Standard Version of 1901. In modern English translations of the New Testament other renderings usually replace "Comforter" (see though The Living Bible, 1971) for the comforting role is largely indirect or thought to be relatively minor "in the Paraclete's activities" (Lindars, 1972:479; cf. Behm TDNT ) where the translation "Comforter" is rejected). From the early Christian centuries however, words synonymous with "Comforter" in a variety of languages, have translated the Greek.
The Egyptian exegete Origen (185-254) understood paraclêtos in John's Gospel to mean "consoler" (= "comforter"). In his First Principles he (+ ? the translator Tyrannius Rufinus d. 410) wrote, "The Paraclete who is also called the Holy Spirit, is so called from his work of consolation (paraclesis being termed in Latin consolatio); for anyone who has been deemed worthy to partake of the Holy Spirit, when he has learned his unspeakable mysteries, undoubtedly obtains consolation and gladness of heart." (De prin. Il vii.4 trans. Butterworth, 119). He understood Paraclete to have two basic senses in Greek; "intercessor" when applied to Jesus (see 1 John 2: 1) and "comforter" when applied to the Holy Spirit (see further, Casurella, 3f0: "When used of the Holy Spirit.. the word 'paraclete' must be understood as 'comforter', because he provides comfort for the souls to whom he opens and reveals a consciousness of spiritual knowledge." (De prin. ll. vii.4; trans. Butterworth, 119).
The Revised Standard Version (1952) has "Counsellor" (where KJV + Revised Versions has "Comforter") in the four paraclete sayings. It was thought to be equally appropriate to all five New Testament occurrences. Lindars reckoned that to translate paraclêtos by "Counsellor" can be defended on the basis of the equal applicability of this title to both the Johannine Jesus and the Johannine Spirit; "..it was obviously necessary to find a word which, while being capable of being applied to both, was not exclusively associated with either." (ibid). "Counsellor" is also four times used in the paraclete sayings as rendered in the New International Version (1978). The use of this single translation is quite widely considered too simplistic.
The Latin Fathers Tertullian (d.220 CE) and Cyprian of Carthage (d. c. 258 CE) as well as Augustine of Hippo (d. 430 CE) and others, often rendered paraclêtos as Advocatus ("Advocate" ; cf. EDNMT 3:28). This rendering, indicating 'one called in to give help and advice', has been much favoured (see Bernard, 11:496). The New English Bible (New Testament, 1961; revised edition 1989) and the Catholic Jerusalem Bible (Eng. trans, 1966) for example, consistently translate paraclêtos as "Advocate" as does the New Revised Standard Version (1989; with the alternative "Helper" footnoted). Many however, have also found this translation too limited (e.g. Lindars, 1972:478). The revised New Jerusalem Bible (1986) straightforwardly uses the transliteration Paraclete and this is undoubtedly the most satisfactory.
Another suggested translation of paraclêtos has been "Helper" which closely accords with Greek usage. Such was the favoured rendering of the Scottish New Testament scholar James Moffatt (18701944) who produced a colloquial translation of the New Testament in 1913. Partly on the basis of Mandaean texts where the figure Yawar ("the Helper", a debateable rendering) is important, Rudolph Bultmann (1884-1976) gave weight to this rendering of paraclêtos. (Bultmann, 1971:570f). For reasons other than those proposed by him, it is quite widely looked upon favourably by modern Biblical scholars (i.e. Behm, TDNT Braumann, 1986:89; cf. though R. Brown, 1971:1136). It is the translation of the Johannine paraclêtos found, for example, in the New American Standard Bible (1960), the New King James Version (= Revised Authorized Version, 1980/82) and the New Century Bible (1987).
The Spirit, the Messiah, and the personification of the Paraclete
The paraclete sayings in John's Gospel presuppose an intimate relationship between the Paraclete and the Holy Spirit (see especially Jn 14:26). The Paraclete is three times identified with "the Spirit of Truth" (to pneuma tes alãtheias; 14:17; 15:26; 16:13). From the early Christian centuries through the Patristic era and beyond, many Christians have reckoned the Paraclete figure a divine personification of the Holy Spirit. This was standard among the Fathers (Casurella, 1983:43). Most Christian interpretations, whether ancient or modern, are on these lines. Modern New Testament scholars sometimes conflate the Paraclete and the Holy Spirit by speaking of the Spirit-Paraclete (e.g. in Johnston, 1970).
As the messianic understanding of the Paraclete presupposes a more or less complete personification, it will be convenient at this point to register a few passages in which this is highlighted. G. W. H. Lampe in his article 'Paraclete' (IBD 3:634) writes,
"In the Fourth Gospel, Jesus promises that in arnswer to his prayer the Father will give his disciples "another paraclete".. This is the Holy Spirit, whose function is thus said, by implication, to be identical with that of Christ, but who is yet distinguished from him. The use of masculine pronouns and adjectives (John 14: 16: "another"; 14:26: "he"; 16:13: "he") shows that the Spirit is regarded as fully personal; indeed, the "paraclete" passages of the Fourth Gospel mark the most highly developed thought in the NT in respect of the personality of the Spirit of God... He is the Spirit of truth (John 14: 16 17), who is the guide to Christ, who is himself the truth (vs. 6). As the revealer of Christ he takes the place of the physical presence of the incarnate Word, and is in this sense "another paraclete" (vs. 16), present at the side of Christ's followers..."
On similar lines are the remarks of Quispel,
John clearly regards the Holy Spirit as a person or at least as a hypostatic being with personal characteristics, distinct from Christ (not his force or spirit or function in the world). The author [of John 14f] is so convinced of this personal being that he uses the Greek masculine pronoun ekeinos with the neuter substantive to pneuma tãs alãtheias (14:26, 17). This is not always the case in the New Testament, even in the Gospel of John: "He breathed on them, saying: Receive the Holy spirit" (20:22).." (1972:147)
Within orthodox Christendom the person of the "other Paraclete" (Gk. allos paracleton, Jn 14:16) remained within the substance of the Trinity. Various paraclete passages were read as evidence of the distinction of persons within the Godhead. From the Patristic era (despite John 20:22) the pentecostal effusion of the Holy Spirit narrated in Acts 2 came to be widely viewed as the historical fulfilment of the paraclete promises (see Casurella, 140). The expected Paraclete was, for most Christians, the post-Easter gift of the Holy Spirit.
Neither the description of the Paraclete as "another Paraclete" (Jn 14:16) nor his strong personification and role of completing the revelation begun by the historical Jesus (see esp. Jn 14:26; 16:12f), have led the generality of Christians to expect another human or messianic manifestation of the Paraclete. Such an understanding of the SpiritParaclete was not however, wholly unknown in the early Christian centuries. The possibility of Paracletehood was early on utilized by Christian schismatics and later used to support the reality of continuing prophethood. The sometimes masculine personification of the Paraclete doubtless sometimes confirmed this perspective.
Simon Magus (1st cent. CE), a contemporary of the apostles of Jesus, may have claimed to be the Paraclete (Casurella, 16 fn. 12). St. Paul was apparently reckoned the "other Paraclete" of John 14:16 by certain followers of the excommunicate heretical theologian Marcion of Pontus (d. 180 CE; refer Origen, on Luke' 25; Casurella, 16 fn2). In the late 150s CE the Christian Montanus claimed to be a prophet in Phrygia; "claimed to be the mouthpiece of the Holy Spirit and that the Paraclete promised in John 14, 26; 16,7 was incarnate in him." (Aland, EEC 1: Montanus.. ; cf. Casurella, ibid).
Christian trinitarian orthodoxy eventually outruled claims to Paracletehood. In his The Johannine Paraclete in the Church Fathers.. Casurella notes the eventual absence of Christian claimants to Paracletehood,
"Early heresies seem to have identified the Paraclete with various human individuals ... After the work of Or[igen] in the East and Tert[ullian] and Nov[atian, 3rd cent. CE] in the West this does not appear ever to have been done by Christian writers in any serious way again. The person and nature of the Spirit were to come into question, but that he and the Paraclete are one and the same seems to have been universally agreed." (p.23 fn 44)
While claims to Paracletehood faded out in Christendom, Mãni (216-c. 277? CE), the son of a Parthian prince and founder of Manichaeism (a gnostic type movement drawing upon Judaeo-Christian and Indo-Iranian doctrines) proclaimed himself the Paraclete promised by Christ (Widengren, 1965:77). According to his own testimony as reflected in the Coptic 'Kephalaia ('Chief Sections') of the Teacher', his Divine Twin Self (Syzygos), the Living Paraclete "came down", spoke to him and disclosed "all that has been and all that will be [cf. Jn 14:26 and 16:13]" (cited ibid, 27 cf. Rudolph, 1987:329). Viewed by his followers as an Apostle of Light and Salvation with a universal mission as an incarnation of the Paraclete, Mãni and his movement came to be attacked by certain of the Church Fathers. A number of them attempted to counter Montanist and Manichaean claims by asserting that manifestations of the paraclete cannot post-date the apostolic period when the paraclete promises were fulfilled at Pentecost (Casurella, 89+ fn 450. It has been proposed by a number of western scholars and missionaries that the belief that Muhammad was the Paraclete (see below) has Manichaean roots. Others relate this to Qur'ãn 61:6 which may even presuppose a continuing (Syriac speaking Monophysite?) Christian expectation of the Paraclete? (cf. Robinson, 1991: 197 fn.27).
Al)mad in Qur'än 61: 6 and the Paraclete in Islam.
The Qur'ãn is believed to be the record of revelations received between c. 610 and 632 CE by the Arabian prophet Muhammad (c.570-632 CE). In the Qur'ãnic sürah of 'The Heights' (al-A'rãf), reference is made to
"The Prophet [Muhammad] of the common folk, whom they find written down with them in the Torah and the Gospel.." (Q.7:157 tr. Arberry 161).
Many Muslims have rejected the existing Bible as a corruption of the original divine revelations to Moses (the pristine Torah) and Jesus (the true Gospel, injïl). On the basis of various Qur'ãnic texts however, some Muslims have singled out existing Biblical texts - viewed as pure remnants of the true, original and uncorrupted Bible - including versions of the paraclete sayings, as prophetic of the rise of Muhammad and the coming of Islam. Important in this respect is the following verse in the Meccan sãra of 'The Rank[s]' where Jesus is said to have predicted the coming of his successor named Ahmad,
"And when Jesus son of Mary, said, 'Children of Israel, I am indeed the Messenger of God to you, confirming the Torah that is before me, and giving good tidings of a Messenger who shall come after me, whose name shall be Ahmad (ismuhu Ahmadu; or, 'whose name is more worthy of praise')". (Q. 61 :6; trans. Arberry, 580).
While the proper name Muhammad, means "more worthy of praise" or "often praised," the name Ahmad, means "most praiseworthy". Though there is no exact, clear or obvious canonical Gospel reference to a messiah with this name (or equivalent; see Schacht, Ahmad; Parrinder, 1982:98), most Qur'ãn commentators equate the 'one with praiseworthy name', the Ahmad mentioned in Qur'ãn 61:6, with the Prophet Muhammad.
Numerous traditions (ahadïth) ascribed to the Prophet and Twelver Imams, reckon Muhammad one "named" or entitled Ahmad. The following are a few select examples:
"My name in the Qur'ãn is Muhammad and in the Gospel[s] (injïl) Ahmad. And in the Torah it is Ahyad ["the Shunner"]; I am called Ahyad because I shun "hell fire" more than any of my people.." (Ibn 'Abbas, cited HDl:387, [translation adapted]).
"l heard the Messenger of God say: 'Unto me are alotted various names. I am Ahmad and I am Muhammad. I am the Obliterator (al Mãhi) through whom God wipes out infidelity. I am the Gatherer (al-hashr) before whom the people will be gathered. And I am the Finality (al-'ãqib) after whom there will be no prophet" (Bukhãrï [& Muslim]; as cited Tabarsï, Majma', 5:280; cf. Parrinder, 198298).
"When He raised up the Messiah.. he [Jesus] said, 'A prophet shall come after me whose name shall be Ahmad [Q. 61:6] upon him and his family be peace. Of the progeny of Ishmael shall he come in confirmation of me and in confirmation of thee. And
he shall forgive me just as he shall forgive thee."' (Imam Ja'far al-Sãdiq cited Kãshãnï, Tafsïr al-safi, 5:169; cf. Jn 16:7f; 15:27).
Such traditions led, in the light of Qur'ãn 61 to the widespread belief, that Ahmad was the Prophet's name in the Torah and the Gospel. This was expressed in many different ways. In, for example, the first book of his poetical masterpiece, the Mathnawi, Jalãl al-Dïn Rümï (1207-73 CE) states that "some Christians of old used to kiss the name Ahmad in the Gospel and were saved from persecution thanks to the blessing power of that name." (Schimmel, 1985: 108).
Neither the (transliterated) word nor the concept of the Paraclete occur directly in the Arabic Qur'ãn; though it is not impossible that Qur'ãn 61 itself reflects Muhammad's own claim to Paracletehood. The application of the paraclete promises to Muhammad was largely borne out of the Muslim exegesis of this verse for apologetic purposes. Muslim apologists came to argue that one named Ahmad (loosely = Muhammad) was the fulfilment of (sometimes rewritten versions of) the paraclete promises. As will be seen, Shî`ï messianic and other doctrines came to be related to a continuing Paracletehood.
Various modern western Islamicists have proposed that Qur'ãn 61:6 did not originally allude to the paraclete promises or indicate a messiah figure with the personal name Ahmad. It appears to have taken a century or more for Muslims -- probably Christian converts to Islam -- to have linked paraclete promises to Muhammad (sometimes via his "name" Ahmad; see Montgomery Watt, 1990:46). Subsequently, the name Ahmad came to be widely viewed an Arabic translation of the Greek paraclêtos ("Paraclete"). In this way the Prophet Muhammad was, by virtue of his name Ahmad (loosely = Muhammad), believed to be mentioned in the Bible -- primarily the Gospel of John but in some Islamic sources the Torah and Psalms also.
The lack of perfect correspondence between the Arabic proper name Ahmad ("the most praiseworthy") and the Greek paraclêtos (traditionally "Comforter", etc) has led many modern Muslims to accept an ingenious alternative reading based upon a revowelling of the six Greek consonants of paraclêtos i.e. PRKLTS -- note that Syriac and Arabic (and other Semitic) texts are often written without vowels. The proposed novel Gospel reading periklutos, ("Periklytos"), meaning "celebrated" ("illustrious", "highly-esteemed", "praised") has become widely supported in the Muslim world. Many Muslims today regard it as the `correct', the 'original' reading despite the fact that it does not occur in New Testament Greek and has no support in ancient manuscripts. For pious Muslims periklutos ("celebrated" = Ahmad Muhammad) is the 'correct reading' because it more adequately corresponds to the Arabic Ahmad (= Muhammad) as indicated in Qur'ãn 61:6 (cf. HDI:12, 124; Cragg, 1956:285; Montgomery watt, 1990:46). On various grounds western academics have generally rejected the proposed reading periklutos ("celebrated" = Muhammad) for paraclêtos. As Schacht observes, "the history of the text and of the translations of the Gospel, together with the fact that periklutos was not common in corntemporary Greek, shows this to be impossible." (Ahmad:EI2). Countless modern Islamic writers, however, argue that the Gospel reading paraclêtos ("Paraclete") is corrupt since it does not accurately correspond to Muhammad's name Ahmad as indicated in the Qur'ãn. They argue that Muhammad is the true Johannine promised one as a "celebrated" (= periklutos = Ahmad) prophet figure -- not merely the Paraclete as the Holy Spirit (e.g. 'Abdu'l-Ahad Dawüd, 1979:198ff; Hijãzï Saqqã', 1989 al-Fadl, 1990: 159ff).
In the entry 'Ahmad' in the recent Encyclopedia of the Shi'a (ESh. 1:515-6), it is mentioned that some reckon that the Prophet's name in the Torah and the Qur'ãn is Muhammad while it is Ahmad in the Gospel (injïl). The Johannine references to the Paraclete (Per. Pãrãklãtãs) are registered. Like the Prophet's name Ahmad, the alternative reading Pirãklytãs ( = periklutos) is rendered as "Celebrated" (Per. sitüdih) (ESh 1 :51 1).
In a note, apparently rooted in an attempt to account for the absence of the prophesied name Ahmad (see Q. 61:6) in the New Testament record of Jesus' utterances, it is recorded in the massive Shï'ïte encyclopedia, the "Ocean of Lights" (Bihãr al-anwãr) of Muhammad Baqir Majlisi (d. 1111/1699-1700), that the name Ahmad as 'the proper name Alï, was transposed and altered in Syriac (surãni) to the proper name of the Hebrew prophet Elijah (ilyã). The true Gospel text originally referred to 'Ali (not Elijah) the first of the Shï'ï Imams (d. 40/661) who, till the Day of Resurrection, most perfectly and in all respects represents Muhammad (= Ahmad; cf. the Paraclete as one representing Jesus; Bihãr, 15:21 1; cf. Corbin, 1971:40).
It should also be noted that Muslims have given considerable importance to alleged prophecies of Jesus regarding Muhammad contained in the (largely?) inauthentic, Italian (originally Spanish?) Gospel of Barnabas (c. 14th-15th century CE?). Most probably put together by a Christian convert to Islam, the following passage is among the words attributed to Jesus,
The disciples answered 'O Master, who shall that man be of whom thou speakest..? Jesus answered.. 'He is Mohammad.." (Barnabas, 163:212).
The prophesies of Muhammad ascribed to Jesus in the 'Gospel of Barnabas' are often related by Muslim apologists to Qur'ãn 61:6 (the qur'ãnic mention of Ahmad = Muhammad) and to the Johannine paraclete sayings -- sometimes other Biblical 'prophecies' of Islam also. The French philosopher, Iranist and Islamicist Henri Corbin (d. 1978) has proposed a relationship between early Judaeo-Christian prophetology and certain aspects of the prophetology of the (proto-) Gospel of Barnabas (Corbin, 1976; 1977).
Islamic paraclete sayings
Versions of the Johannine paraclete sayings are found in Islamic sources. They are not infrequently in partially rewritten, conflated or novel versions. Some examples contained in Shi`ï and a few Sunni sources will be noted.
In his two volume compendium of universal history, the early ShTïte historian Ibn Wãdih al-Ya'qübï (d. 292/905) has it that Jesus communicated to his disciples after travelling to Jerusalem, a distinctly messianic, novel rewrite and conflation of various paraclete sayings:
"The hour at which the Son of Man (ibn al-bashar = Jesus) must withdraw unto His Father hath arrived. I am going unto a place where it will not be possible for you to accompany me. So uphold my final directive (testament, wasiyatï) and there will come unto you the Paraclete (al-fãraqit) who will be with you as a prophet (nabi). So when the Paraclete comes unto you, with the Spirit of Truth and Sincerity (Veracity, bi-rüh al-haqq wa'l-sidq) he it is who shall bear witness unto me. I have communicated this unto you to the end that you recall it when his time hath come. For my part l, verily, have told you this and am now going unto Him Who sent me [the Father]. So when the Spirit of Truth (ruh al-haqq) comes he will guide you unto all the truth. And he will announce unto you coming affairs (al-umur al-ba'ïda). He shall extol me and in a while you shall not see me" (Tãrïkh, 1:72).
Important Islamic versions of paraclete sayings are cited from the Kitãb al-kharã'ij.. of Qutb al-Dïn Rãwandï (d. Qumm, 573/1177-8), in the "Ocean of Lights" of Majlisï (Bihãr, 15:21 Of):
"..in the Gospel (injïl) it is recorded that Jesus said unto his disciples, "l go away and the Paraclete (alfãraqlït) will come unto you, even the Spirit of Truth (bi-rüh al-haqq) who shall not speak on the part of his own self (min qabl nafsihi) but according to that which He saith unto him. He will bear witness unto me [Jesus] and you also shall bear witness because you were with me before the [mass of the] people; and everything which God hath prepared for you will he [the Paraclete] declare unto you..." (a loose paraphrase of Jn 16:7, 13-14; 15:26-7 and 16:13b).
'And in the narrative of John (hikäya yuhanna) it is related that the Messiah said, "The Paraclete (al-fãraqlït) will not come unto you unless I go away. And when he comes he shall reprove the world for sin (khatiy'ä). He shall not speak on the part of his own self but shall speak unto you that which he heareth. He will bring you the Truth (al-haqq) and announce hidden events (al-hawadith wa'l-ghuyüb) unto you.."' (Jn 16:7f..13b..)
'And he [Jesus] says in the final narrative, "The Paraclete (al-fãraqlït), the Spirit of Truth (rüh al-haqq) whom He will send in my name shall teach you all things (kull shay)." (Jn 14:26; 16:13).
He said, "l am asking my Lord that he send another Paraclete (fãraqlït ãkhar) who will be with you unto the end... And he will teach you all things (kull shay'). " (Jn 14:16+26b).
And he [Jesus] says in another narrative, "The Son of Man (ibn bashar) is going and the Paraclete (alfãraqlïT) will come after him [Jesus]. He will communicate the secrets (asrãr) unto you and will expound all things (kull shay'). He will bear witness unto me just as I have borne witness unto him. l, verily, have come unto you with parables (bi'lamthãl) and he will come unto you with spiritual exegesis (bi'l-ta'wïl)." (cf. Jn 16:7f).
A saying partially modelled upon John 14:26 is cited in the well known bibliographic dictionary, Kashf al-zunün ("The Clarification of Speculations") of Kãtib Chelebi or Hajjï Khalifa (d. 1067/1657). As in the above citation from Majlisi, the "spiritual exegesis" (ta'wïl) of divine revelation is left to the future Paraclete:
"We the Prophets (al-anbiyã') bring ye the revelation; its [spiritual] interpretation (al-ta'wïl) the Paraclete (al-Bãraqlït) who will come after me will bring ye." (cited Fahd, [El : 377).
An important version of this saying is also cited in the Qur'ãn commentary of the Persian Shîïte Sufi 'Abd al-Razzãq al-Kashãnï (d. 730/1330). Commenting on the phrase "no doubt is there therein, a guidance unto the godfearing" (Qur'ãn 2: 1a), Kãshïnï cites a saying of Jesus rooted in Jn 14:26 in which the eschatological Mahdï replaces the Johannine Paraclete:
"Jesus -- upon him be peace - said 'We have brought you the letter of the revelation (al-tanzïl) but the inner exegesis (al-ta'wïl) will be brought by the Mahdï in the latter days (ãkhir al-zamãn)." (Kãshãnï [Ibn 'Arabil 1:14).
Muhammad as the Paraclete
The earliest known Muslim reference to Muhammad as the Johannine Paraclete is that of Ibn Ishãq (704-767/8 CE), an epitome of whose lost Sïra ("Sacred Biography") was produced by the Egyptian philologist Ibn Hishãm (d. 828/33 CE). The passage which dates prior to 151/767-8 is as follows:
"Among the things which have reached me about what Jesus the Son of Mary stated in the Gospel which he received from God for the followers of the Gospel, in applying a term to describe the apostle of God, is the following. It is extracted from what John the Apostle set down for them when he wrote the Gospel for them from the Testament of Jesus Son of Mary: 'He that hateth me hath hated the Lord. And if I had not done in their presence works which none other before me did, they had not had sin: but from now they are puffed up with pride and think that they will ovemcome me and also the Lord. But the word that is in the law must be fuhfilled, "They hated me without a cause" (i.e. without reason). But when the Comforter has come whom God will send to you from the Lord's presence, and the spirit of truth which will have gone forth from the Lord's presence he (shall bear) witness of me and ye also, because ye have been with me from the beginning. I have spoken unto you about this that ye should not be in doubt.' [John 15:23-16:1]
The "Comforter" (Munahhemana) -- God bless and presewe him in Syriac is Muhammad; in Greek he is the Paraclete (Ar. Baraqlãtis)."
For Ibn Ishãq the coming of Muhammad as the Paraclete is reflected in Jn 15:23ff. For him the advent of the Prophet was the appearance of the "Comforter", the parousia of the Paraclete (Gk. paraklãtos Ar. Baraqlãtis).
In the eighth century CE the Sunnï Caliph al-Mahdï had a debate with the Nestorian Catholicos, Timothy l. The so called Apology of Timothy (c. 165/781) is preserved in Syriac and there exist a number of Arabic recensions. The Caliph evidently asserted that Muhammad fulfilled the paraclete promises they are not linked with the name Ahmad. Countering this and following Patristic tradition, the Patriach denies that the Paraclete (al-Fãraqlit) is anything other than the Holy Spirit (ruh al-quds), the divine Spirit of God (ruh Allãh) (Caspar, 1977: 135,177).
The late 8th cent. CE 'Letter of Hãrun al-Rashïd to the Emperor Constantine VI' (r. 780-787 CE) -- actually written by Abü al-Rabï' Muhammad b. al-Laith -- is another early text in which paraclete sayings are applied to Muhammad. The Bible is frequently quoted in this work; including a conflation of paraclete and related sayings (Jn 16:5 + 15:2627 + 16:13; cf. 14:26) as a prophey of Muhammad the Paraclete (al-baraqlit) (Dunlop, 1968: 113-4).
'Alï ibn Rabbãn al-Tabarï (d. 241-2/855), a Christian convert to Islam, in chapter XXVIII of his Kitãb al-dïn wa'l-dawla ("Book of Religion and Empire" c. 241/855) discusses prophecies of Christ about Muhammad. A version of John 14:26 is cited and applied to the Founder of Islam. The "all things" to be taught by the Paraclete (14:26b) is the revelation of the Qur'ãn. As the Paraclete, Muhammad, unlike the disciples or other Christians, taught new truths to mankind. In the light of John 16:7, 8, 13 and 14:16 an intimate relationship between Christ and Muhammad as his successor is argued. Relative to 14:26, the numerical correspondence between the word Paraclete (Ar. Fãraqlït abjad = 430) and the phrases, "Muhammad, son of 'Abd Allãh, the Prophet who guideth aright" and "Muhammad, the Beloved, Goodly, Messenger" is reckoned a unique proof.
Important references to the Paraclete, styled the "Greatest Paraclete" (baraqlït al-akbar) are found from medieval times in Shîï, Ismãïlï sources. He is mentioned once in the fifty-two Epistles of the Brethren of Purity (Rasã'il Ikhwãn al-Safã') (1:40) and twice in the related Comprehensive Epistle (Risãlat al-Jãmi'a (2:354, 365). This "Paraclete" furthermore, is twice associated with the eschatological Islamic Messiah, 'the Expected MahdT (al mahdï al muntazar; R. 1:40; J. 2:365, see Netton, 198268).
Shï'ï imãmology, as Corbin puts it, "retains the idea of the Paraclete as a vision to come" (Corbin: 1993:73). Islamic paraclete sayings linking the Paraclete figure with the fullness of the inner exegesis of scripture (see above) are understood eschatologically. Various Shï'ï writers regard the coming of the Johannine Paraclete as the advent of the awaited twelfth Imam or Qã'im/ Mahdï (Corbin, 1971 :38, 510.
The mystical philosopher and founder of the Illuminationist (Ishrãqï) school, Shihãb al-Dïn Yahyã Suhrawardï (d. 587/1 191) makes mention of the Paraclete (al-Fãraqlïtã) in the latter part of the VIIth section of his (Arabic) "Temples of Light" (Hayãkil al-nür), after citing Qur'ãn 29:43 and a text rooted in Matt 13:13. This Islamic reference was influential. Commenting upon it, Jalãl al-Dïn Dawwãnï (d. 907/1501-2) for example, speaks of a mazhar al-a'zam, a "Most Great Manifestation" or 'Supreme Epiphany' of Light and relates this to the Spirit-Paraclete who is essentially the twelfth Imam, the expected Mahdi (Qã'im) (Corbin, 1971:47-50; 1971-2.•257; cf. Suhrawardï, 1970:41f, 108 [Per.]).
In his influential and important Jãmi' al-asrãr wa manba' al-anwãr ("Book of the Compendium of Mysteries and the Source of Lights") Sayyid Haydar Ämulï (d.787/1385) cites and comments upon a saying of Jesus:
"'We bring unto you outer revelation (al-tanzïl); but, as for the inner revelation (al-ta'wïl), this the Paraclete (al-fãraqlït) will bring in the latter days (fi ãkhir al-zamãn).' The term Paraclete (al-fãraqlït) in their [the Christians'] language signifies the Mahdï [eschatological Messiah].. who will bring the inner exegesis (al-ta lwïl) of the Qur'ãn ... (Ämulï, Jãmi' §205, 1 1 1 .•5, pp. 103-4).
It was believed by Haydar Ämuli and others that "the coming of the Imam-Paraclete will inaugurate the reign of the purely spiritual meaning of the divine Revelations -- that is to say, the true religion which is the eternal walãyah." (Corbin, 1993:73)
A similar view is expressed by Ibn Abï Jumhür al-Ahsã'ï (fl. mid-late 15th century CE) who was important for achieving a synthesis of Shî`ï scholastic theology, Avicennan philosophy, Ishrãqï theosophy and the mysticism of Ibn al-'Arabï (d. 638/1240). In his Kitãb al-mujlï (completed 894-5/1493-4) he states that the Paraclete (al-fãraqlït) of the Christians, whom he clearly identifies with the occulted twelfth Imam (Muhammad ibn al-Hasan [al-Askarï d. 260/874]) and the expected "Lord of the Age" (sãhib al-zamãn), will appear with the inner spiritual exegesis (ta'wïl) of sacred scripture (Mujlï, 308 cited Corbin 1971:55).
Sayyid Ahmad b. Zayn al-Dïn al-'Alawï (d. 1069/1658-9) was an important philosopher-theologian of the School of Isfãhãn. With his knowledge of Hebrew and the Biblical texts, he wrote four important Persian works dealing with Judaeo-Christian scripture and its interpretation. In these works there is interesting reference to the prophetology of the Paraclete. In his Misqal-i ("The Polisher of Purity.." 1032/1622) he related prophecies interpreted of Muhammad and Islam in the book of Deuteronomy (18:15-18; 33.2) to the paraclete sayings. Similar teachings are contained in his The Book of Lordly Glimmerings in Refutation of Christian Misconceptions (Lawãmi'-i Rabbãnï.. 1631 CE). The titles of Muhammad, as prophesied in a wide range of pre-Islamic sacred scriptures, are set down. Included is the Toraic "name" Meod Meod (see Gen. 17:20b) -- interpreted as meaning "Great, Great" (Per. buzurg, buzurg) -- and the title Paraclete (Fãriqlït; Lawãmi', 15a-b). Also found in Sayyid Ahmad's works is a doctrine of the "twofold manifestation of the Paraclete" in the persons of Muhammad and the eschatological Twelfth Imam (Corbin, 1976:232f; 1985 [Elr.] 1 :644f;).
Qutb al-Dïn Ashkivarï (d. c. 1075/1664-5) not only identified the Paraclete with the twelfth Imam but also with Astvat Ereta (Av. "He who embodies righteousness", see Yasna 43:3) who is the Saoshyant ("Future Benefactor"), the ultimate eschatological saviour of Zoroastrianism (Corbin, 1971.•56f; 1976:232). Finally, but by no means exhaustively in this connection, it may be noted that the founder of the Shaykhï school of Shï'ï Islãm, Shaykh Ahmad al-Ahsã'i (d. 1241/1826) makes mention of the Paraclete (al-Fãriqlïtã) in his Sharh al-ziyãra.. ("Commentary on the .. Visiting Tablet.."). The words "Thy Apparentness (shãhidikum) and Thy Hiddenness" (ghã'ibikum)" are interpreted imãmologically. While the Divine "Hiddenness" is, in one sense, the "Proof" (al-hujjat, primarily the hidden Twelfth Imam), His "Apparentness" is, among other things, the "Pivot of the Age" (qutb al-waqt). This latter aspect of the Divine is, in Sufi terminology, the "One Invoked" ("Succourer", al-ghawth) and the Paraclete who is "the manifestation of sanctified wilãyah (loosely, `providental [Imami] guidance', )" (111:150). What Shaykh Ahmad says about the Paraclete here, reflects Sufi-Shîï traditions -- as well as an Ishrãqï pneumatology of Light -- which identify the eternal and eschatological reality of the Imam (Qã'im) with the locus of Divine initiation, the sanctifed person who represents the Intimate Providence.
The advent of Ahmad in the writings of the Bãb.
Sayyid 'AIT Muhammad the Bäb (1819-1850, the Founder of the BäbT religion) is regarded by Bahä'Ts as a Messenger or Manifestation of God (mazhar-i ilahi). His voluminous Arabic and Persian writings contain quite a large number of references to the Prophet Muhammad as the Ahmad promised by Jesus according to Qur'än 61 :6. As far as 1 am aware, however, he neither quotes the Gospel of John, nor refers to the lslamic expectation of the messianic Qä'im-Paraclete (Färaqlät).
Like previous Messengers of God, the young Shiräzi Sayyid was rejected by most of his contemporaries. One ultimately imprisoned in Ädhirbayjän, it is largely in his later writings (post 1848) that the Bäb makes quite frequent reference to the Christian rejection of Muhammad as the promised Ahmad and spiritual "return" of Christ.
ln the IVth Unity of his Persian Bayan [Eschatological Exposition](Bayan-i-farsi 1848) the Bab cites some of the words attributed to Jesus in Qur'än 61 :6b. Ahmad he comments, was fervently awaited by Christians but never identified with Muhammad (IV:14, 140). ln the Vlth Unity of the same work reference is also made to the Christian expectation of the promised Ahmad. Christians are likened to those Shi`i Muslims who, despite the Bäb's manifestation, still await the advent of the messianic twelfth lmäm. Christian astronomers made great progress in outwardly visioning celestial phenomena (e.g. the moon). With their inner eyes ("eye of the hearts"; chashm-i qulub), however, they have failed to perceive the truth of Muhammad as the "promised Ahmad" (Vl:13, 225-6; see also IX:3, 316).
ln his Persian Dalä'il-i sab' a ("Seven Proofs") the Bäb states that Christians had, in accordance with Jesus' covenant regarding the one to come after him (see Qur'än 61 :6), prayed frequently for the manifestation of the promised one. Yet, when Muhammad appeared they rejected him. Christians have shown excess veneration for the "shoe of the donkey" (samm-i khari) which they suppose Jesus rode -- expecting thereby to draw near to God -- but have refused to acknowledge the appearance of one to be truly venerated, the "promised Ahmad" (Ahmad-i mav'ud) (Dalä'il, 20-21 ).
Bahä'i perspectives on the Paraclete and Ahmad: Bahä'-Alläh as the "Comforter'' (Mu'azzi).
Bahä'-Alläh (1817-1892), the Founder of the Bahä'f Faith, radically modified the post-Qur'änic Muslim teaching of the "textual corruption" (tahrif) of the Bible. ln his writings which span a forty year period ( c. 1852-1892) he quotes the Qur'än extensively and shows a direct knowledge of the Biblical text. While he did not regard the New Testament as the direct revelation of the Founder of Christianity, he did view it as containing an inspired record of Jesus' life and teachings. Judging by the frequency of citations, he had a high regard for the Gospel of John. ln quite a large number of his "Tablets" (alwah) he expressed his claims by means of terms specialized to the Paraclete in the Johannine 'Farewell Discourse' (Jn 13:31ff). Most importantly and frequently, he claimed to be an eschatological manifestation of "the Comforter" (al-mu'azzi) (esp. Jn 16:7) and the "Spirit of Truth" (ruh al-haqq) (esp. Jn 16:13). His writings also contain occasional reference to Qur'än 61 :6.
Like the Bäb, Bahä'-Alläh quite frequently referred to Muhammad as Ahmad. ln line with traditions ascribed to the Prophet and the [Shi`i] lmäms he sometimes presupposes that Ahmad is the spiritual, celestial and pre-existent name of the Muhammadan Reality, the Logos-like "Self' or "Soul" (nafs) of Muhammad and all past Messengers of God. ln the prolegomenon to his Seven Valleys (Haft vadi c.1858) for example, Baha' -Allah refers to Muhammad as "He who was Ahmad in the Kingdom of the exalted ones (al-malakut al-'aliyyin), and Muhammad amongst the concourse of near ones (malä' al-muqarrabin), and Mahmud in the realm of the sincere ones (jabarut al-mukhlisun)" (Seven Valleys:2).
ln one of his scriptural Tablets addressed to a Jewish convert to the Bahä'T religion named Hakim Hayyim, Bahä'-Alläh responded to his question about why, despite Qur'än 61 :6, the name Ahmad is not found in the Gospels (lnjiI). ln his reply the Baha'i Prophet confirms the veracity of the Qur'änic verse referring to Jesus' promise of the advent of Ahmad (= Muhammad) but explains that this prophecy is not recorded in the extant (canonical) New Testament. The New Testament, he states, is only a partial, an incomplete expository record of the divine revelation to Jesus (the lnjiI; see Tablet cited, lshräq Khavari, 1987, 2:365f).
Not always simply transliterated by the loan-word Färaqlit, the Greek paracletos ("Paraclete") in John's Gospel is variously rendered in Christian produced Arabic and Persian New Testament translations. ln a number of Arabic New Testaments it is translated by al Mu'azzT (= "the Comforter"); a translation obviously dictated by long-standing Christian tradition (see above). Such is the translation, for example, in the Arabic version of the Gospel of John found in the fourth and last of the great Polyglott Bibles; the Biblia Sacra Polyglotta.. edited by Bishop Brian Walton in 16(54-)57 (London: Thomas Roycroft, 6 vois; New Testament = voi. 5). This Arabic text printed here -- a version of the Arabic "Alexandrian Vulgate" (13th century CE) -- corresponds with most of the New Testament quotations found in certain of Bahä'-Alläh's early works; most notably, his Jawähir al-asrär (1861) and Kitäb-i iqän (1862). Later, from the West Galilean or loosely Acre = 'Akka period (1868-92), both
Bahä'-Alläh and 'Abdu'l-Bahä usually cited the Arabic Bible translation of Eli Smith and Cornelius Van Dyck (New Testament first printed in the early 1860s then many later editions) which also has mu'azzi ("Comforter") for paracletos ("Paraclete"). Today, for Bahä'is mu'azzi ("Comforter") refers primarily to Bahä'-Alläh as the return of Christ though its past applicability to Muhammad is also affirmed in Babi-Baha'i primary scriptural sources.
Among the earliest New Testament verses cited by Bahä'-Alläh are those contained in his aforementioned Arabic treatise "The Essence of Mysteries" (Jawähir al-asrär). lt was written for Sayyid Yusuf-i-Sidihihi in 1277 / 1860-61 in reply to questions about the coming of the Mahdu in the light of the mission of the Bäb. lt is here that the extreme Muslim view of the "corruption" (tahrif) of the Bible is radically modified as it is in the slightly later Kitab-i iqän. They are commented upon non-literally. lt is indicated that Muslim students of prophecy should not repeat the errors of Jewish and Christian literalists in their interpretation of scriptural prophecies.
ln the course of his argument Bahä'-Alläh quotes a succession of New Testament texts from each of the four Gospels in illustration of Jesus' eschatological prophecies -- included are Arabic versions of Matt.