Author Archives: Question Mark

Examining New Testament’s Prediction of Jesus’ (p) Return

 

More on New Testament’s Miscalculation of the End of World

 

Question Mark

Introduction

 

In one of our earlier paper we documented how the gospel traditions impute inaccurate predictions of Jesus’ (peace be upon him) second return and subsequent end of the world on him. According to Jesus (peace be upon him), end of the world was so near that some of his disciples would have remained alive to experience it.

It is now time to further that issue with the New Testament disciples of Jesus (peace be upon him). The way they interpreted, perceived and reacted to Jesus’ (peace be upon him) prediction of imminent end of the world and his second coming!

Paul’s prediction Jesus’ (p) return

 

It would be good if we start with Paul. While writing to the Thessalonians, Paul had the following to predict:

What we are teaching you now is the Lord’s teaching: We who are alive on the day the Lord comes will not go ahead of those who have died.” (1 Thessalonians 4:15)

It is very straight forward and obvious that Paul believed some amongst them would still remain alive on Jesus’ (peace be upon him) return! However, unfortunately, all of them are dead and Jesus (peace be upon him) is yet to return to the world!

Nevertheless, it would be fair if we also consider standard Christian understanding of the passage. Well known biblical expositor Adam Clarke reconciles as follows while dealing with the passage:

We which are alive, and remainBy the pronoun we the apostle does not intend himself, and the Thessalonians to whom he was then writing; he is speaking of the genuine Christians which shall be found on earth when Christ comes to judgment. From not considering the manner in which the apostle uses this word, some have been led to suppose that he imagined that the day of judgment would take place in that generation, and while he and the then believers at Thessalonica were in life. But it is impossible that a man, under so direct an influence of the Holy Spirit, should be permitted to make such a mistake: nay, no man in the exercise of his sober reason could have formed such an opinion; there was nothing to warrant the supposition; no premises from which it could be fairly deduced; nor indeed any thing in the circumstances of the Church, nor in the constitution of the world, that could have suggested a hint of the kind. The apostle is speaking of the thing indefinitely as to the time when it shall happen, but positively as to the Order that shall be then observed.

Read more

Were the Disciples of Jesus, Christian?

An introductory look into the New Testament “Disciples” for their bizarre relationship with their Master

Question Mark

Introduction

  

This is the final installment in our series of responses to Sam Shamoun for his alleged discovery of  “errors” in the Qur’an for it asserting original followers of Jesus (peace be upon him) to be “Muslims”!

To make his case, Shamoun quotes many passages from New Testament to portray belief system of the truest and sincerest disciples of Jesus (peace be upon him) to argue that such belief system could not have been endorsed by a disciple had he been Muslim! And as such, Shamoun claims, Qur’an is at historical “error” for claiming Jesus’ (peace be upon him) followers to be Muslims.

In the last part we showed that apart from well-known ‘Christian’ disciples, New Testament also contains many other followers of Jesus (peace be upon him) who came very close to the Qur’anic assertion that original followers of Jesus (peace be upon him) were Muslims and so the Qur’anic assertion cannot be outright denied even from New Testament’s point of view.

Nevertheless, because Shamoun brought up the issue of “disciples” and argued that the New Testament disciples were the original and truest disciples of Jesus (peace be upon him) therefore, in this paper, we are going to take a step further than Shamoun. Shamoun has used certain New Testament passages to portray the famous New Testament disciples of Jesus (peace be upon hm), however, as usual, he has conveniently ignored scores of other passages. We would have a fuller look into the quality of belief and loyalty that the New Testament “disciples” had for their master.

Read more

Does New Testament deny followers of Jesus (p) to be “Muslims”?

Does New Testament deny followers of Jesus (p) to be “Muslims”?

A look into New Testament beyond mere “Christian” disciples of Jesus (p)

 

Question Mark

 

Introduction

In the last installment we proved that Qur’an does not lend any veracity to the “Bible”. We also quoted that Qur’an does claim the original followers of Jesus (peace be upon him) to be Muslims (c.f. Qur’an 3:52, 5:111); this obviously offends Christians like Sam Shamoun who claims that Qur’an is at historical “error”.

Therefore, in this part, we would consider New Testament itself for the validity of the Qur’anic assertion. We would see that there were many “other-apostles” of Jesus (peace be upon him) albeit, sarcastically called as “chief-apostles” by Paul (c.f. 2 Corinthians 11:5), and put under extremely negative light (as expected) who, interestingly, had beliefs very similar to the Qur’anic claim!

Let Loose the Letters

 

Most of the Epistles of the New Testament were written to address specific issues which the fledgling first century (earliest) churches were facing. In this regard, Pauline epistles to Corinthians are of immediate interest to us since they relate to our investigation quite precisely.

However, before we actually delve into the epistle, it is important to observe the tone which Paul has used. Consider the following “verses”:

     “From Paul, who was called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and from our brother Sosthenes –” (1 Corinthians 1:1)

Note that Paul starts off by strongly emphasizing that it was by the “will” of God Himself that he became an apostle of Jesus (peace be upon him). In other words, he wanted to assert his apostolic authority over the Corinthians. This phenomenon is interspersed throughout the epistle. Consider a similar emphasis again merely eight verses later:

     “By the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ I appeal to all of you, my brothers…” (1 Corinthians 1:10)

Paul did not find it redundant to reiterate his “apostolic” authority one more time:

     “So then, we do not speak in words taught by human wisdom but in words taught by the spirit” (1 Corinthians 2:13)

Why was Paul so concerned to exert his apostolic authority so often? Probably because masses were not recognizing him as any so-called “apostle” of Jesus (peace be upon him). In fact, as we would soon explore, Paul was indeed unrecognized to have any “apostolic authority”. This would have a close link with our principal investigation: whether Jesus (peace be upon him) had Muslim followers? We would start from the very reason why Paul was made to write the letters to the Corinthians!

Paul had been informed that there was a vitriolic schism in the “Christian” community of Corinth and so he dispatches letters to the Corinthians addressing the issue; exhorting people to unite (c.f. 1 Corinthians 1:11). However, the nature of the dispute is very crucial because the earliest “Christian” community was divided over the apostles:

     “Let me put it this way: each one of you says something different. One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Peter”; and another,     “I follow Christ.”” (1 Corinthians 1:12, Good News Edition)

The above quotation indicates that the preaching of different apostles were different. (And they differed very arduously as we would subsequently observe.) Otherwise it makes no sense that the community would be divided over apostles if they were monolithic.

Moreover the last part of the citation is utmost important since it alludes to a particular group in the community which denied to follow any so-called “apostles” than Jesus (peace be upon him) himself! Who could be these people? New Testament provides meager information about these “Christ-followers”; however, we can be sure that they cannot be Jews since they recognized Jesus (peace be upon him) as “Christ”. Similarly, they cannot be “Christians” either, that is, the “orthodox” Pauline Christians – believing cross, alleged death and resurrection and deity of Jesus (p) – since they rejected Paul to follow Jesus (peace be upon him); be mindful that there was a certain group who was claiming to be “Paul-followers”; and these “Christ-followers” did not coincide with them in their declaration! Thus, if this group was neither Jewish nor Christian, then obviously there remains a big question as to who were these people?

Moreover, why this group choose to follow Jesus (peace be upon him) himself rejecting multiple “apostles” at their disposition who were readily, in turn, claiming to follow Jesus (peace be upon him), Paul for example (c.f. 1 Corinthians 11:1). Did not they know that these were “apostles” either handpicked or ‘supernaturally’ chosen en-route Damascus by Jesus (peace be upon him) himself? The only reason they would reject “apostles” to follow Jesus (peace be upon him) is when the apostles differed from Jesus (peace be upon him) so much so that they thought it is best to follow Christ (peace be upon him) himself rather than following differing apostles!

We cannot even dash off these Christ-followers as “heretics”; they can only be condemned as heretics when the condemner is presupposed to be an “orthodox”! In other words, it depends on the perspective one is looking from. For it is sure that Paul and his preaching were “heretical” for these “Christ-followers”, as we would soon observe through the pages of New Testament!

And thus, as discussed above, if this particular group was neither Jewish nor Christian then it certainly opens up the contention that followership of Jesus (peace be upon him) was not merely restricted to those who became positively famous through the pages of New Testament and subsequently in the “orthodox” churches as “Christians”. And so, for the rest of the paper we would further substantiate this notion. In the course, we would indirectly glean intriguing deductions that groups like “Christ-followers” denied deity of Jesus (peace be upon him) to consider him as mere mortal thus further corroborating the Qur’anic assertion that original followers of Jesus (peace be upon him) were Muslims.

Finally, it is worthwhile to note that the historical, Muslim followers of Jesus (peace be upon him) had to follow Jesus (peace be upon him) himself than any other “apostle” just like contemporary Muslims have to follow Mohammad (peace be upon him) than any other teacher no matter how influential s/he is and if s/he differs from Mohammad (peace be upon him) himself! So in this context, these Christ-followers come very close to the Qur’anic assertion that Jesus’ (peace be upon him) original followers were Muslims: following him (p); rejecting intricate philosophies (trinity, vicarious atonement) of “apostles”, to submit their wills to God alone.

“Apostle” Paul rejected at Corinth

Remember that the first Pauline letter to the Corinthians was written because particular groups in the community chose individual apostles for themselves. It was not merely an issue of choosing one from the wide range of apostles, rather it entailed with it rejecting others while choosing the one for the particular group. As such those group who chose apostles other than Paul, or even those who ultimately chose Christ (peace be upon him) himself, rejected Paul (obviously for his preaching):

“Am I not a free man? Am I not an apostle? Haven’t I seen Jesus our Lord? And aren’t you the result of my work for the Lord? Even if others do not accept me as an apostle, surely you do! Because of your life in union with the Lord you yourselves are proof of the fact that I am an apostle.” (1 Corinthians 9:1-2)

Recall that at the start of this paper we noted that Paul, in this first letter to the Corinthians, chose a tone to defend his apostleship at Corinth, albeit, hitherto, indirectly. However, at this point in the letter, things just went out of hand where he had to make explicit appeal for his apostleship. Nevertheless, in a way, they also provide information as to the objections which the opponents of Paul raised. Paul appeals that because he has “seen” Jesus (peace be upon him) and “worked” for him with results, therefore, he must be a bona fide apostle!

However, why did Paul felt the need to appeal these specific notions? Probably because these were the primary arguments, amongst others, raised against his apostleship!: Corinthians were sure that Paul never consorted with Jesus (peace be upon him) in real time and the only information about Paul “seeing” Jesus (peace be upon him) comes after Jesus’(p) alleged death and only through hearsay to the Corinthians (in fact to almost everybody for that reason).

Similarly, Paul’s “work” could well have been another reason for his opposition. To be sure, Paul’s primary “work”, in other words, his preaching, was salvation through the alleged death and resurrection of Christ (peace be upon him) on cross. This could have gone unintelligible with his Corinthian opponents:

“For God in his wisdom made it impossible for people to know him by means of their own wisdom. Instead, by means of the so-called “foolish” message we preach, God decided to save those who believe. Jews [1.] want miracles for proof and Greeks look for wisdom. As for us we proclaim the crucified Christ, a message that is offensive to the Jews and nonsense to the Gentiles, this message is Christ, who is the power of God and the wisdom of God. For what seems to be God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and what seems to be God’s weakness is stronger than human strength” (1 Corinthians 1:21-25)

And therefore, Paul appeals to support these notions with a hope that even if other factions have denied his apostleship, at least, those who are apparently loyal to him would not doubt them.

More Issues with Paul and His preaching in Corinth

It was not that opposing groups in Corinth were merely following their apostles or “Christ”; in fact they were on full-fledged ministry against Paul and his preaching:

“I wish you would tolerate me, even when I am a bit foolish. Please do! I am jealous for you, just as God is; you are like a pure virgin whom I have promised in marriage to one man only Christ himself. I am afraid that your minds will be corrupted and that you will abandon your full and pure devotion to Christ – in the same way that Eve was deceived by snake’s clever lies. For you gladly tolerate anyone who comes to you and preaches a different Jesus, not the one we preached; and you accept a spirit and a gospel completely different from the Spirit and the gospel you received from us!” (2 Corinthians 11: 1-4) [2.]

Notice that “apostles” in Corinth were teaching a “different Jesus” and a “gospel completely different”. This gospel preaching about Jesus (peace be upon him) was so fundamentally different from Paul that he had premonitions that people might abandon “full” and “pure” “devotion” to Christ (peace be upon him).

According to standard Pauline, Trinitarian theology, “devotion” to Christ (peace be upon him) means services to Jesus (peace be upon him) while bearing him as “divine” “God” – the “second” in the divinity of “three”! Thus, inferably, we have a proof in the above polemical passage that opposing “apostles” in Corinth were specifically preaching a non-divine Jesus (peace be upon him). As celebrated Bible expositor Albert Barnes specifically comments on the same:

Ye might well bear with him – Margin, “with me.” The word “him” is not in the Greek; but is probably to be supplied. The sense is, there would then be some excuse for your conduct. There would be some reason why you should welcome such teachers. But if this cannot be done; if they can preach no other and no better gospel and Saviour than I have done, then there is no excuse. There is no reason why you should follow such teachers and forsake those who were your earliest guides in religion. – Let us never forsake the gospel which we have until we are sure we can get a better. Let us adhere to the simple doctrines of the New Testament until some one can furnish better and clearer doctrines. Let us follow the rules of Christ in our opinions and our conduct; our plans, our mode of worship, our dress, and our amusements, engagements, and company, until we can certainly ascertain that there are better rules. A man is foolish for making any change until he has evidence that he is likely to better himself; and it remains yet to be proved that anyone has ever bettered himself or his family by forsaking the simple doctrines of the Bible, and embracing a philosophical speculation; by forsaking the scriptural views of the Saviour as the incarnate God, and embracing the views which represent him as a mere man; by forsaking the simple and plain rules of Christ about our manner of life, our dress, and our words and actions, and embracing those which are recommended by mere fashion and by the customs of a frivolous world. (2 Corinthians 11:4, Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

 

As expected Barnes has a tone-down for any gospel message portraying Jesus (peace be upon him) other than as portrayed by Paul simply because he assumes/believes Paul (and himself) to be an “orthodox” Christian! And therefore, the Pauline opponents, for him, would have to be “heretics” incompetent of producing anything better than Paul. Nevertheless, as we argued earlier, the other-apostles at Corinth would have assumed exactly the same for their opponents. For them, they were “orthodox” and Paul and his supporters were “heretics”. However, in any case, no matter from which perspective we are looking from, for sure, we had groups as early as Paul, preaching a Jesus (peace be upon him) who was a “mere man” than any pagan influenced “incarnate god”.

Likewise, noted New Testament commentator Vincent also informs that at Corinth a Jesus (peace be upon him) of different “identity” and “nature” was proposed:

Another Jesus – another Spirit (ἄλλον  – ἕτερον)

 

Rev., another Jesus, a different Spirit. See on Mat_6:24. Another denies the identity; a different denies the similarity of nature. It is the difference of “individuality and kind” (Alford). (2 Corinthians 11:4, Vincent’s Word Studies)

 

As touted in churches, the “orthodox” Pauline “identity” and “nature” of Jesus (peace be upon him) was that he was “divine” Son of God, a “divine” savior and intercessor, the very “divine” second god-person of Trinitarian godhead, same in essence with divine Father (the “nature”); nevertheless, inferably, all of these were categorically denied by Pauline opponents when preached a Jesus (peace be upon him) of different “identity” and “nature”.

No surprises that contemporary Bible giants like James Dunn assert that “earliest” Jesus (p) traditions have no hint for his divinity:

 “There is no real evidence in the earliest Jesus traditions of what could fairly be called a consciousness of divinity.” (James Dunn, Christology in the Making, p.60)

It is for such notions that professors like John Hick claim that to impute divinity upon “historical” Jesus (peace be upon him) is not merely “devoid” in sense but its gradual evolution has pagan influences:

“For to say, without explanation, that the historical Jesus of Nazareth was also God is as devoid of meaningthat Jesus was God the Son incarnate is not literally true, since it has no literal meaning, but it[s] an application to Jesus of a mythical concept whose function is analogous to that of the notion of divine sonship ascribed in ancient world to a king.” (John Hick, The Myth of God Incarnate (London: SCM Press, 1977), p. 178)

 

Interestingly all of this is expressly important for the Qur’anic assertion that original followers of Jesus (peace be upon him) were “Muslims” since as Muslims they would not recognize him as divine in any sort since. Consider the following was the express teaching of Jesus (peace be upon him):

And behold! Allah will say: “O Jesus the son of Mary! Didst thou say unto men, worship me and my mother as gods in derogation of Allah’?” He will say: “Glory to Thee! never could I say what I had no right (to say). Had I said such a thing, thou wouldst indeed have known it. Thou knowest what is in my heart, Thou I know not what is in Thine. For Thou knowest in full all that is hidden. “Never said I to them aught except what Thou didst command me to say, to wit, ‘worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord’; and I was a witness over them whilst I dwelt amongst them; when Thou didst take me up Thou wast the Watcher over them, and Thou art a witness to all things. (Qur’an 5:116-117)

They do blaspheme who say: “Allah is Christ the son of Mary.” But said Christ: “O Children of Israel! worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord.” Whoever joins other gods with Allah,- Allah will forbid him the garden, and the Fire will be his abode. There will for the wrong-doers be no one to help. (Qur’an 5:72)

The forgoing could well be the reason that respected Christian sources like Compton’s Encyclopedia states that it was difficult to distinguish earliest “Christians” from Jews since the “only” difference between them was that they accepted Jesus (peace be upon him) to be “Messiah” while their Jewish counterparts did not:

“The early Christians were all Jews. They remained in Jerusalem and partook in the religious observance in the Temple. They differed from their fellow Jews ONLY in that they believed that the Messiah had come. Had they kept quiet about their conviction, they might well have remained a sect within Judaism…” (Compton’s Encyclopedia, ‘Christianity,’ (CD-ROM Home Library, 1997.)

 

So, the only difference was Messiah consciousness as opposed to divinity consciousness. And “Muslim” followers of Jesus (peace be upon him) had to recognize him as “Messiah”! (c.f. Qur’an 3:45). Now compare this with Pauline opponents at Corinth who claimed that they were “Christ”-followers, denyingfull and pure devotion to Christ” (c.f. 2 Corinthians 11:3).

Furthermore, it would be incorrect to restrict the scope of the Pauline verse to divinity of Jesus (peace be upon him) alone since, we know, Paul centered his theology on crucifixion and its redemptive capacity as well. Therefore, if Paul so staunchly complains that other “apostles” were preaching a “gospel completely different” about a completely “different” Jesus (peace be upon him) then his opponents were disparaging the importance and implications of cross! As Paul clarifies that many were rejecting crucifixion and philosophies entailed around it:

For the message about Christ’s death on the cross is nonsense to those who are being lost; but for us who are being saved it is God’s power.” (1 Corinthians 1:18)

It is interesting to note the place where Paul places the above “verse”. He wrote them just after introducing the division in the Corinthian church implying strongly that it was inside the Corinthian church where crucifixion and subsequent redemption was rejected and Paul was reproaching the same. This is further proven by the words Paul has chosen in the quoted “verse”. Note he writes that for only a particular few in the community – “for us” – the “message” about crucifixion is “power”; Paul is obviously addressing to those few who were loyal to his preaching; implying again that there were other rejecting cross and its efficacy (if any).

Contemporary New Testament authority Bart Ehrman also speculates that the author of ‘Q’ – a contemporary with Paul and firsthand source, for evangelists Matthew and Luke – denied vicarious atonement through the cross of Jesus (peace be upon him) – a philosophy which was corner stone for Paul:

The author of Q, too, may have thought that it was the sayings of Jesus that were the key to a right relationship with God. If so, in losing Q we have lost a significant alternative voice in the very earliest period of early Christianity. Most scholars date Q to the 50s of the Common Era, prior to the writing of the Synoptic Gospels (Mark was some ten or fifteen years later; Matthew and Luke some ten or fifteen years after that) and contemporary with Paul. Paul, of course, stressed the death and resurrection of Jesus as the way of salvation. Did the author of Q stress the sayings of Jesus as the way? Many people still today have trouble accepting a literal belief in Jesus’ resurrection or traditional understandings of his death as an atonement, but call themselves Christian because they try to follow Jesus’ teachings. Maybe there were early Christians who agreed with them, and maybe the author of Q was one of them. If so, the view lost out, and the document was buried. In part, it was buried in the later Gospels of Matthew and Luke, which transformed and thereby negated Q’s message by incorporating it into an account of Jesus’ death and resurrection. One more form of Christianity lost to view until rediscovered in modern times. (Lost Christianities, The Battles of Scriptures and the Faiths We Never Knew, p. 59)

What is still interesting is the result which these opposing apostles were receiving in Corinth for their “missionary activity”! Reconsider the following passage:

 For you gladly tolerate anyone who comes to you and preaches a different Jesus, not the one we preached; and you accept a spirit and a gospel completely different from the Spirit and the gospel you received from us!” (2 Corinthians 11: 4)

The rapid success of his opponents frustrated Paul to such an extent where he even started to act like “fools”:

I am acting like a fool – but you have made me do it. You are the ones who ought to show your approval of me. For even if I am nothing, I am in no way inferior to those very special “apostles” of yours. The many miracles and wonders that prove that I am an apostle were performed among you with much patience. (2 Corinthians 12: 11-12)

Note that, according to the above citation, it is now not people of other camp who are deserting Paul rather they are the very people about whom Paul was confident will accept him as “apostle”. It is natural that in such scenarios people would act like “fools”!

In fact, to make matters worse for Paul, these much anticipated followers of Paul were the same who even demanded proofs from Paul for his apostleship:

You will have all the proof you want that Christ speaks through me.” (2 Corinthians 13:3)

Notice, even though Paul asserted that the “miracles and wonders” he ironically “performed among [them]” (c.f. 2 Corinthians 12:12, quoted above) were the very proofs for his apostleship yet Corinthians demanded proof from him! This certainly makes sense because according to Jesus (peace be upon him) even charlatans would be able to achieve miraculous feats:

“For false Messiahs and false prophets will appear. They will perform miracles and wonders in order to deceive even God’s chosen people, if possible. Be on your guard! I have told you everything before the time comes.” (Mark 13: 22-23)

It is very plausible that by “proof”, Corinthians demanded a doctrine compatible with Jesus’ (peace be upon him) message and human cognizance. They could neither see Jesus’ (peace be upon him) stamp or compatibility in the Pauline preaching about his deity nor could they fathom any logic in the theories of cross and vicarious atonement there from. Not much surprise, it came to them as “foolish”.

Such embarrassing response at Corinth by his own faction led Paul emotionally appeal against his rejection:

Dear friends, in Corinth! We have spoken frankly to you; we have opened our hearts wide. It is not we who have closed our hearts to you; it is you who have closed your hearts to us. (2 Corinthians 6:11)

Due to brevity of this paper we have not documented that Paul was strongly opposed at most places he preached like Galatia, Ephesus, Antioch, and even in Jerusalem. What is very interesting to note is that the oppositions in Antioch and Jerusalem did not come from any revolting “heretical” faction but from “brother of Christ” (peace be upon him) James himself! The one thing which all of these do prove is that there were various faiths prevailing amongst the earliest communities!

 

Conclusion

 

We saw that the earliest “apostles”, as early as Paul himself, were divided over doctrines. Many apostles contemporary to Paul at Corinth came to oppose him for his most fundamental theories, like, vicarious atonement through alleged crucifixion of Jesus (peace be upon him) and his divinity.

This made university scholars like Dr. A. Meyer (Prof. of Theology at Zurich University) to conclude that the “Christianity” we know of was not the religion Jesus (peace be upon him) came to promulgate rather it was a complex philosophy that Paul coined:

If by ‘Christianity’  we understand faith in Jesus Christ as the heavenly son of God, who did not belong to Earthly humanity, but who lived in the divine likeness and glory, who came down  from heaven to earth, who entered humanity and took upon himself a human form through a virgin, that he might make propitiation for men’s sins by his own blood on the cross, who was them awakened  from death and raised to God as the Lord of his own people, who believe in him, who hears their prayers, guards and leads them, who shall come again to judge the world, who will cast down all the foes of God, and will bring his people with him unto the house of heavenly light so that they may become like his glorified body – if this is Christianity, the[n] such a Christianity was founded by Paul and not by Jesus.” (Meyer, Jesus or Paul, p. 122)

All of this are conducive to conclude that earliest community of “Christians” were not merely composed of “Christians”, that is, those believing in redemptive capacity of cross and divinity of Jesus (peace be upon him). And thus, subjective Christians like Shamoun, merely to falsify Qur’an, try to restrict the followership of Jesus (peace be upon him) only to those who became positively recognized in the pages of New Testament. Consider the following parochial note that he wrote:

Contrary to the Quran’s assertions, Christ’s disciples proclaimed that Jesus is the divine Son of God who died on the cross and rose from the dead three days later. They also testified that he sits enthroned in heaven alongside the Father as the sovereign Lord of all creation, and that he will return to the earth in order to judge the living and the dead. They even went as far as to worship Christ as their risen and exalted Lord!

Note that some (self-claimed) “disciples” of Jesus (peace be upon him) did imply his divinity in some sort and did promulgate his alleged crucifixion and entailing salvation theories. However, these were not the “only” disciples. There were others contemporary to Paul (i) who denied “full and pure devotion to Christ”, (ii) they denied the preaching of Paul which, evidently, relied heavily around the alleged crucifixion and vicarious atonement there from, yet these at the same time also (iii) claimed that they were “Christ-followers”! So next time Shamoun claims that “There is simply no way around this fact”, he needs to suggest what name other than “Muslims” could he give to these opponents of Paul? Pick one! It seems like, “There is simply no way around this fact” that original followers of Christ (peace be upon him) were “Muslims”!

Even if we allow that these Pauline opponents were not “Muslims” yet there mere presence at such odds with “orthodox” Christians (Paul, for example) is enough to open up the contention that the followership of Jesus (peace be upon him) was not only restricted to those who were labeled as “Christians”. This in itself makes the Qur’anic fact further viable that original followers of Jesus (peace be upon him) were “Muslims”! Subsequently, from a historians’ point of view, the Qur’anic assertion is not at any “historical error”.

There is still vast amount of information which has to be unearthed from New Testament about Paul and his ways which we would definitely do in future, inshAllah. For the time being since Paul asserts that everybody else opposing him were “false apostles” and, Shamoun disdains original follower of Jesus (peace be upon him) to be Muslims; therefore, in the next installment – the final installment of the series – we would turn our attention to the well-known New Testament disciples and see how much of a ‘disciple’ they were! We do have some important stuff coming up, inshAllah.

Footnote:

[1.]       At first glance, many would be tempted to interpret that the “Jews” mentioned in the verse are those traditional Jews who hated Jesus (peace be upon him); and not the Corinthian Jews who came to believe in him. However, this cannot be precisely correct in the overall context of the epistle. Consider the following issues:

Firstly, in the context of the epistle we have differing factions in the Corinthian community split over apostles for their preaching. Now notice the sarcastic tone which Paul has used in the subject passage: “foolish message”. Therefore, the first target audience for this sarcasm has to be those Corinthians who rejected Paul to accept Christ (p) himself (or some other apostle for that reason) labeling his message as “foolish”. If this was not true then Paul’s sarcasm would make no sense since the letter was not going to Jerusalem – the haven of Christ (peace be upon him) killers; it was going to a supposedly “Christian” community of Corinth.

Secondly, we know for a fact that Paul’s most fundamental preaching was the alleged crucifixion and philosophies around it! Now as Corinthian opponents rejected Paul they did not reject the “man” Paul with two eyes and one nose. They precisely rejected his preaching which has to be the alleged crucifixion and this made Paul write that the crucifixion comes as “foolish” and “offensive” to the Jews – the believing Jews of Corinth in the context; and, likewise, “nonsense” to the Gentiles. If these were not valid, it makes no sense that many Corinthian groups “rejected” Paul.

[2.]       The King James Version of the Bible renders the word “simplicity” in place of your “full and pure devotion”:

“But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” (2 Corinthians 11:3)

Nevertheless, it hardly makes any difference in the interpretation of the verse when we look at it like a Christian would. For this “simplicity” in Christ (peace be upon him) is the quality of him being the divine Son of God who desires pure and simple devotion to him; and the “simplicity” comes because of his alleged sacrificial death on the cross. Consider some standard expositions of this rendering:

From the simplicity that is in Christ –

 

(1) From simple and single-hearted devotedness to him – from pure and unmixed attachment to him. The fear was that their affections would be fixed on other objects, and that the singleness and unity of their devotedness to him would be destroyed.

(4) from the simplicity in worship which the Lord Jesus commended and required. The worship which the Redeemer designed to establish was simple, unostentatious, and pure – strongly in contrast with the gorgeousness and corruption of the pagan worship, and even with the imposing splendor of the Jewish temple service. (Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, 2 Corinthians 11:3)

And,

3. The simplicity that is in Christ] i.e. the pure gospel that salvation is by faith in Christ alone. (A Commentary on the Holy Bible Edited By J.R. Dummelow)

 

Notes:

  • Unless otherwise mentioned, all Qur’anic text taken from Yusuf Ali Translation.
  • Unless otherwise mentioned, all biblical text taken from Good News Edition.
  • Emphasize wherever not matching with original is ours.

Does Qur’an validate Bible?

Does Qur’an validate Bible?

A response to Sam Shamoun’s critique: Qur’an Error – Were Jesus’ Disciples Muslims?

 

Part1

 

Question Mark

Introduction

 

Christian evangelists and missionaries apply a standard argument upon Muslims that the Qur’an “validates” Bible! They especially use this argument against Muslims who are uninitiated in missionary tactics. Once a gullible Muslim is sufficiently duped into this cunning deception, “winning souls” into Christianity is not far off [1.].

Read more

When a ‘Christian’ met Tawhid Al Asma Wa Sifat

A response to the unexpected Christian objections 

Question Mark

Introduction

A certain Christian named C.L.Edwards has objected to our paper wherein we discussed the problems which Christianity, especially the Trinitarian strand of it, faces while dealing with monotheism with regards to God’s attributes and names.

Throughout Edwards directed his response to Ijaz may be either due to careless negligence or sheer obsession as recently they were engaged in a debate. So whenever Edwards refers anything to Ijaz it is actually aimed at me.

Although it was an honor to read Edwards’ response, yet certain very important issues needed to be addressed which we intend to do in this paper.

Problem lies at the base

 

Edwards divides his response into twenty five bullet points. The most important of all lies at the very end! In fact as we would soon observe it shows the philosophy which Edwards as a Trinitarian endorses under the assumption of it being ‘doctrine of monotheism’. As such we would start our analysis from there. Here is Edward’s twenty fifth point:

25. Ijaz says…Monotheism simply means One God, the issue of God incarnating as a man and living the life of a man has nothing to do with whether God is One. The real issue clearly is Ijaz’s psychological hang ups about the incarnation.

Carefully observe the stress upon the definition of monotheism for Edwards. It simply and only means counting God as “One”. We assume this is a standard Trinitarian belief. Nevertheless, on one hand where it is extremely important to count God as one; on the other hand, it is not enough to merely count Him as one! Since even the pagans – by all sense of the word – also count God as one! Consider the following quotations from Hindu scriptures:

“There is only ONE God, not the second; not at all, not at all, not in the least bit.” (Concept of God in Major Religions, Brahma Sutra of Hindu Vedanta, pg. 8)

“He is One only without a second” (Concept of God in Major, Chandogya Upanishad 6:2:1, pg. 5)

Therefore, we do not think that by merely counting God as “one”, Edwards is any different from Hindus who are (generally) known polytheists. As such there has to be more to monotheism than just counting God as one. It is this lack of more qualifications to the imports of monotheism which drives Edwards towards beliefs wherein he allows all sorts of Idolatry under the aegis of Trinitarian Christianity:

24. He then says, “Nevertheless, they have no qualms when they ring their church bells about “God” being delivered out of Mary’s womb “in the crude way” or, “God” being poked on cross while he was almost naked or, still more weirdly, a dead “God” hanging on the cross with probably scavenger hovering over “His” head until his “dead body” was to be placed in a cave.” No we do not, just like the previous messengers had no qualms about this, nor Jesus disciples, nor Jesus himself. because this is what God had said would happen and it is what did happen. Your inability to accept or grasp how it could be is irrelevant, unless you only want a “god” that conforms to your mind(aka an idol).

To paraphrase Edwards’ stand: once a Christian has sufficiently “counted” God to be “one” then he is monotheist enough to allow God being delivered out of Mary’s womb in the crude way; God hanging almost nude on the cross; or even more embarrassingly, monotheists carrying God’s “dead body” into ‘His’ “grave”! So on and so forth.

In other words, a Hindu would be a polytheist since he is worshipping “God-man” like Krishna but a Trinitarian Christian would be a ‘monotheist’ destined to heaven since he worships Jesus (peace be upon him) – , albeit, another ‘God-man’; even though both a Hindu and a Christian “counts” God to be absolutely “one”! We do not really have any good explanation for this extremely biased and partisan approach towards different “God-mans” apart from the fact that either “God is God of Israel” – the nationalistic God and thus the biased approach or, the so-called philosophy of “hypostatic union”:

In fact Edwards readily accepted a number of utterly idolatrous acts for God under the name of hypostatic union. Following is the list,

1)      God being procreated out of the womb of Mary “in the crude way”.

2)      God contained inside His “mother’s” womb

3)      God sucking his life of his mother.

4)      God producing biological waste.

5)      God almost made naked on cross.

6)      God made to bleed and wounded.

7)      God being spat on his face.

8)      And, on top of all of that, “God” dying on the cross

9)      And, “God’s” dead body being enshrouded and placed in cave.

 

And following is Edwards’ acceptance of them under the explanation of hypostatic union!

“16. Ijaz then lists many things that happened to Jesus Christ while incarnate as a man, that he says do not befit God. In a sense I agree from the stand point of God in his essence would never be nailed to a cross(how could a incorporeal being be nailed to anything?), but God incarnate in the manner detailed by the doctrine of the hypostatic union could and did do all those things without violating his “God-hood”.

Edwards goes on to explain what hypostatic union means and how it justifies all of the above blasphemous attributes upon God:

13. Ijaz then says “On the same reasoning, Jesus (peace be upon him) cannot be imputed with some of the attributes which ill-fits a “God”” Correction Jesus as the incarnate God-man having two natures could not have attributes ”ill-fit” for a God ascribed to his divine essence(dhat). As for His second additional nature that he took upon himself, it is fully human in every sense of the word. Since Jesus two natures are not mixed or co-mingled causing a dilution nor a cancellation of the other, Christs human nature imputes nothing ”ill-fit” to his divine nature.

This is pure Greek philosophy than anything else since we cannot have a “union” of two mutually exclusive attributes at the same time and in the same entity. Although Edwards asserts that Jesus’ (peace be upon him) humanity would not interrupt his divinity yet this is not possible. To explain this let’s take a situation in Jesus’ (peace be upon him) life where he was in his mother’s womb. When the baby, in other words, the human Jesus (peace be upon him) was in the womb along with it the “God” of Trinitarians was also clinging to the uterine wall of Mary! So, where it is perfectly acceptable for a human Jesus (peace be upon him) to be contained in Mary; however, it is grotesque even to imagine “God” hanging in Mary’s womb! And yet this is exactly acceptable under the explanation of “hypostatic union”!

To further realize the absurd implications of the “hypostatic union”, we would go further earlier in Mary’s pregnancy. Think about the time when Jesus (peace be upon him) was not even a baby in the womb – the zygote state. By the very token of “hypostatic union” we would have to grant that the zygote was both a mere human-pre-natal state and at the same time (hypostatic union) “God” Almighty clinging to the womb of Mary as a mere two celled organism! So if the dual nature of Jesus (peace be upon him) – the divine and the human – by the virtue of “hypostatic union” allows him to be referred as “God-man” during his adult ministry, then by the same token of “hypostatic union” it should have been ‘doctrinally’ permissible to call him “God-zygote” during his incipient stages!?

The above explanations make it amply clear that the human nature of Jesus (peace be upon him) does interfere with his divine nature (if he has one). And this cannot be merely explained away by assuming that “two natures are not mixed or co-mingled causing a dilution nor a cancellation of the other, Christs human nature imputes nothing ”ill-fit” to his divine nature.”!

At last, some attributes are blasphemous

Edwards, however, does not allow everything for Jesus (peace be upon him):

15…For those unfamiliar with Christian doctrine it does not teach “the “Son of God” would procreate his “Son””. Ijaz does such things constantly and despite being corrected he continues on,  I can only speculate because it befits his attempts at dawah.

Note how precisely Edwards deny the notion that Jesus (peace be upon him) would beget any kid(s). He reasons that the “Christian doctrine…does not teach” so. However hardly does he care to enquire why the “Christian doctrine” is so? Why Jesus (peace be upon him) cannot procreate? The reason is simple. Jesus (peace be upon him) – the human – begetting a kid would be acceptable but because of the “hypostatic” phenomenon, the divine nature is also co-residing; thus, Jesus (peace be upon him) betaking kids would defy all monotheistic paradigms. And in this situation church mandated the Christian “doctrine” that Jesus (peace be upon him) cannot beget kids.

However, on one hand where the “Christian doctrine” disallows Jesus (peace be upon him) begetting kids, nevertheless, ironically it does allow Jesus (peace be upon him) himself being begotten off Mary! Furthermore, Christian “doctrine” does allow Jesus (peace be upon him) to bleed, sweat, feel for hunger, and so logically, have all other hormonal developments including reproductive as there is in any other human being – yet the only thing he cannot do is beget kids!

It was to circumvent these nasty implications that Islam qualified that there is more in monotheism than mere count of God as “one”. It made it necessary that besides recognizing and counting God as one, sufficient care has to be taken with regards to His attributes. His attributes should not be invested upon His creation and vice-versa.

In fact the Hebrew Bible also teaches the same! Therefore, we quoted Exodus20:4. Nevertheless, Edwards neglected it with the explanation that the verse merely speaks against the “making” of idols:

4. Exodus 20:4 does not prove the following statement, “Quite obviously Bible is denying that attribute of any creation can be imputed upon the Almighty”. Exodus 20:4 is a prohibition against making idols.

Similarly, for obvious Trinitarian reasons, Edwards also asserted that Deuteronomy 4:16 does not speak against any humanization of God:

18. Ijaz further exposes his lack of knowledge of Christian theology by supposing the incarnation of Christ is some how like the craving of a idol in his quoting of Deuteronomy 4:16. I am not sure how a command from God to Israel to not crave idols disproves God could have the ability(or will) to take on a second additional nature and co-exist as both God and man. Again ijaz ignores the actual topic of the passage(do not make idols) and feels free to make it say what he “feels” it should say.

We would consider Deuteronomy 4:16 only for brevity and check if it only concerns with “making” of idols. This is what the text reads:

Lest ye corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven image, the similitude of any figure, the likeness of male or female, (Deuteronomy 4:16)

As usual Edwards neglects the reason why God is not to be represented in an idol. A verse earlier, Bible explicitly gives the reason:

And the LORD commanded me at that time to teach you statutes and judgments, that ye might do them in the land whither ye go over to possess it. Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves; for ye saw no manner of similitude on the day that the LORD spake unto you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire: (Deuteronomy 4:14-15)

God’s reasoning is very clear: On the day when He spoke, Israelites could not observe His similitude to any of His creatures! As such it was forbidden that Israelites represent Him in any shape or form including human males. More specifically, God does not have any similitude to male humans and thus it would be idolatry to conceive Him in that form and worship.

However, when Edwards tries to limit the scope of the verse to mean merely forbiddance of idol making and worship, then he even goes against the standard Christian interpretation of the verse:

Deuteronomy 4:16

The likeness of male or female – Such as Baal-peor and the Roman Priapus, Ashtaroth or Astarte, and the Greek and Roman Venus; after whom most nations of the world literally went a whoring. (Adam Clarke’s commentary on the Bible)

the likeness of male or female; of a man or a woman; so some of the Heathen deities were in the likeness of men, as Jupiter, Mars, Hercules, Apollo, &c. and others in the likeness of women, as Juno, Diana, Venus, &c. Some think Osiris and Isis, Egyptian deities, the one male, the other female, are respected; but it is not certain that these were worshipped by them so early. (John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible)

Out of the many names which the commentator has provided many were real mennot mere idols. However, they are criticized as “Heathen deities” since God has no similitude to “males”! And so personification of God is here termed as paganism.

Nevertheless, Christians would never apply the same standards upon Jesus (peace be upon him) even though he is just another male like Hercules or Apollo! In Jesus (peace be upon him), Christians somehow do see (similitude of) God notwithstanding the premises of the preceding Hebrew biblical verses.

To further expose the weakness of the argument that the verse merely speaks about “making” of idols we would consider the era when, say, Krishna was physically moving around in the villages of India “preaching” about spirituality and performing “miracles” among masses. And consider the group of people worshipping him during his earthly ministry; now what would Edwards say about the religious practices of these people! Are they ‘monotheists’ (remember they (Hindus) staunchly count God as one) – or polytheists! Note that these people would not be into any idol business since they have their deity physically present with them. If Edwards would still deem them as polytheists for the mere reason that they worshipped a “God-man” then how is he himself with all other Christians a ‘monotheist’?

As such Christians should provide strong enough reasons why as a non-Christian we should reject all other “Heathen” god-men in the name of ‘monotheism’ but yet accept the deity of Jesus (peace be upon him), who was yet another god-man. One cannot accept such a notion unless s/he is flagrantly biased; since, if Jesus (peace be upon him) performed miracles and that makes him to be “God” then so did a number of other claimants of divinity in other religions. If Christians have a “scripture” which allegedly speak of Jesus’ (peace be upon him) deity; most other “Heathen” religions also have scripture, in fact many even predating New Testament, that also speak of their candidates as gods! And most importantly, if Jesus (peace be upon him) is a “God-man” so were a number of others!

But if the acceptance-rejection yardstick lies only on the mere fact that the “Heathens” in absence of their man-gods portrayed them in idols then we would have to accept that the few sects of Christianity, which are easily outnumbered by more dominant ones, are only a step behind in “Heathenism” since they do have full-blown image/idol of Jesus (peace be upon him) in their minds during their “services”.

Humanization in Islam

On the fly, Edwards accused Islam of humanizing God as well:

17. Ijaz a man who follows a religion that teaches God has a face, two eyes, a shin, feet, will be seen in the form of a man, and descends down into time and space then claims, “ What is disappointing in all of this is that Bible strictly speaks against any such idolatrous humanization of God”. Besides the fact that Christian theology doesn’t teach the humanization of God in the manner Ijaz accuses, see point 13, 15 and 16.

Islamic Scriptures does speak about face, shin but it also states that:

(He is) the Creator of the heavens and the earth: He has made for you pairs from among yourselves, and pairs among cattle: by this means does He multiply you: there is nothing whatever like unto Him, and He is the One that hears and sees (all things). (Qur’an 42:11)

Commenting on the above highlighted part of the verse, Shaikh Philips writes the following:

The attributes of hearing and seeing are among the human attributes, but when they are attributed to The Divine Being they are without comparison in their perfection. However, when these attributes are associated with men they necessitate ear and eye apparatuses which cannot be attributed to God. What man knows about the Creator is only what little He has revealed to him through His prophets. Therefore, man is obliged to stay within these narrow limits. When man gives free reign to his intellect in describing God, he is liable to fall into error by assigning to Allah the attributes of His creation. (The Fundamentals of Tawheed (Islamic Monotheism), Dr. Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips, pp 28-29)

And,

Say: He is Allah, the One and Only; Allah, the Eternal, Absolute; He begetteth not, nor is He begotten;  And there is none like unto Him. (Qur’an 112: 1-4)

Noted Qur’an commentator Yusuf Ali also reflects likewise:

This sums up the whole argument and warns us specially against Anthropomorphism, the tendency to conceive of Allah after our own pattern, an insidious tendency that creeps in at all times and among all peoples.

Thus when Allah (SWT) states that He has a Face or Hands etc the similarity lies only in the linguistic words, certainly not in the imports. On the basis of preceding Qur’anic verses, we do not have any warrant to make deductions/conclusions that if Allah (SWT) said about His Face then it would mean a face made up of two eyes, one nose, pair of lips and ears – comprising of epidermis, fat, muscles, nerves, blood etc; since in the end God also said “nothing whatsoever is like unto Him”. We need to be particularly careful with the last clause since God will question about it.

Conclusion

With regards to Edwards’ understanding of monotheism, we observed some peculiar and typical statements like,

18…I am not sure how a command from God to Israel to not crave idols disproves God could have the ability(or will) to take on a second additional nature and co-exist as both God and man.

25…Also Monotheism simply means One God, the issue of God incarnating as a man and living the life of a man has nothing to do with whether God is One. The real issue clearly is Ijaz’s psychological hang ups about the incarnation.

These give strong indication for the type of philosophy Edwards endorses as “monotheism”; and we assume that Edwards is trying his best to demonstrate the standard Christian doctrine of monotheism. As such the type of monotheism which Christianity offers to humanity is extremely narrow. It is just the count of God to one which matters added with the denial of idols.

However, Christianity does allow drawing similitude to God even though the Hebrew Bible expressly rejects it. In order to accommodate the “incarnation” or the humanization of God, Christianity neglects the reason why the God of Israel forbade representing Him through idols. It was because, as He explained, He does not have any similitude or resemblance to any of His creation, including “male” humans. And so it would be attributing “male” resemblance upon God which has to be rejected as paganism. If this essence and theme is neglected from the verse then it does not matter whether one worships Jesus (peace be upon him) or Krishna or any other “God-man” since, as we saw, even the Hindu scriptures counted God as “one” so a Krishna worshipper is still a ‘monotheist’ in that regard. Thus, until we filter out “incarnation” of God (i.e., attributing the qualities of humans upon God), as a non-Christian it is hard to see difference between Paganism and Christianity.

And so in all good spirit we request Edwards to ponder into the following words of God where He is addressing the very delusion of most humans who ‘think’ they believe in God but…

…most of them believe not in Allah without associating (other as partners) with Him! (Qur’an 12:106)

“Travel through the earth and see what was the end of those before (you):Most of them worshipped others besides Allah.” (Qur’an 30:42)

Notes:

  • Unless otherwise mentioned, all Qur’anic texts taken from Yusuf Ali Translation.
  • Unless otherwise mentioned, all biblical texts taken from King James Version.
  • All emphasize wherever not matching with original is ours.

 

P.S.: This paper was mostly responsive where we responded to a number of issues Edwards raised. During the course, we touched on issues which might hurt Christian feelings. Nevertheless, it was never our intention to hurt any sincere Christian sentiment. We apologize, in case, if any Christian sentiment has been hurt. We seek God’s guidance and mercy.

Scholar Relates Gospel Traditions to the “Telephone” Game!

Question Mark

Speaking candidly on the historicity of the gospel traditions, especially its transmission, New Testament Scholar Bart Ehrman makes the following intriguing comparison:

“You are probably familiar with the old birthday party game “telephone.” A group of kids sits in a circle, the first tells a brief story to the one sitting next to her, who tells it to the next, and to the next, and so on, until it comes back full circle to the one who started it. Invariably, the story has changed so much in the process of retelling that everyone gets a good laugh. Imagine this same activity taking place, not in a solitary living room with ten kids on one afternoon, but over the expanse of the Roman Empire (some 2,500 miles across), with thousands of participants – from different backgrounds, with different concerns, and in different contexts – some of whom have to translate the stories into different languages. The situation, in fact, was even more complicated than that.” (The New Testament – A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings, Chapter 3, Where it All Began: The Traditions of Jesus in Their Greco-Roman Context, p.44)

One of the very reasons why Qur’an had to be revealed with narrations of Jesus (peace be upon him) in it was because, as evident from above, the actual revelations given to or the words uttered by Jesus (peace be upon him) were lost in their transmission. With this the actual message of Christ (peace be upon him) was also lost. As on mere conjectures eternal fates could not be banked, the final Messenger (peace be upon him) was given divine glimpses of the life of Jesus (peace be upon him).

We also need to make a healthy parallel comparison of the transmission of Gospel traditions to that of Qur’an and Hadith. It was an extremely imperative, prudent and monumental task undertaken by Muslim scholars to protect the chain of transmission of Qur’an and Sunnah in the form of “Isnads”.

We have detailed biographies of all the people involved in the transmission of Islamic narratives right from the beginning. Just vicariously imagine the chaos which was circumvented by preserving transmission chains of Qur’an and Hadith – it was not let to take form of some “Telephone” game!

Examining the Engineering behind Jesus’ title as the “Lamb of God”

 

Question Mark

Introduction

We have been arguing on good grounds that gospels elicit internal evidences – in fact, hard evidences – which alludes that its verses have been penned to meet biased theological agendas; as such on one hand where the gospels compromise with historical facts, on the other hand, it defies the very concepts of divine “inspiration”.

Thus, in this paper we would bring to light another intriguing incident which shows that gospel of John’s portrayal of “doctrine of vicarious atonement” through the alleged death of Jesus (peace be upon him) was the result of that conscious engineering which was meant to bolster one of the fundamental “orthodox” doctrine, albeit, at the cost of conflict with Mark’s gospel!

Mark’s “Passover” did pass!

 

Mark narrates that before being trialed by the Sanhedrin and subsequent crucifixion, Jewish Jesus (peace be upon him) ate the famous “Passover” feast with his disciples:

“On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the day the lambs for the Passover meal were killed, Jesus’ disciples asked him, “Where do you want us to go and get the Passover meal ready for you?” Then Jesus sent two of them with these instructions: “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him to the house he enters, Teacher says,Where is the room where my disciples and I will eat the Passover meal?’ Then he will show you a large upstairs room, prepared and furnished , where you will get everything ready for us.” The disciples left, went to the city and found everything just as Jesus had told them; and they prepared the Passover meal. When it was evening, Jesus came with the twelve disciples.While they were at the table eating, Jesus said, “I tell you that one of you will betray me – one who is eating with me.” The disciples were upset and began to ask him, one after the other, “Surely you don’t mean me, do you?” Jesus answered, “It will be one of you twelve, one who dips his bread in the dish with me. The Son of Man will die as the Scriptures say he will; but how terrible for that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would have been better for that man if he had never been born!” While they were eating, Jesus took a piece of bread, gave a prayer of thanks, broke it, and gave it to his disciples. “Take it,” he said, “this is my body.” Then he took a cup, gave thanks to God, and handed it to them; and they all drank from it. Jesus said, “This is my blood which is poured out for many, my blood which seals God’s covenant.” (Mark 14:12-24)

It is vitally important to observe a few incidents as it turned out in the above passage:

Firstly, note the day. It starts with the day before the Passover is to be eaten. In other words, it is the day when the sacrificial animal would be slaughtered for the Passover meal: “the lambs for the Passover meal were killed

Secondly, Jesus (peace be upon him) specifically directed his disciples where they should prepare the Passover meal for him: at the house where the man with the pitcher of water enters.

Thirdly, the disciples prepared the Passover meal for Jesus (peace be upon him)and they ate it.

Fifthly, on the foregoing, Jesus (peace be upon him) symbolized that the food and drink is like his body and blood!

From all of the above, we want to stress that Jesus (peace be upon him) ate the Passover meal with his disciples at his chosen place before any case and conviction by Pontius Pilate. In fact immediately after the meal, Jesus (peace be upon him) goes to the well-known garden of Gethsemane where he is subsequently arrested by Roman authorities with Jewish elders (c.f. Mark 14:27-49). Thereafter he was convicted to be finally, biblically, crucified to death.

This is good enough a narration on the face of it; however, when this is juxtaposed with John’s narration of the same incident it starts to create problems!

John’s “Passover” never passed!

  

Quite contrastingly, John claims that Jesus (peace be upon him) was captured, litigated, convicted and crucified before the Passover meal was ever eaten by him:

“When Pilate heard these words, he took Jesus outside and sat down on the judge’s seat in the place called “The Stone Pavement” (In Hebrew the name is “Gabbatha.”) It was then almost noon of the day before Passover. Pilate said to the people, “Here is your king!” They shouted back, “Kill him! Kill him! Crucify him!” Pilate asked them, “Do you want me to crucify your king?” The chief priests answered, “The only king we have is the Emperor!” Then Pilate handed Jesus over to them to be crucified. So they took charge of Jesus. He went out, carrying his cross, and came to “The Place of Skull,” as it s called. (In Hebrew it is called “Golgotha.”) There they crucified him; and they also crucified two other men, one on each side, with Jesus between them. (John 19: 13-18)

Notice that Jesus (peace be upon him) is being prosecuted when it was “almost noon of the day before Passover”, in other words, more or less the exact time when the slaughter animal would be made ready for sacrifice and simultaneously preparations for other associated rituals would be made. This in turn implies that John’s Jesus (peace be upon him), unlike Mark’s Jesus (peace be upon him), did not ever had chance to eat the Passover meal.

In fact, John’s narration gets internal support for his timing of Jesus’ (peace be upon him) prosecution; this is so because John alludes that the Jewish elders who conspired against Jesus (peace be upon him) did not enter into Pontius’ hall. They tarried outside while Jesus (peace be upon him) alone was standing in front of the Roman governor:

Early in the morning Jesus was taken from Caiaphas’ house  to the governor’s palace The Jewish authorities did not go inside the palace, for they wanted to keep themselves ritually clean, in order to be able to eat the Passover meal.(John 18:28)

Note the reason why the Jewish priests did not enter into Pontius’ hall; so that they might not be defiled for being into the chambers of a pagan gentile – Pontius Pilate. And, they wanted to remain “ritually clean” so that they “be able to eat the Passover meal”! So, Passover feast is yet to materialize and Jesus (peace be upon him) ingospel of John is being prosecuted.

To further bolster John’s position, we can observe that Jesus (peace be upon him) is not portrayed as symbolizing his body and blood to the food and drink of the Passover meal respectively as he did in Mark’s gospel; simply because he was never present in the Passover meal! Probably, by the feast time, he was in his alleged tomb!

 

 

What did author of John achieve?

It is extremely difficult to resolve the conflict between the two so-assumed god breathed “injeels”. However, what exactly were these “orthodox” authors achieving by these well-thought manipulations of data. In fact in the passages to follow we would realize that the author of John did achieve an “orthodox” theological agenda which happens to be the cornerstone of the “orthodox” Christianity which, otherwise, would have been impossible to achieve:

Remember that we were talking about the Passover meal. And in Jewish culture it was marked by slaughter of an animal – a lamb for that reason.

Quite interestingly, John’s gospel happens to be the only gospel which symbolizes Jesus (peace be upon him) as a (sacrificial) animal – a lamb:

The next day John saw Jesus coming to him, and said, “There is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29)

So when author of gospel of John manipulated the timing of Jesus’ (peace be upon him) crucifixion from after Passover meal to before Passover meal when the “lamb” is traditionally “prepared” for slaughter, he was able to draw a strong theological link between the crucifixion of Jesus (peace be upon him) as the “lamb” slaughtered for the traditional Jewish “Passover”!

In other words, when Jews in Jerusalem were slaughtering their “lambs” for Passover meal, Jesus (peace be upon him) – the Lamb of Lambs, so to say – was also slaughtered for the “Passover” of the sins of the world unto himself. Not surprisingly, of this happening just at the exact time when traditional Jewish slaughter takes place, namely, just after noon so that when sunsets, i.e., when the Passover day really sets in, the Passover meal would be ready! Obviously this strong figurative correlation would have been impossible given the way Holy Ghost “inspired” Mark; thus, a manipulation of “God’s word” was inevitable and necessary.

In all of these, do keep in mind that when John’s gospel was being written, Pauline epistles with its outstanding emphasize on the alleged death and resurrection of Jesus (peace be upon him) than his life, was already available for at least half – a – century!

Therefore, if author of John’s gospel was one influenced by Pauline philosophy or used his epistles as source, then it certainly makes sense why Jesus’ (peace be upon him) crucifixion was meticulously shifted before the Passover meal in John’s gospel!

Conclusion

 

It is not the blatant contradiction between so called god-breathed “scriptures” which intrigues; rather, it is the hefty price of allowing flagrant contradiction(s) between gospels to meet skewed theological agendas – that has to be observed!

On this regard, it would be best to end this brief investigation with New Testament scholar Bart Ehrman’s note:

“The main point is that the stories that Christians told and retold about Jesus were not meant to be objective history lessons for students interested in key events of Roman imperial times. They were meant to convince people that Jesus was the miracle-working Son of God whose death brought salvation to the world, and to edify and instruct those who already believed. Sometimes the stories were modified to express a theological truth. For the early Christians who passed along the stories we now have in the Gospels, it was sometimes legitimate and necessary to change a historical fact in order to make a theological point. These are the stories that the Gospel writers inherited.” (The New Testament: A Historical Introduction, The Traditions of Jesus in their Greco-Roman context, Chapter 3, Pp 48-49)

We need to think about a certain aspects! If gospel author(s) can manipulate the timing of alleged crucifixion for mere correlation with a Jewish custom, then is it possible that they can modify other aspects of Jesus’ (peace be upon him) life and alleged death as well! How about manipulating his words too which ended up in thecurrent New Testament? How about exaggeration of his status and miracles? In fact the possibilities just open up like opening of floodgates. We leave that for readers to cogitate further when they pick up New Testament.

Finally an exemplification at par for the treatment of “Scriptures”:

Then We made you heirs in the land after them, to see how ye would behave! But when Our Clear Signs are rehearsed unto them, those who rest not their hope on their meeting with Us, Say: “Bring us a reading other than this, or change this,” Say: “It is not for me, of my own accord, to change it: I follow naught but what is revealed unto me: if I were to disobey my Lord, I should myself fear the penalty of a Great Day (to come).” (Qur’an 10:14-15, Yusuf Ali)

In the hostile situation where Prophet (peace be upon him) preached it was easier for him to compromise the revelations he was inspired with at least at nominal level, yet it was not in his authority to change God’s word.

Notes:

  • Unless otherwise mentioned all biblical text taken from Good News Edition.
  • Textual emphasize wherever not matching with original is ours.

Why the gospel of Matthew is not the-oldest?

The age of gospels is not as straight forward as they look! 

Question Mark

Introduction

Virtually all the scholars of Christian antiquity and New Testament now accept that gospel of Mark was the oldest gospel written originally in Greek by Peter’s assistant in Rome – St. Mark. And approximately after a decade and a half, Matthew and Luke penned their gospels. It is also accepted that both Matthew and Luke copied much of their text from Mark’s already available gospel. The information look pretty simple on the face of it but there are a few interesting, if not intriguing, queries to be pondered over:

  • Does not it come a little ironic, if not a tad fishy, that it was the disciple of the disciple writing the first gospel (or “receiving” the first gospel from Holy Ghost)! Is not it highly expected that it should be one of Jesus’ (peace be upon him) self chosen apostle to “receive” the first gospel?
  • Jesus’ (peace be upon him) very first target audience were the Jews of Palestine. So, should it not be expected that the first gospel be in the local tongue – may be Hebrew, Aramaic – catering to the general mass rather than in Greek – an otherwise alien language for an everyday Jew in Palestine.

In this paper, therefore, we would be concentrating over these concerns and would try to correlate its implication over the age as fixed by Christiandom for the gospels. We would be keenly interested into noting the purpose it served by adjudging gospel of Mark as the oldest gospel.

Why the gospel of Matthew is not the oldest.

Out of the four gospels vetoed as “canonical” by the church, only two are attributed to the “apostles” Jesus (peace be upon him) chose, namely, Matthew – the tax collector in first century Palestine and John, of course, the son of Zebedee. Mark and Luke were disciple and companion of Peter and Paul respectively. They were certainly not the immediate disciples of Jesus (peace be upon him).

Therefore, it makes a lot of sense based on seniority (an immediate apostle of Jesus (p)), knowledge (received preaching from Jesus (p) directly) and social setup (first century Hebrew/Aramaic speaking Palestinian) that if Matthew (or John) was anyhow to write a gospel then it should have been at least before Mark’s and Luke’s.

In fact if we have to pay any respect to the earliest and “orthodox” church fathers then they almost unanimously agree that it was Matthew who wrote his gospel first (!):

“Eusebius in his history (6.25.4) quotes Origen as saying that he had learned that “The first Gospel was written by Matthew, who was once a tax collector, but who afterwards was an Apostle of Jesus Christ, and it was prepared for converts from Judaism, and published n the Hebrew language.” (The Qur’an and the Gospels – A comparative Study by Dr. Muhammad M. Abu Laylah, pp.85)

A couple of information should be immediately captured. Firstly, Matthew wrote the first gospel. And, secondly, more importantly, that Matthew’s gospel was prepared for Jewish converts from Judaism in Hebrew language.

Origen is not the only early Christian figure, Augustine also concur the same:

Augustine in his work on the agreement of the evangelists (1.2.4.) writes: “Of these four it is certain that only Matthew is regarded as having written in the Hebrew language, while the others wrote in Greek” and he says that Mark “followed closely in his footsteps, as his imitator and epitomizer.” (The Qur’an and the Gospels – A comparative Study by Dr. Muhammad M. Abu Laylah, pp.85)

Furthermore, another early “orthodox” church figure Irenaeus writes the following in his famous book “Against Heresies” (3.1.1):

“Matthew also published a book of the Gospel among the Hebrews, in their own dialectWHILE Peter and Paul were preaching the Gospel in Rome and founding the Church.”

(W.Barclay, op. cit., vol. 1, p. 149; Bar-Hebraeus, p. 4; see also Meyer, The Gospel of Matthew, part 1, vol. 1, p. 6 and Brown, The Gospel According to St. Matthew, (J.B.C.), vol. 2, p. 65.)  (1.)

Observe that not merely does Irenaeus re-confirm that Matthew originally wrote his gospel in Hebrew, but he also substantially alludes to the time period in which it was written. He expressly states that Matthew wrote his gospel “while” Peter and Paul were preaching in Rome! This indicates Matthew’s gospel was contemporary to Paul and traditionally we know that Paul’s books predate every book of the New Testament including the gospels! (That’s another weird phenomenon).

Finally, Bible authority Barclay seals the matter for us:

As we have said, and was we have now seen, the tradition of the early Church is clear, consistent and unanimousIt was believed that Matthew wrote the first Gospel, and he wrote it first of all the gospels and that it was originally written in Hebrew.” (A. Plummer, An Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel According to St. Matthew, p. VIII.) (2.)

Therefore, if Matthew’s gospel was the-oldest then why is Mark’s gospel touted as the most primitive gospel amongst all?!; in the same way if the “early Church” was “unanimous” that Matthew’s gospel was oldest then why was it later “discovered” that Mark’s was the oldest?! And, if Matthew was originally written in Hebrew as the circumstances and earliest testimonies indicate, then why do we have current gospel of Matthew in Greek?

The answer to all such queries lays beneath the fact that original gospel of Matthew, the one which was written in Hebrew for Hebrews, has long been lost. And, in the absence of this document, the very next gospel – the gospel of Mark was “prioritized” as the-oldest.

Subsequently, when a concerted effort was made to reconstruct gospel of Matthew, the Greek gospel of Mark was used. No wonder, no less than an egregiously exorbitant 600 verses from Mark were copied into Matthew in the name of reception of “inspirations” from the so-called “Holy Ghost”!

However, such an unscrupulous copying entailed with it that Matthew – the Hebrew/Aramaic speaking Palestinian Jew – was now had to be assumed as an expert level Greek author; notwithstanding the basic premise that he was to write for the first century Palestinian Jews and not Greek speaking Europeans!

On this note, Muslim scholar Dr. Muhammad M. Abu Laylah’s makes very insightful remark:

“Origen, for example, tells us that Matthew’s Gospel was written for believers who had come from Judaism and the same view is held by Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria and Eusebius. The above information suggest an Aramaic origin for Matthew’s Gospel which has been generally abandoned on account of theuse of Mark and the LXX version of the O.T.”

According to the principle of the priority of Mark established 200 years ago in biblical criticism, the present Matthew is a Greek, not an Aramaic or Hebrew Gospel, and was composed in Greek, and could not have been composed except in Greek, that is because it has evidently copied 600 verses from the more primitive Gospel of Mark, which is purely Greek.

There is no indication that the Apostle Matthew wrote the existing Gospel; indeed, it is almost impossible, because the present Gospel was authored in Greek and copied 600 verses from Mark. (The Qur’an and the Gospels – A comparative Study by Dr. Muhammad M. Abu Laylah, pp.86-88)

The way to refute this critique!

 

In the following passage we have five queries. If these queries are satisfactorily answered then we think this critique would be falsified:

  1. Why would “Holy Ghost” go out of its way to bypass Jesus’ (peace be upon him) self chosen “apostle(s)” – Matthew – to first “inspire” Mark?
  2. On the same logic as above, why would “Holy Ghost” first consider a non Jewish audience for the gospel message. It is because Mark wrote his gospel in Greek which was not the vernacular of Jesus’ (peace be upon him) immediate Hebrew speaking audience in Palestine!
  3. Why would Matthew go out of his way to write his gospel in Greek for non-Jews when as noted by virtually all early church fathers that Matthew was to write “for believers who had come from Judaism” as a result of Jesus’ (peace be upon him) preaching in Palestine.
  4. If Matthew was divinely “inspired”, then why did the gospel of Matthew have copied texts from Mark’s gospel (and even ‘Q’ source for that reason)?
  5. What about the numerous testimonies of multiple early, “orthodox” church fathers? If scholarship deems Mark’s gospel to be the-oldest then were these “orthodox” church fathers shoddy historians to claim Matthew’s gospel as the oldest and in Hebrew language?

Conclusion

It was not gospel of Mark the-oldest “canonical” gospel written; however, there was a definite need under which it needed to be deemed as the oldest of all gospels. We sought out to investigate this need and it turned out as follows:

  1. The criterion of Matthew’s seniority as an “apostle” and his Palestinian culture strongly indicated that he should have been the person, before Mark, to write his gospel.
  2. On the foregoing, we found that many important “orthodox” early church “fathers” accepted that Matthew’s gospel was the first gospel written, even before Mark, in Hebrew language!
  3. Nevertheless, quite strangely, Matthew’s gospel in possession today is neither older than Mark’s nor in Hebrew. It is in Greek!
  4. Add to the above observation that the original, Hebrew gospel of Matthew is now lost.
  5. Therefore, when the lost gospel of Matthew was to be reconstructed using Mark’s gospel (and the ‘Q’ source), quite obviously, chronologically Matthew’s gospel had to fall after Mark’s – that’s fundamental calendar arithmetic. This reconstruction also entails that now Matthew’s gospel would not be in Hebrew but in Greek since its source, namely, Mark’s gospel, was in Greek!

Therefore, on one hand where we now have a well devised reason for gospel of Matthew being younger than Mark’s gospel; on the other hand, we also have the bitter truth that original gospel of Matthew is lost. And this embarrassment has ever since been sold as “principle of the priority of Mark” in the markets of biblical criticism amongst the Christians; and then pathetically stamped as “inspired”, “unchanged word of God”!

Footnote:

(1.) As cited in The Qur’an and the Gospels – A comparative Study by Dr. Muhammad M. Abu Laylah, p.85) 

(2.) As cited in The Qur’an and the Gospels – A comparative Study by Dr. Muhammad M. Abu Laylah, p.86)                                                                                                              

Notes:

  • Emphasize wherever not matching with original, is ours.

 

The nude young man of the Gospel(s)!

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ ,

The nude young man of the Gospel(s)!

Investigating the weird presence of a mysterious man with biblical Jesus (peace be upon him)

Question Mark

Introduction

It was one of the most critical juncture in biblical Jesus’ (peace be upon him) life time. Only a few hours before he was to be confiscated by the colluded forces of Jewish elders and Roman authorities; Jesus (peace be upon him) was in the garden of Gethsemane with a “distressful”, “anguished” heart “crushed under sorrow” (Mark 14: 33-34).

Given the ponderous situation, Jesus (peace be upon him) wanted, as naturally expected, his most loyal and some of the best disciples to accompany him in the garden. He bestowed Peter, James and John with the privilege (Mark 14:33).

However, mysteriously Jesus (peace be upon him) was also followed by an hitherto unknown person:

And they all left him, and fled. And a certain young man followed with him, having a linen cloth cast about him, over his naked body: and they lay hold on him; but he left the linen cloth, and fled naked. (Mark 14:50-52, Revised Version)

Then all the disciples left him and ran away. A certain young man, dressed only in a linen cloth, was following Jesus. They tried to arrest him, but he ran away naked, leaving the cloth behind. (Mark 14: 50-52, Good News Edition)

The above “verses” perfunctorily looks simple. However, it entails with it rather intriguing and important queries:

  1. Who was this “young man”?
  2. Why did he dress up so unusually with only a thin linen sheet covering his nakedness going to otherwise public place – the gardenof Gethsemane, under sensitive setting of seizure of Messiah (peace be upon him) who was to be put to death?
  3. What motivated this young man to endanger his life by following Jesus (peace be upon him) in that risky situation?
  4. Did he “follow” Jesus (peace be upon him) as his disciple?
  5. If he was a disciple, why was he not introduced before?
  6. Furthermore, except Mark, why are every other New Testament author, including the gospel authors, absolutely silent about him?

Moreover,

  1. Why did the “Holy Ghost” felt it now important enough to mention him who was hitherto un-introduced?
  2. What did the author achieve by mentioning the young man in not more than two “verses” in the “God’s word”? After all every portion of scripture has to attain some objective (2 Timothy 3: 16-17)
  3. Why did the “Holy Ghost” inspire the author to stress on young man’s dress that he was wrapped in only a linen sheet – implying and later expressly informing that he was naked underneath?

Yet further,

  1. The abrupt appearance of an unusual man out of nowhere in the gospel;
  • Does it allude that these “verses” are a result of interpolation?
  • Or, does it prove that there was much more in the gospel of Mark than which survived in the “New Testament”; and the presence of the young man is just an allusion of that larger, more elaborative gospel of Mark now lost for good!?

The queries are numerous around otherwise innocent looking only two verses long “God’s word”! However, there simply isn’t enough information in the New Testament(1.) about the young-man to answer the above queries. As Bible expositor Albert Barnes noted, “A certain young man – Who this was we have NO means of determining” (Albert Barnes’ notes on the Bible, Mark 14:51)

Nevertheless, (not) surprisingly we do have ancient Christian writings which directly allude to the intriguing only linen laden otherwise nude young-man. Even more interestingly, these writings were also authored by the same author Mark (!) – remember no other author in the entire New Testament has referred to this young-man except Mark – entitled as the “Secret Gospel of Mark”.

  

Secret gospel of Mark 

 

New Testament giant Morton Smith made a remarkable discovery of a letter from Clement of Alexandria – an early (merely second century), influencing and “orthodox” church father. The Clementine letter was discovered in one of the not-so-easily-accessible monasteries in the so-called “Holy Land”! This was an orthodox monastery in Mar Saba.

In the letter, Clement alludes to the circulation of several other versions of gospel of Mark in Alexandria during his time:

“Clement indicates that Mark wrote an account of Jesus’ public ministry based on his acquaintance with the apostle Peter in Rome; in his Gospel, however, Mark did not divulge the secret teachings of Jesus to his disciples. But after Peter was martyred, Mark moved to Alexandria and there composed a second“more spiritual Gospel” for those who were more spiritually advanced. Even though he still did not divulge the greatest secrets of Jesus’ teachings, he did add stories to his Gospel to assist the Christian elite in progressing in their knowledge of the truth.

According to this letter, in other words, there were three versions of Mark’s Gospelavailable in Alexandria: the original Mark (presumably the Mark we are familiar with in the canon); a Secret Mark, which he issued for the spiritually elite; and a Carpocratian Mark, filled with the false teachings of the licentious heretic. (Bart Ehrman, Lost Christianities, p. 73)

It was a quotation from “Secret Mark” which Clement cited in his letter and which eventually has relevance to our mysterious, only linen laden young-man. Consider the following intriguing account from the “Secret Mark” which took place just after the “canonical”New Testament Mark 10:34:

They came to Bethany, and a woman was there whose brother had died. She came and prostrated herself before Jesus, saying to him, “Son of David, have mercy on me.” But his disciples rebuked her. Jesus became angry and went off with her to the garden where the tomb was. Immediately a loud voice was heard from the tomb. Jesus approached and rolled the stone away from the entrance to the tomb. Immediately he went in where the young man was, stretched out his hand, and raised him by seizing his hand. The young man looked at him intently and loved him; and he began pleading with him that he might be with him. When they came out of the tomb they went to the young man’s house, for he was wealthy. And after six days Jesus gave him a command. And when it was evening the young man came to him, wearing a linen cloth over his naked body. He stayed with him that night, for Jesus was teaching him the mystery of the Kingdom of God. When he got up from there, he returned to the other side of the Jordan. (Bart Ehrman, Lost Christianities, p.74)

We pointed out earlier the abrupt presence of the “young man” in the “canonical” gospel of Mark. However, if we accommodate the notion that Mark actually wrote a much larger version comprising of the canonical gospel of Mark and the Secret gospel of Mark; then we then find a confluent flow of the text.

Now we have a context in which the mysterious “young man” is no more mysterious! We now know that he was a dead man in Bethany and Jesus (peace be upon him) raised him up miraculously upon the request of his sister. Consequently, he became a disciple of Jesus (peace be upon him).

Although we may now know who this young-man was, yet we do not know why he chose to wear just a linen cloth? We still need to investigate this. It is a fact that every human wearing any cloth, let alone a linen wrapping, would be nude underneath it. Thus, it is intriguing to note that the author Mark chose to emphasize that the man was nude under his linen wrapping in both his “canonical” and “Secret” works!

On the foregoing, Christian scholars, not Muslim “propagandists”, have asserted that (i) young-man’s unusual dressing sense (ii) his overnight stay with Jesus (peace be upon him) and (iii) Jesus (peace be upon him) “teaching” him “mysteries” of Kingdom of God the whole night; have homoerotic overtones:

It is this newly recovered story which has caused the greatest stir in connection with Smith’s discovery. For even though it is similar to stories in the canonical Gospels, such as the raising of Lazarus in John 11 and the story of the rich young man in Mark 10, there are significant differences. And some of the differences, especially near the end, have appeared to some interpreters, notably Smith himself, to have clear homoerotic overtones. Jesus becomes acquainted with a young man who loves him and who comes to him wearing nothing but a linen cloth over his naked body. Jesus then spends the night with him, teaching him about the mystery of the Kingdom. What is that all about? (Bart Ehrman, Lost Christianities, p. 74)

 

These Christian scholars could see erotic insinuations since they somehow see its roots in the New Testament itself; it was indeed a Christian (cult) practice in early churches to get “baptized” nude and unite with Christ (peace be upon him):

[Morton] Smith is struck, quite understandably, by the fact that the young man comes to Jesus wearing nothing but a linen cloth over his nakedness. That sounds like someone coming forward for baptism, since in the early church, people were baptized, as adults, in the nude (after taking off a simple robe worn to the ceremony). Now the Synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke do not indicate that Jesus baptized people. But the Gospel of John indicates that he may have done so (John 3:22; 4:1–2).Moreover, the apostle Paul talks about baptism and indicates that at baptism a person is somehow “united” with Christ (Rom. 6:1–6). Did Paul, after Jesus’ death, make up such a view himself? No, argues Smith, it was a view known to Jesus’ followers before his death, because it was Jesus’ own view. Jesus himself baptized people, and in that baptism they came to be united with him. (Bart Ehrman, Lost Christianities, p.80)

 

Authenticity

  

The easiest way out for Christians is to simply discard the letter of Clement as fictitious (2.). However, there is sizeable Christian scholars who do consider the Clementine epistle to be authentic!

Morton Smith being the scholar that he was had the following consensus of scholars:

But how could one establish that the letter was from Clement rather than, say, from a forger pretending to be Clement hundreds of years later (who fooled, then, the eighteenth-century scribe who copied the letter)? The first step Smith took in answering the question was to show the letter to scholars who were experts in Clement, who had spent their lives studying Clement, who would recognize a new work by Clement simply on the basis of its subject matter and writing style. When he did so, the majority of the experts agreed, this looked very much like something Clement would write. If someone had forged it, she or he had done highly credible work. But how could one know for sure? The only way to decide is by making a careful point-by-point comparison of the vocabulary, writing style, modes of expression, and ideas found in the letter with the vocabulary, writing style, modes of expression, and ideas found in the writings known to have been produced by Clement. This, needless to say, is not a simple task, not the sort of thing most people would care to undertake. But Smith did it. One word at a time. It was slow, arduous, painstaking work of many years. The results are published in his scholarly volume, and they are impressive.

This was not an easy kind of work to produce in the days before computers. But Smith was able to use this and similar resources to determine whether his discovery followed Clement’s writing style and used his distinctive vocabulary and whether it ever used a style or words uncharacteristic of Clement. The end result was that this letter looks very much like something Clement would have written. In fact, it is so much like Clement that it would be well nigh impossible to imagine someone other than Clement being able to write it, before tools like those produced by modern Clement scholars such as Stählin were available. Smith’s verdict was that the letter actually was written by Clement of Alexandria. (Bart Ehrman, Lost Christianities, p. 77-78)

Smith went on to establish that not merely was the Clementine letter authentic (3.)but that the Markan quotation was also in line with author Mark:

But were the quotations of Secret Mark in this letter of Clement actually written by the author of the Gospel of Mark? Here again, it is a question of vocabulary, writing style, modes of expression, and theology. A careful analysis of the quotations of Clement indicates that these passages, while not in the style of Clement himself, are very much in the style of Mark as found in the New Testament. (Bart Ehrman, Lost Christianities, p. 79)

At the outset, however, I should emphasize that the majority of scholars Smith consulted while doing his research were convinced that the letter was authentic, and probably a somewhat smaller majority agreed that the quotations of Secret Mark actually derived from a version of Mark. Even today, these are the majority opinions. (Bart Ehrman, Lost Christianities, p. 81)

To add more value to the genuineness of the letter, it is fact that the letter is now out-of-sight from the library of Mar Saba which ironically had always been a highly restricted area!

Some years later, someone told Stroumsa of a rumor that the letter of Clement had been cut out of the book for “safe-keeping.” Stroumsa called the librarian at the Greek Patriarchate and was told that it was true. He himself had done just that. And he now did not know where the pages were. And that’s the end of the story. Did the librarian hide the pages, to keep scholars from rifling through the monks’ treasured possessions looking for lost Gospels? Did he burn the pages simply to get them off his hands? Where are they now? Do they still exist? I’m afraid that as of this moment, no one appears to know. Maybe that will change. What is certain is that no one has carefully examined the book itself, and it may be that no one ever will. (Bart Ehrman, Lost Christianities, p.84)

The “loss” of such a critically acclaimed antique letter, in this age of science, technology and preservation points forcefully to the fact that there was something(to say the least) which was rather embarrassing to the “orthodox” Christianity. Otherwise how and why would a letter of antiquity be “lost” – just like that, from a highly restricted and reserved site!

As if these were not enough, we even have scholars who assert on “good reasons” that the nude companion of Jesus (peace be upon him) was the author Mark himself (!):

“His disciples failed Him, but as He submitted to the Father’s will His spirit rose triumphant. Sleep on now-the past is irrevocable. The disciples fled as fast as their feet would carry them. If only they had prayed, they would have been steadfast and unmovable. There are good reasons for supposing that the young man mentioned here was Mark himself.” (Mark 14:32-52, Alone in the hour of Trial, Through the Bible Day by Day by F.B. Meyer)

F.B. Meyer is not the only scholar, even Robertson concurs with him:

A certain young man (neaniskos tis). This incident alone in Mark. It is usually supposed that Mark himself, son of Mary (Act_12:12) in whose house they probably had observed the passover meal, had followed Jesus and the apostles to the Garden. It is a lifelike touch quite in keeping with such a situation. Here after the arrest he was following with Jesus (sunēkolouthei autōi, imperfect tense). Note the vivid dramatic present kratousin (they seize him). (Mark 14:51, Robertson’s Word Pictures)

It cannot, therefore, be mere coincidence that (i) we have “Holy Ghost” only inspiring Mark about the young man, (ii) the secret gospel is also attributed to Mark with a good level of authenticity and (iii) multiple orthodox conservative scholars asserting that the nude man was Mark himself!It is all Mark, Mark and Mark!

Christians might reject it on “obvious” grounds however, the preceding chain of observations strongly imply that the nude man’s presence in the garden had some pretext not worthy of mention in the “canonical” gospel!

Furthermore, let’s apply the Principle of Embarrassment to the incident of nude man. We are applying the Principle since Christian apologists love applying it against Islam especially when they deal with the issue of “Satanic Verses”. So we thought of applying the same on Christianity as well.

The following Christian polemical source defines the Principle for us:

Principle of Embarrassment: is a principle that is employed to validate the trustworthiness, authenticity, and truthfulness of any historical document. Christian apologetics also applies this principle to determine the historicity of the events described in the Bible. When a source (s) that can potentially damage/s its case admits something embarrassing, these assertions are unlikely to be invented or fabricated. (CAFN)

Based on the observed facts that we have, namely, (i) a “Christian” text, (ii) found in highly restricted “Christian” monastery, (iii) discovered by “Christian” scholar, (iv) approved by “Christian” academia, (v) attributed to “inspired” “evangelist” Mark himself!, it can be concluded on the lines of Principle of Embarrassment that the text could not possibly be an invention or fabrication.

Conclusion

 

In the last few pages of the canonical gospel of Mark we found bizarre presence of a mysterious young-man. Hitherto, unknown in the gospel (or in any of the gospels for that reason)! Neither did we have any clue as to who he was nor were we given any context alluding to this weird person.

Moreover, out of nowhere, we find him in the one of the most critical place with one of the most important man in Christianity – Jesus (peace be upon him). What he was doing in such a risky place – the garden of Gethsemane – where authorities came to handcuff Jesus (peace be upon him) to put him to death!

The young-man’s presence made the flow of the gospel rather jerky and as such it pointed to either of the two possibilities: (i) either, for some unknown reason, the verses concerning the young-man was interpolated in the text of the gospel or (ii) the gospel itself was a crafty redacting/editing work of a larger text. Both the conclusions raises question on the preservation of the so-called “Injeel”.

On the foregoing [point (ii)], the unaccounted and abrupt presence of the young-man was easily explained when we allowed that at one point of time the gospel of Mark was much larger than the present one.

However, besides explaining the identity and purpose of the young-man, this larger version of gospel of Mark also added the embarrassment of “homoerotic overtones” upon Jesus (peace be upon him) – the second god of the Trinitarian godhead. To add more chagrin, Christian scholars consider the narration to be genuine.

Of course, as a Muslim, based on the information of Qur’an and Hadith, we do not believe that Jesus (peace be upon him) would have ever tolerated any man in merelinen wrapping, let alone teaching him about any “Kingdom of God” the whole night, he would have chided him towards modest dressing! Nevertheless, we are not dealing with the information from Qur’an or Hadith. We have the so called God breathed, canonized gospel of Mark.

 We do not believe that Jesus (peace be upon him) could be attributed with any “homoerotic” attribution, this is not because certain Christian scholar has doubted the authenticity of Clementine letter, but because we believed in what Mohammad (peace be upon him) taught us about Jesus (peace be upon him) six hundred yearsafter his ascension. Nevertheless, marginalizing “homoerotic” twists from the text does not explain who this (nude) man was, what was he doing in the garden especially in that eccentric attire so on and so forth?

In the light of the above, either the mysterious young-man would always be mysterious since neither Mark nor any other evangelist took pain to inform sufficiently about him. Or, since Mark has referred to him, we would have to painfully refer to the larger version of Mark at the cost of imputing “homoerotic overtones” on the person otherwise labeled as “lord” Jesus (peace be upon him) of the Christians.

 

Notes:

 

  • Unless otherwise mentioned all biblical texts taken from Good News Edition.
  • Emphasis wherever not matching with original is ours.
  • A few Christian apologists like using the argument that Qur’an does not elaborate who Zaid was? And thus they deem it incomplete. However, such apologists need to be careful the next time they use any such argument. Because we would certainly enquire who was this (ironically) nameless young man, let alone his purposes with Jesus (peace be upon him).

 

Footnote:

 

(1.)  That is the “New Testament” which was handed to us after church’s century long deliberations after suppressing and destroying many other New Testaments.

 

(2.) It is an open secret now why Christian apologists would deem the incident of nude man learning “Kingdom of God” from Jesus (peace be upon him) as dubious. They would not accept the appeal to “apocryphal” notwithstanding the internal and external proof of authenticity Christian scholars give.

However, this helps us expose these apologists for their double standards: they have no qualms when imposing all sorts of Islamic “apocrypha” on Muslims. One can easily see a pattern where either disowned “Hish  hhJJHistory” of At-Tabari; or unknown sources of Ibn Ishaq; or mere “Chronicles” of Waqidi etc are used. None of the preceding texts are “canonical” in Islam yet they are widely used to demonize Islam. Next time Christian apologists are required to be more prudent with their choice of Islamic texts.

(3.) Contrarily there had been few scholars who doubted the authenticity of the letter. However, because of the majority positive opinion towards the letter, they could never come to a concrete and common consensus.

Some scholars have thought the letter was forged, either in antiquity or in the Middle Ages or in the modern period. Some have suspected from the beginning that Smith forged it. Those who think so appear to be increasing in number—or at least they are speaking out more, now that Smith is not around to respond. Among the earliest doubters was one of the greatest scholars of Christian antiquity of the twentieth century, Smith’s own teacher at Harvard, Arthur Darby Nock,… But Nock evidently did not think that it would have been a modern forger, let alone Smith. Others have thought otherwise. (Bart Ehrman, Lost Christianities, p. 82)

What about Bible’s Mayan-like Hoax?

What about Bible’s Mayan-like Hoax?

Exactly how accurate was Bible’s calendar

 

Question Mark

Introduction

 

On 21 December, 2012, people at answering-islam were mocking about the fiasco of Mayan calendar and its incorrectness in predicting the end of the world. In the process they obviously took their shot at Islam:

“21 December 2012

Millions of people believe that the world is going to end today, because the Mayan calendar comes to an end – the calendar of a civilization that has ended a long time ago. However, Jesus says: Nobody knows the time or the hour (Mark 13). Jesus will come back as Lord and Judge, but certainly not when a multitude of people who do not even believe in him expect the world to end. (When faith in the true God is thrown out of the window, superstition creeps in by the backdoor.) Even though Islam has many cracks in its foundations, and many more people will eventually recognize this and abandon Islam, neither Islam nor the world as a whole has come to its end just yet. It is still necessary and worth the time and effort to provide our readers with a clear presentation of the Gospel and good arguments that are relevant to the discussions between Christians and Muslims. Therefore, here are our latest articles…:”

However, hardly did they realize that a similar, if not a greater, debacle had already materialized in the pages of Bible. Nevertheless, it understandably goes tacitly in the pages of Christian history year after year – now for at least 2000 years.

Thus, in this paper, while accepting that the Mayans were indeed flawed with their reckoning of the end of world; we would like to do justice that the authors of Bible,attributing words upon Jesus (peace be upon him), were also flawed in their calculation of the end of world.

 

The “Son of man” who never came, let alone with army of “Angels”!

Consider the following instance where Jesus (peace be upon him) predicted about his second coming:

From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men. Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and thenhe shall reward every man according to his works. Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom. (Matthew 16:21-28) (1.)

The point that we want to argue is obvious. However, before we get to it, observe the flow of the passage. Jesus (peace be upon him) intimated about his suffering in Jerusalem so much so that he would “be killed and be raised again the third day”.  Therefore, he insisted that his disciples should expect similar fates for themselves as well. They would have to undergo hardship as well; they will have to “deny themselves, take up their cross…” etc.

Nevertheless, Jesus (peace be upon him) immediately consoled his disciples by informing them that because of their rather ephemeral suffering, they would be sufficiently rewarded since he is soon returning (i) “in the glory of his Father and (ii) “with his angels” when (iii) “he shall reward every man according to his works”. And all of this would happen in life time of “some” standing then; (iv) and thus they would see his “kingdom”.

However, we know for a fact that none of it ever happened!  And, in contrast to “some” of them present there, categorically all of them have tasted death for good now! Thus, it is one of those Mayan-like hoaxes in the fabulous history of “orthodox” Christianity (2.) which never came to happen.

Later in the same gospel, Jesus (peace be upon him) gave even more vivid account of his second return [although the verse quoted below is long, but it worth it’s read]:

And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened. Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before. Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together. Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And THEN shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till ALL these things be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.  (Matthew 24:3-35)

It is very important to observe that the query of disciples was very specific, “what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” To which Jesus (peace be upon him) gave various signatures like “darkening of sun”, “falling of stars” etc and amidst such supernatural events would he appear!

Nevertheless, Jesus (peace be upon him) again qualified that the generation then would not die before they have witnessed all of it. He was so confident about his prophecy that he emphatically asserted that heaven and earth would be destroyed but his words would/should come to pass!

Disappointingly, none of the events occurred, Jesus (peace be upon him) is yet to return and all the New Testament figures are dealing with their fate in their graves; and to add to it, heaven and earth, luckily, have not passed as yet!

Mark also relates a similar assertion from Jesus (peace be upon him) in his brand of gospel:

Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed,when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels. And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power. (Mark 8:38, 9:1)

Scholars accept that Mark 8:38 where Chapter 8 ends, and the very next verse, namely, Mark 9:1 are part of one and the same passage and should not be separated:

Mark 8:38

When he cometh (hotan elthēi). Aorist active subjunctive with reference to thefuture second coming of Christ with the glory of the Father with his holy angels(cf. Mat_16:27). This is a clear prediction of the final eschatological coming of Christ. This verse could not be separated from Mar_9:1 as the chapter division does. These two verses in Mar_8:38; Mar_9:1 form one paragraph and should go together. (Robertson’s Word Picture)

Observe Robertson accepts that Jesus (peace be upon him) asserted that some from his generation would remain alive to witness his “future second coming”!

Albert Barnes also concords that some from Jesus’ (peace be upon him) would remain alive to witness the “day of judgment”:

Mark 8:27-38

In the glory of his Father – In the day of judgment. See the notes at Mat 26:64. The meaning of this verse is, Whosoever shall refuse, through pride or wickedness, to acknowledge and serve Christ here, shall be excluded from his kingdom hereafter. He was lowly, meek, and despised; yet there was an inimitable beauty in his character even then. But he will come again in awful grandeur; not as the babe of Bethlehem, not as the man of Nazareth, but as the Son of God, in majesty and glory. They that would not acknowledge him here must be rejected by him there; they that would not serve him on earth will not enjoy his favor in heaven; they that would cast Him out and despise him must be cast out by him, and consigned to eternal, hopeless sorrow. (Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

As Jesus (peace be upon him) oft asserted that some from his generation would remain alive to witness his “second coming” and other supernatural events entailing the end of the world, we see it as a case of inaccurate prophecy because all the people of Jesus’ (peace be upon him) generation are dead and yet he is to return and the world is yet to end! Just like the Mayans miscalculated the end of the world, so did biblical authors attributing the statements to Jesus (peace be upon him)!

Luke also reports a verbatim instance in his version of gospel! And quite expectedly Jesus (peace be upon him) asserts the same condition there as well:

For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels. But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God.  (Luke 9:26-27)

Jesus (peace be upon him) repeated his “prophecy” for the second time in Luke’s gospel!

And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. Andthen shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh. And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees; When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand. So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away. (Luke 21:25-33)

Based on the simple observation that multiple Bible authors repeated over and over again about Jesus’ (peace be upon him) second coming, end of the world, the trailing symptoms with it, and the condition that the generation then would be witness of all such preternatural events – we can conclude that they were very sure about it. Nevertheless, this “prophecy” failed just as the Mayan calendar and their reckoning of end of the world failed!

Conclusion

 

It is not that the historical Jesus (peace be upon him), the son of Maryam (may Allah (SWT) be pleased with her), was erroneous in his prophecies, nevertheless, the above (failed) prophecies shows that Bible has gone through human adulteration and the subject instances are just a few examples of it.

In all other cases, we would have to painfully accept that gospel authors wrote of failed prophecies – just like the Mayans and their calendar – and in such situation “Christianity has many cracks in its foundations, and many more people will eventually recognize this and abandon Christianity, neither Christianity nor the world as a whole has come to its end just yet.

In fact rather than searching for “cracks” in Islam, it would be better if these stalwarts at answering-islam put some concrete in the gaping fractures throught the pages of Bible.

Footnotes:

(1.) One of the most reliable biblical commentator, John Gill, has expectedly tried to “reconcile” the verse as follows:

 

Matthew 16:28

Verily I say unto you….. This is a strong asseveration, Christ puts his “Amen” to it; declaring it to be a certain truth, which may firmly be believed: there be some standing here; meaning either his disciples, or some of the audience; for it is clear from Mar_8:34 that the people were called unto him with his disciples, when he said these words: which shall not taste of death: that is, shall not die; a phrase frequently used by the Jewish doctors: they say (y), “All the children of the world, טעמין טעמא דמותא, “taste the taste of death”.”

That is, die: till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom; which is not to be understood of his personal coming in his kingdom in the last day, when he will judge quick and dead; for it cannot be thought, that any then present should live to that time, but all tasted of death long before, as they have done; for the story of John’s being alive, and to live till then, is fabulous, and grounded on a mistake which John himself has rectified at the close of his Gospel: nor of the glorious transfiguration of Christ, the account of which immediately follows; when he was seen by Peter, James, and John, persons now present; for that, at most, was but an emblem and a pledge of his future glory: rather, of the appearance of his kingdom, in greater glory and power, upon his resurrection from the dead, and his ascension to heaven; when the Spirit was poured down in an extraordinary manner, and the Gospel was preached all over the world; was confirmed by signs and wonders, and made effectual to the conversion and salvation of many souls; which many then present lived to see, and were concerned in: though it seems chiefly to have regard to his coming, to show his regal power and authority in the destruction of the Jews; when those his enemies that would not he should reign over them, were ordered to be brought and slain before him; and this the Apostle John, for one, lived to be a witness of.  (John Gill’s Exposition on the Entire Bible)

At best we can say that it was a very desperate reconciliation we have read of Gill: Firstly, he compares Jesus’ (peace be upon him) resurrection from the dead, and his ascension to heaven as equal to Jesus (peace be upon him) descending from heaven in the glory of his Father with angels! Obviously the two are quite different.

Secondly, Gill equates the mere “preaching” of Gospel and conversion of people with Jesus’ (peace be upon him) assertion of “judging” people for their deeds, let alone the falling of stars and other astral events. Gill conveniently assumes the two to be the same, obviously, for the sake of “reconciliation”.

Nevertheless, the last part of Gill’s exegesis is most exposing. Note that Gill concedes that the verse’s main objective was to show “his coming, to show his regal power and authority in the destruction of the Jews; when those his enemies that would not he should reign over them, were ordered to be brought and slain before him; and this the Apostle John, for one, lived to be a witness of.” Gill is obviously referring to an instance in Luke’s gospel:

“But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.” Luke 19:27

Notwithstanding that Jesus (peace be upon him) gave other details like coming with Angels and in the honor of his Father etc, Gill has tried to somehow relate Jesus’ (peace be upon him) allusion of authority and regality with the above Lukan verse. However, quite contrary to his comments here, Gill wrote the following inconsistent “exegesis” for Luke 19:27:

bring hither, and slay them before me; which had its accomplishment in the destruction of Jerusalem, when multitudes of them were slain with the sword, both with their own, and with their enemies; and to this the parable has a special respect, and of which Christ more largely discourses in this chapter; see Luk_19:41 though it is true of all natural men, that they are enemies to Christ; and so of all negligent and slothful professors, and ministers of the word, who, when Christ shall come a second time, of which his coming to destroy the Jewish nation was an emblem and pledge, will be punished with everlasting destruction by him; and then all other enemies will be slain and destroyed, sin, Satan, the world, and death…(John Gill’s Exposition on the Entire Bible)

 

Initially when commenting on Matthew 16:28 Gill reported that Christ’s (peace be upon him) regale authority was evinced when he ordered Jews to be slain “before him”. Nevertheless, while commenting on Luke 19:27 Gill had to change his words to write that Jews being slain by the order of Jesus (peace be upon him) found “its accomplishment in the destruction of Jerusalem”!

But, we would ask, was the destruction of Jerusalem done “before him”; was Jesus (peace be upon him) present in the glory of his Father; in the company of Angels; “judging” people for their life-time deeds when the destruction of Jerusalem was being affected? Did destruction of Jerusalem set judgment day? The obvious answer is no.

 

(2.) It must be noted that the “orthodox” Christianity we know of was not the only form of Christianity competing for orthodoxy. Separate factions with separate set of books laid their claims on orthodoxy. So it is probable that such verses as Matthew 16:28 were never present in their gospels and in such situation they were more close to truth than their “orthodox” counterparts!

 

Notes:

  • Unless otherwise mentioned all biblical text taken from King James Version.
« Older Entries Recent Entries »