What about Bible’s Mayan-like Hoax?
Exactly how accurate was Bible’s calendar
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:
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”:
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!
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.
(1.) One of the most reliable biblical commentator, John Gill, has expectedly tried to “reconcile” the verse as follows:
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!
- Unless otherwise mentioned all biblical text taken from King James Version.