Monday, 4 August 2014

Re: "Jesus' Death On The Cross And The Quran." refuted

This is a response to  Aaron Goerner's article entitled  "Jesus' Death On The Cross And The Quran."  .

He said:
"Islam's denial of Jesus' death on the cross is a radical redefinition of history. Observation, witness, testimony, and human analysis have little or no role in learning about what happened centuries ago at Golgotha. The only thing that ultimately matters is that Muhammad claimed an angel revealed to him something about the past contrary to what was observed and recorded. This is all in spite of the fact that Muhammad came hundreds of years after the event, lived hundreds of miles away, and did not provide any evidence."

We claim your historical methodology is weak, and therefore, your historical evidences for the crucifixion event are weak. If Christian's could use a strict methodology (like the sciences of hadith) to filter truth from error, they would not be able to have evidence for their crucifixion claim. The Christian above assumes that what was observed (i.e. crucifixion) was recorded down. However, majority of Christian scholars today affirm that none of the writers of the Gospels were eye witnesses to the crucifixion. The Gospels are in fact anonymous.

"Like the other canonical gospels, Matthew was originally anonymous." (The Blackwell Companion To The New Testament - Edited By David E. Aune - 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd - Page 7).
"Like the other New Testament gospels, Luke - Acts is an anonymous work, with the author concealed behind the narrative." (Ibid - Page 329).

"The text itself of each Gospel is anonymous and its title represents what later tradition had to say about the identity of the author. Of course the probabilities are that such traditions contain at least a substantial hint as to the identity of the evangelist. Sometimes, however, internal considerations are such as to cast doubt upon the full accuracy of the later tradition." (Bruce Manning Metzger - The New Testament: It's Background, Growth, And Content - Abingdon Press, 2003).

"In the case of the Gospels, strictly speaking, all four works are anonymous. That is to say, there is no chapter or verse that gives the name of the author in any instance." (Craig L. Blomberg - Jesus And The Gospels: An Introduction And Survey - B&H Publishing Group, 2009 - Page 127).

"All four gospel are anonymous. Strictly speaking, we do not know who wrote them." (Professor Dr. Thomas R. Yoder Neufeld - Recovering Jesus: The Witness Of The New Testament - Brazos Press, 2007 - Page 56).

"Strictly speaking the four Gospels are anonymous." (Les Bridgeman - A Teacher's Notebook, Lessons on the Life of Christ for Highschool Students- WestBow Press, 2010 - Page 9).

"Like the other three Gospels the book is anonymous." (The New Bible Commentary - Edited by Professor F. Davidson M.A. D.D., Assisted by The REV. A.M. Stibbs M.A. and The REV. E.F. Kevan M.TH. - Page 771).

"What sources do we have for Jesus? Well, we have multiple sources in the Gospels of the New Testament. That part is good. But they are not written by eyewitnesses who were contemporary with the events they narrate. They were written 35 to 65 years after Jesus' death by people who did not know him, did not see anything he did or hear anything that he taught, people who spoke a different language from his and lived in a different country from him." (Professor Bart D. Ehrman - Jesus Interrupted - Harper Collins, 2009 - Pages 143-144).

"All in all, large parts of the New Testament are not written by people directly connected with Jesus or the very earliest period of the Christian Church… But the fact remains that large parts of the New Testament were written by Christians after the initial period." (Professor John Barton - The Biblical World - Routledge 2002 - Pages 30-31).

"In fact, all the Gospels originally circulated anonymously. Authoritative names were later assigned to them by unknown figures in the early church. In most cases, the names are guesses or perhaps the results of pious wishes." (Dr. Robert W. Funk & Professor Roy W. Hoover, The Jesus Seminar - The Five Gospels: The Search For The Authentic Words Of Jesus -  New York: Polebridge Press, Macmillan Publishing Co. 1993 - Page 20).

More on this can be read here. If the Christian wants to claim the crucifixion was recorded by those who observed the event in our present day Gospels, he needs to prove this. If the Christian cannot, then we Muslims will not accept weak sources which Christians deem as reliable. It's worth noting that there are contradictions in the stories of the alleged crucifixion and burial (as mentioned by Dr. Ehrman here), which gives us more reason to reject such Biblical sources.

As for the evidence Muhammad bought, it is the miracle of the Quran and evidences for his Prophethood. One can refer to this site, for example, for evidences that the Quran is the world of God, which we use as indirect evidence that Jesus was never crucified. Moreover, it doesn't matter if he came hundreds of years later or not, because history is not the only criterion to discover truth.

The Christian then posts mistranslated verses from the Old Testament trying to give us the impression the crucifixion was predicted. However, this has been refuted here and here. He then posted verses from the New Testament trying to prove that Jesus testified to his death, but has assumed the authenticity of the New Testament without proving it. Also, the verses he posted are suspect, because in the following verses, Jesus is alleged to have said:

John 17:4:
"I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do."

This statement was allegedly uttered before he even went on the cross. His mission was over before any crucifixion event. It is interesting to note that according to Bruce Metzger's works and others (see here), the Gospel of John had at least 3 authors (which we don't even know). Isn't it possible that someone who doubted the crucifixion put the above statement on Jesus' lips? Yes. This might be a reason why in this verse, Jesus affirms his mission was over before any crucifixion (which would contradict the verses in Matthew the Christian bought up).

He said:
Eyewitnesses to the death of Jesus on the cross:

Mary Magdalene
Mary the mother of James and Joseph
Mary the mother of Jesus
The disciple whom Jesus loved (John 19:26)

Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph and Mary the mother of Jesus are described as seeing from a distance (see here). It doesn't say how far away. Seeing from a distance isn't really strong evidence they were eye witnesses, because other people and things could have obstructed their view, and it is easier to make mistakes seeing from afar. (This is assuming the Gospels are trustworthy). Secondly, these verses follow the alleged death on the cross. So, it does not specify that they actually saw the death took place. As for John 19:26, this disciple was not an eye-witness to the death because the disciple went back to his home (see John 19:26-27).
The Christian then mentioned evidences of people who participated in the burial of Jesus, yet failed to realize this is not evidence that he was actually dead.

He said:
Even non-Christian sources wrote that Jesus died:
Josephus (Jewish historian born around 37 AD and died 100 AD) refers to Jesus' death (Antiquities 18.3.3).
Tacitus (AD 55-120), a renowned historian of ancient Rome wrote around 115 A.D. that Christ was "executed" by Pilate (Annals 15.44).


Let us see how authentic these sources are. A historian commenting on Josephus' mention of the crucifixion:
"This passage was probably a late third century insertion." (Daniel T Unterbrink - Judas The Galilean - iUniverse, 2004 - Page 6).


"Josephus never mentioned the life or death of Jesus. This sentiment is supported by a Christian apologist, Paul Johnson. "Josephus undoubtedly wrote about Jesus, but presumable in an unfavorable sense for all copied of his manuscript went through Christian control at some stage, Josephus's actual words were censored and an audultory passage was inserted." (Paul Johnson, Civilizations of the Holy Land, Page 123 - Quote Cited From: Ibid - Page 136, Reference Cited From Ibid, Page 272).

"In regard to Josephus, a Jewish historian who wrote during the first century, there is a section in his Antiquities of the Jews (18.63-64) where he discusses Jesus, including the information that he was crucified by Pilate and then raised from the dead. Josephus also calls Jesus the Messiah. Writing in the third century, Origen - - who, despite his later problems with the orthodox church, is universally considered a conscientious historian of the church - is clear that there is no mention of Jesus in Josephus. It is not until the fourth century that Bishop Eusebius appears with the new version of Josephus's writings. The scholars we surveyed agreed that this section is a forgery, and they tend to date it to some point in time between Origen and Eusebius, or even to Eusebius himself." (Joyce Higginbotham, River Higginbotham - ChristoPaganism: An Inclusive Path - Llewellyn Worldwide, 2009 - Page 82).
Moreover, there were various other forgeries in Josephus' works & manuscripts (Dr. R. W. Bernard, B.A., M.A., Ph.D. - The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Life of the Ancient Essenes - Health Research Books, 1990 - Page 10). So, we could hardly deem this as authentic evidence for the alleged crucifixion.
As for Tacitus:

"Kuhn notes that the writings of the other three historians mentioned - Pliny, Tacitus, and Suetonius - are also considered to be forgeries by nearly all scholars, Protestant and Catholic alike. He says, "It is so rare a thing to find unanimous consensus of opinion on such matters among scholars that their practically complete agreement in this case enables the layman to accept the academic verdict with assurance." (Kuhn, Who Is The King of Glory? - cited in: Joyce Higginbotham, River Higginbotham - ChristoPaganism: An Inclusive Path - Llewellyn Worldwide, 2009 - Page 82).

Commenting on Tacitus:

"But his introduction at so late a date would make rejection certain unless Christian forgery could be made to appear improbable." (Hilton Hotema - Secret of Regeneration - Health Research Books, 1998 - Page 100).

"Tacitus (about AD 115) describes Nero's attacks on Christians in Rome. He explains who these 'Christians' are by mentioning that in Judea 'the originator of that name, Christus, had been executed when Tiberius was emperor by order of the procurator Pontius Pilate.' That is all, and Tacitus is only repeating what Christians in his day were saying about their origins." (Dr Richard Baukham, Rev, Dr R. T. France, Melba Maggay, Dr James Stamodis, Dr Carsten Peter Thiede (Consulting Editors), Jesus 2000: A major investigation into history's most intriguing figure, 1989, Lion Publishing plc, pp. 10-11, cited here)

More on the imauthenticity of Josephus here and on Tacitus here. Agreeing for sake of argument that Tacitus' works were not forgeries, Tacitus (55-120 CE) being a 1st century historian, he could have been influenced by Christians into believing what they wanted him to believe. We don't know where he got his information from and we can never know, so cannot be used as strong evidence.

To say that the crucifixion is a fact of history because the New Testament, Josephus, Tacitus said so is a joke, which we can't take seriously.

He said:

"The law/Torah requires that a matter be established by two or three witnesses (Deuteronomy 17:6-7). Therefore, the testimonies of Jesus, Old Testament prophets, Jesus' followers, non-Christian historians, etc. is true, legal and believable compared to the testimony of Muhammad (or the Qur'an), which was written nearly six hundred years after the event. To put it simply, the Law of Moses makes it unlawful to believe the Qur'an."


He is assuming the sources are reliable to begin with. He cannot objectively answer as to why they are supposedly "true, legal and believable." If he argues it is early, then the response is: something that is early doesn't make it reliable or true. You can have early falsehood. Also, the context of Deuteronomy 17 is when someone is alleged to have done an evil deed. It doesn't say that any matter can be decided by 2 or 3 witnesses. The Christian is being inconsistent by relying on the Old Testament as law, yet Paul claimed the law was abrogated (Romans 10:4, Ephesians 2:14-15).

The word "Deuteronomy" basically means "law".

"The title Deuteronomy, derived from Greek, thus means a "copy," or a "repetition," of the law rather than "second law," as the word's etymology seems to suggest." (Judaism - Britannica Educational Publishing - The Rosen Publishing Group, 2011 - Page 129).

The Torah (first 5 books of the Bible) are accepted as the "law" by Jews, which Paul abrogated. Yet, the Christian is being inconsistent by quoting from what Paul abrogated. Moreover, who said that the law of Moses should be used as an objective criteria to establish a matter?

He said:
"Here is another reason why it is unlawful to believe the Qur'an. Muhammad's claim that the angel Gabriel spoke to him is an HISTORICAL CLAIM. What historical evidence is there that the angel Gabriel spoke to Muhammad? Is there eyewitness testimony, or is Muhammad the only witness to his claim that Gabriel spoke to him?"

The claim is historical, but the event is theological. As stated above: history is not the only criterion to discover truth. The Christian should therefore not limit us only to history. Also, his own Christian historians will say that a miracle that already occurred (that an angel spoke to Muhammad) is the least probable occurrence, so historians cannot prove this. If this Christian accepts that miracles that already occurred can be historically proven (or evidences can be put forth), one such evidence is that the Prophet Muhammad was known to be very honest and sincere before his Prophethood and afterwards.
"He was good, so very good that he soon earned among his youthful companions the title of' "Al-Amin" which means in Arabic "the truthful, the sincere, the trustworthy", and he was worthy of this epithet which clung to him all his life, for Muhammad would never tell a lie. Even in very adverse circumstances, he would never speak anything but the truth." (Tahia Al-Ismail - The Life Of Muhammad: His Life Based On The Earliest Sources - Ta-Ha Publishers Ltd. 1988, 1 Wynne Road, London, SW9 0BD - Page 16).

"They all knew him well, they all knew how truthful and sincere he was. So Muhammad used this knowledge they had of his character (he had lived among them for forty years) to convince them of the truth of his mission." (Ibid - Page 39).

"Quraysh did not know what to do about Muhammad and his followers. They were increasing in strength and number every day and they were willing to bear persecution and injury for the sake of their religion. They did not object to Muhammad as an individual, on the contrary, they trusted him beyond all others and when traveling they would leave their valuables and precious things with none but him." (Ibid - Page 52).

"Quraysh would not believe Muhammad, but, curiously, they would trust no one else with their valuable possessions." (Ibid - Page 79).

So, it's hard to believe that such a sincere person wouldn't knowingly lie that an angel spoke to him. Christians will argue back by saying the devil came to him and it appeared to him that it was an angel. If this was the case, that means whoever revealed the Quran to Muhammad must not be satan, as Quran speaks against satan (see here) and according to Matthew 12:24-26 and Mark 3:22-26, this cannot happen (satan cannot oppose himself). So, the Christians might say Muhammad was crazy, but will fail to prove this.

Also, we can say the same thing to the missionary by asking: "What historical evidence is there that the Jesus spoke to Paul in the vision (as in Acts 9)?" Only Paul allegedly saw such a vision, but no-one else did. Unlike Prophet Muhammad, Paul's credibility to be an "apostle of Jesus" was not established. Before seeing his "vision", Paul was a bounty hunter, that used to kill and torture Christians. Paul admitted this himself in Acts 9:1, Acts 22:4 and Acts 26:10. In contrast, the Prophet was not known to do this before and after claiming Prophethood. If the Christian objects that an Angel did not visit the Prophet Muhammad because we don't have enough historical evidences and independent sources, he must also reject that Jesus spoke to Paul is his "vision".

As stated above, we believe the Quran is the word of God and have evidence that it is, which is enough for us Muslims as evidence the event never occurred.

He said:
"Unlike Moses and Jesus, Muhammad was the only witness to what he claimed concerning the angel Gabriel. This means that believing Muhammad's claim is a violation of God's Law and is especially sinful because he contradicted the previously validated and lawful testimony of Moses and Jesus."

Muhammad was the only one who made this claim about the Angel, but he was not the only one to have made the same type of claim. By that, I mean a supernatural claim. Paul made a claim that Jesus (whom he believed to be God) spoke to him in a vision. This is supernatural claim. Since there are no eyewitnesses to this except Paul himself, according to the Christian, this is a violation of God's law, and Paul was sinful by violating it. Moreover, to say that God (whom they claim is Jesus) was crucified is also a supernatural claim. So, the Christian not only has to merely prove Jesus was crucified, but he has to prove God was. Again, his own Bible abrogates the Old Testament, so for him to say Muhammad's claim violates the law is irrational.

He said:

"I have read that the Qur'an requires four witnesses when a woman is accused of adultery (Al-Maeda 4:15; Al-Noor 24:4; cf. 2:282). Of course, adultery is a serious charge and witnesses should be required. And yet, Muhammad's claim that the Christian Scriptures are adulterated is an even more serious claim. What testimony/witnesses did Muhammad give to support his allegation that the Christian Scriptures are adulterated?

Muhammad lacks witnesses that the angel Gabriel spoke to him. Muhammad lacks witnesses that the words he spoke are more authoritative than the Christian Scriptures. Muhammad did not and could not produce superior testimony to the historical fact of Jesus' death on the cross and neither can you."

Correction. Surah 2:282 speaks nothing about a need for four witnesses when a woman is accused of adultery. The testimony Muhammad had was Allah who revealed the Quran. The Christian cannot limit us only to historical witnesses, because he has no objective reason to do so. Doing such a thing would mean that Paul's vision lacks historical evidence, and should not be accepted by his own historians. Again, the Christian ASSUMES that the "testimony" he uses to support the crucifixion claim is reliable to begin with.

After quoting Surah 4:157...

He said:
"From an historical point of view this claim is untrue. This claim was made hundreds of years after the event and has no historical support from the 1st century; none of Jesus' followers wrote or testified that Jesus only appeared to die on the cross. The Qur'an does not explain who died on the cross, it does not explain whether the disciples of Jesus were deceived, and does not explain why Allah has allowed the world to be deceived (or did Allah deceive the world?) about this for hundreds of years."

As stated above: history is not the only criterion to discover truth. If the Christian wants to limit us only to historical evidences, the resurrection is historically false, because this is a supernatural claim (which his own historians will say). Also, his own historians will also reject the concept that it can be historically proven that it was God that was crucified, because this too is a supernatural claim. Christian historians who believe this argue on theological grounds, not historical ones. Also, which is more historically probable? That Jesus did not die on the cross, or that Jesus rose from the dead? The second is a supernatural claim, whilst the first is not, so his own historians will reject the resurrection (unless they argue on theological grounds).
Also, who said the Quran should say who died on the cross or whether or not the disciples of Jesus were deceived? Just because the Christian might not like it, doesn't prove anything. Also, just because there is no evidence that Islam doesn teaches this, this is not evidence that Islam is against it. Also, to claim that Allah deceived the world is an assumption that Allah was directly involved in ensuring Jesus was not crucified, but someone else was. The Quran does not say "Allah made it appear that Jesus was crucified", it says "it was made appeared to them." So, a supernatural event occurring in order for him to be saved isn't necessary, and there is no narration from the Prophet regarding a supernatural event saving Jesus. Christians might argue back by saying that if no supernatural event saved Jesus from crucifixion, Allah still did not stop people from believing the crucifixion. This is a weak argument, because why should Allah stop them? Allah gave us free will to choose to believe or not. Also, this argument can also be used against Christians, by saying: "Why did your God allow Muhammad to preach Islam, if he was a false Prophet?"
Even if Islam authentically teaches Allah was directly involved in ensuring Jesus was not crucified, but someone else was (i.e. if the narrations here were authentic or acceptable by hadith scholars), it doesn't mean it was Allah's purpose to deceive. Even if it was, for Allah to deceive those who were after Jesus' blood is seen as morally right, not wrong (in Islam). If the Christian still take objection to this, then he is being inconsistent, as his own Bible says:

Mark 13:22:
"For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and miracles to deceive the elect - if that were possible."

If the Christian claims that Allah being directly involved in ensuring Jesus was not crucified is deception, that means the Biblical God is a deceiver, because the Biblical God (supposedly Jesus) claimed false prophets will come and do MIRACLES. How can anyone do miracles, except by God's permission? Even false prophets will have the ability to deceive, because God will be directly involved in ensuring the miracles will happen to deceive others (according to the Bible).

Also, I see no objective reason why Allah shouldn't have informed the disciples that Jesus was really not crucified. It would have been enough for them to believe Jesus was Prophet of God, and that he (supposedly) died a martyr.

He said:
"It is Muslims who conjecture; Muslims who have no certain knowledge; Muslims who are full of doubts about what actually happened during the crucifixion. All Christians (Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant) agree that Jesus died on the cross. To be sure, Christians don't agree about everything. There's a lot we disagree about. But one thing Christians all agree about is the death of Jesus on the cross."

The Christian is using a false analogy. He is comparing the details as to how Jesus (according to the differences of opinions Muslims gave) was not crucified with the claim that all believed Christians Jesus was crucified. We can use a similar but more valid reasoning against the Bible by saying:

"It is the Christians who are in conjecture, because of the many contradictions in the crucifixion story and the fact that Acts 5:29-32, Acts 10:39, Acts 13:29, 1 Peter 2:24 and Galatians 3:13 state Jesus was killed on a tree (the Jewish method), whereas all Muslim scholars agree that Jesus was not crucified."
This would be more valid than the Christian's argument, because unlike Islam, Christianity's source of disagreement (regarding crucifixion details) come straight from the Bible. In contrast, differences of opinion from Muslims on how Jesus was not crucified come from scholars and narrations from early Muslims (who used to narrate Israilyat narrations). Christians have argued that the tree is referring to the cross, so the verses saying he was killed on a tree refer to the cross. However, Paul cites from the book of Deuteronomy 21:23 in Galatians 3:13, indicating the author intended to refer to the Jewish law. The Jewish law is not putting the person on a cross. They stone you then drag your body on a living tree or pole. Also, the Greek word for "tree" in these verses is: "xylon" which can mean a tree. (Rodney J. Decker - Koine Greek Reader: Selections From The New Testament, Septuagint, And Early Christian Writers - Kregel Academic, 2007 - Page 126 & Michael Burer, Jeffery E. Miller - A New Reader's Lexicon of the Greek New Testament - Kregel Academic, 2008 - Page 504). If Christians still want to insist the word means cross, that means Paul mispresented the Jewish law of capital offense by implying that the cross (crucifixion) was the penalty.

Also, his own Bible in Matthew 12:38-40 disproves that Jesus was crucified, because Jesus was not like Jonah in the heart of the earth. Jonah was alive in the belly of the whale, while Jesus was dead in the tomb (according to Christians & the Bible). Christians will give speculative replies to this, but will ignore the crystal clear reading of the texts.

He said:
"Even non-Christian historians are in overwhelming agreement about the historicity of Jesus' death on the cross."

The reason for that is because they can only go on what history alleged to have said. They already agree that Jesus living over 2000 years ago must be dead (since they presuppose in naturalism), so the only death that seems more plausible to them is crucifixion. We Muslims are not limited to history to know truth, and we are certainly not limited to western historical methodologies (which does not hold a handle compared with the sciences of hadith). The same non-Christian historians will reject the claims that:

> That God (supposedly Jesus) was crucified.
> That God rose from the dead.

They will reject these concepts, because they presuppose naturalism, not supernaturalism. Similarly, this is the same reason why they will reject the claim that Jesus is still alive (not crucified). So, Christians should be consistent here if they want to cite non-Christian historians.

He said:
"An honest look at the facts leads to the conclusion that the Christian Scriptures are superior to the Qur'an because of the superior evidence available demonstrating the death of Jesus on the cross."

Who said that to discover which scripture is superior than others, there should be more evidence available demonstrating the death of Jesus on the cross? It is possible that can be more evidence that something occurred as compared to that if it didn't occur, but that doesn't necessarily mean that it did occur. Also, we don't consider the "evidences" Christians put forward to be strong or superior than the evidences given that the Quran is the word of God, as stated above.

He said:
"Jesus said, "I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins" (John 8:24). Believe in Jesus, and be baptized for the forgiveness of your sins and you can have certainty that you will inherit eternal life."

The Christian has contradicted himself. He first pasted a verse saying that the Biblical Jesus said that one who doesn't believe that he (Jesus) is who he claimed to be would die in their sin. The Christian then stated that believing in Jesus would mean your sins would be forgiven. However, the verse he just cited said that disbelieving in Jesus would mean one would die in their sin. So, has the sin of disbelieving in Jesus already been paid for, or not? If the Christian says "yes it has" that contradicts the Biblical Jesus' claim that one who disbelieves in him would die in their sin.

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