Page:Sacred Books of the East - Volume 6.djvu/60

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the qurʼân

it would, indeed, be strange if the writers, however inspired, left no trace in their writings of what they had seen, heard, or read. The New Testament, it is well known, contains much that is not original. Many of the parables &c., as a late eminent Orientalist once pointed out, are to be found in the Talmud. We know that St. Paul drew upon classic Greek sources for many of his most striking utterances, not even disdaining to quote the worldly wisdom of the comedian Menander; and there is at least a curious coincidence between the words used in describing the blindness that fell on the apostle just before his conversion, and its subsequent cure, with the description given by Stesichorus in his 'Palinodia' of a similar incident connected with his own conversion to the worship of the Dioscuri. Even the most divine sentiment in the Lord’s Prayer, 'Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us,' is expressed almost in so many words in the advice given by Nestor to the angered Achilles in the first book of Homer’s Iliad.

Judged then by the standard which we apply to other creeds, Mohammed’s religion stands forth as something strikingly new and original, since it sets before his countrymen, for the first time, the grand conception of one God, which was, as he asserted, the faith of their father Abraham, but which their fetishism had so long obscured.

The Arabs made use of a rhymed and rhythmical prose, the origin of which it is not difficult to imagine. The Arabic language consists for the most part of triliteral roots, i.e. the single words expressing individual ideas consist generally of three consonants each, and the derivative forms expressing modifications of the original idea are not made by affixes and terminations alone, but also by the insertion of letters in the root. Thus araba means 'he struck,' and qatala, 'he killed,' while maẓrub and maqtul signify 'one struck' and 'one killed.' A sentence, therefore, consists of a series of words which would each require to be expressed in clauses of several words in other languages, and it is easy to see