Tuesday, 24 September 2013

A responce to saaib Ahmad article - The real Jesus

Recently I came across an article posted by a Muslim called Saaib Ahmed who I have recently been speaking too. The name of the article is called, 'The Real Jesus' and after reading the article I found it interesting and thought I would respond to the article.

Saaib was recently in a couple of debates where he used similar arguments to what he has put in this article, so therefore using this article as a basis to respond to him would be easier, as you can read the article yourselves at http://www.scribd.com/doc/168115474/The-Real-Jesus.

I will put Saaib's remarks into speech marks to show it is his words and I will respond.

'Prof. Bart Ehrman, who happens to be my favourite, is almost a celebrity among Muslims. Quotations from his books can be seen in almost every apologetic Muslim  literature'

I have done an  article on this in the past and this just proves my point that Muslims will treat Dr. Ehrman as some sort of celebrity who has completely refuted Christianity, yet fail to understand that his beliefs contradict Islam. Saaib even quotes books to read of his including 'Jesus interrupted', which shows that Ehrman believes that Jesus was crucified and also that Jesus  believed that the kingdom of God was coming to earth soon in Jesus' own generation which would bring the New Israel. These statements completely contradict Islam as Islam rejects the crucifixion of Jesus and they believe Jesus would come back in the future.

'Take the example of “Textual Criticism”. The belief of a perfectly preserved inerrant bible believed to be written by Prophets and Apostles is at best laughable.'

No Christian believes the bible has been preserved perfectly, as all historical books including the Quran are never perfectly preserved, as scribes always make mistakes .e.g. spelling mistakes, as they would write by hand, which lead to mistakes.
Regarding it be written by prophets and Apostles I will come back to.

' Textual Criticism of Bible has unveiled many hidden truths about the Bible. Meanwhile the Textual Criticism of Quran leads to a result which is acceptable to Muslims.'

I would love to know these truths, because Christians are open to everything about our text, as we have a critical edition that tells us everything about our manuscripts, what they contain and different readings that may be among the manuscripts .e.g. the favourites Muslims use is Mark 16 9:20, where the earliest manuscripts do not contain this verse. However, the New Testament was an uncontrolled text therefore when copyists copied the original they were then sent into regions and therefore you could not make anything up, because as soon as you did, it would be noticed in the manuscript tradition due to this uncontrolled, free text, which is why some manuscripts with certain verses and some not. We then use textual criticism to determine the original, as we do not have the original copies.

But what about the Quran? Muslims believe they have this perfectly preserved text that was standardized through Uthman. 
Recently an article came out on Topsaki manuscript and it listed many textual variants from the other manuscripts.

A renowned textual critic in the field of Quaranic studies named Gerd Puin On page 302 of his book Die Dunklen Anfänge says 'in surah 5 aya 46 of the foggs manuscript we read for a people who faith/ is  assured where as in the standard text we read to those who fear \God'.

As we can see there are also the textual problems in the Quran, but the problem with the Quran is that it was a controlled text, as Usman gathered all the other Qurans and burnt them and standardized the Quran, meaning if variants were to occur (which they have) you can only go back to Usman, which is something Bart Ehrman holds to as a textual critic and says it all the time in the field of textual criticism to historical works. This shows the Quran is in fact corrupt, as we cannot get back to the original of Muhammad.

'As a student of religion I see what reasons does Quran give for what it claims and there you see that it doesn’t give one. What reason is then there for it to make such a claim? The reason is “authority”. Quran speaks from authority and the authority here is the all-knowing God. What seemed to be certain is cleared by God to have been conjecture. The Quran says it! I believe it! That settles it!'

'Quran is a standing miracle which is there for everyone to go through. Let us argue with non-believers in the ways which are best and most beautiful with this standing miracle'

This argument was in response to the historicity of the crucifixion of Christ, as the Quran rejects this ever happened.
This is a common Muslim argument, that the Quran is God's word therefore it does not matter, but we could all just say that .e.g. me saying the Bible is the word of God, therefore it is correct. There is also a contradiction here, as Saaib says the Quran is a standing miracle, yet to prove that you use historical analysis .e.g. produce a surah like it, a muslim would show how it was unique to all Arabic works and literature and also poetry at the time and could not be matched, yet when it comes to analysing the historical data of how EVERY Christian sect, bar the ones who did not believe Jesus was even human, they all believed he was crucified. Even non Christians believed this and it is confirmed in the first century by non Christians .e.g. flavious Josephus, Thalus, Tacitus, seuitoneuos etc.

Therefore I see no good reason to accept Islam because you can't just look at the evidence one part and let it over power when the evidence against something in your book is very strong.

'Quranic claims about Jesus are irrelevant to historians. For a Historian the Quran was written almost 600 years after the crucifixion, in a language alien to Jesus, at a place where Jesus never walked. For them, Quran was authored by a person who had limited knowledge of the subject, living with people who hardly knew Jesus.'

If the Quranic Jesus is true we would see evidence to him in the first century when he lived not just a recap of him in the 6th century. For example, if I made a claim that Muhammad was actually a Syrian poet, you would demand evidence from history on that. However, we see completely the opposite on the historical Jesus, as all scholars from all backgrounds believe Jesus was a Jew who was crucified under Pontius Pilate. The evidence is clear on who Jesus was and it looks nothing like a Quaranic Jesus. 

Saaib then says the Quran was authored by a person who had limited knowledge of Jesus, yet forgets that as a Muslim the author of the Quran is God, which is fascinating to say God has limited knowledge, when one of his 99 names in Islam is 'all knowing'.

'For a historian Quran would have been beneficial if it would have presented a historical argument against the crucifixion, which it doesn’t. Here it becomes irrelevant.'

Here is the verse that denies the crucifixion of Christ:

“The Jews boast, "We have slain the Christ Jesus, son of Mary, an apostle of God!" However, they did not slay him, and neither did they crucify him, but it only seemed to them so; those who hold conflicting views thereon are indeed confused, having no [real] knowledge thereof, and following mere conjecture. For, of a certainty, they did not slay him: God exalted him unto Himself.

Crucifixion literally means being put on a cross, it does not mean death it is just usuall a guaranteed death, as can be seen in the new Testament when it says Jesus was sent to DEATH BY CRUCIFIXION.
Therefore the Quran rejects the crucifixion of Jesus.
What is also wrong with this verse is Jews would not call Jesus, Christ, as the whole reason they were killing him was because they did not believe he was. They would also not call him an apostle of God, as this is unknown language to a Jew to am apostle of God, you were a prophet (however, some translations do have messenger or prophet). Thirdly, he would never be called messenger or prophet, as again they were killing him for saying he was this. The Jewish Sanhedrin in front of hundreds of Jews would also never call him the Messiah out of mockery, because it was a holy name that meant anointed and a holy word from God, to use it in mockery would be sinful. 

'We have seen a long lasting polemic against the Quran that it gets the trinity wrong. For historians Quran criticizing the trinity of God, Mary and Jesus means that the belief of Christians surrounding Muhammad (saw) was like that'

We have no documents of Christians believing this in the time of Muhammad. The Quran says in surah 5 aya 116 that Jesus on the last day did I tell you to worship me and my mother as Gods beside Allah?
Notice the errors here, no Christian believes Jesus or Mary to be Gods beside Allah but that there is one God but 3 persons. secondly, Jesus will say this to all Christians on the last day and not all Christians believe this and there is no evidence during Muhammad's time they did. the Quran does not even say certain Arab Christians believed this. It is just called beating round the bush.

 ' They were Christians according to the faith of the king with differences between them; they say: He is Allah, and say: He is Son of Allah, and say: He is the third of three[i.e., part of Trinity] and these are the claims of Christianity. [They use as evidence for their claim
that He is Allah the argument that] he used to raise the dead, cure the sick, create from clay bird-like structure.'

The miracles of Jesus speaking in infancy and giving life to birds made out of clay are usually dismissed by the Christians as “apocryphal” but these were perfectly acceptable to Christians in Arabia during the advent of Islam. And the Trinity they had was of God, Jesus and Mary.'

The problem with this is the Quran displays it different as in Surah 5 aya 73, it says Christians believe God is a third of three or one of three depending on the translation. However, Christians do not believe this, we believe god is one and not of three.
Secondly, it is true Christians did believe in Jesus creating birds from clay, so what? some Christians in Arabia believed in the Arabic infancy gospel, which has this story of Jesus but was written in the 5th century and has no evidence to it coming from Jesus and therefore unhistorical. This therefore disproves the Quran as we find the same story in the Quran.

'Do we know who the actual authors of the Bible were? For majority of the books, we don’t know who the authors were.'

The only authors we do not know are Hebrews and kings

'Is it possible that some of the authors of some of the biblical books were not in fact who they claimed, or were claimed, to be? Yes, it is very much possible. Most of the books of the Bible are anonymous and many are Forged.'

The evidence points in the other direction. Lets use the gospels Papias a late first century disciple of John the elder who was an apostle of Christ told us about the gospels Matthew and Mark and who wrote them. Bruce Metzger in his book the New Testament cannon says that Authors in the ancient world would attach their name to a separate bit of writing material and put in a pigeon cap attached to their work. The gospel of John claims to be an eye witness and the gospel of Luke claims to be of eye witness testimony. We also do not have any manuscripts without the gospel names. The NT manuscripts were a free text being copied in different regions, therefore if the gospel names were added later then we would see some manuscripts without the gospel names and some with.

'When did these authors live?We don’t know for most of the authors.'

They lived in the first century, as the gospels and letters are 1st century documents.

'What were the circumstances under which they wrote?We don’t know.'

What do you mean circumstances? why does their have to be a circumstance? why do we have to know? Luke tells us he wrote his gospel to show Philpihus what the eye witness said about Jesus. John, Mark and Matthew say in their gospels it was to show who Jesus is. 

'What issues were they trying to address in their own day?We don’t know except for some of Paul’s letters.'

They were trying to address nothing about their own day, the gospels that is, the purpose of the gospels was to show the good news of Christ.

'How were they affected by the cultural and historical assumptions of their time? We know that they are affected by both.'

Who? of course they were it was illegal to be a Christian, what does this statement prove? Muhammad was affected by the cultural and historical assumptions of the time.

'What sources did these authors use?Most of the authors were not eyewitnesses. We can only guess about what their sources were.'

Luke says that his gospel is based on eye witnesses, so there is no guessing unless you say he is lying. Mark's gospel is based on Peter, which can be seen in Marks gospel and through the early church fathers who were disciples of the apostles of Christ. John claims to be an eye witness and as Richard Bauckham has shown Matthew wrote in the third person plural which was how eye witnesses wrote in the ancient world.

'When were these sources produced? We don’t know.'

We do; the first century, no scholar doubts this.

'Is it possible that the authors who used these sources had different perspectives, both from their sources and from one another?'

They wrote to different audiences and therefore wrote similar things and different things about Jesus life.

'Isit possible that the books of the Bible, based on a variety of sources, have internal contradictions? Not just that it is possible, the scholarly consensus is that the various books in general and Gospels in particular contradict each other every now and then.'
they don't just differences, it's not as though they say Jesus was the Christ and Jesus was not the Christ, they will look at it from different perspectives, so one author will tell more of a story of Jesus than another.
'There are other books that did not make it into the Bible that at one time or another were considered canonical—other Gospels, for example, allegedly written by Jesus’ followers Peter, Thomas, and Mary.'

which ones? the only two are the epistle of Barnabas and the shepherd of hermas but they were not considered to be canonical. As Michael Kruger said in his book, 'heresy of orthodoxy' that these two letters were put at the back of the bible, as we see in codex siniaticus and are also separated indirectly from codex siniaticus, as they were only used to be read as an early Christian writing but not as scripture.
Also, please show evidence.

'The exodus probably never happened  as described in the Old Testament. The conquest of the Promised Land is probably based on legend. The Gospels are at odds on numerous points and containnon historical material. It is hard to know whether Moses ever existed and what, exactly, the historical Jesus taught. The historical narratives of the Old Testament are filled with legendary fabrications and the book of Acts in the New Testament contains historically unreliable information about the life and teachings of Paul. Many of the books of the New Testament are pseudonymous—written not by the apostles but by later writers claiming to be apostles. The list goes on.'

The exodus never happened? amazing this comes from a Muslim when they believe in Moses and a very similar story to the exodus (pretty much the same). Good article on the reliability of the old testament http://www.theologynetwork.org/biblical-studies/getting-stuck-in/the-factual-reliability-of-the-old-testament.htm.
Name a historical error with the gospels and the book of acts? the gospels and book of acts have proven historians wrong time and time again. If Paul wrote in the New Testament how can it contain un-historical things about Paul?
I have shown that we know who wrote the gospels.

'As Historians what we try to do is building probabilities around what happened in the past. More the probability of an event more will it be acceptable. As long as these are probabilities instead of certainties the Muslim position isn’t compromised. What is meant is, even if the crucifixion was 99.99%certain, the 0.01% that remains is enough for the Muslim position to escape through.'

This argument was in response to the crucifixion of Christ as historical fact, as all scholars agree. saaib doesn't deny this but uses probabilities and certainties.
If something is more probable you accept it, because you cannot be absolutely certain about many things .e.g. it is probable that we are all dreaming and we aren't actually physical, but it is very improbable. Its probable that Muhammad never existed, quite improbable, but it is not certain he lived, therefore should we use this criteria Saaib has supplied and provide us with an escape through to not believe Muhammad never existed? of course not it is about where the evidence goes and it shows Christ died by crucifixion.

' Moreover, as I said already, Quran doesn’t deny that there appeared to be some kind of crucifixion. So then if it appeared that Jesus was being crucified, naturally the historical data will suggest the same and historians will definitely reach the conclusion that Jesus had indeed been crucified.'

It says it appeared as though Christ was crucified, which is why Muslims ASSUME it was someone else. However, the evidence shows the disciples believed that Christ was crucified, but the Quran says that those who differ are full of doubts, really? we do not see any evidence to this, everyone believed Christ died, it was only gnostics in the second century that denied it, because they didn't believe Jesus was a man.

'Does this however mean that we can’t build a case against crucifixion? Certainly not. Let us examine the image of Jesus as a crucified Messiah. The problem here is that “crucified messiah” is a clear cutcontradiction of terms. By definition the Messiah has to be victorious over his enemies, if he is killed by the enemies, he is not the Messiah. '

This does not mean Jesus was never crucified, Bart Ehrman does not believe jesus was the messiah but believes he was crucified. However psalm 22 and Isiah 53 shows he will die. He was victorious as he rose again and will be victorious when he comes back again.

'Let us briefly have a look at the evidence for the resurrection to see if there is any hope that Jerriton can persuade us that Jesus actually rose from the dead. The Gospel evidence is marked by contradiction and doubt. If we look at the earliest Gospel, what evidence do we have for resurrection? Mark does not describe any actual reappearance of Jesus. Here is the actual lack of evidence.'

There is no contradiction just differences. He does say that Jesus rose again and it tells us of an angel who tells them he has risen. Matthew, Luke and John show a more detailed account. you have to remember that authors were limited to writing material and therefore put in what they thought was important and gets the picture across. there is no lack of evidence you have shown nothing, but the fact mark is not as detailed as the others, so what? the Quran shows hardly any detail on surah 4 aya 157 should we then just say it never happened?

'others wrote new and improved Gospels, for example Mathew supplies guards to the tomb toensure that no one could have stolen the body. Raymond Brown says about this narrative of Mathewthat if there were guards actually at the tomb other gospels will make no sense. Each gospel writtencomes us with his improved version of the story and these versions but naturally contradict each other.'

How are they new and improved? they are just different and explained further in certain places. Yes matthew tells us about the guards and mark doesn't, so what? watch a football match and when they interview the fans at the end, every account is different but they all watched the match, they just explain certain things in more detail than others. How does the other gospels not make sense? Raymond brown also believes John never made up the I AM sayings to Jesus; do you believe him on that?

'About Jesus’ reappearance, Raymond Brown tells us, and I quote “It is quite obvious that the gospels do not agree as to where and to whom Jesus appeared after his resurrection.” End of the quote. This is in his Bible commentary.' They all agree he rose again out of Joseph of arimathea's tomb; and they all agree he appeared to Mary.

'If the disciples wrote the gospels or supplied information for them, the gospels should have agreed with one another, which they don’t and virtually every scholar agrees on this. In short, we can’t trust these reports of who saw Jesus and where.'

Loads of scholars disagree with what you have just said. The gospels agree and differ but do not contradict. 
Even if they did contradict do historians throw them away? Of course not. As William lane craig argues, 'eye witnesses today of certain events may contradict the other eyewitness on a certain criminal .e.g. one says he had brown hair and the other black. But the main thing here is the whole context and that was there was a man, who probably had dark hair, they both agree on this. the same thing with the gospels, they all say Jesus was crucified, buried in Joseph of arimathea tomb, there was an empty tomb and he rose again. the details of it do not contradict, but even if they do, it does not take away the overall context', this is known as multiple independent attestation.'

'Even when the gospels try to show that Jesus did reappear, yet they show that he could not be positively identified. Mathew’s Gospel says that disciples did see him and worshipped him, but some doubted'

No, they doubted if he actually rose again not that he was not God, they just had not seen Christ rise again when Mary told them but then believed when they saw him.

' Judaism understands the Messiah to be a human being (with no connotation of deity or divinity) who will bring about certain changes in the world and who must fulfill certain specific criteria before being acknowledged as the Messiah.'

Really? so why did the Jews who first believed in Christ believe he was God? The Nazarenes are a perfect example.

'Under such reworking of theme, Old Testament has been misinterpreted and wrongly used by Christians to support their views. A beautiful example is that of Psalms 22:17, "Like a lion, they are at my hands and feet." The Hebrew word for “ 

like a lion” is grammatically similar to the word that would be used by Christians to mean something else. Thus Christians read the verse as a reference to crucifixion: "They pierced my hands and feet." Christians also claim that Isaiah 53 refers to Jesus. Actually, Isaiah 53 directly follows the theme of chapter 52, describing the exile and redemption of the Jewish people.'

No it hasn't. Jesus did parts of the messianic role on his first coming and then rose again to show that what he will do on his second coming is true, as God raised him from the dead. The old testament says nothing about the messiah coming once and that's it, which is why some Jews believe there will be two messiahs.
I speak Hebrew, could you please give me evidence that the word should be lion in Psalm 22? Isiaih 53 is clear and if attached to Isiah 52 and Isiah 53 being Israel, as Jews believe, then show me any evidence of Israel taking the iniquities of men , being pierced, was buried with a rich man in his death?

'Many a times a prophecy is fabricated and then Jesus is made to fulfill it. For example: Mathew 2:23 says “He [Jesus] came and resided in a city called Nazareth, that what was spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled. ‘He shall be called a Nazarene

.’” Since a Nazarene is a resident of the city of Nazareth and this city did not exist during the time period of the Jewish Bible, it is impossible to find this quotation in the Hebrew Scriptures.'
What evidence do you have that prophecies are fabricated? you could say the same about the hadith and Muhammad. Believe it or not the word used in the Hebrew bible when is there and it is known as Natzar which is where it says in Isiah and the psalms, I will reach out my branch, which means Natzar and Jesus is that branch.
Also God knows everything and knows what Nazareth would be called. The Quran says Muhammad is in the torah, Ahmad was never a name that existed then, so on your basis the Quran is wrong.
This shows we can trust the bible and especially the resurrection and that it is very important, as if Jesus did not rise again are faith is in vein. But, he did rise again and the evidence is substantial. glory to god in the highest.

God bless 

By Adam Hardie http://adam-defendingjesus.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/a-responce-to-saaib-ahmad-article-real.html

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