mad's vivid and poetical imagination. But here again we see that Muhammad does not reproduce an account which he had read, but a story which he had heard related orally by the Jews. The hold which the narrative took upon his mind is clear not only from his having expanded the tale, but also from the large number of times that he recurs to it in different parts of the Qur'an. That the tale was well known in its main outline in his time is evident from the fact that Muhammad has nowhere thought it necessary to narrate the story at full length. His words in the Qur'an show that he believed it to be perfectly well known to and accepted by all his followers. It was probably current in Arabia long before his time, as so many other tales about Abraham were. Our object in quoting the story as it is contained in the Midrash Rabba is not to prove that Muhammad plagiarized from that work in this matter, but to show that the story in its main details was current among the Jews at an earlier time still, and that either this or some similar form of the fable must have been the source from which the Arabs derived their knowledge of it. It is hardly likely that Muhammad omitted to verify the tale by consulting his Jewish friends, who would tell him that it was contained in certain of their books, and thus confirm his faith in its truth.

We notice, however, that in the Qur'an the name of Abraham's father is stated to have been Azar and


not Terah, as in Genesis. But Eastern Jews sometimes call him Zarah, from which the Arabic form may have been corrupted. Or, again, Muhammad may have learnt the name in Syria, whence Eusebius probably derived the form of the name, Άθάρ, which he uses. Modern Persian Muhammadans often write the name آذر, pronouncing it, however, just as it is pronounced in Arabic, though the original Persian pronunciation was Adhar, nearly the same as the form used by Eusebius. This word in Persian meant "fire," and was the title of the angel who was supposed to preside over that element, one of the good creatures of Ormazd. There may in fact have been some attempt made to win reverence for Abraham among the Magians by identifying his father with this good Genius (Izad) of Fire. However this may be, we are able to trace the origin of the legend of Abraham's being cast into the fire to a simple blunder made by certain Jewish commentators, as will be pointed out in due course.

Before doing so, however, it may be well to indicate the line of argument commonly used by Muslims in refutation of the statement that the detection of the source of this and other similar legends in the Qur'an effectually disposes of its claim to be a Divine revelation. They urge in reply that such facts as those we have adduced form a clear proof of the truth of their religion. "For," they say, "although Muhammad did not