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.


  • Ijaz, you know WHY the Basilideans and the authors of the Nag Hammadi codices denied the Crucifixion, right? It’s because they were Gnostics. The Gnostics believed that the material universe was created by an evil demiurge, and that Jesus was a divine spirit being who did not have a real physical body because to have a real physical body would be to taint Himself with the material creation of the demiurge. The New Catholic Encyclopedia, for example, classifies the Basilideans as a branch of Docetism (a theological movement that believed Jesus did not have a real physical body):
    see also http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02326a.htm

    The point I am trying to make with this is that the reason why these Gnostics denied the Crucifixion is completely different than yours. Since they believed that Jesus did not really take on flesh, there was no physical body that could be crucified to begin with. I’m sure you would completely disagree with the notion of a spiritual/phantom Jesus, so why would you appeal to them as though they believed the same thing you believe?

    Also, it would be a major misnomer to call the Gnostics “Christian.” The fact that they believed in Jesus as teacher of wisdom is quite literally the only thing they hold in common with Christianity. Even New Age gurus like Deepak Chopra believe in Jesus as a wisdom teacher; that doesn’t make them Christian. I think I recall directing you to “The Missing Gospels” by Darrell Bock. I would advise obtaining that book, as it goes indepth into what the Gnostics believed and why they could not by any stretch of the imagination be considered “Christian” (along with all the reasons I already outlined above).

  • Hi Ijaz
    I noticed you haven’t answered Luis and we still have to answer the question why an innocent man is dying on the cross.

    The koran makes a statement about the crucifixion but does not explain what really happened,then you appeal to the writings of people that are not even biblical Christians.

    Can you believe that Jesus would be laughing while an innocent man supposedly in his place is being murdered?

    You are clutching at straws to prove your case against Christianity.

  • @Luis Dizon,

    Thanks for your comment. I think you’re assuming that all Gnostics were Docetists. This is not evidential from my study of Gnosticism (which is a pre-Christian ideology). See my post here from Bultmann’s assessment of a physical Gnostic incarnate Jesus and its dualism in the Johannine Prologue:


    Why do you assume that all Gnostics were Docetists…? If we read Bultmann’s assessment, they do believe in incarnation, therefore that would throw that allegation/ theory of Docetic absolutionism out the window. As to why we consider Gnostics as Christians, I’m not arguing from a proto-orthodox point of view. There were many groups who considered themselves to be representative of the “correct” Messianic beliefs. The Christianity you follow, is based on an amalgamation of beliefs from several early groups later coalesced into the orthodoxy you believe in and represent today.

    Those early groups considered themselves true Christians, in as much as you consider yourself to be a true Christian today. Heck, if Christians can believe that Nobby was a “true believer in Islam” before accepting Christianity, despite him denying core tenets of Islamic belief and being a believer of syncretic Christian-Islamic Indian beliefs in the form of Qadianism, on that basis we need to be consistent and as such, we can consider Gnostics to be Christians by their own proclamations.

    Hope you understand.


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