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English 087

  1. 1. ENGLISH " JESUS CHRIST By Dr. Abu Ameenah bilal PhilipsI"hI Co-opntiYe 0fIIc:e for Call &fontlgners GuIdance It Sultlnah ,.GlIIMnct............... ct...,ctIlllllllcAllhIllll ~1IllI..=F • rreLG40077 FaGl1. P.o.BoIUI7I ~". E4IIII: .... It. . . I" 111 ...
  2. 2. THE TRUE MESSAGE OF JESUS CHRIST BY DR. BILAL PHILIPS (St. David. Collele, UDivenity ofWale.,U.K.) ~I ~ QJ~ J .. q,,~~1 CuUJI , t Y• If ~iJL.a .;,I.JJ~ ~~ .!·i. ,,,,, :~.4.1- .,t"" t",.t :~i~JS. ~ ~ .~ ~~I ~j.rlJ y.:S:J Ij,a js.~ ~ ~ Jj.. ~~ I~ ~ ~i ~ J .r-=JI
  3. 3. © Copyright 1996 Dar AI FatahAll rights reserved. No portion of this book may bereproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmittedin any fonn by any means-electronic, mechanical.photocopying. recording or otherwise-without priorpermission of the copyright owner.Dar AI FatahPrinting, Publishing & Distribution Co. Lie.P.O.Box 23424, Sharjah, V.A.E.Tel: (9716) 322308 I Fax: 322526 This edition was reproduced by F.G.O at Zulli, Saudi Arabia. P.O. Box: 182, Zulfi 11932 Tel. 06422 5657 - Fax: 06422 4234 © Cooperative Office Of Call and Guidance at Zolti, 1999 /" KilrK FilM NllliolrllllilNll,J ClllllkJriJrr-iJr-hlJliclldimt DtIt. """ Philips, Abu Ameenah Bilal The true message of Jesus.- Zolfi. 88 p.. 17 ern ISBN: 9960-813-61-4 1- luses Christ 2- Christianity I· Title 273.2 de 0896/20 ." ..) Legal Deposit no. 0896/20 ISBN: 9960-813-61-4
  4. 4. INTRODUCTION Jesus Christ represents the common link between the tworeligions having the most followeJl on the earth today,Christianity and Islam. The following study of Jesusmessage and his person is based on this link. It is hoped thatthrough this study, both Muslims and Christians will betterunderstand the significance of Jesus and the importance of hismessage. However, for us to accurately identify the truemessage of Jesus Christ, an objective point of view must bemaintained throughout the course of our research. We shouldnot allow our emotions to cloud our vision and thereby blindus from the truth. We must look at all of the issues rationallyand separate the truth from falsehood-with the help of theAlmighty. When we look at the variety of false religions anddeviant beliefs around the world and the zeal with which theirfollowers uphold these beliefs, it becomes quite evident thatthese people are not able to find the truth because of theirblind commitment to their beliefs. Their tenacious adherenceis usually not based on an intellectual understanding of theteachings, but on powerful cultural and emotional influences.Because they were brought up in a particular family orsociety, they firmly cling to the beliefs of that society,believing that they are upholding the truth. The only way that we may find the truth aboutanything is to approach it systematically and logically. First,we wei~ the evidence and then we judge it by theintelligence which God has given us. In the material world, it 3
  5. 5. is fundamentally intelligence that distinguishes humans fromanimals, which act purely on instinct. After determining whatthe objective truth is, we must then commit ourselves to itemotionally. Yes, there is a place for emotional commibnent,but emotional commitment must come after a reasonedcomprehension of the issues. Emotional commibnent isessential, because it is evidence of a true understanding.When one fully and properly understands the reality of theissue, one is then mentally and spiritually prepared tovigorously uphold that reality. It is from this intellectual and spiritual point of viewthat the subject of Jesus message and his relevance to thosewho desire to follow God will be analyzed in the followingpages.Dr. Bilal PhilipsSaudi Arabia, 1989 4
  6. 6. CHAPTER ONE: THE SCRIPTURESThe topic The True Message of Jesus Christ is comprised oftwo basic parts: l.The Message and 2.The Person of JesusChrist. Each one is inseparable from the other. In order tounderstand Jesus message, we must know who he was.However, for us to understand who he was, it is alsonecessary to identify and comprehend his message. There are two possible avenues which may be takento look into the identity of Jesus Christ and the content of hismessage. One is based on the historical record compiled bymodem historians from the writings and reli<;s of that periodand the other- is based on the reports contained in the revealedScriptures. In reality, there is very little historical evidenceavailable to inform us about who Jesus Christ was or todetermine what his message was. The official historicaldocuments of that time contain virtually no record of Jesus. Abiblical scholar, R.T. France, writes, "No 1st centuryinscription mentions him and no object or building hassurvived which has a specific link to him."! This fact haseven led some Western historians to mistakenly claim thatJesus Christ never actually existed. Therefore, research hasto be primarily based on the scriptures which address theperson and the mission of Jesus Christ. The scriptures inquestion are those officiaJly recognized by both Christianityand Islam. However, to accurately analyze the informationcontained in these religious texts, it is essential to firstdetermine their validity. Are they reliable sources ofI Time, December 18, 1995, p. 46. 5
  7. 7. documentary evidence, or humanly concocted tales andmyths, or a mixture of both? Are the Bibles Old and NewTestaments divinely revealed scriptures? Is the Quraan(Koran) authentic? For the Bible and the Quraan to be the divine wordof God, they must be free from inexplicable contradictions,and there should be no doubt about their content nor abouttheir authors. If this is the case, the material contained in theOld and New Testaments and the Quraan can then beconsidered reliable sources of infonnation concerning themessage and the person of Jesus Christ.Authentic Manuscripts It has been documented by many scholars fromvarious branches and sects of Christianity that much of thematerial in the Bible is of doubtful authenticity. In the preface of The Myth of God Incarnate, theeditor wrote the following: "In the nineteenth century,Western Christianity made two major new adjustments inresponse to important enlargements of human knowledge: itaccepted that man is a part of nature and has emerged withinthe evolution of the fonns of life on this earth; and it acceptedthat the books of the Bible were written by a variety of humanbeings in a variety of circumstances, and cannot be accordeda verbal divine authority.,,2 In the international news magazine, NewsweeK.which carried an article entitled 0 Lord, Who Wrote ThyPrayer?, a group of theologians from the major Protestant2 The Myth a/God Incarnate, p. ix.3 October 31, 1988, p. 44. 6
  8. 8. sects, along with noted Roman Catholic Biblical scholars inthe United States, after a detailed examination of the earliestmanuscripts of the New Testament, concluded that the onlywords of the "Lords prayer,,4 that can be accuratelyattributed to Jesus Christ is "father". That is, according tothese learned church scholars, all the words that came afterthe beginning phrase, "Our father", of the most fundamentalChristian prayer, were added centuries later by church scribeswho copied the early manuscripts of the Gospels s. u.s. News& World Report. further quotes the team of scholars as sayingthat over 80 percent of the words ascribed to Jesus in theGospels may be apocryphal 6 . That includes JesusEucharistic speech at the Last Supper ("Take, eat. This ismy body ...") and every word he is said to have uttered from sthe cross. Dr. J.K. Elliott, of the Department of Theology andReligious Studies at Leeds University, wrote an articlepublished in The Times, London (10th Sept., 1987) entitled"Checking the Bibles Roots". In it, he stated that: "Morethan 5,000 manuscripts contain all or part of the New4 Luke 11:2 and Matthew 6:9-10.S The word gospel is derived from the Anglo-Saxon term god-spell,meaning "good stOI)," a rendering of the Latin evangelium and theGreek euangelion. meaning "good news" or "good telling." (TheNew Encyclopaedia Britannica, vol. 5, p. 379).6 Apocryphal: not likely to be genuine; untrue or invented. (OxfordAdvanced Learners Dictionary, p. 45).7 The Eucharist is the bread and wine taken at the Christianceremony based on Christs last supper. (Oxford AdvancedLearners Dictionary, p. 410.)8 July 1,1991, p. 57. 7
  9. 9. Testament in its original language. These range in date fromthe second century up to the invention of printing. It has beenestimated that no two agree in all particulars. Inevitably, allhandwritten documents are liable to contain accidental errorsin copying. However, in living theological works it is notsurprising that deliberate changes were introduced to avoid oralter statements that the copyist found unsound. There wasalso a tendency for copyists to add explanatory glosses9 •Deliberate changes are more likely to have been introduced atan early stage before the canonical status of the NewTestament was established." The author went on to explain that "no onemanuscript contains the original, unaltered text in itsentirety," and that, "one cannot select anyone of thesemanuscripts and rely exclusively on its text as if it containedthe monopoly the original words of the original authors." He further said: "If one further argues that theoriginal text has survived somewhere among the thousands ofextant I 0 manuscripts, then one is forced to read all these manuscripts, to assemble the differences between them in a systematic way, and then to assess, variant by variant, which manuscripts have the original [text] and which the secondarytext. Such a prospect has daunted II many biblical scholars who have been content to rely on the printed texts of earHer ages, in which the evidence of only a few favored manuscripts were used. Even many recent printed editions of9 A gloss is an explanatory comment added to a text. (OxfordAdvanced Learners Dictionary, p. 528).10 Extant: surviving.11 Daunt: discourage; frighten. 8
  10. 10. ·the Greek New Testament, and modern translations based on these, usually follow this practice of building their text on a narrow base that is unlikely to be entirely original."Versions of the English Bible In the preface of the most widely used version of theBible, the Revised Standard Version, the authors wrote thefollowing: "The Revised Standard Version of the Bible is anauthorized revision of the American Standard Version,published in 190 I, which was a revision of the King JamesVersion, published in 161 I ... "The King James Version had to compete with theGeneva Bible (1560) in popular use; but in the end itprevailed, and for more than two and a half centuries no otherauthorized translation of the Bible into English was made.The King James Version became the "Authorized Version" ofthe English-speaking peoples... Yet the KingJames Versionhas grave defects. By the middle of the nineteenth century,the development of Biblical studies and the discovery ofmany manuscripts more ancient than those upon which theKing James Version was based, made it manifest that thesedefects are so many and so serious as to call for revision ofthe English translation. The task was undertaken, byauthority of the Church of England, in 1870. The EnglishRevised Version of the Bible was published in 1881 ~ 1885;and the American Standard Version, ~variant embo.Qxin.gthe preferences of the American scholars associated_in th~work, was published in 1901.,,1212 The Holy Bible. Revised Standard VersIOn, p iii 9
  11. 11. HThe KingJames Version of the New Testament wasbased upon a Greek text that was marred by mistakes,containing the accumulated errors of fourteen centuries ofmanuscript copying. It was essentially the Greek text of theNew Testament as edited by Beza, 1589, who closelyfollowed that published by Erasmus, 1516-1535, which wasbased upon a few medieval manuscripts. The earliest andbest of the eight manuscripts which Erasmus consulted wasfrom the tenth century, and he made the least use of itbecause it differed most from the commonly received text~Beza had access to two manuscripts of great value, datingfrom the fifth and sixth centuries, but he made very little useof them because they differed from the text published byErasmus."! 3 " ...The American Standard Version was copyrighted,to protect the text from unauthorized changes. In 1928 thiscopyright was acquired by the International Council ofReligious Education, and thus passed into the ownership ofthe churches of the United States and Canada which wereassociated in this Council through their boards of educationand publication. The Council appointed a committee ofscholars to have charge of the text of the American StandardVersion and to undertake inquiry as to whether furtherrevision was necessary... [After two years] the decision wasreached that there is need for a thorough revision of theversion of 1901, which will stay as close to the Tyndale-KingJames tradition as it can .. .In 1937 the revision was authorizedby vote of the Council.,,1413 Ibid., p. v.14 The Holy Bible: Revised Standard Version, p. iii-iv. 10
  12. 12. "Thirty-two scholars have served as members of theCommittee charged with making the revision, and they havesecured the review and counsel of an Advisory Board of fiftyrepresentatives of the co-operating denominations ...TheRevised Standard Version of the New Testament waspublished in 1946.,,15 "The Revised Standard Version of theBible, containing the Old and New Testaments, waspublished on September 30, 1952, and has met with wideacceptance." 16 In the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, anumber of key verses from the King James Version of the Oldand the New Testaments, which Biblical scholars concludedwere added in later centuries, were removed from the text andplaced in the footnotes. For example, the famous passage inthe Gospel of John 8.7 about an adulteress who was about tobe stoned. Jesus was supposed to have said: "Let him who iswithout sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her. "The footnotes of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible(1952) state "The most ancient authorities omit 7.53-8.11 ".17Since the Vatican manuscript no. 1209 and the ~inaiticmanuscript codex from the 4th century do not contain thesetwelve verses, Biblical scholars have concluded that thesewords cannot be attributed to Jesus. Another example is thepassage attributed to Jesus and used as evidence of referenceto the Trinity in the Scriptures. In 1 John 5.7, Jesus wassupposed to have said: "There are three that bear record inheaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these15 Ibid., p. iv.16 Ibid., p. vi17 The Holy Bible: Revised Standard Version, p. 96. 11
  13. 13. three are one. ,.18 The well·known Biblical scholar, BenjaminWilson, writes that this text concerning the "heavenlywitness" is not contained in any Greek manuscript which waswritten earlier than the 15th century! Consequently, in theRevised Standard Version, this verse was deleted from thetext without even so much as a footnote. However, in order tokeep the total number of verses in the Revised Standard Version the same as that of the King James Version, therevisers split -verse 6 into two verses. The Second Edition of the translation of the NewTestament (1971) profited from textual and linguistic studiespublished since the Revised Standard Version New Testamentwas first issued in 1946. 19 Consequently, some previouslydeleted passages were reinstated, and some accepted passageswere deleted. "Two passages, the longer ending of Mark(16.9-20) and the account of the woman caught in adultery(John 7.53-8.11), were restored to the text, separated from itby a blank space and accompanied by infonnativenotes ... With new manuscript support, two passages, Luke22.19b-20 and 24.51 b, were restored to the text, and onepassage, Luke 22.43-44, was placed in the footnotes, as was aphrase in Luke 12.39.,,20Authorship According to Biblical scholars, even theauthorship of the Old Testament books and the Gospelsthemselves is in doubt.II Holy Bible: (King James Version)19 The Holy Bible: Revised Standard Version, p. vi.20 Ibid., p. vii. 12
  14. 14. Torah The first five books of the Bible (the Pentateuch)21are traditionally attributed to Prophet Moses,22 however, thereare many verses within these books which indicate thatProphet Moses could not possibly have written everything inthem. For example, Deuteronomy 34.5-8 states: "5 So Mosesthe servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab.according to the word ofthe Lord, 6 and he buried him in thevalley of the land of Moab opposite Beth-peor; but no manknows the place of his bwial to this dqy. 7 Moses Was ahundred and twenty years old when he died. his eye was notdim, nor his naturalforce abated. 8 And the people of/sraelwGt for Moses in the plains ofMoab thirty days; then thedays of weeping and mourningfor Moses ended" It is quiteobvious that someone else wrote these verses about ProphetMosesdeath. Some Christian scholars have explained thesediscrepancies by suggesting that Moses had written his books,but that later prophets, as well as inspired scribes, had madethe additions previously mentioned. Consequently, accordingto them, the text, in its entirety, remained an inspiredscripture of God. However, this explanation did not stand upto scrutiny, because the style and literary characteristics of theinterpolated verses are the same as the remainder of the text.21 Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.22 Orthodox Jews claim that the Torah, the Jewish name for the firstfive books, wu created 974 generations before the creation of theworld. According to them, God dictated the Torah during the 40days Moses wu on Mount Sinai, in such a final and imvocableform that it il sinful to claim that Moses wrote even one letter of itby himself. 13
  15. 15. In the 19th century, Christian Bible scholars began tQdebate the meaning of "doublets" that appeared in the Torah.These are stories which appear twice, each time with differentdetails. Among these are the two versions of the creation ofthe world, of the covenant between God and Abraham, ofGod changing Jacobs name to Israel and of Moses gettingwater from a rock. 23 Defenders of Moses authorship said that the doubletswere not contradictory, but instructive. Their intent was to teachus about the deeper, subtler meanings of the Torah. However,this claim was soon brushed aside by open-minded scholars whonoted that, not only were some accounts clearly contradictory,but also that when the doublets were separated into two separateaccounts, each account consistently used a different name forGod. One would always refer to God as Yahweh / Jehovah, Thisdocument was called "1". The other always referred to God asE/ohim, and was called "E".24 There were various other literarycharacteristics found to be common to one document or theother. Modem linguistic analyses, according to ProfessorRichard Friedman,25 indicate that the five books of Moses are amixture of Hebrew from the ninth, eighth, seventh and sixthcenturies B.C. Therefore, Moses, who was alive in the 13thcentury B.C:, was further away from the Hebrew of the Biblethan Shakespeare was from the English of today.23 Who Wrote the Bib/e, pp. 54-70.24 The late 19th century Gennan scholar, Julius Wellhausen, was thefirst to identify the multiple sources for the five books.2S Richard Elliot Friedman is a professor in the University ofCalifornia at San Diego. He earned his Doctorate in Hebrew Bibleat Harvard University, and is the author of the controversial work,Who Wrote the Bib/e. 14
  16. 16. Further study of the Pentateuch led to the discoverythat it was not made up of two major sources but of four. Itwas discovered that some stories were not only doublets buttriplets. Additional literary characteristics were identified forthese documents. The third source was called "P" (forpriestly), and the fourth called "D" (for Deuteronomy).26 The extent to which less obvious additions weremade to the original text is very difficult to determine.Consequently, a great shadow of doubt has been cast on theauthorship of the books as a whole. In the appendix of the Revised Standard Versionentitled "Books of the Bible," the following is writtenconcerning the authorship of over one third of the remainingbooks of the Old Testament: Books Authors II Judszes Possibly Samuel Ruth Perhaps Samuel First Samuel Unknown Second Samuel Unknown First Kinszs Unknown Second Kinszs Unknown First Chronicles Unknown Esther Unknown Job Unknown Ecclesiastes Doubtful Jonah Unknown Malachi Nothinsz knownZ6 The Interpreters Dictionary ofthe Bible, vol. 1, p. 756, and vol.3, p.617. See also The New Encyclopaedia Britannica, vol. 14, pp.773-4. 15
  17. 17. Apocrypha More than half of the worlds Christians are RomanCatholics. Their version of the Bible was published in 1582from Jeromes Latin Vulgate, and reproduced at Douay in1609. The Old Testament of the RCV (Roman CatholicVersion) contains seven more books than the King JamesVersion recognized by the Protestant world. The extra booksare referred to as the apocrypha (i.e., of doubtful authority)and were removed from the Bible in 1611 by Protestant Biblescholars.The Gospels Aramaic was the spoken language of the Jews ofPalestine. Consequently, it is believed that Jesus and hisdisciples spoke and taught in Aramaic. 27 "The earliest oraltradition of Jesus deeds and sayings undoubtedly circulatedin Aramaic. However, the four Gospels were written in anentirely different speech, common Greek, the spokenlanguage of the civilized Mediterranean world, to serve Ptemajority of the Church, which was becoming Hellenistic27 Aramaic is a Semitic language which gradually supplantedAkkadian as the common tongue of the Near East in the 7th and 6thcenturies Be. It later became the official language of the PersianEmpire. Aramaic replaced Hebrew as the language of the Jews;portions of the Old Testament books of Daniel and Ezra are writtenin Aramaic, as are the Babylonian and Jerusalem Talmuds. Itsperiod of greatest influence extended from 300 BC until 6.50 CE,after which it was gradually supplanted by Arabic. (The NewEncyclopaedia Britannica, vol. I, p. S16) 16
  18. 18. (Greek-speaking) instead of Palestinian. Traces of Aramaicsurvive in the Greek Gospels. For example, in Mark 5:41,~Taking her by the hand he said to her, Talitha cumi:which means Little girl, I say to you, arise." and Mark15:34, "And at the ninth hour, Jesus cried with a loud voice.E/o-i, Elo-i, lama sabachthani? which means, My God,my God, why hast thouforsaken me? ,,28 The New Testament Gospel of Mark, thoughconsidered by Church scholars to be the oldest of theGospels, was not written by a disciple of Jesus. Biblicalscholars concluded, based on the evidence contained in theGospel, that Mark himself was not a disciple of Jesus.Furthermore, according to them, it is not even certain whoMark really was. The ancient Christian author, Eusebius (325C.E.), reported that another ancient author, Papias (130 C.E.),was the first to attribute the Gospel to John Mark, acompanion of Paul. 29 Others suggested that he may have beenthe scribe of Peter and yet others hold that he was probablysomeone else. The same is the case with the other Gospels.Although Matthew, Luke and John are the names of disciplesof Jesus, the authors of the Gospels bearing their names werenot those famous disciples, but other individuals who usedthe disciples names to give their accounts credibility. In fact,28 Encyclopedia Americana, vol. 3, p. 654.29 The Five Gospels, p. 20, and The New Encyclopaedia Britannica,vol. 14, p. 824. For references to various Marks in the NewTestament, see the following: Acts 12:12, 25; 13:5; 15:36~4LColossians 4: 10; 2 Timothy 4: II; Philemon 24; and 1 Peter 5: 13. 17
  19. 19. all the Gospels originally cin:ulated anonymously. Authoritativenames were later assigned to them by unknown figures in theearly church. 30 Books Authors Gospel of Matthew Unknown3 ! Gospel of Mark Unknown32 Gospel of Luke Unknown 33 Gospel of John Unknown3• Acts The author of Luke3 I, II, III John The author ofJohnl630 The Five Gospels, p. 20.3) "Although there is a Matthew named among the various lists ofJesus disciples...the writer of Matthew is probably anonymous."The New Encyclopaedia Britannica, vol. 14, p. 826.32 "Though the author of Mark is probably unknown..."The NewEncyclopaedia Britannica, vol. 14, p. 824.33 "The Muratorian Canon refers to Luke, the physician, Paulscompanion; Irenaeus depicts Luke as a follower of Pauls gospel.Eusebius has Luke as an Antiochene physician who was with Paul inorder to give the Gospel apostolic authority." The NewEncyclopaedia Britannica, vol. 14, p. 827.34 "From internal evidence the Gospel was written by a beloveddisciple whose name is unknown." The New EncyclopaediaBritannica, vol. 14, p. 828.3 The New Encyclopaedia Britannica, vol. 14, p. 830.36 Ibid., vol. 14, p. 844. 18
  20. 20. J.B. Phillips, a prebendaryl7 of the Chi~hesl([Cathedral, the Anglican Church of England, wrote lhefollowing preface for his translation of the Gospel accordingto St. Matthew: "Early tradition ascribed this Gospel to thl:apostle Matthew:but scholars nowadays almost all reject thisview. The author, whom we can conveniently call Matthew,has plainly drawn on the mysterious "Q";~ which may have)7 A priest who receives income from the revenue of a church.especially a cathedral. (Oxford Advanced Learners Dl·llonUf). p973.)3B There are about two hundred identical verses found in bothMatthew and Luke (e.g. Matt 3:7-10 & Luke 3:7-9; Matt. 18:10-14& Luke 15:3-7), with no equivalent in either Mark or John As away of explaining this striking agreement, a Gemlan scholarhypothesized that there once existed a source document, which hereferred to as a Quelle (Gennan for ··source"). The abbreviatlllll"Q" was later adopted as its name. The existence of Q was once challenged by some scholars on lhegrounds that a sayings gospel was not really a gospel. Thechallengers argued that there were no ancienl parallels to a gospelcontaining only sayings and parables and tacking stories about Jesus,especially lhe story about his trial and death. The discovery of tileGospel of Thomas changed all that. (The Five GosptlJ, p. 12,)Thomas contains one hundred and fourteen sayings and parablesascribed to Jesus; it has no narrative framework: no account ofJesus exorcisms, healings, trial, death, and resurrection; no birth orchildhood stories; and no narrated accounl of his public ministry inGalilee and Judea. The Coptic translation of this document (writtenabout 350 C.E.), found in 1945 at Nag Hammadi in Egypt, hasenabled scholars to identify three Greek fragments (dated around200 C.E), discovered earlier, as pieces of three different copies ofthe same gospel. Thomas has forty-seven parallels to Mark, forty 19
  21. 21. been a collection of oral traditions. He has used MarksGospel freely, though he has rearranged the order of eventsand has in several instances used different words for what isplainly the same story.,,39 The Fourth Gospel (John) wasopposed as heretical in the early church, and it knows none ofthe stories associated with John, son of Zebedee. 40 In thejudgement of many scholars, it was produced by a "schoo)"of disciples, probably in Syria in the last decade of the firstcentury.41Contradictions Evidence for the unreliability of much of the material in theBible can also be found in the many contradictions in thetexts of the Old and New Testaments. The following are onlya few examples:The Old Testament1. The authors of Samuel and Chronicles relate the same storyabout Prophet David taking a census of the Jews. However,in 2nd Samuel, it states that Prophet David acted on Godsparallels to Q, seventeen to Matthew, four to Luke, and five to John.About sixty-five sayings or parts of sayings are unique to Thomas.(The Five Gospels. p.l S).39 The Gospels in Modern English.40 Since the late 18th century, the first three Gospels have beencalled the Synoptic Gospels, because the texts, set side by side,show a similar treatment of the life and death of Jesus Christ. (TheNew Encyclopaedia Britannica, vol. 5, p. 379).41 The Five Gospels, p. 20. 20
  22. 22. instructions, while in 1st Chronicles, he acted on Satansinstructions. nSAMUEL24 I CHRONICLES 21 ! The Numbering The Numbering And again the anger of the And Satan stood up against Lord was kindled against Israel, and provoked David Israel, and he moved David to number Israel. against them to say, "Go, number Israel and Judah."2. In describing the length of a plague prophesied by Gad 42 ,the author of 2nd Samuel listed it as seven years, while theauthor of 1st Chronicles listed it as three years. II SAMUEL 24:13 I CHRONICLES 21:11 TheP/ague TheP/ague So Gad came to David and 11 So Gad came to David, told him, and said unto him, and said unto him, "Thus "Shall seven years of famine saith the Lord, Choose thee come unto thee in thy land? 12 Either three years or wilt thou flee three famine; or three months to months before thine be destroyed before thy enemies, while they pursue foes, while that the sword of thee?" thine enemies overtaketh thee; "42 "And the Lord spoke to Gad, Davids seer, saying," I Chronicles,21 :91. According to this text, Gad was the name of Prophet Davidspersonal fortuneteller. 21
  23. 23. 3. In 2nd Chronicles, Jehoiachin was described as being eightyears old when he began to reign, while in 2nd Kings he isdescribed as being eighteen years old. II CHRONICLES 36:9 II KINGS 24:8 The Age The Age Jehoiachin was eight years Jehoiachin was eighteen old when he began to reign, years old when he began to and he reigned three months reign, and he reigned in and ten days in Jerusalem: Jerusalem three months. and he did that which was And his mothers name was evil in the sight of the Lord. Nehushta, th~ daughter of Elnathan of Jerusalem.4. The author of 2nd Samuel described the number of Syrianswho died during a battle with Prophet David as being sevenhundred, while the author of 1st Chronicles gave theirnumber as seven thousand. II SAMUEL 10:18 I CHRONICLES 19:18 The Dud TbeDudAnd the Syrians fled before But the Syrians fled beforeIsrael; and David slew the Israel; and David slew of themen of seven hundred Syrians seven thousand menchariots of the Syrians, and which fought in chariots,forty thousand horsemen, and forty thousand footmen,and smote Shobach the and killed Shophach thecaptain of their host, who captain of the host.died there. 22
  24. 24. Although some may say that the adding or dropping of a I or a zero is not significant, as it is only a copying mistake,here that is not the case because the Jews spelled out theirnumbers in words and did not use numerals. Such descrepancies cannot be accepted as part of adivinely revealed text. Moreover, they prove the fallability ofthe human authors and further prove that the texts of the OldTestament were not divinely preserved.The New TestamentIn the New Testament many similar contradictions may alsobe found. The following are but a few:I.The Gospel accounts vary regarding who carried the crosson which Jesus was supposed to have been crucified. InMatthew, Mark and Luke, it was Simon of Cyrene, and inJohn, it was Jesus. LUKE,23:2643 JOHN,19:16 The Cross The Cross Then he (Pilate) handed him over As they led him away. they seized to them to be crucified. So they a man, Simon of Cyrene. who was took Jesus; and carrying the cross coming from the country. and!hn himself. he went to what is called laid the cross on him and made the Place of the Skull. ... him carry it...2. After Jesus "crucifixion", the Gospel accounts differ as towho visited his tomb, when the visit took place, as well as the43 See also, Matthew 27:32 and Mark 15:21. 23
  25. 25. state of the tomb when it was visited. The Gospels ofMatthew, Luke and John state that the visit took place beforesunrise, while the Gospel of Mark states that it was aftersunrise. In another three Gospels (Mark, Luke and John) thewomen found the stone door of the tomb rolled away, but inone (Matthew) the tomb was closed until an angel descendedbefore them and rolled it away. MARK. 16:1·2 JOHN,20:1 44 MATTHEW, 28:1·2 7h VlItt 7h VIsJt 7h VlItt And when the sabbath Now on the first day Now after the was past, Mary of the week Mary sabbath, toward the Magdalene, and Mary Magdalene came to ~ of the first day the Mother of James, the tomb early, while of the week, Mary and Salome, bought it Was stm dark, and Magdalene and the spices, so that they saw that the stone had other Mary went to might go and anoint been taken away from see the sepulchre. him. 1And very early the tomb. 2And behold, there on the first day of the was a great week they went to the earthquake; for an tomb when the sun angel of the Lord l1Id..risn descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone, and sat upon it.3. The New Testament accounts vary regarding the fate ofJudas Iscariot and the money he received for betraying Jesus.In Matthew, he hung himself, while in Acts, he fell in a fieldand died there.44 See also, Luke 24: 1-2. 24
  26. 26. MATTHEW, 27:3-6 ACTS, 1:18 The F~te of }udM The F~t. of }udM When Judas t his betrayert saw N ow this man acquired a field that Jesus was condemned t he with the reward of his repented and brought back the wickedness; and falling thirty pieces· of silver to the headlong t he burst open in the chief priests and the elders t middle and all his bowels ...And throwing down the gushed out. pieces of silver in the temple t he departed; and he went and hanged himself.4. When the genealogy of Jesus from David in Matthew 1:6-16, is compared to that of Luke 3:23-31, there are majordiscrepancies. Firstly, Jesus in Matthew has 26 parentsbetween himself and David t but in Luke he has 41. Secondly,the names in both lists vary radically after David, and onlytwo names are the same: Joseph t and Zorobabel. Both listsstart off with Joseph. strangely enough. as the father of Jesus,but in Matthew, the author records Jesus t paternalgrandfather as being Jac:ob, while in Luke he is Heli. If onewere to accept the suggestion of some that one of the lists isactually the genealogy of Mary, it could not possibly accountfor any differences after their common ancestor David. Bothlists meet again at Abraham and between David and Abrahammost of the names are the same. However, in Matthews lis~Hezrons sons name is Ram, the father of Ammintadab,while in Lukes list, Hezronts sonts name is Ami, whoseson ts name is Admin, the father of Amminadab. 4~., Also in Matthews list, Nahshons sons name is Salmoa t while inLukets list, Nahshons sons name is Sa... 25
  27. 27. Consequently, between David and Abraham there are 12forefathers in Matthews list and 13 in Lukes list. These discrepancies and many others like them in theGospels are clearly errors that cast a shadow of doubt on theirauthenticity as divinely revealed texts. Consequently, mostChristian scholars today look at the Old and New Testamentbooks as human accounts which they believe were inspired byGod. However, even the claim that they were inspired by Godis questionable as it implies that God inspired the authors towrite mistakes and contradictions in His scriptures. Having established that the authenticity of both theNew and the Old Testament is questionable, it can then besaid with certainty that the Bible cannot be used by itself asan authentic reference source for establishing who Jesus was,nor the content of his message.The Quraan On the other hand, the Quraan-believed byMuslims to be the word of God revealed to ProphetMuhammad(A ~was written down and memorized, frombeginning to end, during the lifetime of the Prophet himself. Within a year after his death, the first standard 46written text was produced. And within 14 years after hisdeath, authorized copies (the Uthmanic Text) made from thestandard codex· 7 were sent to the capitals of the Muslim state,and unauthorized copies were destroyed.·146 Shorter Encyclopaedia ofIslam, p. 278.47 A handwritten book of ancient texts (pl. codices):41 Shorter Encyclopaedia of Islam, p. 279. See also The NewEncyclopaedia Britannica, vol. 22, p. 8. 26
  28. 28. Since the Prophets death in 632 CE, an increasingnumber of people in each successive generation havememorized the complete text of the Qur aan from beginningto end. Today there exist tens of thousands of people aroundthe world who recit~ the whole text, from memory, during themonth of Ramagaan every year, as well as on other occasions. One of the leading orientalists, Kenneth Cragg, saidthe following regarding the memorization and preservation ofthe Quraanic text, "This phenomenon of Quranic recitalmeans that the text has traversed the centuries in an unbrokenliving sequence of devotion. It cannot, therefore, be handledas an antiquarian thing, nor as a historical document out of adistant past.,49 Another orientalist scholar, William Graham,wrote: "For countless millions of Muslims over more thanfourteen centuries of Islamic history, scripture, al-kitab hasbeen a book learned, read and passed on by vocal repetitionand memorization. The written Quran may fix visibly theauthoritative text of the Divine Word in a way unknown inhistory, but the authoritativeness of the Quranic book is onlyrealized in its fullness and perfection when it is correctlyrecited."so Yet another, John Burton, stated: "The method oftransmitting the Quran from one generation to the next byhaving the young memorize the oral tradition of their eldershad mitigated somewhat from the beginning the worst perilsof relying solely on written records.. .,sl At the end of avoluminous work on the Quraans collection, Burton statedthat the text of the Quraan available today is "the text which49 The Mind ofthe Qur an, p. 26.so Beyond the Written Word. p. 80.51 An Introduction to the Hadith, p. 27. 27
  29. 29. has come down to us in the fOfm in which it was organisedand approved by the Prophet. .. What we have today in our • "2 53hands IS the musb.al of Muhammad." .SCriptural Criticism The same principles of analysis which were appliedto Bible manuscripts by Bible scholars and which exposed theflaws and changes, have been applied to Quraanicmanuscripts gathered from around the world. Ancientmanuscripts found in the Library of Congress in Washington,the Chester Beatty Museum in Dublin, Ireland, the LondonMuseum, as well as Museums in Tashkent, Turkey andEgypt, from all periods of Islamic history, have beencompared. The result of all such studies confirm that therehas not been any change in the text from its original writing.For example, the "Institute fur Koranforschung" of theUniversity of Munich, Germany, collected and collated over42,000 complete or incomplete copies of the Quraan. Aftersome fifty years of study, they reported that in terms ofdifferences between the various copies, there were novariants, except occasional mistakes of copyists, which couldeasily be ascertained. The institute was destroyed byAmerican bombs during the Second World War. 54Contradictions in the Quraan The Qur aan remains in itoriginal language, Arabic,and the Quraan challenges its readers in Chapter an-Nisaa,2 The Arabic tenn used to refer to the text of the Quraan.3 The Collection ofthe Qur an, p. 239-40.54 Muhammad Rasu//u//ah. p. 179. 28
  30. 30. (4):82, to find any errors in it, if they do not believe it isreally from God. ~, ;;;. ~ ~ ~$" "jJ ~T:,ii, ~ J:;.lij ~f ~ ".;r,- J~, ~. ,J ~:j t4 ,_,,(- .. ..1 "Will they not consider tbe Quraan carefully? Had it been from otber tban AlIaah, they would have found many contradictions in it."The few "apparent contradictions" commonly mentioned bythose who attempt to reduce the Quraan to the level of theBible are easily explained. For example, the "first believer"in the following two verses: Chapter al Anaam Chapter al-Araaf (6):14 (7):143 "Say (0 Muhammad): Shall I "...But when his Lord appeared adopt as my lord someone to the mountain, it crumbled to other than Allaah, Creator of dust, and Moses fell down the heavens and earth, though it unconscious. When he is He ~ho feeds but is not fedT regained consciousness, he Say: Indeed I am commanded said, Glory be to You, I tum to to be the flfSt of those who you in repentance and I am the submit themselves (to AlIaah), first of the believers. " and not to be among the idolators. "The earlier verse refers to Prophet Muhammad, who was toldto inform the pagans of his time that he could never accepttheir idolatry and would be the first of those in his time to 29
  31. 31. submit to Allaah. In the second verse, Prophet Moses declareshimself among the first in his time to submit to Allaah uponrealizing that it was impossible to see Allaah. Each prophetwas the first in his own era to submit to Allaah. Similarly, the "day with God" mentioned in thefollowing two verses: Chapter as-Sajdah (32):5 Chapter al-Miraaj (70):4 "He arranges (every) affair "The angels and the Spirit from the heavens to the earth, ascend to Him in ~ then it goes up to Him, in a day equivalent to fifty thousand equivalent to a thousand years years." according to your reckoning."The two verses refer to two completely different events. Thefirst refers to the destiny that is sent down and reported backin a day governing a thousand years of human life. 55 Thesecond refers to the ascent of the angels from the world to thehighest of the heavens, which for them takes a day equivalentto 50,000 human years. 56 Allaah is not governed by time. Hecreated time and made it relative to the creatures it governs.Consequently, according to the calculation of modemscientists, one year on Mars is equivalent to 687 earth days,while one year on Uranus is equal to 84 earth years. 57H Tafseer a/-Qur{ubee. vol. 8, pp. 5169-70.S6 Fat-hu/-Qadeer, vol. 4, p. 349.S7 The New Enqc/opaedia Britannica. vol. 27, pp. 551 & 571. 30
  32. 32. The Quraanic text is remarkably consistent in itsthought and presentatiQn. In the preface of one of the bestorientalist translations of the Quraan, the translator, ArthurJohn Arberry, writes: "There is a repertory of familiar themesrunning through the whole Koran; each Sura S8 elaborates oradumbrates one or more~ften many--ofthese. Using the S9language of music, each Sura is a rhapsody composed ofwhole or fragmentary leitmotivs;60 the analogy is reinforcedby the subtly varied rhythmical flow of the discourse.,,61 Scientific references in the Quraanic text haveproven to be consistently and inexplicibly accurate. In alecture given at the French Academy of Medicine, in 1976,entitled "Physiological and Embryological Data in theQuran", Dr. Maurice Bucaille said, "There is no human workin existence that contains statements as far beyond the levelof knowledge of its time as the Quran. Scientific opinionscomparable to those in the Quran are the result of modernknowledge.,,62 Speaking about the authority of the Quraan,Professor Reynold A. Nicholson said, "We have [in theKoran] materials of unique and incontestable authority fortracing the origin and early development of Islam, suchmaterials as do not exist in the case of Buddhism orChristianity or any other ancient rei igion. ,,6358 Quraanic chapter.9 Indicate faintly or in outline.60 Recurring features.61 The Koran Interpreted, p. 28.62 The Qur an and Modern Science, p. 6.63 Literary History ofthe Arabs, p. 143. 31
  33. 33. Consequently, it is only the Quraan that representsan accurate means of determining who Jesus was and whathis message was. Moreover, the Quraan can also be used todetermine to what degree some of the revealed word of Godexists within the Bible. In the Quraan, God commands the believers toaccept, as a part of their faith, the divine word revealed toProphet Moses, known as the Torah; to Prophet David in theoriginal Psalms; and to Jesus in the original Gospel. AllMuslims are obliged to believe in all of the revealedscriptures. However, as stated in the Quraan, all scripturesrevealed before the Quraan have not remained as they wererevealed. People changed parts of them to suit their owndesires. .11, , ".:I! ~. liA ~.i)At r- ~,~L ~~ ~ ~,~. -: " ~ _J!(~ . .ill.t~j ~ ~ -ft, IJr J ~ ~ ~" ~f :.~ ~ ~ "I~-j =..t Ii ~..., J~~I ("T IJJJ ~, • . ("T t.r-r ~ : J.r-""- III " _ (~ tl,)~ "Woe to those who write the scripture with their own hands and then say: This is from Allaah, to purchase with it [worldly gain] at a cheap price. Woe to them for what their hands have written and woe to them for what they earned by doing it." Quraan, (2):79Furthennore, in the Old Testament, God is quoted inJeremiah 8:8 as saying, "How can you say, We are wise, andthe law is with us ? But, behold, the false pen ofthe scribeshas made it into a lie. ,,6464 Revised Standard Version. 32
  34. 34. CHAPTER TWO: JESUS, THE PERSON As has been shown in the previous chapter, theBiblical scriptures, both New and Old Testaments, areunreliable sources and cannot, therefore, be used as anauthentic means of knowing the truth about the man calledJesus Christ or about his mission and message. However, aclose examination of these scriptur~s in the light of Quraanicverses will reveal some of the truths about Jesus that havesurvived in the Bible.A Messenger Throughout the Quraan, Jesus is identifiedfundamentally as a Messenger of God. In Chapter a§-Saff(61 ):6, God quotes Jesus as follows: ~! ~ J~~ J! ~T~! ~~ ~-; J ~ J~ ~!J }t ~ i/~ ~ ~J..! ~ ~ ~~ "And (remember] when Jesus, son of Mary. said: 0 Children of Israel, I am the messenger of Allaah sent to you, confirming the Torah [which came] before me."There are many verses in the New Testament supporting themessengership ! prophethood of Jesus. The following are only a few:In Matthew 21: 11, the people of his time are recorded as referring toJesus as a prophet: "And the crQwds said, This is the prophet Jesusof Nazareth of Galilee. " In Mark, 6:4, it is stated that Jesusreferred to himself as a prophet: "And Jesus said to them, A prophetIS not without honour, except in his own country. and among hisown kin, and in his own house. " In the following verses. Jesus is 33
  35. 35. referred to as having been sent as a messenger is sent. In Matthew10:40. Jesus was purported to have said: "He that receiveth youreceiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me."In John 17:3. Jesus is also quoted as saying: "And this is life eternal.that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ,whom thou hast sent. ,,65A Man. The Quraanic revelation not only affinns Jesusprophethood. but it also clearly denies Jesus divinity. In Chapteral-Maaidah, (5): 75, God points out that Jesus ate food. which is ahuman act, obviously not befitting to God. ~fJ ~i 4 ~ ~ jj J~~ ~! ~"; :;1 ~I .I ~ )JI ~ ~4~i~::;: ~:k:1 ~~I ~~tt Jtf ~4 ~ 0jJ)! ji "The Messiah, Son of Mary, was no more than a messenger and many messengers passed away before him. His mother was exceedingly truthful, and they both ate food. See how I have made the signs clear for them, yet see how they are deluded."There are numerous accounts in the New Testament whichalso deny Jesus divinity. For example, in Matthew 19: 17, Jesus responded toone who addressed him as "0 good master" saying: "WhJ!cal/est thou me good? There is none good but one, that is65 Seealso,j0hn4:34,5:30, 7:16&28.11:42.13:16,14:24. 34
  36. 36. God. " If he rejected being called "good",66 and stated thatonly God is truly good, he clearly implies that he is not God. In John 14:28, Jesus was saying: "The Father isgreater than 1" By stating that the "Father" is greater thanhimself, Jesus distinguishes himself from God. Also in John20: 17, Jesus told Mary Magdalene to tell his followers: "Iascend unto my Father and your Father; and to my God andvour God" Jesus reference to God as "my Father and yourFather" further emphasizes the distinction between himselfand God. Furthermore, by referring to God as "his God", heleft no room for anyone to intelligently claim that he wasGod. Even in some of the writings of Paul, which theChurch has taken to be. sacred, Jesus is referred to as a "man",distinct and different from God. In 1st Timothy, 2:5, Paulwrites: "For there is one God, and one mediator between Godand men, the man Christ Jesus." There are also verses in the Quraan which confirmProphet Muhammads humanity, in order to prevent hisfollowers from elevating him to a divine or semi-divinestatus, as was done to Prophet Jesus. For example, in Chapteral-Kahf (18): 110, AlIaah instructs the Prophet Muhammad(i3) to inform all who hear his message: J ~I AJI ". ~~ II ~1 - II ". ~i: .. "~ ~f oJI "Ii b. "t ,J :~. 1S:...rJt ~ r. : v- p66 Jesus here rejects being called perfectly good, becauseperfection belongs only to God. He was good, but, being the "Sonof man"(Mat. 19:29)--as he liked to call himself-he was capableof error. 35
  37. 37. "Say: Indeed, I am only a man like you to whom it hu been revealed that your God is only one God. "In Chapter ai-A raaf (7): 187, Allaah also directed ProphetMuhammad (a) to acknowledge that the time of theJudgement is known only to God. ~ ") ~ ,~~i~ WI .1 , ~: Jio • Ac,. ~fI ~~I . - ~ .it-; h r -, ;r". - J J" ~I. i~-i.1 I~ i:... ~ III ~.r..~ "They ask you about the Final Hour: When will its apointed time be? Say: Knowledge of it is with my Lord. None can reveal its time besides Him. " In the Gospel according to Mark 13 :31-32, Jesus is alsoreported to have denied having knowledge of when the finalhour of this world would be, saying: "Heaven and the earthshall pass away but my word shall not pass awa.Y, but ofthatday or hour no man knoweth. neither the angels in the heavennor the Son but the Father. "One of the attributes of God isomniscience, knowledge of all things. Therefore, his denialof knowledge of the Day of Judgement is also a denial ofdivinity, for one who does not know the time of the final hourcannot possibly be God. 6767 It should be noted that, in spite of the Quraanic warnings andother statements of Prophet Muhammad himself. some Muslimshave elevated him to semi-divine status by directing their prayers toor through him. 36
  38. 38. An Immaculate Conception The Quraan confinns the Biblical story of Jesus~virgin birth. However, in the Quraanic account of Jesus~birth, Mary was an unmarried maiden whose life wasdedicated to the worship of God by her mother. While shewas worshipping in a place of religious seclusion, angelscame and informed her of her impending pregnancy. --:r:- ~, ~ · - : ~-. -, i» ~: ~r ~- is:;~1 - ~,: p ~I - ~ _~ - - - - J~ h ~~~I ~J ~~~i J ~~ J ~J ~---; ~, ~. "When tbe angels said: 0 Mary, indeed Allaah gives you glad tidings of a Word from Him, whose name will be the Messiah, Jesus the son of Mary. He will be honored in this world and the next and will be of those close to Allaah. "Quraan, (3):45 "She said: 0 my Lord, how can I have a son when DO man has touched me? He said: Even so--Allaah creates what He wishes. When He decrees something, He only has to say to it: "Be!" and it is. " Quraan, (3):47However, the Quraan clarifies that Jesus virgin birth did notchange the state of his humanity. His creation was like thecreation of Aadam, who had neither father nor mother. 37
  39. 39. ;j J~ ~ yl) ~ ~ ~;T # ill ~ ~ ~ ~1 ~ ~ III _~i " , ~ u~::,r "Surely, the example of Jesus, in Allaahs sight, is like that of Aadam. He created him from dust and said: Be! and he was." Quraan, (3):59The MiraclesThe Quraanic account of Jesus ministry confirms most68 ofhis miracles mentioned in the Bible and identifies some notmentioned in the Bible, For example, the Quraan informsthat Jesus was a messenger of God from his birth, and hisfirst miracle was speaking as a child in the cradle. AfterMary had given birth to Jesus, people accused her offornication. Instead of responding to their accusations, shepointed to her newly born child: 4.1: J ~ ~ " -: 1",.- ~ ~ i, ~~., i~! ~ ,.J ...:h ~) ~ij 4.J!~ - .I~ ,-: k , ~ 4 ~J y~ ~fi ~, ~ "[When) she pointed to him, they asked, How can we talk to a child in the cradle? He [Jesus) said: Indeed, I am a sen-ant of Allaah. He gave me the scripture and made me a prophet. " Quraan, (19):29-30Among his other miracles of bringing the dead back to life,healing lepers, and making the blind see, the Qur aan records68 The Biblical story of Jesus turning water into wine (John 2: 1-10)is conspicuously absent from the Quraan. 38
  40. 40. another miracle not mentioned in the Bible. Prophet Jesusfashioned birds out of clay, blew on them and they flewaway, living birds. But the point which is emphasizedthroughout the Quraan is that whenever Jesus performed amiracle, he informed the people that it was by Godspermission. He made it clear to his followers that he was notdoing the miracles by himself, in the same way that the earlierProphets made it clear to those around them. Unfortunately, those who claim divinity for Jesus.usually hold up his miracles as evidence. However, otherprophets were recorded to have done the same or similarmiracles in the Old Testament. Jesus fed 5,000 people Elisha fed 100 people with twenty with five loaves of barle; loaves and a few ears of com (II bread and two fishes. Kings 4:44) Jesus healed lepers. Elisha cured Naaman the leper (" Kings 5: 14) Jesus caused the blind Elisha caused the blind to see (II Kings to see. 6: 17&20). Jesus raised the dead. Elijah did the same (I Kings 17:22). So did Elisha (II Kings 4:34 ). Even Elishas bones could restore the dead (II Kings 13:21) Jesus walked on water. Moses and his people crossed the dead sea (Exodus 1411) There are also texts in the New Testament whichconfirm that Jesus did not act on his own. Jesus is quoted inJohn 5:30, as saying: "/ can afmine own st!(fdo nothing .. ,-and in Luke II :20, as saying, "But if/with tht! Jingf!r (l(Jodcast out devils. no doubt fhe Kingdom of God is come upon 39
  41. 41. you." In Acts 2:22, Paul writes: "Men of Israel, hear thesewords: Jesus ofNazareth, a man attested to you by God withmighty works and wonders and signs which God 41d throughhim in your midst, as you yourselves know... ""EVIDENCE" FOR JESUS DIVINITY There are a number of verses which have beeninterpreted by the Catholic and Protestant Churches asevidence for the Divinity of Jesus Christ. However, on closeexamination of these verses, it becomes evident that, eithertheir wordings are ambiguous, leaving them open to a numberof different interpretations, or they are additions not found inthe early manuscripts of the Bible. The following are someof the most commonly quoted arguments.t. The Alpha and Omega In the Book of Revelation I, verse 8, it is implied thatJesus said the following about himself: "I am Alpha andOmega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, whichis, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty."These are the attributes of God. Consequently, Jesus,according to early Christians, is here claiming divinity.However, the above-mentioned wording is according to theKing James Version. In the Revised Standard Version,biblical scholars corrected the translation and wrote: "/ amthe Alpha and the Omega," says the LoTti God. who ;.1 andwho was and who is to come, the Almighty. " A correctionwas also made in the Net.. . American RiMe produced byCathol ics. The translation of that verse has been amended toput it in its correct context as follows: "Tile Lord God says: "/ 40
  42. 42. am the Alpha and the Omega, the one who is and who was,and who is to come, the Almighty. "With these corrections,it becomes evident that this was a statement of God and not astatement of Prophet Jesus.2. The Pre-existence of Christ Another verse commonly used to support the divinityof Jesus is John 8:58: "Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, Isay unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. ,,, This verse istaken to imply that Jesus existed prior to his appearance onearth. The conclusion drawn from it is that Jesus must beGod, since his existence predates his birth on earth. However,the concept of the pre-existence of the prophets, and of manin general, exists in both the Old Testament, as well as in theQuraan. Jeremiah described himself in The Book ofJeremiah I :4-5 as follows: " SNow the word ofthe Lord cameto me saying, 5 Before [formed you in the womb I knew you,and before you were horn I consecrated you: I appointed youu prophettu the nutiolls. " Prophet Solomon is reported in Proverbs 8:23-27, tohave said, .,23 Ages ago I was set up at the first, before thebeginning of the earth. H When there were no depths I wasbrought forth. when there were no springs abounding withwater, 25 Before the mountains had been shaped, before thehills. I was brought j()rth: :6 he (OTtL he had made the earthwith its fields, or the first ofthe dust u{the world 27 When heestablished the heavens, I was there" According to Job 38:4 and 21, God addresses ProphetJob as follows: "~Where were you when I laid the foundation 41
  43. 43. of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding... 21 YouKnow, for you were born then, and the number ofyour daysis great!" In the Quraan, Chapter al-Araaf, (7): 172, Godinfonned that man existed in the spiritual form before thecreation of the physical world. Js. ~~i: ~~~ ~~~ ~ ~;T ~ ~ d) iio-i ~~:, ~ UI 4.iuil ", :,., ~J!~JAJ i.i ~~ ~i l,r . i; I .i~ ", ~~, ~~~ r-,!~~ J•• Ii· ~f ~~~ iA~& ~When your Lord gathered all of Aadams descendants [before creation) and made them bear witness for themselves, saying: Am I not your Lord? They all replied: Yes indeed, we bear witness. (That was) so you could not say on the Day of Judgement: ~We were unaware of this. "Consequently, Prophet Jesus statement, "Before Abrahamwas, I am," cannot be used as evidence of his divinity.Within the context of John 8:54-58, Jesus is purported tohave spoken about Gods knowledge of His prophets, whichpredates the creation of this world.3. The Son·of GodAnother of the evidences used for Jesus divinity is theapplication of the title "Son of God" to Jesus. However,there are numerous places in the Old Testament where thistitle has been given to others. 42
  44. 44. God called Israel (Prophet Jacob) His "son" when Heinstructed Prophet Moses to go to Pharaoh in Exodus 4:22-23,,,22 And you shall say to Pharaoh, Thus says the Lord, Israel is my first-born son, 23 and 1 say to-you, Let my songo that he may serve me. ,,69 In 2nd Samuel 8: 13-14, God calls Prophet SolomonHis son, ,,13 He [Solomon] shall build a house for my name,and I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever. 141will be his father, and he shall be my son. " God promised to make Prophet David His son in Psalms 89:26-27: "26 He shall cry unto me, Thou art myfather, my God, and the rock ofmy salvation, 27Also I will malce him my first-born. higher than the kings ofthe earth. ,i/O Angels are referred to as "sons of God" in The Bookof Job 1:6, "Now there was a day when the sons ofGod came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also cameamong them. ,,71 In the New Testament, there are many references to"sons of God" other than Jesus. For example, when theauthor of the Gospel according to Luke listed Jesus ancestors69See also, Hosea I: 10, of the King James Version.70 In the Revised Standard Version, it states: "And I will make himthe first-born, the highest of the kings of the earth." See alsoJeremiah 31 :9, ".. for I am a father to Israel and Ephraim is myfirst-born. "71 See also, Job 2: I and 38:4-7. Other references to sons of God canalso be found in Genesis 6:2, Deuteronomy 14: 1 and Hosea 1: 1O. 43
  45. 45. back to Adam, he wrote: "The son ofEnos. the son ofSeth.the son ofAdam. the son ofGod ,,72 Some claim that what is unique in the case of Jesus,is that he is the ~nly begotten ] Son of God, while the others 7are merely "sons ot God". However, God is recorded assaying to Prophet David, in Psalms 2:7, "I will tell the decreeof the Lord: He said to me, You are my son, today I havebegotten you. . " It should also be noted that nowhere in the Gospelsdoes Jesus actually call himself "Son of God".74 Instead, heis recorded to have repeatedly called himself"Son of man"(e.g Luke 9:22) innumerable times. And in Luke 4:41, he72 Luke 3:38.73 The tenn "begotten" in Old English meant to be fathered by andit was used to distinguish between Jesus, who was supposed to bethe literal son of God, from the figurative use of the tenn son forGods "created sons".74 In the New Testament Book of Acts, there are several outlines ofspeeches of the early disciples of Jesus, speeches which date fromthe year 33 CE, almost forty years before the Four Gospels werewritten. In one of these discourses, Jesus is referred to specificallyas andra apo IOu theou: "a man from God." (Acts 2:22). Not oncedo these early confessions of faith use the expression wios toutheou: "Son of God", but th~y do speak several times of Jesus asGods servant and prophet (Acts 3:13,22,23,26). The significanceof these speeches is that they accurately reflect the original beliefand tenninology of the disciples, before the belief and tenninologywere evolved under the influence of Roman religion and Greekphilosophy. They reflect a tradition which is older than that used bythe Four Gospels, in which Jesus is not invested with godship ordivine sonship. (Bible Studies From a Muslim Perspective, p. 12). 44
  46. 46. actually rejected being called "Son of God": "And d~monsalso came out of many, crying, You are the Son ofGod! But he rebuked them, and would not allow them to speak,because they knew that he was the Christ." Since the Hebrews believed that God is One, and hadneither wife nor children in any literal sense, it is obvious thatthe expression "son of God" merely meant to them "Servantof God"; one who, because of his faithful service, was closeand dear to God, as a son is to a father. Christians who camefrom a Greek or Roman background, later misused this tenn.In their heritage, "son of God" signified an incarnation of agod or someone born of a physical union between male and 75female gods. When the Church cast aside its Hebrewfoundations, it adopted the pagan concept of "son of God",which was entirely different from the Hebrew usage. 76 Consequently, the use of the term "son of God" should only be understood from the Semitic symbolic senseof a "servant of God", and not in the pagan sense of a literaloffspring of God. In the four Gospels, Jesus is recorded as saying "Blessed are the peace-makers, they will be called sons ofGod. ,,77 LikeWise, Jesus use of the term abba, "dear father",should be understood similarly. There is a dispute amongNew Testament scholars as to precisely what abba meant in75 See Acts 14:11-13. In the city of Lystra (Turkey), Paul andBarnabas preached, and the pagan peoples claimed that they weregods incarnate. They called Barnabas the Roman god Zeus, andPaul the Roman god Hermes.76 Bible Studies from a Muslim Perspective, p. 15,77 Matthew 5:9. 45
  47. 47. Jesus time and also as to how widely it was in use by otherJewish sects of that era. James Barr has recently argued forcefully that it didnot have the specially intimate sense that has so often beenattributed to it, but that it simply meant "father".78 To think ofGod as "our heavenly Father" was by no means new, for inthe Lords prayer he is reported to have taught his disciples toaddress God in this same familiar way.4. One with God Those who claim that Jesus was God, hold that hewas not a separate god, but one and the same God incarnate.They draw support for this belief from verse 30 of the Gospelaccording to John, chapter 10, in which Jesus is reported tohave said, "I and the Father are one." Out of context, thisverse does imply Jesus divinity. However, when the Jewsaccused him of claiming divinity, based on that statement,"Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, "/ said,Ye are gods? ,,79-80 He clarified for them, with a scripturalexample well known to them, that he was using themetaphorical language of the prophets which should not beinterpreted as ascribing divinity to himself or to other humanbeings. Further evidence is drawn from verses ten and elevenof the Gospel according to John, chapter 14, where people78 Journal o[Theological Studies, vol. 39 and Theology, vol. 91, no.741.79 Jesus is quoting Psalms 82:6 "I have said, Ye aTe gods: and all o[you are the children ofthe Most High. "80 John 10:34. 46
  48. 48. asked Jesus to show them the Father, and he was supposed tohave said: "Do you not believe that I am in the Father and theFather in meJ The words that I say to you I do not speak onmy own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does hisworks. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father inme; or else believe me for the sake of the works themselves." These phrases would imply Jesus divinity, if theremainder of· the same Gospel is ignored. However, nineverses later, in John 14:20, Jesus is also recorded as saying tohis disciples, "In that day you will know that I am in myFather. and you in me, and I in you," Thus, if Jesusstatement "I am in the Father and the Father is in me" meansthat he is God, then so were his disciples. This symbolicstatement means oneness of purpose and not oneness ofessence, The symbolic interpretation is further emphasized inJohn 17:20-21, wherein Jesus said, "20 I do not pray for theseonly, but also for those who believe in me through their word.21 that they may all be one: even as thou, Father, art in me,and I in thee, that they also may be in us. so that the worldmay believe that thou has sent me. ,,815. "He Accepted Worship" It is argued that since Jesus is reported to haveaccepted the worship of some of his followers, he must havebeen God. However, a closer examination of the textsindicates both a case of dubious translation, as well asmisinterpretation. The term "worship" can be found in theKing James Version and The Revised Standard Version" See also John 17: 11. 47
  49. 49. accounts of the three wise men who came from the east.They were reported in Matthew 2:2, to have said, "Where isthe baby born to be the king ofthe Jews? We saw his starwhen it came up in the east, and we have come to worshiphim. ,,82 However, in The New American Bible (Catholic Press,1970), the text reads: "Where is the newborn king of theJews? We observed his star at its rising and have come to payhim homage. " . In The Revised Standard Version, John 9:37-38,: "37Jesus said to him, You have seen him. and it is he whospeaks to you. 38 He said, Lord. I believe ; and heworshipped him. ,,83 However, in The American Bible, thescholarly translators added a footnote which read: 9:38 This verse, omitted in important MSS [manuscripts], may be an addition for a baptismal liturgy.This verse is not found in important ancient manuscriptscontaining this Gospel. It is probably a later addition made byChurch scribes for use in baptismal services. Furthermore, as a renowned· authority on the Bibleand its original language, George M. Lamsa, explained, "TheAramaic word sagad, worship, also means to bend or to kneeldown. Easterners in greetin~ each other generally bowed the 84head or bent down. ... Ht: worshipped him does not implythat he worshipped Jesus as one worshipped God. Such an act82 See also, Matthew 2:8.83 See also Matthew 28:9, "And behold, Jesus met them and said, Hail! And they came up and took hold ofhis feet and worshippedhim."84 See, for example, I Samuel 25:23, "When Abigail saw David. shemade haste, and alightedfrom the ass, and fel! before David on herface. and bowed to the ground" 48
  50. 50. would have been regarded as sacri legious and a breach of theFirst Commandment in the eyes of the Jews, and the manmight have been stoned. But he knelt before him in token ofhomage and gratitude. ,,85 The final scripture, the Quraan, clarifies the issue ofworshipping or not worshipping Jesus, by quoting aconversation which will take place between J~sus and God onthe Day of Judgement. Allaah states in Chapter al-Maa idaho(5):116-7: ~JW ~~ ~ ~~ ~-; JI ~ 4 i», J~ ~~J ~ ~; ~~~t~ ~~~ ~ ~ ~ lJJ; ~~!;tJ ~ ~~J ~) ~ iJ~ "When Allaah will say: "0 Jesus, son of Mary, did you tell people: "Worship me and my mother as two gods instead of AlIaah?" ... [Jesus will say): "I only told them what You commanded me to say: "Worship AlIaah, my Lord and your Lord ..." "6. "In the beginning was the Word"Perhaps the most commonly quoted evidence for Jesusdivinity is John I: 1& 14, "1 In the beginning was the Word,and the Word was with God. and the Word was God. ... 14 Andthe Word became flesh and dwelt amonR us, full ofgrace andtruth. .. " However, these statements were not made by JesusChrist, nor were they attributed to him by the author of theGospel according to John. Consequently, these verses do not85 Gospel Light. (1936 ed.), p. 353, quoted in Jesus, p. 21. 49
  51. 51. constitute evidence for Jesus divinity, especially consideringthe doubts held by Christian scholars about the FourthGospel. The Bible scholars who authored The Five Gospelssaid: "The two pictures painted by John and the synopticgospels (i.e., the Gospels of Matthew, Mark & Luke) cannotboth be historically accurate. 86 ...The words attributed to Jesusin the Fourth Gospel are the creation of the evangelist for themost part, and reflect the developed language of JohnsChristian community.,,87 The Greek term used by the anonymous author of theFourth Gospel for "word" is logos.88 In doing so, the author86 The Gospel of John differs so radically from the other threeGospels (the Synoptic Gospels) that its authenticity is in doubt. For Iexample: The Synoptic Gospels The Gospel of John Jesus public ministry lasts one Jesus public ministry lasts for year three years Jesus speaks in brief one-liners and ksus speaks in kngth~ parables philosophic discourses Jesus has little to say about himself Jesus reflects extensively on his missiun and his person Casting out money changers from Casting out money changers from the temple is the last event of his the temple is the first incident of earthly mission his mission Jesus defends the causes of the Jesus has little or nothing to say poor and the oppressed about the Door and uppressed Jesus is an exorcist Jesus performs no exorcisms Jesus is crucified on 15 Nisan Jesus is crucified on 14 Nisan. the day of the Jewish passover sacrifice87 The Five Gospels, p. ) O.81 Its plural is logoi and it also means "reason" or "plan", 50
  52. 52. identifies Jesus with the pagan logos of Greek philosophy,who was the divine reason implicit in the cosmos, ordering itand giving it fonn and meaning. 89 The idea of the logos in Greek thought may be tracedback at least to the 6th-century-BC philosopher, Heracleitus,who proposed that there was a logos in the cosmic processanalogous to the reasoning power in man. Later, the Stoics90defined the logos as an active, rational and spiritual principlethat penneated all reality.9l The Greek-speaking Jewishphilosopher, Judaeus Philo of Alexandria (15 BC - 45 CE),taught that the logos was the intennediary between God.andthe cosmos, being both the agent between God and thecosmos, being both the agent of creation and the agentthrough which the human mind can comprehend God. 92 Thewritings of Philo were preserved and cherished by theChurch, and provided the inspiration for a sophisticatedChristian philosophical theology. He departed from Platonic 89 The concept defined by the term logos is also found in Indian,"Egyptian, and Persian philosophical and theological systems. (TheNew Encyclopaedia Britannica, vol. 7, p. 440).90 Stoics were philosophers who followed the teacings of the thinkerZeno of Citicum (4th-3rd century BC).91 They called the logos providence, nature, god, and the soul of theuniverse.92 According to Philo and the Middle Platonists, philosophers whointerpreted in religious terms the teachings of the 4th-eentury-BCGreek master philosopher Plato, the logos was both immanent in theworld and at the same time the transcendent divine mind. (The NewEncyclopaedia Britannica, vol. 7, p. 440). 51
  53. 53. thought regarding the logos (Word) and called it "the first-begotten Son of God".93 The identification of Jesus with the logos, was furtherdeveloped in the early Church as a result of attempts made byearly Christian theologians and apologists to express theChristian faith in temlS that would be intelligible to theHellenistic world. Moreover, it WJ:ts to impress their hearerswith the view that Christianity was superior to, or heir to, allthat was best in pagan philosophy. Thus, in their apologiesand polemical works, the early Christian Fathers stated thatChrist was the preexistent logoS.94 The Greek word for God used in the phrase "andthe Word was with God," is the definite form hotheos,meaning Toe God However, in the second phrase "and theWord was God, the Greek word used for God is theindefinite form tontheos, which means a god .95Consequently, John 1; 1, should more accurately be translated,"In the beginning was the Word. and the Word was with God,and the Word was a god." Therefore, if the Word was a godin the literal sense, it would mean that there were two Godsand not one. However, in Biblical language. the term god isused metaphorically to indicate power. For example, Paulreferred to the devil as "god" in 2nd Corinthians 4:4, "In theircase the god of this world has blinded the minds of theunbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light ofthe gospeloj the glory of Christ, who is the likeness ofGod. " Moses isalso referred to as "god" in Exodus 7: I, "And the Lord said93 The New Encyclopaedia Britannica, vol. 9, p. 386.94 Ibid., vol. 7, p. 440.95 Christ in Is/am. pp.40-1. 52
  54. 54. unto Moses, See, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh, andAaron thy brother shall be thy prophet. ,,96Ancient Thoughts There was serious conflict between the Pauline andthe Jerusalem interpretations of Jesus and his message. Thisconflict, after simmering for years, finally led to a completebreak, by which the Pauline Christian Church was founded,comprising, in effect, a new religion, separated from Judaism.On the other hand, the Jerusalem Nazarenes did not severtheir links with Judaism, but regarded themselves essentiallyas practicing Jews, loyal to the Torah, who also believed inJesus, a human Messiah figure. 97 When the Jewish insurrection was crushed by theRomans and their Temple destroyed in 70 CEo the JewishChristians were scattered, and their power and influence asthe Mother Church and center of the Jesus movement wasended. 98 The Pauline Christian movement, which up until 6696 This is according to the King James Version and the AuthorizedJlersion. In the Revised Standard Version. the translation of thisverse is rendered, "And the Lord said to Moses. See, I make you asGod to Pharaoh; and Aaron your brother shall be your prophet." The Myth-maker. p. 172.9798 Seventy years later a Christian Church was reconstituted inJetusalem, after the city had been devastated by the Romans for asecond time and rebuilt as a Gentile city called Aelia Capitol ina.This new Christian Church had no continuity with the earlyJerusalem Church led by James. Its members were Gentiles, asEusebius testifies, and its doctrines were those of PaulineChristianity. (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, III. v. 2-3, quoted inThe Myth-maker. p. 174). 53
  55. 55. CE had been struggling to survive against the strongdisapproval of Jerusalem, now began to make headway. The Jerusalem Church, under the leadership ofJames, originally known as Nazarenes, later carne to beknown by the derogatory nickname Ebionites (Hebrewevyonium. "poor men"), which some Nazarenes adopted withpride as a reminder of Jesus saying, "Blessed are the poor."After the ascendency of Graeco-Roman Church, theNazarenes became despised as heretics, due to their rejectionof the doctrines ofPaul. 99 According to the ancient Church historian, Irenaeus(c. 185 CE), the Ebionites believed in one God, the Creator,taught that Jesus was the Messiah, used only the GospelAccording to Matthew, and rejected Paul as an apostate fromthe Jewish Law. 1OO Ebionites were known to stm exist in the 4th century.Some had le6 Palestine and settled in Transjordan and Syriaand were later known to be in Asia Minor, Egypt andRome. IOI Monarchianism, 102 a Gentile Christian movementwhich developed during the 2nd and 3rd centuries continuedto represent the "extreme" monotheistic view of theEbionites. It held that Christ was a man, miraculouslyconceived, but was only Son of God due to being filled withdivine wisdom and power. This view was taught at Romeabout the end of the 2nd century by Theodotus, who was99 The Myth-maker, p. 175.100 The New Encyclopaedia Britannica, vol. 4, p. 344.101 Ibid.. vol. 4, p. 344.102 Also known as Dynamic or Adoptionist Monarchianism. 54
  56. 56. excommunicated by Pope Victor, and taught somewhat laterby Artemon, who was excommunicated by Pope Zephyrinus.About 260 CE it was again taught by Paul of Samosata, 103 thebishop of Antioch in Syria, who openly preached that Jesuswas a man through whom God spoke his Word (Logos), andhe vigorously affirmed the absolute unity of God. Between 263 and 268 at least three church councilswere held. at Antioch to debate Pauls orthodoxy. The thirdcondemned his doctrine and deposed him. However, Paulenjoyed the patronage of Zenobia, queen of Palmyra, towhom Antioch was then subject, and it was not until 272when the emperor Aurelian defeated Zenobia that the actualdeposition was carried out. 104 In the late third and early fourth centuries, Arius (b.c. 250, Libya - d. 336 CE), a presbyter of Alexandria, Egypt,also taught the finite nature of Christ and the absoluteoneness of God, which attracted a large following, until hewas declared a heretic by the council ofNicaea in May 325CEo During the council, he refused to sign the formula offaith stating that Christ was of the same divine nature as God.However, influential support from colleagues in Asia Minorand from Constantia, the emperor Constantines daughter,succeeded in effecting Arius return from exile and hisreadmission into the church. lOS The movement which he wassupposed to have begun, but which was in fact an extensionof Jerusalem Nazarene/Jewish Christian belief, came to be103 The New Encyclopaedia Britannica, vol. 8, p. 244.104 The New Encyclopaedia Britannica, vol. 9, p. 208.lOS Ibid., vol. I, pp. 556-7. 55
  57. 57. known as Arianism and constituted the greatest internal threatto the Pauline Christian orthodoxys belief in Jesus divinity. From 337 to 350 CE, the emperor in the West,Constans, was sympathetic to the orthodox Christians, andConstantius II, sympathetic to the Arians, was Emperor in theEast. Arian influence was so great that at a church councilheld in Antioch (341 CE), an affirmation of faith was issuedwhich omitted the clause that Jesus had the "same divinenature as God". In 350 CE Constantius II became sole ruler ofthe empire, and under his leadership the Nicene party(orthodox Christians) was largely crushed. After Constantiusthe Seconds death in 361 CE, the orthodox Christianmajority in the West consolidated its position. However, thedefense of absolute monotheism and the suppression oforthodox Christian trinitarian beliefs continued in the Eastunder the Ariao emperor Valens (364-383 CE). It was notuntil Emperor Theodosius I (379-395 CE) took up the defenseof orthodoxy that Arianism was finally crushed. The unitarianbeliefs of Arius, however, continued among some of th~Gennanic tribes up until the end of the 7th century. 106Modern Thoughts Today, there are many modern scholars inChristianity who hold that Jesus Christ was not God. In 1977,a group of seven biblical scholars, including leading Anglicantheologians and other New Testament scholars, published abook called The Myth of God Incarnate, which caused agreat uproar in the General Synod of the Church of England.In the preface, the editor, John Hick, wrote the following:106 The New Encyclopaedia Britannica. vol. I, pp. 549-50. 56
  58. 58. "The writers of this book are convinced that another majortheological development is called for in this last part of thetwentieth century. The need arises from growing knowledgeof Christian origins, and involves a recognition that Jesus was(as he is presented in Acts 2.21) a Iilan approved by God fora special role within the divine purpose, and that the laterconception of him as God incarnate, the Second Person of theHoly Trinity living a human life, is a mythological or poeticway of expressing his significance for US."I07 There is a broad agreement among New Testamentscholars that the historical Jesus did not make the claim todeity that later Christian thought was to make for him; he didnot understand himself to be God, or God the Son, incarnate[in the flesh].,08 The late Archbishop Michael Ramsey, whowas himself a New Testament scholar, wrote that "Jesus didnot claim deity for himself."I09 His contemporary, the NewTestament scholar C.F.D. Moule, said that, "Any case for ahigh Christology that depended on the authenticity of thealleged claims of Jesus about himself, especially in the FourthGospel, would indeed be precarious." I 10 In a major study of the origins of the doctrine of theincarnation, James Dunn, who affirms orthodox Christology,concludes that "there was no real evidence in the earliestJesus tradition of what could fairlv be called a consciousnessof divinity."lll Again, Brian Hebblethwaite, a staunch107 The Myth ofGod Incarnate, p. ix.01 The Metaphor ofGod Incarnate, pp. 27-8.109 Jesus and the Living Past, p. 39.110 The Origin of Christ%gy, p. 136.III Christ%gy in the Making, p. 60. 57
  59. 59. upholder of the traditional Nicene-Calcedonian Christology,acknowledges that "it is no longer possible to defend thedivinity of Jesus by reference to the claims of Jesus.,,112Hebblethwaite and Dunn, and other scholars like them whostill believe in Jesus divinity, argue instead that Jesus did notknow he was God incarnate. This only became known afterhis resurrection. Most famous among the Church of England bishops,who doubt Jesus divinity, is the outspoken ReverendProfessor David Jenkins, the Bishop of Durham in England,who openly states that Jesus was not God. 113 The following article, which appeared in The DailyNews some years ago, clearly indicates the degree to whichthere are doubts among the clergy regarding Jesus divinity.112 The Incarnation. p. 74.II) The Economist. April I, 1989, vol. 311, no. 7596, p. 19. 58
  60. 60. Shock survey Of Anglican bishopsLONDON: More than half Only 11 of the bishopsof Englands Angl ican insisted that Christians mustbishops say Christians are regard Christ as both Godnot obliged to believe that and man, while 19 said itJesus Christ was God, was sufficient to regardaccording to a survey Jesus as "Gods supremepublished today. agent". One declined to give The poll of 31 of Englands a definite opinion.39 bishops shows that many The poll was carried out byof them think that Christs London VVeekendmiracles, the virgin birth Televisions weekly religionand the resurrection might show, Credo.not have happened exactlyas described in the Bible. "DAILY NEWS" 25/6/84 59
  61. 61. CHAPTER THREE: THE MESSAGEThe second issue, The Message of Jesus, is perhaps themost important point to consider. For, if Jesus was notGod incarnate, but a prophet ofGod, the message wh ich hebrought from God is the essence of his mission.Submission The foundation of Jesus message was submission tothe will of God, because that is the foundation of the religionwhich God prescribed for man since the beginning of time.God says ,in Chapter Aal Imraan, the th ird chapter of theQuraan, verse 19: ~ ~~!i ~I ~ ~:u ~~ ~ "Truly, the religion in the sight of Allaah is Islaam [submission)." In Arabic, submission to Gods will is expressed by theword Is/aam. In the Gospel according to Matthew 7:22,Jesus is quoted as saying: "Not everyone who says to me,Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom ofheaven, but he whodoes the will ofmy Father in heaven." In this statement, Jesusplaces emphasis on "the will ofthe Father", submission ofthe human will to the will of God. In John 5:30, it is narratedthat Jesus also said: "I can do nothing on my own authority;as I hear, 1judge; and my judgment is just, because 1 seek notmy own will but the will ofhim who sent me. " 60
  62. 62. The Law The "will of God" is contained in the divinelyrevealed laws which the prophets taught their followers.Consequently, obedience to divine law is the foundation ofworship. The Quraan affinns the need for obedience to thedivinely revealed laws in chapter al-Maaidah. verse 44. ~~ ~~ ~ ~ ~jJ ~~ fJ i,~~, J)l ~~ ~ ~ ~/}Sj ~ ~~.~ ~I J)r ~ ~;J ~J ... I~{ "Indeed, I did reveal the Torah in which was guidance and light, by which the prophets, who submitted to Gods will, judged (the .Jews) ... and whoever does not judge b) what Allaah has re"ealed is a disbeliever," Jesus was also reported in the Gospel according h)Matthew 19: 16-17. to have made obedience to the divine lavsthe key to paradise: "16 Now heho/d. une came und said 10him, "Good teacher. what good thing shall J du Ihal I marhave eternal life?" )7So he said 10 him. "Whr do you co// megood? No one is goud hut One. Ihal is. God. Bur ijyou wanlto enter inlo life. ~f/} J.lf commanJ!Le.mJ. ,·111 : Iso inMatthew 5: 19, Jesus Christ was reported tu hene insisted onstrict obedience to the commandments saying, "lffu!f~trtherefore breaks one otrhe leastf.J1l.f!ese commangmen(J., (lflJteaches men so, shall be called /e~!.:"-LJ.!LlbgJs.iJlgc!qm_()Jheaven, but whoever does and leaches lht:m. he ,hall hecalled great in the kingdom ofheartlI."114 King James Version and The AuthOrized Version 6