The Trifling Foundations and the Unwholesome Fruits of the Theology, or Rather, Prattlings of the Jews and Muslims or Turco-Persians

August Pfeiffer

August Pfeiffer was born in Lauenburg/Elbe in 1640. He was initially trained by a private tutor and then went on to study at the Hamburg Gymnasium, a humanist grammar school. As an adolescent, Pfeiffer was drawn to the mystical spiritualism of Christian Hoburg, but his professors influenced him away from this. Pfeiffer attended the University of Wittenberg in 1658 where he was fast-tracked in order to receive his Master’s degree in 1659. At Wittenberg, he studied with two champions of Lutheran orthodoxy in the seventeenth century, Abraham Calov (d.1686) and Johann Deutschmann (d.1706). In 1665, Pfeiffer was appointed as an adjunct professor for the Faculty of Philosophy at Wittenberg, teaching oriental languages. In 1668, he was made extraordinary professor of oriental languages. In 1671, he was appointed as a pastor in the Duchy of Oels in Silesia, first in Medzibor and then in Stroppen near Breslau (Wroclaw). In 1678, he received his doctorate in theology at Wittenberg and in 1684 became an associate professor at the Theological Faculty of the University of Leipzig where he taught biblical Hebrew and was a full professor of oriental languages. In 1689, he was offered a post as the Superintendent by the Council of the imperial city of Lübeck. Pfeiffer’s extensive scholarly publications include exegetical and philological works. In his works, he stressed the orthodoxy and the primacy of orthodox Lutheranism against Roman Catholicism as well as against all types of Pietism. He had a longstanding dispute with Philipp Jakob Spener, the ‘Father of Pietism’ and founder of the University of Halle. Pfeiffer is also considered to have strongly influenced the faith and thought of the famous composer Johann Sebastian Bach and some of his works can be found in Bach’s theological library. He died in Lübeck in 1698.1

Variant Names: Augusto Pfeiffero, Augustus Pfeifferus, and Augusti Pfeifferi.

Summary and Analysis

Pfeiffer presents Islam as a corruption of Christianity. He begins by arguing that Islam is constructed out of a misguided amalgamation of Quraysh paganism, Judaism and Christianity. Then he points out the similarities in Jewish and Islamic discourses to demonstrate their teachings as analogous heresies. While there are similarities in Jewish and Islamic discourses, Pfeiffer notes that the Karaite Jews remained biblical literalists while the Rabbanites accepted both scriptural and subsequent rabbinical exegeses. Similarly, Persian Muslims accepted only the Qur’anic scripture as authoritative, while the Turks, Tatars, Arabs, Indians, and other Muslims embraced the Sunna, which is “oral law,” according to Pfeiffer, in addition to the Qur’an for religious guidance and law. Pfeiffer likens the Jewish Talmudic writings to those of the Sunna, as supplementary texts to the central sources of scripture, and refers to them as contaminations of the sacred histories. Here, Pfeiffer interprets the Jewish and Islamic intellectual histories from his own Protestant commitment to Sola Scriptura, seeing religious history as a struggle between scripturalism and non-scriptualism.

Pfeiffer believes that since Jews and Muslims equally denounce the Holy Trinity, this deprives them of eternal life. Indeed, Jewish and Islamic teachings insult Christianity by refusing to accept the messianic concept of Jesus Christ, preferring conceptions of angels that are, to Pfeiffer, nonsensical. Both religions justify man before God by his actions as opposed to Christianity, which justifies man before God by accepting Jesus Christ as Savior. This critique of Judaism and Islam reflects Pfeiffer’s Protestant belief in faith alone.

In the remaining part of his text, Pfeiffer provides his critique of Jewish and Islamic rituals and ceremonies. He maintains that Jewish and Islamic teachings are similarly steadfast on circumcision and sacrifice, with Jews restricting animal sacrifice to the Temple in Jerusalem. Although the sacrificial offerings of Muslims can occur anywhere, they distribute part of the sacrificial meat to the poor. Muslims, he says, worship their “false prophet” in the temples of Mecca and Medina, but both Muslims and Jews see Jerusalem as a holy city. According to Pfeiffer, Jews and Muslims have strict rules for prayer, including the precise time for prayer, as they focus on the quantity of prayers rather than on the quality of the believer’s character. Pfeiffer criticizes Islamic and Jewish ritual oaths and fasting practices, seeing them as devoid of meaning and intention, and he rebukes both Jews and Muslims for their misguided dietary restrictions and superstitious washing rituals. With Jews and Muslims approving of divorce and legalized polygamy, he says that Jews believe happiness should be found within the joys of this life as opposed to the afterlife and that Muhammad believed in a sexually promiscuous Paradise. Both religions distinguish between Heaven and Hell in seven seats and locations and both believe in Purgatory as do Catholics.

Pfeiffer concludes that Jews and Muslims conspire against Christianity, hoping and believing that it will one day vanish. It is clear from this text that Pfeiffer presents Jewish and Islamic teachings as analogous to heresies of the Christian faith. Given the fact that Pfeiffer was


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Exercitationes de Judjeorum libris, qvibus prxter Scripturam S. V. T. religio ipíbrum nititur, Pc.Talmude, Targumim, &c.itemq; deeorundem íedis&virulcntisin Chriftianam religionem calumniis 5 porródc

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Augusto Pfeiffero, D.




Figure 5.1 August Pfeiffer, Theologiae, sive potius Moaaio/.oyiaq Judaicae atque Mohammedicae seu Turcico-Persicae, 1687 (Courtesy of the Bavarian State Library, Munich).

a zealous advocate for Lutheran orthodoxy, it is not surprising that he thinks Judaism and Islam, like Catholicism, are concerned with empty ceremonies and ritual displays rather than true faith. Both Orthodox Lutherans and Pietists criticize the Islamic focus on external rituals. However, while Pietists, such as Michaelis, argue that Islam is primarily concerned with religious observations rather than inner strength and morality, Orthodox Lutherans, such as Pfeiffer, criticized Islam for focusing on good works instead of faith alone. Pfeiffer also calls Islam as Syncretic religion as he believes it is a patchwork created from pieces of other religions. His use of the word “Syncretism” indicates he was not only criticizing Islam, but was also indirectly taking aim at the Syncretic Calixtinians.

The Trifling Foundations and the Unwholesome Fruits of the Theology, or Rather, Prattlings of the Jews and Muslims or Turco-Persians (Leipzig, 1687)

The Muslim religion is a poor patchwork made of the Qurayshite Paganism, Judaism, and Christianity. Nobody would doubt that, except someone totally unlearned in Muslim matters. It is easy to determine the cause of this foul Samaritanism or Syncretism. From the beginning, that impostor in Mecca [Muhammad] was nourished on the idolatry and impiety of the Qurayshites. Therefore, that Qurayshite Paganism leaves various traces here and there in his Qur’an.

Although Muhammad created his new religion, he did not borrow from just one religion because he was well aware of the Arab’s intelligence [so the Arabs would not notice he was plagiarizing]. Muhammad was an unskilled man, but cunning and skillful for his [religious-political] revolution as he used both Jewish and Christian teachers. Indeed, from the Christians he cultivated a closer intimacy with some Nestorian monks, whose names can be found in this book of mine. Meanwhile, he also had secret meetings with a certain ‘Abd al-Allah b. Salam, although many others say Muhammad met with certain Jews.

For this reason, I wonder if one can detect any harmony in useless Jewish and Muslim or Turco-Persian prattlings. Demonstrating this throughout the whole system of theology would be more tedious than difficult; but I think I can prove my assertion if I show Muslim-Jewish harmony in the following.

Among the Jews, the Karaite writers—of whom a small group remains—are content with the scriptures only as they reject traditions. However, the Rabbanites, in addition to the scripture or the written law, venerate the traditions, the unwritten or oral law, which they embrace with a similar degree of piety. As for the Muslims, the Persians and several other smaller nations only accept the Qur’an for their religious rules. But the Turks, as well as the Tatars, Arabs, Indians, and

Prattlings of the Jews and Muslims 157 other Muslims, accept a double foundation for their religion: besides the Qur’an, which is a written law, they also value the Sunna as the second tier [of religious traditions or authority]. These are the Muslim traditions of which Bukhari, who I will introduce shortly, has produced 5,275 traditions in a long volume, which is the oral law they call Sunna. It is worth noting here that the Arabic terms with which both laws are expressed, that is, Qur’an and Sunna, correspond to the Jewish terms Mikra and Mishnah, both in imitating their substance, as well as in their sound, origin, and meaning. This is to such an extent that for the Turks and other like-minded people among the Muslims, the Qur’an wholly mirrors the scriptures, and the Sunna, in turn, mirrors the Talmud. I set this matter before you in previous chapters clearly enough.

It is the custom of Jews and Muslims to contaminate their sacred histories with fables and nonsense. If I judge the matter correctly, the Impostor from Mecca does not solely owe all his fables to his Jewish teachers. We need to compare the following Jewish-Muslim stories: the angels that were ordered to worship Adam, who all obeyed with the exception of Satan, and the conversation between Cain and Abel; the angels who burned with lust for women; Abraham breaking the idols of his father Terah, and then being thrown into the fire and miraculously freed; Pharaoh violating the Israelites’ wives and sacrificing their children; Mount Sinai being torn from its roots and hanging over the Israelites like a barrel, with a divine threat that here would be their grave unless they accept the law; assistance from spirits in building the temple of Solomon; and Solomon understanding and interpreting the noise and chatter of birds. In fact, the very phrasing of the Jewish and Muslim stories often agrees, suggesting that the Impostor received the gift of instruction from a certain Jew, Rabbi Yohanan ben Zakkai, a student [or disciple] of Hillel who boasted that “If all of heaven were parchment, and all trees were pens, and the whole sea were ink, and all men were scribes, it would still be impossible to record all the wisdom that he learned from his teachers,” and so on. This is reflected in the Qur’an 31:27: “No matter how much wood and how many pens there are on the earth and how much ink is in the sea, which could then fill the seven seas, the words of God would not be exhausted.”

The Jews most disgracefully slander the awe-inspiring mystery of the Trinity, as is very well-known: Muhammad calls the Christians al-mushrikun, “polytheists” because of their belief in the Trinity, as if Christians place other gods beside the true God, for which reason Muhammad deprives Christians of eternal life in Q. 4:48. “God never forgives him who worships another God besides Him; but otherwise, He forgives whom He wishes.”

The Jews spoil the divinity of the Messiah and insult our faith in Christ; [Johann Christoph] Wagenseil likens their faithlessness to “the fiery darts of Satan.” Muhammad’s opinion is no different, although heseems to show respect to Christians. Nevertheless, Muhammad asserts that what Christians say is a sin: “The Messiah is the son of God” (Q. 9:30).

Concerning angels, Muhammad talks nonsense and says they are made from fire (Q. 38:76) and that spirits [jinn] are made from poisonous fire (Q. 15:27). The Jews say something no saner. On the appearance of the angel of death, Muhammad insists on (Q. 16:28-32 and Q. 32:11) the same as the Hebrews.

The Jews ascribe the salvation of human beings before God to their good works as does Muhammad (Q. 99:6-8). Elsewhere (Q. 6:12-16 and 16:9), contradicting himself, Muhammad teaches that salvation is gained by grace.

The Jews are steadfast on circumcision; similarly, based on the teaching of their false prophet, Muslims defend circumcision although they no longer perform it on the eighth day.

The Jews make sacrifices {korban olah) because of a perpetual obligation, but they restrict them to the Temple of Jerusalem. Muslims offer their own sacrifices, not burning them entirely, but distributing them especially during the Kudschuk Bairam [Kiigiik Bayram] religious holiday, which is called the Kurban—that is, the holiday of offering.

Furthermore, Muslims worship not only at the temples of Mecca and Medina, dedicated to their false prophet, but also worship and visit the temple at Jerusalem daily with no less reverence than the Jews once did.

Jews perform prayers in the synagogue at fixed times out of superstition in addition to good works which are endorsed by the Savior Himself (Matthew 5:5). This, indeed, seems to have crossed over to the Muslims who also pray at fixed times in the masjid (that is to say, the Muslim synagogue), with quantity rather than quality and intention.

Christ once censured the Jews for heedless oaths made on creatures requiring animal sacrifice. Muslims also keep these oaths, reinstituted by Muhammad.

Strict Jewish fasts have been frequently observed, but no less rigorous is the fasting at least in the daytime in the month of Ramadan among the Muslims.

The Jews abstain from certain foods daily, and especially despise pork. In the same way, Muhammad strictly forbids his followers pork (Q. 6:145).

Jews are very superstitious about washing, and Muslims no less so.

Not only do the Jews approve of divorce even for cases other than adultery and malicious desertion, but so do the Muslims, with license given by Muhammad (Q. 4:130). Hence, they annul marriages for slight, even ridiculous reasons, as I have shown below.

The Jews argue that polygamy is lawful, although today they refrain from this. Following the example of their lascivious bull, Muhammad, Muslims do the same and polygamy thrives among them today.

The Jews, especially the ancient ones, place the happiness of eternal life among the joys of this life, although the more contemporary ones sometimes seem to speak more cautiously. As for Muhammad, it is quite obvious that he converts his Paradise into Peredesia and Perbibesia or rather a brothel.

The Jews divide Heaven and Hell into seven seats and locations, which is also observed in Muhammad’s Qur’an and other Muslim writings.

The Jews believe in Purgatory and so does Muhammad.

Finally, it is not easy to tell who burns with greater hatred for Christians: Jews or Muslims? For the latter, I have adduced some words from Friar Ange de Saint Joseph’s Persian Medicine in the margins of his book; for the former, The Slanders of the Jews Against Christians can furnish evidence. Indeed, experience testifies how the Turks are much more akin to Jews than to Christians; like two mules scratching each other’s backs, the Jews, in turn, feel sympathetic toward the Turks.

From these, we can easily understand what sort of spiritual conspiracy exists among the Jews and Muslims against our religion; if God grants it, it is their intention that Christianity should completely fade away.

Greetings to the Kind Reader

If I take pains to understand the superstitious prattle of the Jews and the mad prattle of the Muslims, I sense a great, albeit blind, conspiracy of stubborn pride against the pre-eminent dogmas of Christianity. Indeed, it could seem strange to anyone, even if they do not examine it closely, that both peoples rely upon slippery and trivial foundations although they are not really at odds with each other. It seems worthwhile to consider these things somewhat more fully, and concurrently to expose the despicable delusions that propagate the lies that have arisen against Christianity. To that end, I have once again laid out preliminary observations, previously published at the University of Wittenberg, which aim exclusively at one target; laying clearly before your eyes both peoples’ False Books of Prattle, Jewish and Muslim—that is, the Talmud and the Qur’an. Some men look to a revelation of Jewish religion and treachery concerning Targumim, the schools of the ancients, as well as the slander from both ancient and recent people against Christ, the Christian religion, and Christians. For a deeper knowledge of Islamic madness, there is an outstanding treatise on the principle disagreements existing between the Sunnis and Shi’ites (the Turks and Persians). From these works, one can easily understand the foundations and core beliefs of both peoples’ nonsense. May you always enjoy good counsel, Kind Reader, and farewell.


1 Pfeiffer’s biography was compiled from the following sources: Johann Heinrich Zedler (ed.), “Pfeiffer, August,” in Grosses vollständiges Universal-Lexicon aller Wissenschafften und Künste, vol. T7 (Leipzig, 1741), 1337-40; Adolf Schimmelpfennig, “Pfeiffer, August,” in Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie, vol. 25 (Leipzig, 1887), 631-2; Robert Stevenson, “Bach’s Religious Environment: The Well Springs of Religious Emotion That Nourished the Creative Life of Protestantism’s Greatest Composer,” The Journal of Religion 30/4 (1950): 246-55; Chafe, Tears into Wine, 64-75; David Yearsley, Bach and the Meanings of Counterpoint (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 7-27; Johannes Wallmann, “Pfeiffer, August,” in Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart, eds. Hans Dieter Betz et al., vol. 6 (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2003), 1231; Heike Krauter-Dierolf, Die Eschatologie Philipp Jakob Speners: Der Streit mit der lutherischen Orthodoxie um die “Hoffnung besserer Zeiten” (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2005), 173-85.

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