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Notes:
This is an updated version of the paper that appeared in Scripture and Revelation.

If any fonts or symbols do not display properly, see Lambden's original version.

Mirrored with permission from hurqalya.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/03-Biblical-islam-BBst/Paraclete.htm, and with permission of publisher. See also irfancolloquia.org/1/lambden_prophecy.


Prophecy in the Johannine Farewell Discourse:
The Advents of the Paraclete, Ahmad and Comforter

by Stephen Lambden

published in Scripture and Revelation: Papers presented at the First Irfan Colloquium, pages 69-124
Oxford: George Ronald, 1997

      A hymn by Mrs Emma C. Holmes entitled "The Comforter Has Come" was composed for the American Bahā'ī Convention of 1911. Mountfort Mills (d. 1949, later the first chairman of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahā'īs of America and Canada) sang it to the assembled congregation (SW III/4:3). 1 It is a hymn celebrating the realization of promises contained in the Gospel of John about the coming of Bahā’-Allāh as the Paraclete (Greek, paraclētos) 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, Bābī and Bahā'ī 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 Bahā’-Allāh's claims. They have an important place in the Bahā'ī interpretation of the New Testament.

The Johannine Paraclete (paraclētos): 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 14:16f) . . . 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 Bābī and Bahā'ī religions.

The English loan-word Paraclete is a transliteration, via the Latin (Paracletus, so the Vulgate of Jerome d. 420 CE) of the Greek paraclētos. 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 paraclētos. 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 paraclētos, 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 Paraklātos because he comforts (parakalei) and consoles and helps our infirmity" (Cat., Or. xvi. 20 cited DB2, 183; see also Bernard, John II: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 V:805).

The English translation "Comforter" apparently goes back to the Yorkshire born English reformer and Oxford scholar John Wycliffe (1325-1384) 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 V:804 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 paraclētos in John's Gospel to mean "consoler" (= "comforter"). In his First Principles he (+ ? the translator Tyrannius Rufinus d. 410) wrote, " .Ṭhe 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. II 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, 3ff): "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. II. 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 paraclētos 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 paraclētos as Advocatus ("Advocate" ; cf. EDNMT 3:28). This rendering, indicating `one called in to give help and advice', has been much favoured (see Bernard, II:496). The New English Bible (New Testament, 1961; revised edition 1989) and the Catholic Jerusalem Bible (Eng. trans, 1966) for example, consistently translate paraclētos 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 paraclētos has been "Helper" which closely accords with Greek usage. Such was the favoured rendering of the Scottish New Testament scholar James Moffatt (1870-1944) 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 paraclētos. (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 V:814; Braumann, 1986:89; cf. though R. Brown, 1971:1136). It is the translation of the Johannine paraclētos 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 alātheias; 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 an¬swer 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), be¬ing 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 tās alātheias (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 Spirit-Paraclete 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, `Homily 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, Mānī (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, Mānā 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 45f). 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'ān 61:6 which may even presuppose a continuing (Syriac speaking Monophysite?) Christian expectation of the Paraclete? (cf. Robinson, 1991:197 fn.27).

Aḥmad in Qur'ān 61:6 and the Paraclete in Islam

The Qur'ān 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'ānic sūra of `The Heights' (al-A`rāf), 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, injīl). On the basis of various Qur'ānic 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 sāra of `The Rank[s]' (al-ṣaff) where Jesus is said to have predicted the coming of his successor named Aḥmad,      

"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 Aḥmad (ismuhu Aḥmadu; 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 Aḥmad, means "most praiseworthy". Though there is no exact, clear or obvious canonical Gospel reference to a messiah with this name (or equivalent; see Schacht, Aḥmad; Parrinder, 1982:98f), most Qur'ān commentators equate the `one with praiseworthy name', the Aḥmad mentioned in Qur'ān 61:6, with the Prophet Muhammad.

Numerous traditions (aḥadīth) ascribed to the Prophet and Twelver Imams, reckon Muhammad one "named" or entitled Aḥmad. The following are a few select examples:

"My name in the Qur'ān is Muhammad and in the Gospel[s] (injīl) Aḥmad. And in the Torah it is Aḥyad ["the Shunner"]; I am called Aḥyad because I shun "hell fire" more than any of my people.." (Ibn `Abbas, cited HDI:387, [translation adapted]).

"I heard the Messenger of God say: `Unto me are alotted various names. I am Aḥmad and I am Muhammad. I am the Obliterator (al Māḥi) through whom God wipes out infidelity. I am the Gatherer (al-ḥashr) before whom the people will be gathered. And I am the Finality (al-`āqib) after whom there will be no prophet." (Bukhārī [& Muslim]; as cited Ṭabarsī, Majma`, 5:280; cf. Parrinder, 1982:98).

"When He raised up the Messiaḥ.. he [Jesus] said, `A prophet shall come after me whose name shall be Aḥmad [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.'" (Imām Ja`far al-Ṣādiq cited Kāshānī, Tafsīr al-ṣafī, 5:169; cf. Jn 16:7f; 15:27).

Such traditions led, in the light of Qur'ān 61:6, 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 Mathnawī, Jalāl al-Dīn Rūmī (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'ān; though it is not impossible that Qur'ān 61:6 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 Aḥmad (loosely = Muhammad) was the fulfilment of (sometimes rewritten versions of) the paraclete promises. As will be seen, Shī`ī messianic and other doctrines came to be related to a continuing Paracletehood.

      Various modern western Islamicists have proposed that Qur'ān 61:6 did not originally allude to the paraclete promises or indicate a messiah figure with the personal name Aḥmad. 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" Aḥmad; see Montgomery Watt, 1990:46). Subsequently, the name Aḥmad came to be widely viewed an Arabic translation of the Greek paraclētos ("Paraclete"). In this way the Prophet Muhammad was, by virtue of his name Aḥmad (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 Aḥmad ("the most praiseworthy") and the Greek paraclētos (traditionally "Comforter", etc) has led many modern Muslims to accept an ingenious alternative reading based upon a revowelling of the six Greek consonants of paraclētos 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" = Aḥmad = Muhammad) is the `correct reading' because it more adequately corresponds to the Arabic Aḥmad (= Muhammad) as indicated in Qur'ān 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 paraclētos. 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 con¬temporary Greek, shows this to be impossible." (Aḥmad:EI2). Countless modern Islamic writers however, argue that the Gospel reading paraclētos ("Paraclete") is corrupt since it does not accurately correspond to Muhammad's name Aḥmad as indicated in the Qur'ān. They argue that Muhammad is the true Johannine promised one as a "celebrated" (= periklutos = Aḥmad) prophet figure -- not merely the Paraclete as the Holy Spirit (e.g. `Abdu'l-Aḥad Dawūd, 1979:198ff; Ḥijāzī Saqqā', 1989 1:36;2:259f; al-Faḍl, 1990: 159ff).

In the entry `Aḥmad' 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'ān is Muhammad while it is Aḥmad in the Gospel (injīl). The Johannine references to the Paraclete (Per. Pārāklātās) are registered. Like the Prophet's name Aḥmad, the alternative reading Pirāklytās ( = periklutos) is rendered as "Celebrated" (Per. sitūdih) (ESh 1:511).

In a note, apparently rooted in an attempt to account for the absence of the prophesied name Aḥmad (see Q. 61:6) in the New Testament record of Jesus' utterances, it is recorded in the massive Shī`īte encyclopedia, the "Ocean of Lights" (Biḥāru'l-anwār) of Muhammad Bāqir Majlisī (d. 1111/1699-1700 CE), that the name Ahmad, as `the proper name Alī, was transposed and altered in Syriac (surānī) to the proper name of the Hebrew prophet Elijah (ilyā). The true Gospel text originally referred to `Alī (not Elijah) the first of the Shī`ī Imāms (d. 40/661) who, till the Day of Resurrection, most perfectly and in all respects represents Muhammad (= Aḥmad; cf. the Paraclete as one representing Jesus; Biḥār, 15:211; 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'ān 61:6 (the qur'ānic mention of Aḥmad = 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 Shī`ī and a few Sunni sources will be noted.

In his two volume compendium of universal history, the early Shī`īte historian Ibn Wāḍiḥ al-Ya`qūbī (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, waṣiyatī) and there will come unto you the Paraclete (al-fāraqlīṬ) who will be with you as a prophet (nabī). So when the Paraclete comes unto you, with the Spirit of Truth and Sincerity (Veracity, bi-rūḥ al-ḥaqq wa'l-ṣidq) 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 I, verily, have told you this and am now going unto Him Who sent me [the Father]. So when the Spirit of Truth (rūḥ al-ḥaqq) comes he will guide you unto all the truth. And he will announce unto you coming affairs (al-umūr al-ba`īda). He shall extol me and in a while you shall not see me." (Tārīkh, 1:72).      

      Important Islamic versions of paraclete sayings are cited from the Kitāb al-kharā'ij.. of Quṭb al-Dīn Rāwandī (d. Qumm, 573/1177-8), in the "Ocean of Lights" of Majlisī (Biḥār 2.. 15:210f):

"..in the Gospel (injīl) it is recorded that Jesus said unto his disciples, "I go away and the Paraclete (al-fāraqlīṭ) will come unto you, even the Spirit of Truth (bi-rūḥ al-ḥaqq) 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 (ḥikāya yuḥanna) it is related that the Messiah said, "The Paraclete (al-fāraqlīt) will not come unto you unless I go away. And when he comes he shall reprove the world for sin (khaṭiy'ā). 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-ḥaqq) and announce hidden events (al-ḥawādith wa'l-ghuyūb) unto you.."' (Jn 16:7f..13b..)

`And he [Jesus] says in the final narrative, "The Paraclete (al-fāraqlīṭ), the Spirit of Truth (rūḥ al-ḥaqq) whom He will send in my name shall teach you all things (kull shay')." (Jn 14:26; 16:13).

He said, "I am asking my Lord that he send another Paraclete (fāraqlīṭ ākhar) who will be with you unto the end... And he will teach you all things (kullu shay')." (Jn 14:16+26b).

And he [Jesus] says in another narrative, "The Son of Man (ibn bashar) is going and the Paraclete (al-fāraqlīṬ) will come after him [Jesus]. He will communicate the secrets (asrār) unto you and will expound all things (kull shay'). He will bear witness unto me just as I have borne witness unto him. I, verily, have come unto you with parables (bi'l-amthāl) and he will come unto you with spiritual exegesis (bi'l-ta'wīl)." (cf. Jn 16:7f).

A saying partially modelled upon John 14:26 is cited in the well known bibliographic dictionary, Kashf al-ẓunūn ("The Clarification of Speculations") of Kātib Chelebi or Ḥajjī Kalīfa (d.1067/1657). As in the above citation from Majlisī, the "spiritual exegesis" (ta'wīl) of divine revelation is left to the future Paraclete:

"We the Prophets (al-anbiyā') bring ye the revelation; its [spiritual] interpretation (al-ta'wīl) the Paraclete (al-Bāraqlīt) who will come after me will bring ye." (cited Fahd, [EI2]:377).

An important version of this saying is also cited in the Qur'ān commentary of the Persian Shī`īte Sufi `Abd al-Razzāq al-Kashānī (d. 730/1330). Commenting on the phrase "no doubt is there therein, a guidance unto the godfearing" (Qur'ān 2:1a), Kāshīnī cites a saying of Jesus rooted in Jn 14:26 in which the eschatological Maḥdī replaces the Johannine Paraclete:

"Jesus -- upon him be peace -- said `We have brought you the letter of the revelation (al-tanzīl) but the inner exegesis (al-ta`wīl) will be brought by the Maḥdī in the latter days (ākhir al-zamān)." (Kāshānī [Ibn `Arabī] I:14).

Muhammad as the Paraclete

The earliest known Muslim reference to Muhammad as the Johannine Paraclete is that of Ibn Isḥāq (704-767/8 CE), an epitome of whose lost Sīra ("Sacred Biography") was produced by the Egyptian philologist Ibn Hishām (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 over¬come me and also the Lord. But the word that is in the law must be ful¬filled, "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" (Munaḥḥemana) -- God bless and preserve him -- in Syriac is Muḥammad; in Greek he is the Paraclete (Ar. Baraqlāṭis)."

For Ibn Isḥāq 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. paraklātos Ar. Baraqlātis).

      In the eighth century CE the Sunnī Caliph al-Maḥdī had a debate with the Nestorian Catholicos, Timothy I. 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 Aḥmad. Countering this and following Patristic tradition, the Patriach denies that the Paraclete (al-FāraqlīṬ) is anything other than the Holy Spirit (rūḥu'l-quds), the divine Spirit of God (rūḥ Allāh) (Caspar, 1977:135,161).

      The late 8th cent. CE `Letter of Hārūn al-Rashīd to the Emperor Constantine VI' (r. 780-787 CE) -- actually written by Abū al-Rabī` 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 + 15:26-27 + 16:13; cf. 14:26) as a prophey of Muhammad the Paraclete (al-Baraqlīṭ) (Dunlop, 1968:113-4).

      `Alī ibn Rabbān al-Ṭabarī (d. 241-2/855), a Christian convert to Islam, in chapter XXVIII of his Kitāb al-dīn 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'ān. 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. Fāraqlīṭ abjad = 430) and the phrases, "Muhammad, son of `Abd Allāh, 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" (baraqlīṭ al-akbar) are found from medieval times in Shī`ī, Ismā'īlī sources. He is mentioned once in the fifty-two Epistles of the Brethren of Purity (Rasā'il Ikhwān al-Safā') (I:40) and twice in the related Comprehensive Epistle (Risālat al-Jāmi`a (2:354, 365). This "Paraclete" furthermore, is twice associated with the eschatological Islamic Messiah, `the Expected Mahdī' (al maḥdī al muntazar; R. 1:40; J. 2:365, see Netton, 1982:68).

      Shī`ī imāmology, 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 Shī`ī writers regard the coming of the Johannine Paraclete as the advent of the awaited twelfth Imām or Qā'im/ Maḥdī (Corbin, 1971:38, 51f).

The mystical philosopher and founder of the Illuminationist (Ishrāqī) school, Shihāb al-Dīn Yaḥyā Suhrawardī (d. 587/1191) makes mention of the Paraclete (al-Fāraqlītā) in the latter part of the VIIth section of his (Arabic) "Temples of Light" (Hayākil al-nūr), after citing Qur'ān 29:43 and a text rooted in Matt 13:13. This Islamic reference was influential. Commenting upon it, Jalāl al-Dīn Dawwānī (d. 907/1501-2) for example, speaks of a maẓhar al-a`ẓam, a "Most Great Manifestation" or `Supreme Epiphany' of Light and relates this to the Spirit-Paraclete who is essentially the twelfth Imām, the expected Maḥdī (Qā'im) (Corbin, 1971:47-50; 1971-2:257; cf. Suhrawardī, 1970:41f, 108 [Per.]).

      In his influential and important Jāmi` al-asrār wa manba` al-anwār ("Book of the Compendium of Mysteries and the Source of Lights") Sayyid Ḥaydar Āmulī (d.787/1385) cites and comments upon a saying of Jesus:

"`We bring unto you outer revelation (al-tanzīl); but, as for the inner revelation (al-ta'wīl), this the Paraclete (al-fāraqlīṭ) will bring in the latter days (fī ākhir al-zamān).' The term Paraclete (al-fāraqlīṭ) in their [the Christians'] language signifies the Mahdī [eschatological Messiah].. who will bring the inner exegesis (al-ta'wīl) of the Qur'ān ... (Āmulī, Jāmi` §205, III:5, pp. 103-4).

It was believed by Ḥaydar Āmulī and others that "the coming of the Imām-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 walāyah." (Corbin, 1993:73)

      A similar view is expressed by Ibn Abī Jumhūr al-Ahsā'ī (fl. mid-late 15th century CE) who was important for achieving a synthesis of Shī`ī scholastic theology, Avicennan philosophy, Ishrāqī theosophy and the mysticism of Ibn al-`Arabī (d. 638/1240). In his Kitāb al-mujlī (completed 894-5/1493-4) he states that the Paraclete (al-fāraqlīṭ) of the Christians, whom he clearly identifies with the occulted twelfth Imām (Muhammad ibn al-Ḥasan [al-Askarī d. 260/874]) and the expected "Lord of the Age" (Ṣāḥib al-zamān), will appear with the inner spiritual exegesis (ta'wīl) of sacred scripture (Mujlī, 308 cited Corbin 1971:55).       Sayyid Aḥmad b. Zayn al-Dīn al-`Alawī (d. 1069/1658-9) was an important philosopher-theologian of the School of Isfāhān. 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 Miṣqal-i ṣafā'.. ("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 (Lawāmi`-i Rabbānī.. 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 (Fāriqlīṭ; Lawāmi`, 15a-b). Also found in Sayyid Aḥmad's works is a doctrine of the "twofold manifestation of the Paraclete" in the persons of Muhammad and the eschatological Twelfth Imām (Corbin, 1976:232f; 1985 [EIr.] 1:644f;).

Quṭb al-Dīn Ashkivarī (d. c. 1075/1664-5) not only identified the Paraclete with the twelfth Imām 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 Shaykhī school of Shī`ī Islām, Shaykh Aḥmad al-Aḥsā'ī (d. 1241/1826) makes mention of the Paraclete (al-FāriqlīṬā) in his Sharh al-ziyāra.. ("Commentary on the .. Visiting Tablet.."). The words "Thy Apparentness (shāhidikum) and Thy Hiddenness" (ghā'ibikum)" are interpreted imāmologically. While the Divine "Hiddenness" is, in one sense, the "Proof" (al-ḥujjat, primarily the hidden Twelfth Imām), His "Apparentness" is, among other things, the "Pivot of the Age" (quṭb 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 Guardianship (`spiritual initiation', wilāyah)" (III:150). What Shaykh Aḥmad says about the Paraclete here, reflects Sufi-Shī`ī traditions -- as well as an Ishrāqī pneumatology of Light -- which identify the eternal and eschatological reality of the Imām (Qā'im) with the locus of Divine initiation, the theosophical Guardianship.

The advent of Aḥmad in the writings of the Bāb

      Sayyid `Alī Muhammad the Bāb (1819-1850, the Founder of the Bābī religion) is regarded by Bahā'īs as a Messenger or Manifestation of God (maẓhar-i ilāhī). His voluminous Arabic and Persian writings contain quite a large number of references to the Prophet Muhammad as the Aḥmad promised by Jesus according to Qur'ān 61:6. As far as I am aware however, he neither quotes the Gospel of John, nor refers to the Islamic expectation of the messianic Qā'im-Paraclete (Fāraqlāt).

      Like previous Messengers of God, the young Shīrāzī Sayyid was rejected by most of his contemporaries. One ultimately imprisoned in Ādhirbayjān, it is largely in his later writings (post 1848) that the Bāb makes quite frequent reference to the Christian rejection of Muhammad as the promised Aḥmad and spiritual "return" of Christ.

      In the IVth Unity of his Persian Bayān (Bayān-i-farsī 1848) the Bāb cites some of the words attributed to Jesus in Qur'ān 61:6b. Aḥmad he comments, was fervently awaited by Christians but never identified with Muhammad (IV:14, 140). In the VIth Unity of the same work reference is also made to the Christian expectation of the promised Aḥmad. Christians are likened to those Shī`ī Muslims who, despite the Bāb's manifestation, still await the advent of the messianic twelfth Imām. Christian astronomers made great progress in outwardly visioning celestial phenomena (e.g. the moon). With their inner eyes ("eye of the hearts"; chashm-i qulūb), however, they have failed to perceive the truth of Muhammad as the "promised Aḥmad" (VI:13, 225-6; see also IX:3, 316).

In his Persian Dalā'il-i sab`a ("Seven Proofs") the Bāb states that Christians had, in accordance with Jesus' covenant regarding the one to come after him (see Qur'ān 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 kharī) 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 Aḥmad" (Aḥmad-i mav`ūd) (Dalā'il, 20-21).

Bahā'ī perspectives on the Paraclete and Aḥmad: Bahā’-Allāh as the "Comforter" (Mu`azzī)

      Bahā’-Allāh (1817-1892), the Founder of the Bahā'ī Faith, radically modified the post-Qur'ānic Muslim teaching of the "textual corruption" (taḥrīf) of the Bible. In his writings which span a forty year period (c. 1852-1892) he quotes the Qur'ān 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. In quite a large number of his "Tablets" (alwāḥ) 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`azzī) (esp. Jn 16:7) and the "Spirit of Truth" (rūḥ al-ḥaqq) (esp. Jn 16:13). His writings also contain occasional reference to Qur'ān 61:6.      

      Like the Bāb, Bahā’-Allāh quite frequently referred to Muhammad as Aḥmad. In line with traditions ascribed to the Prophet and the [Shī`ī] Imāms he sometimes presupposes that Aḥmad 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. In the prolegomenon to his Seven Valleys (Haft vadī c.1858) for example, Bahā’-Allāh refers to Muhammad as "He who was Aḥmad in the Kingdom of the exalted ones (al-malakūt al-`aliyyīn), and Muhammad amongst the concourse of near ones (malā' al-muqarribīn), and Maḥmūd in the realm of the sincere ones (jabarūt al-mukhliṣīn).." (SV:2).

      In one of his scriptural Tablets addressed to a Jewish convert to the Bahā'ī religion named Ḥakīm Ḥayyīm, Bahā’-Allāh responded to his question about why, despite Qur'ān 61:6, the name Aḥmad is not found in the Gospels (Injīl). In his reply the Bahā'ī Prophet confirms the veracity of the Qur'ānic verse referring to Jesus' promise of the advent of Aḥmad (= 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 Injīl; see Tablet cited, Ishrāq Khāvarī, 1987, 2:365f).

      Not always simply transliterated by the loan-word Fāraqlīt, the Greek paraclētos ("Paraclete") in John's Gospel is variously rendered in Christian produced Arabic and Persian New Testament translations. In a number of Arabic New Testaments it is translated by al Mu`azzī (= "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 vols; New Testament = vol. 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 Bahā’-Allāh's early works; most notably, his Jawāhir al-asrār (1861) and Kitāb-i īqān (1862). Later, from the West Galilean or loosely Acre = `Akkā period (1868-92), both Bahā’-Allāh and `Abdu'l-Bahā 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`azzī ("Comforter") for paraclētos ("Paraclete"). Today, for Bahā'īs mu`azzī ("Comforter") refers primarily to Bahā’-Allāh as the return of Christ though its past applicability to Muhammad is also affirmed.

      Among the earliest New Testament verses cited by Bahā’-Allāh are those contained in his aforementioned Arabic treatise "The Essence of Mysteries" (Jawāhir al-asrār). It was written for Sayyid Yūsuf-i-Sidihī in 1277 / 1860-61 in reply to questions about the coming of the Maḥdī in the light of the mission of the Bāb. It is here that the extreme Muslim view of the "corruption" (taḥrīf) of the Bible is radically modified as it is in the slightly later Kitāb-i Īqān. They are commented upon non-literally. It is indicated that Muslim students of prophecy should not repeat the errors of Jewish and Christian literalists in their interpretation of scriptural prophecies.

      In the course of his argument Bahā’-Allāh 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. 24:19, 29-31a; Mk 13:19 and Lk 21:25-27+31. There follows three abbreviated conflations of Johannine paraclete prophecies (reminiscent of rewritten Islamic paraclete texts); versions, in other words, of [1] Jn 15:26-27a; [2] Jn 14:26+16:5-6a and [3] 16:7+13 according to an Arabic Christian text type (see AQA III:11f = INBMC 46:4f). In all three of the clusters of paraclete quotations from the "fourth book.. the Gospel of John" (sifr al-rāb` injīl al-yūḥannā), the Paraclete figure, understood as the "Comforter" (al-mu`azzī), is the centre of attention. In selecting (and conflating) key texts from John's Gospel indicative of future events, Bahā’-Allāh makes the advent of the Comforter (al-mu`azzī) a key Johannine eschatological theme. It is presupposed that this is the prophet Muhammad whom many Christians failed to accept.

      A passage addressed to the kings of Christendom in the Sūra of the Kings (Sūrat al-mulūk; written in Edirne (= Adrianople) around 1867 is among the earliest texts in which Bahā’-Allāh applies an epithet of the Paraclete, "Spirit of Truth" (rāḥ al-ḥaqq), to himself. He indicates his being the return of Christ and cites John 16:13a. Just as some Muslim apologists identified the Qur'ān with the revelation of the "all truth" of the Paraclete ("Comforter", see above), so Bahā’-Allāh equates this with the "truth" of his revelation:

"O Kings of Christendom! Heard ye not the saying of Jesus, the Spirit of God, `I go away and come again unto you'? Wherefore did ye fail when he did come unto you in the clouds of heaven, to draw nigh unto Him, that ye may behold His face, and be of them that have attained His Presence? In another passage He saith, `When He, the Spirit of Truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth.' And yet, behold how, when he did bring the truth, ye refused to turn your faces towards Him, and persisted in disporting yourselves with your pastimes and fancies..." (Alvāḥ-i nāzilah.. 11; trans. PDC:27).

      In an important Tablet of Bahā’-Allāh addressed to the one time Haifa-resident leader of the German Templar community (the Tempelgesellschaft), George David Hardegg (1812 1879), the Lawḥ-i Ḥirtīk (late 1871 or early 1872 CE), cryptic, qabbalistic reference is made to the expected "Comforter" (al-mu`azzī). Bahā’-Allāh informs Hardegg that he has appeared as the promised "Comforter" but laments over the fact that he has not been recognised. Jesus seems to be referred to as the "Word" (kalimat cf. Qur'ān 3:40f, 52f; 4:169f) who now utters, who mystically discloses, a universally meaningful "word" (kalima cf. Pentecost in Acts 2 and Qur'ān 14:4) which is Bahā’-Allāh as the "Comforter" (al mu`azzī) with a global mission:

"Then We saw the Word (kalima = Jesus ?) which uttered a Word (kalimat = Bahā’-Allāh as al-mu`azzī, "Comforter" ?) which every one of the factions found to be according to its own tongue and language. When that word was uttered, a Sun shone forth from the Horizon of its Announcement, the Lights of which eclipsed the sun of the heavens. It said, `The head of the seventy hath been adorned with the crown of the forty and been united with the seven before the ten'.." (La'āli, 3:217; prov. trans. Lambden)

There exist several passages in Bahā’-Allāh's writings in which John 16:12 ("I have many things to say unto you but you cannot bear them now..") is understood to mean that Jesus, during his ministry, held back or refused to utter a "Word" (kalima) on account of the limited capacity of his contemporaries. Bahā’-Allāh claims to be this "Word" disclosed in eschatological times as the "Comforter" (al-mu`azzī). Thus, in his Tablet to Pope Pius IX (1846-78) written in about 1869 CE, Bahā’-Allāh proclaims,

"The Word (al kalima) which the Son [Jesus] concealed is made manifest in the form of the human temple in this day [= Bahā’-Allāh].. (trans. PDC:32)... This is the Word (al-kalima) which was preserved behind the Veil of Grandeur. When the promised time came, He shone forth from the horizon of the Divine Will with manifest signs.." (Alvah, 80; prov. trans. Lambden).

Similarly we read in the "Most Holy Tablet" (Lawḥ-i aqdas):

"This is the Word (al kalima) which the Son [Jesus] concealed, when to those around Him He said: `Ye cannot bear it now'. And when the appointed time was fulfilled and the Hour had struck, the Word (al kalima) shone forth above the horizon of the Will of God." (trans. TB:11)

Bahā’-Allāh associates the concealed pre-existent "Word" (kalima) with his advent as the "Comforter", al mu`azzī, by referring to the numerical (abjad) value of the consonants composing the title "Comforter" (mu`azzī) . i.e. "m"= 40 + "`ayn" = 70 + "z" = 7 + "y" = 10. That the "head of the 70 hath been adorned with the crown of the 40" signifies the conjunction of the letters "`ayn" (70) and "m" (40) -- the "m" preceeding the "`ayn". These two letters are to be added to -- read consecutively with -- "the 7 before the 10" or the letter "z" (7) preceeded by the letter "y" (10). The result is thus mu`azzī (= "Comforter")

In quite a large number of his writings of the `Akkā' period (1868 92) Bahā’-Allāh explicitly claims to be both the expected "Comforter" (al mu`azzī) and the associated "Spirit of Truth" (rūḥ al-ḥaqq). The following passage is an example,

"This is indeed the Father (al wālid), whereof Isaiah gave you tidings [refer, Isa 9:6b] and the Comforter (al mu`azzī) about whose advent the Spirit [Jesus] made a covenant (al-`ahd)."

      In his The Dispensation of Bahā’-Allāh (1934), the grandson of the Founder of the Bahā'ī Faith, Shoghi Effendi (c. 1896-1957) cites a few passages from Tablets of Bahā’-Allāh, in which their author expresses himself in language which clearly underlines his claim to fulfill the paraclete promises:

"This is the Word [al-kalimat] which the Son veiled when He said to those around Him that at that time they could not hear it [see Jn 14:16]... Verily the Spirit of Truth [rāḥ al-ḥaqq] is come to guide you unto all truth [Jn 16:13a] ... He is the One Who glorified the Son and exalted his Cause [Jn 16:14]..." "The Comforter [Mu`azzī] Whose advent all the scriptures have promised is now come that He may reveal unto you all knowledge and wisdom (al-ḥikmah wa'l-bayān; Jn 16:13). Seek ye him over the entire surface of the earth, haply ye may find him." (Dispensation, 13-14 = Dawr, 15).

As in one of the above passages, Bahā’-Allāh quite frequently claims to be the "Spirit of Truth" (Gk. to pneuma tās alātheias = Ar. Van Dyck trans. rāḥ al-ḥaqq) three times mentioned in the paraclete sayings (Jn 14:17, 15:26, [esp.] 16:13). In his "Most Holy Tablet" (Lawḥ-i aqdas) written for Fāris the physician who was converted in Alexandria in 1868 by Nabīl-i Zarandī (d. 1892), he proclaims,

"Verily, He Who is the Spirit of Truth (rāḥ al-ḥaqq) is come to guide you unto all truth. He speaketh not as prompted by his own self, but as bidden by Him Who is the All-Knowing, the All-Wise." (see Jn 16:13; TB:12).

Bahā’-Allāh's last major work, the Epistle to the Son of the Wolf (Lawḥ-i ibn-i dhi'b c. 1891), was addressed to the anti-Bahā'ī cleric Shaykh Muhammad Taqī Najāfī (d.1914). At one point in this lengthy Persian work, Bahā’-Allāh states that "unnumbered significances lie concealed" in the sayings of Jesus (ESW:148). Due to the limited capacity of his contemporaries, Jesus "chose to conceal most of these things" -- just as John 16:12b records, "But ye cannot bear them now". John 16:13b which states that "Spirit of Truth" will "declare unto you the things that are to come" is quoted in the Van Dyck Arabic translation. It is interpreted as a prophecy that "the Promised One" (= Bahā’-Allāh), would reveal "the things that are to come." Prophecies of future events are contained in Bahā’-Allāh's "Most Holy Book" (Kitāb-i aqdas), various "Tablets to the Kings" (late 1860s -> early 1870s) and other related writings. In them the Founder of the Bahā'ī Faith states, "most of the things which have come to pass on this earth have been announced and prophesied by the Most Sublime Pen." (ESW:148)

Paraclete and "Comforter" in the writings of `Abdu'l-Bahā and Shoghi Effendi

      Interpretations of the paraclete sayings are quite frequently found in the voluminous writings ("Tablets") and recorded talks of `Abdu'l-Bahā (1844-1921), the son of Bahā’-Allāh who headed the Bahā'ī religion for almost thirty years. In his numerous expository Tablets, whether addressed to Jews, Christians, Muslims or others, he regarded certain of the paraclete sayings as messianic prophecies. In line with Bahā’-Allāh's "Tablets", he referred select Johannine paraclete (al-mu`azzī "Comforter") texts to both Muhammad and to his Father.

      Of particular importance is an eloquent Persian Tablet in which the existence of Gospel prophecies of Muhammad is affirmed (Makātib, 2:57-62f). John 16:7-15 is quoted and interpreted in some detail of the Arabian Prophet, "His Holiness the Aḥmadī beauty". This extended paraclete text, but one of the "melodies of the Gospel", is partially cited in the Van Dyck Arabic translation (paraclētos = mu`azzī) and followed by a summary, interpretive Persian rendering -- reflecting certain Persian Christian translations of the paraclete sayings, "Comforter" is paraphrased as "comforting spirit" (rūḥ-i tasullī-yi dahanda) and "Pure Spirit" (rūh-i pāk; ibid 1:58). `Abdul-Bahā then sets down some interpretive guidelines. He states that Christians have universally restricted the interpretation of these verses to the descent of the "Holy Spirit" (rūḥ al-quds) upon the apostles after Jesus' ascension (see above). They veiled themselves from the deeper, spiritual meanings (ta'wīlāt) of these verses. Three arguments suggestive of a deeper, messianic meaning of these verses are given by `Abdu'l-Bahā. In summary, they are-:

[1] When Jesus says that the "Comforter" will not come until he departs (Jn 16:7) it is evident that this cannot merely be the "Holy Spirit" which was always with him.

[2] Jesus said that he had "many things to say" which could not in his day be received and predicted that the "Holy Spirit" (rūh-i muqaddas = "the Spirit of Truth") would guide unto "all truth" (Jn 16:12-13a). Jesus the Messiah and the Holy Spirit, according to Christian belief, are the second and third "persons" of the Trinity (aqnūm). They did not however, completely eradicate human ignorance. Absolute guidance and sanctity were not forthcoming.

Though after the ascension of Jesus the people were in receipt of the bounties and "hidden mysteries" of the Holy Spirit, their receptivity to spiritual instruction was limited by their own shortcomings. Many years of the influence of the Holy Spirit would not alter this.

It is thus evident that another superlatively great appearance of the "Honourable Spirit" (rūḥ-i mukarramī = Muhammad) is necessary.      

[3] Jesus referred to the "Comforter" as one who will not speak out or expound through his own powers but according to whatever he hears (Jn 16:13b). This indicates divine inspiration (waḥy). The "comforting spirit" (rūh-i tasullī-yi dahanda) is none other than an "individual" or human "person" (shakhṣī). The disembodied "Holy Spirit" does not have an ear through which things can be heard. (see Makātib, 2:57ff)

      In his response to a question of Laura Barney about the meaning of the "Holy Spirit" recorded in Some Answered Questions (c. 1904-5; SAQ sect. 25:108-9), `Abdu'l-Bahā introduces his quotation of John 16:12-13a as words of Christ about the Promised One to come after him. The words, "for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak" (16:13a) are held to indicate that "the Spirit of Truth" (Per. rūh-i rastī) is embodied in human form (insānī mujassam ast) having individuality (nafs), "Who has ears to hear and a tongue to speak." The Qur'ānic and Bābī-Bahā'ī title of Christ, "Spirit of God" (rūh Allāh), is compared to the Johannine "Spirit of Truth" (rūḥ al-ḥaqq). It is of interest that `Abdu'l-Bahā highlights the personification of "Spirit of Truth" (rūḥ al-ḥaqq). Though the "Holy Spirit" or "Spirit of Truth" is an immaterial, Transcendent Reality, as a prophetic reference to an expected human Manifestation of God, it is accorded human characteristics (see Mufawaḍāt 83, trans. SAQ:109).

      In many of their writings both the Bāb and Bahā’-Allāh stated that the great Messengers of God each made a "covenant" (`ahd) regarding a succeeding Messenger of God -- their followers were obliged to accept this promised messiah figure. It was often in this light that `Abdu'l-Bahā interpreted Jesus' paraclete promises of Muhammad. In a large number of Tablets he, in one way of another writes,

"His Holiness Christ made a covenant concerning the Paraclete (Fāraqlīṭ) and gave the tidings of His coming." (Tablet to C.M. Remey, partially cited in Persian in UHJ: `Ahd.. 5, trans. BWF:358).

"His Holiness Christ covenanted with regard to His Holiness "The Paraclete", which means His Holiness Muhammad." (SW IV/14:238. cf. SW IX/1:7).      

In one scriptural Tablet `Abdu'l-Bahā cites a paraphrased version of Jn 16:12-13 and 15:26, as a proof of the necessity of continuing divine guidance ("progressive revelation"):

"In the [religious] dispensations gone before, the feeble body of the world could not wishstand a rigorous or powerful cure. For this reason did Christ say: "I have yet many things to say unto you, matters needing to be told, but ye cannot bear to hear them now. Howbeit when that Comforting Spirit [Per. rūh-i tasullī-i dahanda) whom the Father will send, shall come, He will make plain unto you the truth." (SWAB:59)

Expounding the nature of the "truth" which Bahā’-Allāh as the Comforter has brought he wrote,

"Therefore, in this age of splendours, teachings once limited to a few are made available to all, that the mercy of the Lord may embrace both east and west, that the oneness of the world of humanity may appear in its full beauty, and that the dazzling rays of reality may flood the realm of the mind with light." (ibid).

Consonant with the increased spiritual capacity of humanity, the "truth" disclosed in this age, by Bahā’-Allāh, the "Comforter", is universally available. It embraces those Bahā'ī teachings which proclaim and will ultimately lead to the mature establishment of the oneness of humanity. In addition, this proclamation of "all truth" involves the realization of luminous spiritual truths.

Summing up the beliefs of the Universalist Church and welcoming `Abdu'l-Bahā' to Washington (USA) on April 21, 1912, Dr. John Van Schaick quoted Jn 16:12f, and stated,

"We believe that Revelation is progressive. We hold with Jesus that when the Spirit of Truth is come, He will guide us unto all Truth. We look for more Truth in each age and every country... We stand today humbly seeking the Spirit of Truth.." (SW III/3:10).

In the course of his speech `Abdu'l-Bahā responded to the minister's words and also referred to Jn 16:12f. To a minister and a congregation which he greatly admired, he proclaimed that the era of the "Spirit of Truth" had dawned:

"And now that century has come when the Spirit of Truth can reveal these verities to mankind and can proclaim that very Word to man..Ṭhat the..foundations of love and amity may be established. You must listen to the admonition of this Spirit of Truth (ibid, 12).

In various of his many letters expository of Bahā'ī doctrine, `Abdu'l-Bahā's grandson Shoghi Effendi (c. 1896-1957) affirmed the Islamo-Bahā'ī understanding of the Prophet Muhammad as the Paraclete as well as Bahā’-Allāh's fulfilling various paraclete promises:

".. references in the Bible to...`Paraclete' refer to Muhammad.." (1970:41).

In his centennial God Passes By Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Bahā'ī Faith wrote that Bahā’-Allāh "identifies Himself" with "the `Comforter' Whose Covenant He Who is the Spirit (Jesus) had himself established." (GPB:210). Key passages addressed the "whole of Christendom" and representative of Bahā’-Allāh's claim to be the Johannine "Spirit of Truth" and "Comforter", are cited in Shoghi Effendi's centrally important clarification of the status of the central figures of the Bahā'ī Faith, The Dispensation of Bahā’-Allāh (written 1934; see above p. 24).

Concluding Note

      The paraclete promises of Jesus are especially meaningful to Christians, Muslims and Bahā'īs. For most Christians the promised Paraclete is the Holy Spirit, one of the "persons" of the Trinity intimately related to Christian spirituality and to the evolution of Christendom. Muslim apologists viewed Muhammad as the Paraclete who brought the "all things" (Jn 14:26) of the Qur'ān. Bahā'īs affirm, according to the teachings of the central figures of their Faith, the fulfillment of the paraclete promises in Muhammad. In addition, they extend their messianic applicability to the Founder of the Bahā'ī Faith. As the eschatological "Comforter", Bahā’-Allāh brought "the all truth" (Jn 16:13) which is those teachings of the Bahā'ī Faith which promote and result in that unity in diversity which is the global realization of the oneness of mankind. As the "Spirit of truth" he claimed to be in receipt of divine revelation -- did not "speak of himself" (Jn 16:13) -- and bore witness to Jesus (Jn 16:14). He "glorified" the founder of Christianity in his writings and prophesied coming events (Jn 16:13-14) .

APPENDIX ONE

The so-called `paraclete sayings' have sometimes been reckoned to be four groups of verses within the Johannine Farewell Discourse (John 13:31ff). They have been studied by modern Biblical scholars in relation to each other, to John's Gospel as a whole, and to the rest of the Bible. The references are, 1) Jn 14:16-17; 2) Jn 14:26; 3) Jn 15:26-27 and 4) Jn 16:7-14. The English translation quoted below is slightly adapted from the Revised Standard Version with bracketed transliterations registering select Arabic renderings of (Eli Smith and) Cornelius Van Dyck Arabic (1818-1895) -- whose Arabic translation of the Bible was, among others, quite frequently cited by both Bahā’-Allāh and `Abdu'l-Bahā.

• Jn 14:16-17 = "And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Paraclete (mu`azzī), to be with you for ever, 17 even the Spirit of truth (rūḥ al-ḥaqq), whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him; you know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you."

• 14:26, "But the Paraclete (al-mu`azzī), the Holy Spirit (al-rūḥ al-quds), whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you."

• 15:26-27, "But when the Paraclete (al-mu`azzī) comes; whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth (rūḥ al-ḥaqq), who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me; 27 and you also are witnesses, because you have been with me from the beginning."

• 16:7f: "Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your ad¬vantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Paraclete (al-mu`azzī) will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will convince the world concerning sin and righteous¬ness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no more; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. 12 I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth (rūḥ al-ḥaqq) comes, he will guide you into all the truth (jamī`a al-ḥaqq); for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you."

APPENDIX TWO

            The American, Roman Catholic Biblical scholar, Raymond E. Brown has, in his The Gospel According to John XIII-XXI, (Appendix V, 1135-6) usefully tabulated the implications of the paraclete passages. Though he does not always highlight elements central to the Islamic and Bahā'ī "spiritual" interpretation, the tabulation is worth citing here.

(a) The coming of the Paraclete and the Paraclete's relation to the Father

• The Paraclete will come (but only if Jesus departs): 15:26; 16:7, 8, 13.

• The Paraclete comes forth from the Father: 15:26.

• The Father will give the Paraclete at Jesus' request: 14:16.

• The Father will send the Paraclete in Jesus' name: 14:26.

• Jesus, when he goes away, will send the Paraclete from the Father: 15:26; 16: 7.

(b) The identification of the Paraclete

• He is called "another Paraclete": 14:16

• He is the Spirit of Truth: 14:17; 15:26; 16:13

• He is the Holy Spirit: 14:26

(c) The role the Paraclete plays in relation to the disciples

• The disciples recognize him 14:17

• He will be within the disciples and remain with them: 14:17

• He will teach the disciples everything: 14:26

• He will guide the disciples along the way of all truth: 16:13

• He will take what belongs to Jesus to declare to the disciples: 16:14

• He will glorify Jesus: 16:14.

• He will bear witness on Jesus' behalf, and the disciples too must bear witness: 15:26 27.

• He will remind the disciples of all that Jesus told them: 14:26.

• He will speak only what he hears and nothing on his own: 16:13.

(d) The role of the Paraclete in relation to the world

• The world cannot accept the Paraclete: 14:17.

• The world neither sees nor recognizes the Paraclete: 14:17.

• He will bear witness to Jesus against the background of the world's hatred for and persecution of the disciple: 15:26 (cf. 15: 18 25).

• He will prove the world wrong about sin, justice, and judgement: 16:8 11.

APPENDIX THREE

The three "clusters" of paraclete texts as cited by Bahā’-Allāh in the "Essence of Mysteries" (Jawāhar al-asrār c.1861):
[1]       "[But] When the Comforter (al-mu`azzī) is come, whom I shall send unto you, the Spirit of Truth which cometh from the True One (God, al-ḥaqq) he shall testify of me; and ye [also] shall bear witness... (see Jn 15:26-27a).

[2]       "[But] when the Holy Spirit cometh, the Comforter whom my Lord will send in my name, he shall [assuredly] teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said unto you...But now I am going unto him that sent me; and not one among you asketh me `Where are you going.' But because I have said these things unto you [Jn 16:5, 6a] ....." (Jn 14:26 + 16:5-6a; Arabic AQA. III:11-12 = INBMC 46:4).

[3]       "[Nevertheless] I tell you the truth; it is best for you that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Comforter (al-mu`azzī) will not come unto you; but if I go I will send him unto you [Jn 16:7]. And when that Spirit of Truth (rūḥ al-ḥaqq) is come, he will guide you unto all the truth: for he will not cry out of himself but shall speak out whatsoever he shall hear; and he will declare unto you the things that are to come [Jn 16:13]." (Jn 16:7+ 16:13; Ar. INBMC 46:4-5 = AQA III:11).


ENDNOTES

Some of the original endnotes have been worked into the above webpage and are therein indicated by the endnote number followed by an = sign.

1. Star of the West vol. 3/4 p.3 See Jackson Armstrong-Ingram, Music, 84-5.

2. [in text]

3. In its basic passive sense the verbal adjective / noun paraclētos indicates `one called' by somebody to accomplish something (EDNT 3:28; cf. IDB 3:654). On the history of this word outside the New Testament see Behm, TDNT V:800ff; Smith, `Paraclete'; Grayston, 1984:58; idem., 1981. Casurella sums matters up when he writes of paraclētos "Its use in the ancient world outside the New Testament shows it to be a forensic term designating one who is summoned as a legal advisor, an intercessor, an advocate" (141).

4. In 1 John 2:1 Jesus is referred to as an "Intercessor" or "Advocate" (Paraclētos), one who pleads or intercedes for others. Both grammatically and conceptually, the four occurrences of paraclētos in John's Gospel go beyond the sense of this word in the First Epistle of John. It only occurs in these five texts and nowhere else in the Bible.

5. The word paraclētos does not occur in the ancient Greek version of the Hebrew Bible, the Septuagint (LXX) cf. though Job 16:2 where "comforters" (Hebrew, menaḥamin) is translated paraklētores (EDNT 3:28). In Hebrew and Aramaic paraclētos occurs as the loan-word Peraqlît[a] (e.g. Aboth 4.1.; Targum to Job 16:20 and 33:23).

6. [in text]

7. [in text]

8. By this translation, however, he apparently meant "confortator" or "strengthener" -- not "consoler" or "comforter" unless he was following the general ecclesiastical tradition (ICC:497; Snaith, 1945:47).

9. In 1953 J. G. Davies wrote an article defending the translation "Comforter" on the basis of the Septuagintal use of the verb parakalein (not used in John; see Davies, 1953; cf. Brown 1971:1137). It should be noted here that one of the titles of the expected Messiah in Rabbinical literature is Menaḥem ("Comforter"). It is a "name" which has the same numerical value (138) as the messianically significant Hebrew word for "branch" (emah see Zech 3:8; 6:12; Lam. Rabb I.16; Mid. Rab. Gen. 86; B. San. 98b). Driver reckoned that in both Talmud and Midrash "a Messianic aura hangs about the person of Menahem" (Driver, 1965: 356f). The Jewish messianic title Mehaḥem is not usually reckoned to be directly related to the Johannine Paraclete (Behm, TDNT V:804 fn.32).


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SUPPLEMENTARY BIBLIOGRAPHY

Biblical / New Testament and Partistic Studies

Ashton, John

  • `PARACLETE [Gk. paraklētos (παρακλητος)] in Freedman, D. N. 1996, c1992. The Anchor Bible Dictionary. Doubleday: New York = Anchor Bible Dictionary (ABD) vol. XX pp. ADD

Bammel, E.

  • 1973. Jesus und der Paraklet in Johannes 16. pp. 198–27 in Christ and Spirit in the New Testament, ed. B. Lindars and S. Smalley. Cambridge.

Betz, O.

  • 1963. Der Paraklet. Leiden.

Bornkamm, G.

  • 1949. Der Paraklet im Johannes-Evangelium. Pp. 12–35 in Festschrift für Rudolf Bultmann. Stuttgart.

Brown, R. E.

  • 1966–67. The Paraclete in the Fourth Gospel. New Testament Studies ( = NTS) 113–32.

Bultmann, R.

  • 1971. The Gospel of John. Trans. G. R. Beasley-Murray. Oxford.

Burge, G. M.

  • 1987. The Anointed Community. Grand Rapids.

Culpepper, R. A.

  • 1975. The Johannine School. Society of Biblical Literature Dissertation Series (= SBLDS) 26. Missoula, MT.

Franck, E.

  • 1985. Revelation Taught: The Paraclete in the Gospel of John. Coniectanea biblica, New Testament (= ConBNT) 14. Lund.

Grayston, K.

  • 1981. The Meaning of PARAKLETOS. Journal for the Study of the New Testament, Sheffield (= JSNT) 13: 67–82.

Johansson, N

  • 1940. Parakletoi: Vorstellungen von Fürsprechern für die Menschen vor Gott in der alttestamentlichen Religion, im Spätjudentum, und Urchristentum. Lund.

Johnston, G.

  • 1970. The Spirit-Paraclete in the Gospel of John. Cambridge.

Lindars, B.

  • 1981. The Persecution of Christians in John 15:18–16:4a. Pp. 48–69 in Suffering and Martyrdom in the NT. ed. W. Horbury and B. McNeil. Cambridge.

Mowinckel, S.

  • 1934. Die Vorstellung des Spätjudentums vom heiligen Geist als Fürsprecher und der johanneische Paraklet. Zeitschrift für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft (= ZNW) 52: 97–130.

Müller, U. B.

  • 1974. Die Parakletenvorstellung im Johannesevangelium. Zeitschrift für Theologie und Kirche (= ZTK) 71: 31–78.

Porsch, F.

  • 1974. Pneuma und Wort: Ein exegetischer Beitrag zur Pneumatologie des Johannesevangeliums. Frankfurter Theologische Studien 16. Frankfurt.

la Potterie, I. de.

  • 1965. Le Paraclet. pp. 85–105 in Le Vie selon l’Esprit, Condition du Chrétien. ed. I. de La Potterie and S. Lyonnet. Unam Sanctam 55. Paris.

Sasse, H.

  • 1925. Der Paraklet im Johannesevangelium. ZNW 24: 260–77.

Spitta, F.

  • 1910. Das Johannes-Evangelium als Quella der Geschichte Jesu. Göttingen.

Windisch, H.

  • 1927. Die fünf johanneische Parakletsprüche. Pp. 110–37 in Festgabe für Adolf Jülicher. Tübingen = The Spirit-Paraclete in the Fourth Gospel. Trans. J. W. Cox. Philadelphia, 1968.

  • 1933. Jesus und der Geist im Johannes-Evangelium. Pp. 303–18 in Amicitiae Corolla, ed. H. G. Wood. London

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