Early Christian Believers Doubted the Crucifixion
The Qur’aan says:
“And [for] their saying, “Indeed, we have killed the Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, the messenger of Allah.” And they did not kill him, nor did they crucify him; but [another] was made to resemble him to them. And indeed, those who differ over it are in doubt about it. They have no knowledge of it except the following of assumption. And they did not kill him, for certain.” – Qur’aan 4:157.
An early 2nd century group, the Basilides believed the following, whom they relate through the disciple Matthew:
“This second mimologue mounts another dramatic piece for us in his account of the cross of Christ; for he claims that not Jesus, but Simon of Cyrene, has suffered. For when the Lord was marched out of Jerusalem, as the Gospel passage says, one Simon of Cyrene was compelled to bear the cross. From this he finds his trickery <opportunity> for composing his dramatic piece and says: Jesus changed Simon into his own form while he was bearing the cross, and changed himself unto Simon, and delivered Simon to crucifixion in his place. During Simon’s crucifixion Jesus stood opposite him unseen, laughing at the persons who were crucifying Simon. But he himself flew off to the heavenly realms after delivering Simon to crucifixion, and returned to heaven without suffering.”
The above was quoted from the Panarion of Epiphanius of Salamis, Anacephalacosis II, Against Basilides, page 78 (Brill, 2008).
We also read from the Nag Hammadi Library, from the Second Treatise of Seth, Chapter 9, he says:
“For Adonaios knows me because of hope. And I was in the mouths of lions. And the plan which they devised about me to release their Error and their senselessness – I did not succumb to them as they had planned. But I was not afflicted at all. Those who were there punished me. And I did not die in reality but in appearance, lest I be put to shame by them because these are my kinsfolk. I removed the shame from me and I did not become fainthearted in the face of what happened to me at their hands. I was about to succumb to fear, and I <suffered> according to their sight and thought, in order that they may never find any word to speak about them. For my death, which they think happened, (happened) to them in their error and blindness, since they nailed their man unto their death. For their Ennoias did not see me, for they were deaf and blind. But in doing these things, they condemn themselves. Yes, they saw me; they punished me. It was another, their father, who drank the gall and the vinegar; it was not I. They struck me with the reed; it was another, Simon, who bore the cross on his shoulder. I was another upon Whom they placed the crown of thorns. But I was rejoicing in the height over all the wealth of the archons and the offspring of their error, of their empty glory. And I was laughing at their ignorance.”
Credit goes to Br. ‘Oeleju’ for pointing this out to me and for giving me the incentive to search for the information on Basilides in the Panarion, credit also goes to Br. Gomerozubar for informing me of the quote from the Treatise of Seth, May Allaah ta ‘aala reward them accordingly, ameen.
wa Allaahu ‘Alam.