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Rebuttal to Jochen Katz

 

“Abdullah Smith and his war against the Crucifixion”

By Abdullah Kareem

[Part I] [Part II] [Part III] [Part IV]



The article can be accessed here: (http://www.answering-islam.de/Main///Responses/Osama/smith_crucifixion.htm)



HE WROTE:

Some days ago, I challenged Abdullah Smith to substantiate one of his most favorite claims and quotes, displayed not only at the top of his rebuttal section (for a long time already, and at least until 11 September 2006, the date of publication of this article):

Regarding the trial of Jesus, Lloyd Graham states:

"In the nineteenth century an eminent scholar, Rabbi Wise, searched the records of Pilate’s court, still extant, for evidence of this trial.
He found nothing."
(Deceptions and Myths of the Bible, p. 343)

but also repeated over and over again in several of his articles (1, 2, 3, 4).

However, there is more to be said about his entire approach to the issue of the crucifixion. Smith cites, for example, the following statements (here, his emphasis):

Did the trial of Jesus take place?

... there exists, outside of the New Testament, no evidence whatever, in book, inscription, or monument, that Jesus of Nazareth was either scourged or crucified under Pontius Pilate. Josephus, Tacitus, Pliny, Philo, nor any of their contemporaries, ever refer to the fact of this crucifixion, or express any belief thereon. (T.W. Doane, Bible Myths and their Parallels in other Religions, p. 516)

In the nineteenth century an eminent scholar, Rabbi Wise, searched the records of Pilate’s court, still extant, for evidence of this trial. He found nothing. (Lloyd Graham, Deceptions and Myths of the Bible, p. 343)

There is no verification of a significant crucifixion in the writings of historians such as Philo, Tacitus, Pliny, Suetonius, Epictectus, Cluvius Rufus, Quintus, Curtis Rufus, Josephus, nor the Roman Consul, Publius Petronius. The crucifixion also was unknown to early Christians until as late as the Second Century. http://www.thegrimoire.com/real_history.htm



RESPONSE:

Here, I shall provide solid evidence to support my claims. The historians Josephus, Tacitus, Pliny, and Philo never mention Jesus’ crucifixion. The testimonies by Jewish and pagan writers are forgeries. And the works of Philo can be read online, he is completely silent on Jesus’ resurrection. Philo lived during Jesus’ mission, he was alive when Jesus was crucified, he was alive when Jesus resurrected.

He was there when the crucifixion with its attendant earthquake, supernatural darkness, and resurrection of the dead took place -- when Christ himself rose from the dead, and in the presence of many witnesses ascended into heaven. These marvelous events which must have filled the world with amazement, had they really occurred, were unknown to him. (John Remsburg, The Christ)

Regarding Josephus, Tacitus, and Pliny, the Christians have produced “testimonies” from their works to prove Jesus was crucified. Yet, we shall completely destroy the Christian claims. Not a single reputed and well-known scholar mentions Jesus’ crucifixion.

The Christians forged Letter of Pilate to prove Jesus’ crucifixion. Many books were forged to prove Jesus’ crucifixion for those who doubted. Paul wrote a letter to the Church of Corinth to address those who doubted (1 Corinthians 15). Even the apostles of Jesus doubted the resurrection (Luke 24:11, Mark 16:14).



Did Tacitus mention Jesus?

The so-called evidence for Jesus’ crucifixion is the Roman historian Tacitus (d. 117 CE). The Christians have quoted the following passage found in the Annals of Tacitius.

... But all human efforts, all the lavish gifts of the emperor, and the propitiations of the gods, did not banish the sinister belief that the conflagration was the result of an order. Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind. ... (Source)

There are several problems with the passage. Let us expose the Christian deception.

The title ‘procurator’ did not exist in Pilate’s time. He was the prefect of Judea and the title ‘procurator’ was coined later. 

Tacitus, the Roman historian, in 120 AD wrote a passage in his Annals (Book 15:44) mentioning “a class of men, loathed for their vices, whom the crowd styled Christians”, after one Christus who had been executed “in the reign of Tiberius, by sentence of the procurator Pontius Pilatus…” If Tacitus wrote this, he is here simply repeating what Christians had told him and had not consulted the archives. He calls Pilate a procurator but Pilate was not a procurator, a later office held by governors, but a prefect. He calls the leader Christus as if it were a proper name. This honorific title could not have appeared in the archives. (Warning: atheist website [1]

Some suggestion had been made that there could have existed the report of Jesus execution, perhaps penned by Pilate himself, filed in the Roman archives; and that this is where Tacitus derived his information from. Two considerations make this suggestion dubious. Firstly, the Roman archives, if it did contained any references to the execution of Jesus would have used his proper name, Yeshua or Iesus, but definitely not Christ. Secondly, the title Tacitus gave to Pontius Pilate - procurator - is an anachronism. We know from an inscription discovered in Judea, a dedication of a building by Pilate to Tiberius, that his title was perfect not procurator. In fact, the title of Roman provincial governors was only changed to procurator from the time of Claudius in AD41. Pilate was governor of Judea from AD26 to 37; thus at no time during that tenure could he had held the title ascribed to him by Tacitus. At any rate the archives, as Tacitus himself said, were not available to private individuals , himself included. All the above considerations show that Tacitus was merely echoing popular opinion about Jesus and had no independent source of information. Thus, as a separate historical evidence for Jesus, the passage in the Annals has no value. (Warning: atheist website [2]

The Church father Eusebius fails to mention the Tacitus passage.

In any event, the Tacitean passage next states that these fire-setting agitators were followers of "Christus" (Christos), who, in the reign of Tiberius, "was put to death as a criminal by the procurator Pontius Pilate." The passage also recounts that the Christians, who constituted a "vast multitude at Rome," were then sought after and executed in ghastly manners, including by crucifixion. However, the date that a "vast multitude" of Christians was discovered and executed would be around 64 CE, and it is evident that there was no "vast multitude" of Christians at Rome by this time, as there were not even a multitude of them in Judea. Oddly, this brief mention of Christians is all there is in the voluminous works of Tacitus regarding this extraordinary movement, which allegedly possessed such power as to be able to burn Rome. Also, the Neronian persecution of Christians is unrecorded by any other historian of the day and supposedly took place at the very time when Paul was purportedly freely preaching at Rome (Acts 28:30-31), facts that cast strong doubt on whether or not it actually happened. Drews concludes that the Neronian persecution is likely "nothing but the product of a Christian's imagination in the fifth century." Eusebius, in discussing this persecution, does not avail himself of the Tacitean passage, which he surely would have done had it existed at the time. Eusebius's discussion is very short, indicating he was lacking source material; the passage in Tacitus would have provided him a very valuable resource. (Warning: atheist website [3]

The Church fathers found no evidence for Jesus’ crucifixion in the works of Tacitus.

Even conservative writers such as James Still have problems with the authenticity of the Tacitus passage: For one, Tacitus was an imperial writer, and no imperial document would ever refer to Jesus as "Christ." Also, Pilate was not a "procurator" but a prefect, which Tacitus would have known. Nevertheless, not willing to throw out the entire passage, some researchers have concluded that Tacitus "was merely repeating a story told to him by contemporary Christians."

Based on these and other facts, several scholars have argued that, even if the Annals themselves were genuine, the passage regarding Jesus was spurious. One of these authorities was Rev. Taylor, who suspected the passage to be a forgery because it too is not quoted by any of the Christian fathers, including Tertullian, who read and quoted Tacitus extensively. Nor did Clement of Alexandria notice this passage in any of Tacitus's works, even though one of this Church father's main missions was to scour the works of Pagan writers in order to find validity for Christianity. As noted, the Church historian Eusebius, who likely forged the Testimonium Flavianum, does not relate this Tacitus passage in his abundant writings. Indeed, no mention is made of this passage in any known text prior to the 15th century. (Warning: atheist website [4]

This passage is interesting for several reasons.

The discussion is of the sect of “Christianity,” not Jesus Christ. Jesus is mentioned only with reference to the Christian claim that he was their founder.

This is of little importance, however, as the passage is likely a forgery perpetuated by Church not for the purpose of providing evidence for the historicity of Jesus, but to promote the idea that Nero persecuted Christians for burning Rome.

1. No contemporary historians record a Neronian persecution of Christians.
2. Nero’s famed minister, Seneca, wrote extensively but never even mentioned Christians in Rome.
3. Eusebius never refers to this passage when makng the claim of Neronian persecution.
4. Tertullian quoted Tacitus extensively, but never refers to this passage.
5. No commentator who quoted Tacitus ever made reference to this passage before the 15th century.

The reason no commentator made reference to this passage before the 15th century is that the entire “Annals” in which it appears was unknown until the purported “discovery” made by Johannes de 1468.

It is always cause for suspicion when a copy of an “ancient” writing by a famous historian is suddenly discovered, centuries after the death of the author, containing passages radically different from other writings by that author which enjoyed continuity. The fact that those touting the discovery had a vested interest in the spurious passage makes it even more doubtful, as this provides a motive for the forgery. (Source: http://seekerthoughts.blogspot.com/)

The evidence is sufficient enough to prove the Jesus passage is a forgery. The crucifixion never occurred.



HE WROTE:

And he formulates it also in his own words in the introduction to this article:

... the Roman records of Pilate DO NOT mention Jesus. Thousands of criminals were crucified by the Romans, but no record exists of Jesus, simply because the Pilate did not crucify him. (underline emphasis mine)

The argument has the great appeal that it is very simple. If certain historians did not report the trial and/or crucifixion of Jesus, then it did not take place. Case closed.

It is, however, not so easy and straight forward. One basic problem is that Smith prefers to consult popular anti-Christian writers that are not scholars in any field, and certainly not scholars of history.


RESPONSE:

Please read my response to know why I use liberal Christian scholars. The secular scholars I quote are reliable because they are experts who studied Christianity for years. Tom Harpur is a former Anglican priest and professor of Greek and New Testament at the University of Toronto. John Shelby Spong is a former Episcopal Anglican bishop, I quote him frequently.

The Christian scholars I quote are reliable because I only quote paragraphs that are backed up. For example, the scholar Tom Harper (or Lloyd Graham) speak about the Bible’s corruption. The early Church fathers also testified to the Bible’s corruption 1. It is wrong to say these scholars are unreliable just because they don’t accept the Bible to be 100 % God’s word.

My statements above are true, the crucifixion of Jesus is supposed to be miraculous, yet the Roman records DO NOT mention Jesus’ death.

The Romans crucified thousands of unknown rebels, so why would a Roman record exist for these criminals?  On the other hand, the crucifixion of Jesus is supposed to be unique, yet no record exists. Why is there no Roman record for Jesus’ death?  The crucifixion is supposed to be the foundation of Christianity.  

Obviously the “darkness and earthquake” were added to the Gospels because the Jewish writer Philo (50 CE) never records these miracles. He also fails to mention the resurrection of Jesus.


“… We have here a good example of the credulity of Western man. For two thousand years he has been reading about this convulsion and “darkness over all the earth” without ever questioning it or demanding proof of it. Yet had it happened, would not some of those able historians have recorded it? Why did they not?” (Deceptions & Myths of the Bible, Lloyd Graham p. 349) 

“I wish all fundamentalists would take special note that while these quite public, literally stupendous events are alleged to have taken place, not a single other contemporary source can be found to corroborate or confirm them --- even though this was at a time and in a place where capable observers, recorders of remarkable happenings, historians, and others were in no way lacking. There is not a smidgeon of a trace of historicity to be found”. (Tom Harper, The Pagan Christ, p. 149)

The story of the saints’ being resurrected from the tombs to the east of the city, just below the Mount of Olives, and going into Jerusalem is also the result of an attempt to give mythical form to the belief that Jesus was the “first fruits of them that slept”. Surely an event of such stupendous dimensions, had it actually occurred, would have not only found its way into other Gospels and letters in the New Testament, but would also have been recorded in some other Jewish or Roman historical source. Yet the record is silent. (Tom Harper, For Christ’s Sake, p. 102)


The resurrection is a hoax because the historians failed to mention it. Surely, if the resurrection of Jesus occurred, the writer Philo Judaeus (50 C.E.) and others would have recorded it.

After the departure of Jesus, his teachings spread to North Africa and Egypt, but he was not popular or widely known. 

The scholar Muhammad Ataur-Raheem says:

The more people have tried to discover who Jesus really was the more it has been found how little is known about him. There are limited records of his teachings and some of his actions, but very little is known about how he actually lived his life from moment to moment and how he conducted his everyday transactions with other people.

Certainly, the pictures many people have given of Jesus - of who he was and what he did - are distorted ones. Although there is some truth in them, it has been established that the four accepted Gospels have not only been altered and censored through the ages but also are not eyewitness accounts. (Jesus Prophet of Islam, p. 5)

IF Jesus was so popular (Matt. 4:25), why didn’t these writers mention his death? 

 

The early Church fathers quote the New Testament, but none of the citations are by name.


Despite the proximity in time between Ignatius and Polycarp, as well as the obvious affinity of their spirits in Christian fortitude, one recognizes in Polycarp a temperament much less oriented to ecclesiastical polity and possessing a much wider acquaintance with the New Testament. Proportionate to the length of what they wrote, Polycarp has two or three times more quotations and reminiscences from the New Testament that does Ignatius. Of 112 Biblical reminiscences, about 100 are from the New Testament with only a dozen from the Old Testament. Polycarp does not refer to older Christian writings by name. [1]

Ignatius, bishop of Antioch in Syria, is known mainly as the author of 7 letters that had exceptional influence in the early church. A Catholic Encyclopedia article is online at St. Ignatius of Antioch. He was apparently anxious to counteract the teachings of two groups: the Judaizers, who did not accept the authority of the New Testament (although the NT did not really exist at that time); and the Docetists, who held that Christ's sufferings and death were only apparent. The letters have often been cited to determine what beliefs were held in the early church… Ignatius does not refer to older Christian writings by name. [2]

"The Four Gospels were unknown to the early Christian Fathers. Justin Martyr, the most eminent of the early Fathers, wrote about the middle of the second century. His writings in proof of the divinity of Christ demanded the use of these Gospels had they existed in his time. He makes more than 300 quotations from the books of the Old Testament, and nearly one hundred from the Apocryphal books of the New Testament; but none from the four Gospels. (Tim C. Leedom, The Book Your Church Doesn’t Want You to Read) [3]

The Rev. Dr. Giles says: "The very names of the Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, are never mentioned by him [Justin] -- do not occur once in all his writings" (Christian Records, p. 71). [4]

 

Paul, the earliest Christian writer (50-64 CE) is the first to mention the crucifixion.


The first thing we need to force into our minds is that when Paul wrote these words, there were no such things as written Gospels.  This means that the accounts of Jesus’ resurrection so familiar to us, as told by these Gospel writers, were by and large unknown to Paul and to Paul’s readers (John Shelby Spong, Resurrection: Myth or Reality?, p. 48) 


The scholar GA Wells states:


The most striking feature of the early documents is that they do not set Jesus’ life in a specific historical situation. There is no Galilean ministry, and there are no parables, no miracles, no Passion in Jerusalem, no indication of time, place of attendant circumstances at all. The words Calvary, Bethlehem, Nazareth, and Galilee never appear in the early epistles, and the word Jerusalem is never used there in connection with Jesus (Doherty, pp. 68, 73). Instead, Jesus figures as a basically supernatural personage who took the “likeness” of man, “emptied” then of his supernatural powers Phil 2:7.

The gospels included in the New Testament (NT) are widely agreed to have been written between A.D. 70 and 100. In these four gospels, it is claimed that Jesus taught in Galilee in the opening decades of the first century, worked miracles there, or what at an y rate were taken for miracles, and died in Jerusalem at the behest of the Roman governor Pontius Pilate. And yet, as I have reiterated in The Jesus Legend (1996) and The Jesus Myth (1999), none of these things are claimed, or even mentioned, in the earliest surviving Christian documents (Pauline epistles, Ignatius, Polycarp, Clement, Papias). In other words, none of these supposed historical events are touched upon in extant Christian documents which are either earlier than the gospels or early enough to have been written independently of them (that is, before those gospels or the traditions underlying them had become generally known in Christian circles). G.A. Wells, Can We Trust the New Testament? p. 1, 3) (the words in the brackets are mine)


The oldest manuscripts of the Pauline epistles date from the 3rd century. Paul wrote the epistles in 50-64 CE and was martyred under Nero. The Gospels were (allegedly) composed in 70-100 CE, yet the oldest manuscripts of the Gospels date from the 3rd century. The complete New Testament text dates from 350 CE. In fact, the oldest manuscript dates from 150 CE, it’s cataloged as P52, a fragment of John’s gospel. Paul wrote his epistles before the Gospels (50-64 CE), yet the oldest manuscripts date from the 3rd century! This doesn’t make sense.

Paul fails to record the empty tomb.

 

www.geocities.com/paulntobin/notomb.html

www.geocities.com/paulntobin/tomb.html

http://www.mystae.com/restricted/reflections/messiah/tomb.html

http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/peter_kirby/tomb/index.shtml

http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/robert_price/beyond_born_again/chap6.html

http://www.secweb.org/index.aspx?action=viewBook&id=915



Paul didn’t know anything about Jesus.  


The earliest Christian documents, the epistles attributed to Paul, scarcely discuss a historical background of Jesus. They deal primarily with a spiritual being. The few historical references to an actual life of Jesus cited in the Epistles could easily be interpolations, but even if they are not they show the disdain Paul had for the earthly life of the new god. Paul makes no allusion to Pilate, the Romans, Caiaphas, the Sanhedrin, Herod, Judas, the holy women or any person in the gospel account of the Passion. Indeed he even says very little about the Passion.

For many, perhaps including Paul, Jesus was simply a new allegory of the age old myth of the dying and rising god. Though heretical, much of the older tradition with its rituals and doctrines were accepted into the church before anyone had any thoughts about defending any particular belief as orthodox. (Warning: atheist website [1]

 

Mark is the first to compose the passion narratives, yet he was not an eye-witness to Jesus. The Gospel of Mark was written in 70 CE (according to tradition). There is no evidence Jesus was crucified prior to Mark.

 

“There is no reference to Jesus’ death as a crucifixion in the pre-Markan Jesus material” (Burton Mack, Who Wrote the New Testament? p. 87)

This explains why Paul, the earliest Christian writer, does not record the story. The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John did not exist during Paul’s time. The logical conclusion is the story developed over time.

Mark does not have the resurrection: 

All things considered, then, Mark does not begin his story of Jesus very satisfactorily. Indeed, within two or three decades of Mark's completion, there were at least two, and perhaps three, different writers (or Christian groups) who felt the need to produce an expanded and corrected version. Viewed from their perspective, the Gospel of Mark has some major shortcomings: It contains no birth narrative; it implies that Jesus, a repentant sinner, became the Son of God only at his baptism; it recounts no resurrection appearances; and it ends with the very unsatisfactory notion that the women who found the Empty Tomb were too afraid to speak to anyone about it. (Randal Helms, Gospel Fictions, p. 34)

Almost all contemporary New Testament textual critics have concluded that neither the longer or shorter endings were originally part of Mark’s Gospel, though the evidence of the early church fathers above shows that the longer ending had become accepted tradition. The United Bible Societies' 4th edition of the Greek New Testament (1993) rates the omission of verses 9-20 from the original Markan manuscript as "certain." For this reason, many modern Bibles decline to print the longer ending of Mark together with the rest of the gospel, but, because of its historical importance and prominence, it is often included as a footnote or an appendix alongside the shorter ending. [1]  

The Codex Sinaiticus and Vaticanus do not record the resurrection: 

Matthew 16:2 f. is omitted, Mark ends at 16:8, Luke 22:43 f., John 5:4 and the Pericope de adultera are omitted. The doxology of Romans comes after 16:23. Hebrews follow immediately after II Thessalonians. [2] 


The ‘Longer Ending’ of Mark is preserved in the Byzantine texts, which are interpolated. The Anglican scholars Westcott and Hort discredited the Byzantine (KJV) text. Yet, the oldest Greek manuscripts do not have the longer ending. The Alexandrian (NIV) omits the longer ending (Aleph and B). The Anglican scholars Westcott and Hort attest the Byzantine text was conflated in the 4th century.

The story of Jesus’ resurrection was fabricated.

By the time Mark wrote his Gospel, however (ca. 70 C.E.), a tradition about how this Jesus was buried began to evolve. No part of Jesus’ life was exempt from legendary accretions. (John Shelby Spong, Resurrection: Myth or Reality? P. 221)

Since the Gospel of Mark had no resurrection, the story of Jesus’ tomb was created. 

Let us discuss, examine the line: no evidence whatever, in book, inscription, or monument, that Jesus of Nazareth was either scourged or crucified under Pontius Pilate.

 

The infidel Katz does not realize the authenticity of Doan’s claim. It is true; the event called the “crucifixion” has no inscriptional evidence.

 

HE WROTE:

Second major problem: Smith has done way too much mindless copying without thinking about the implications of what he does.

What does the Qur'an say about the crucifixion of Jesus?

And because of their saying: We slew the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, Allah's messenger - they slew him not nor crucified him, but it appeared so unto them; and lo! those who disagree concerning it are in doubt thereof; they have no knowledge thereof save pursuit of a conjecture; they slew him not for certain. S. 4:157 Pickthall

That they said (in boast), "We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Apostle of God"; - but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not:- S. 4:157 Yusuf Ali

And because of their saying (in boast), "We killed Messiah 'Iesa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary), the Messenger of Allah," - but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but the resemblance of 'Iesa (Jesus) was put over another man (and they killed that man), and those who differ therein are full of doubts. They have no (certain) knowledge, they follow nothing but conjecture. For surely; they killed him not [i.e. 'Iesa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary)]: S. 4:157 Al-Hilali & Khan

The more perceptive among the readers will already realize the enormous blunder Abdullah Smith has committed. However, so that the following argument does not rest on my interpretation alone, I will quote a commentary and explanation by one of the most respected classical commentators of the Qur'an, Imam Ibn Kathir:

These Verses tell us that Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) was lifted up to the heaven after his opponents from Jews complained and misled the king of that time, as they wanted to slay him and crucify him.

Ibn Abu Hatim has narrated from Ibn Abbas saying: "'When Allah wanted to lift him up to heaven, Jesus came to his companions in the house. There were twelve people, with some from among his disciples. He had just a bath, and his head was still dribbling with water. He said to them: 'There are those among you who will disbelieve in me twelve times after he had believed in me! Then he said: 'Who will from among you take my likeness and be killed in my place, so will become in my rank?' A young youth came forwards. But Jesus said to him: 'Sit down! Then he repeated the same question, and the same youth stood up and came forwards, and said: ‘I.' Jesus said: 'You are the one,' and then the likeness of Jesus was put on him, and Jesus was lifted up to the heaven from the window of his house. Jews came looking for him. They took the youth and killed him and then crucified him. ...

Hasan Basri and Ibn Ishaq said: The king who ordered the killing of Jesus, was David bin Naura. He commanded Jesus to be killed and hanged. They surrounded Jesus who was in a house inside Bait-ul-Maqdis. It was a Saturday night. When they were about to enter the house, his likeness was put on one of those who were present there with him. And Jesus was lifted up from the window of that house to the heaven. When the police entered the house they found the youth on whom the likeness of Jesus was put, so they took him and crucified him. Even they put a crown of thorns on his head to mock him. Those Christians who were not present there at that time, believed what Jews claimed, that they killed Jesus. ...

Ibn Jarir has narrated from Wahb bin Munabbih, saying: Jesus came along with seventeen of his disciples to a house. Then police came and surrounded the house. However, when they entered the house, Allah put the likeness of Jesus on all of those who were there. They were confused, and said: "You have bewitched us. Either Jesus come to us, or we will kill of you." Jesus said to his companions: "Who can buy today a place in Jannah (Paradise)?" A man said: "I"' and went out, claiming: "I am Jesus." They took him and crucified him, and so they were deluded in their belief that they have killed Jesus, and so are the Christians. But Jesus was lifted up to Allah on that day. (Source, underline emphasis mine)

Basically, the argument from the Qur'an and Muslim commentators is that everything happened pretty much as the Jews and Christians believe it, with the major twist or difference being that the person who was crucified was supposedly not Jesus. The people who arrested him and put him on trial and crucified him only THOUGHT he was Jesus because Allah had made somebody else look like him.

Though there are many problems with the Islamic version (which are discussed in these articles), for the sake of argument, let's assume the Islamic version is true. What does that have to do with Abdullah Smith's arguments?

Again, according to the Qur'an, Jesus was not crucified, but the claim is that it looked to everyone like the crucifixion of Jesus had indeed taken place. In other words, in regard to those historians there is absolutely no difference whether everyone thought Jesus was crucified by Pilate, because he was indeed Jesus (the Biblical version), or whether everyone thought Jesus was crucified by Pilate, because Allah made somebody else look like him who was then arrested, tried and executed in his place (the Quranic version).

If the arguments of these atheistic polemicists are valid, i.e. that the crucifixion of Jesus did not take place because it is not recorded by all these many historians of that time, then with exactly the same argument, the appearance of the crucifixion of Jesus did not take place either.

 

RESPONSE:

There is evidence that Jesus was saved from death on the cross (Psalms 20:6), yet the appearance crucifixion did take place.  I am not denying the Quran that Jesus was not crucified, it was someone else. The early Gnostic sects believed it was Simon of Cyrene who resembled Jesus and crucified.

"But some of the early Christian sects did not believe that Christ was killed on the Cross. The Basilidans [Basilides] believed that someone else was substituted for him. The Docetae [Docetism] held that Christ never had a real physical or natural body, but only an apparent or phantom body, and that his Crucifixion was only apparent, not real. The Marcionite Gospel (about A.D. 138) [Marcion] denied that Jesus was born, and merely said that he appeared in human form. The Gospel of St. Barnabas supported the theory of substitution on the Cross. The Quranic teaching is that Christ was not crucified nor killed by the Jews, notwithstanding certain apparent circumstances which produced that illusion in the minds of some of his enemies; that disputations, doubts, and conjectures on such matters are vain; and that he was taken up to God" (The holy Qur’an, text, translation and commentary by Abdullah Yusuf Ali. 1872-1952, First published in 1938, 1973 ed., p. 230, footnote 663, commenting on 4:157)

“There are also several historical sources other than the Bible and the Qur'an which confirm that many of the early Christians did not believe that Jesus died on the cross...The Cerinthians and later the Basilidians, for example, who were among the first of the early Christian communities, denied that Jesus was crucified...The Carpocratians, another early Christian sect, believed that it was not Jesus who was crucified, but another in his place”.  (Jesus Prophet of Islam, Muhammad Ataur-Raheem, Ahmed Thompson, 1996 (revised edition. p47)

Yet, the appearance crucifixion took place, but the real Jesus was saved by God (4:157), so the enemies of Jesus were deceived.

 

Wherefore he did not himself suffer death, but Simon, a certain man of Cyrene, being compelled, bore the cross in his stead; so that this latter being transfigured by him, that he might be thought to be Jesus, was crucified, through ignorance and error, while Jesus himself received the form of Simon, and, standing by, laughed at them. For since he was an incorporeal power, and the Nous (mind) of the unborn father, he transfigured himself as he pleased, and thus ascended to him who had sent him, deriding them, inasmuch as he could not be laid hold of, and was invisible to all. Those, then, who know these things have been freed from the principalities who formed the world; so that it is not incumbent on us to confess him who was crucified, but him who came in the form of a man, and was thought to be crucified, and was called Jesus, and was sent by the Father.  (The Church Father Iranaeus, Against Heresies, Chapter XXIV.-Doctrines of Saturninus and Basilides)

 

Notice how Iranaeus says “through ignorance and error” the Jews misapprehended, and crucified the wrong person. Amazingly, the Holy Quran harmonizes this account, stating that they follow error, conjecture, and ignorance:

 

That they said (in boast), "We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah";- but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not: (Al-Quran 4:157)

 

The story of the crucifixion is told differently in each Gospel. Logically, all four Gospels cannot be simultaneously true. Hence, the crucifixion is not historical, or the sources would be consistent. The attempt to “harmonize” the story is impossible because the contradictions are so vast.

 

“Actually, the fact that we have four gospels lies at the very heart of our problem. Because we read particular parables or sayings or stories in several different versions, we can't miss the disagreements between them" (John Dominic Crossan Who is Jesus, p. 3-4)

“The Christians have dozens of different versions, rather than one universally agreed view, regarding the crucifixion of the Messiah. This in itself is an eloquent testimony that the Christians were doubtful about the actual event. Some of them held the view that the one who was crucified was someone other than Jesus and that Jesus himself in fact remained standing somewhere nearby, laughing at their folly… Had the truth been fully known and well-established so many divergent views could not have gained currency”. (Towards Understanding the Quran, Vol 2, Sayyid Abul Ala Mawdudi, p. 108)

The truth of these matters must lie in that which is seen by the mind. If the discrepancy between the Gospels is not solved, we must give up our trust in the Gospels, as being true and written by a divine spirit, or as records worthy of credence, for both these characters are held to belong to these works. (Origen, Commentary on John, [online Source]

The 1945 discovery of Gnostic texts at Nag Hammadi, Egypt unearthed a book called The Second Treatise of the Great Seth, where Jesus states:

I did not succumb to them as they had planned…It was another, Simon, who bore the cross…And I was laughing at their ignorance.  [1]


The Jews believed they had crucified Jesus, but it was Simon of Cyrene (or Judas). Yet, the real Jesus was already in Heaven, according to God’s promise (Psalms 20:6).

Obviously no miracle took place during the crucifixion of Judas (or Simon). 

Katz assumes that I don’t believe the appearance crucifixion took place, but he’s wrong. The Quran clearly states that Jesus’ substitute was crucified and Jesus escaped (4:157). And no miracle took place during the crucifixion. The “darkness and earthquake” are not historical events. Paul (50-64) and Philo (50 CE) do not mention it.


Let us repeat ourselves:


“… We have here a good example of the credulity of Western man. For two thousand years he has been reading about this convulsion and “darkness over all the earth” without ever questioning it or demanding proof of it. Yet had it happened, would not some of those able historians have recorded it? Why did they not?” (Deceptions & Myths of the Bible, Lloyd Graham p. 349)

 

“I wish all fundamentalists would take special note that while these quite public, literally stupendous events are alleged to have taken place, not a single other contemporary source can be found to corroborate or confirm them --- even though this was at a time and in a place where capable observers, recorders of remarkable happenings, historians, and others were in no way lacking. There is not a smidgeon of a trace of historicity to be found”. (Tom Harper, The Pagan Christ, p. 149)

 

Yet, the Holy Quran does not even mention the “darkness and earthquake”, only the execution of Jesus’ substitute (4:157), so the appearance crucifixion did take place. There was no reason for any historian to record it (because it was not miraculous). We don’t have 2,000 Roman records to prove that 2,000 Zealots were crucified, yet we know it occurred. Just because we don’t have evidence (Roman records), doesn’t mean they didn’t take place! Over 2,000 followers of Judas of Galilee were crucified, but we don’t have evidence to prove their crucifixions took place.

Just because the crucifixion (Judas) was not miraculous, doesn’t mean it was unhistorical. We are not denying God’ true Word (4:157).

 

"After this, God, who can do any and everything He wills, raised Jesus to Himself and rescued him from crucifixion and the one who was crucified afterwards was somehow or other taken for Christ." (Maududi, The Meaning of the Qur'an, p. 390).


IF Jesus was indeed crucified (the Biblical Jesus), then why did Paul (50-64 CE) and Philo not record the “darkness and earthquake” which took place at Jesus’ death (Matt. 27:45)? Obviously, the “darkness and earthquake” were added later to enhance the Gospel story.

Another reason to believe the crucifixion was invented during oral tradition is the Baptism of Jesus. The earliest Christian writer (Paul) does not record the baptism of Jesus. This implies the story of Jesus’ baptism did not exist during Paul’s time; it was invented by oral tradition, long before it was penned down by the Gospels (70-100 CE). The Church bishop Ignatius of Antioch (d. 110) is the only Christian writer to mention it.

He was truly of the seed of David according to the flesh, and the Son of God according to the will and power of God; that He was truly born of a virgin, was baptized by John. (*)

Amazingly, the earliest Church Fathers do not record the baptism of Jesus. The only explanation is the “baptism of Jesus” was created during oral tradition.

The appearance crucifixion was ordinary, just like any other crucifixion. Jesus was already in Heaven while Judas (or Simon) was hanging on the cross.

Once again: The crucifixion of Judas (or Simon) did take place, but the historians never recorded it because there was no miracle (no darkness and earthquake).

Please note the Gnostics believed Simon of Cyrene died on the cross, and Jesus was saved. So according to the Gnostics, the crucifixion took place, but it wasn’t Jesus.

Let us repeat ourselves for clear understanding,

According to the “swoon theory”, Jesus only fainted and never actually died, so Christians are not saved because Jesus did not actually die. My argument is the crucifixion of Jesus (the True Jesus) was hoaxed because the historians never recorded it. Yet, the appearance crucifixion took place but wasn’t miraculous.



HE WROTE:

Even though the argument is basically over at this point, since we have already started, let us examine those statements in more detail, beginning with Smith's own formulation of the claim:

... the Roman records of Pilate DO NOT mention Jesus. Thousands of criminals were crucified by the Romans, but no record exists of Jesus, simply because the Pilate did not crucify him. (underline emphasis mine)

Which "Roman records of Pilate"? Where are they? Has Smith seen and examined them? These questions are related to my above mentioned challenge to Abdullah Smith. As it stands, this is merely a wild claim without any evidence. I agree with Smith that most probably "thousands of criminals were crucified by the Romans", and probably hundreds of crucifixions were performed under Pontius Pilate. For the sake of illustration, let's assume 5,000 crucifixions were performed by the Romans, and that may be a rather conservative figure. For how many of those do we have individual records that name the people who were executed? Ten? Twenty? Maybe even fifty? Since we have no explicit records stating the names of the crucified for 4,950 of the 5,000, Smith has contradicted himself within one sentence. His argument self-destructs. How does he come to the (correct) conclusion that thousands were crucified, despite the fact that we do not have individual records of those crucifixions, but Jesus was not crucified by Pilate because we do not have a record of him either?

 

 

RESPONSE:

The crucifixion of Jesus is supposed to be the foundation of Christianity. And just because we don’t have evidence for the “thousands” of crucifixions doesn’t mean they didn’t take place!

 

Seven decades after Rome assumed control of Palestine, in 6 C.E., growing Jewish opposition to Roman laws relating to the census, taxation, and heathen traditions boiled over.  Especially despised was the Roman imposition of a census of property for tax purposes.  Ancestral land held an exalted position in Jewish ideology and many Jews  feared that the new laws would lead to its appropriation by Rome.  Jewish uprisings in protest of the laws led to the crucifixion of over 2,000 Jewish insurgents and the selling into slavery of perhaps 20,000 more.  The most intense opposition to Rome came from an area of Palestine called Galilee, which was the center of an armed resistance movement called the Zealots. [1]

 

All of these crucifixions were ordinary. Yet, the crucifixion of Jesus is supposed to be miraculous. But no record exists to prove Jesus’ execution!

Paul’s account of Jesus’ resurrection contradicts the Gospels:

 

The first thing we need to force into our minds is that when Paul wrote these words, there were no such things as written Gospels.  This means that the accounts of Jesus’ resurrection so familiar to us, as told by these Gospel writers, were by and large unknown to Paul and to Paul’s readers (John Shelby Spong, Resurrection: Myth or Reality?, p. 48) 

For Paul there were no empty tombs, no disappearance from the grave of the physical body, no physical resurrection, no physical appearances of a Christ who would eat fish, offer his wounds for inspection, or rise physically into the sky after an appropriate length of time. None of these ideas can be found in reading Paul. For Paul the body of Jesus who died was perishable, weak, physical. The Jesus who was raised was clothed by the raising God with a body fit for God's kingdom. It was imperishable, glorified, and spiritual. (ibid, p. 241)  

What does this mean? The resurrection accounts in the four Gospels contradict the testimony of Paul. Hence, Paul contradicts the Gospels on a simple event which is supposed to be the foundation of Christian religion! 

The legend of Jesus’ “resurrection” developed over a period of time. This explains why Paul never records the Gospel version of Jesus’ death.


When the author of Mark set about writing his Gospel, circa 70 A.D., he did not have to work in an intellectual or literary vacuum. The concept of mythical biography was basic to the thought-processes of his world, both Jewish and Graeco-Roman with an outline and a vocabulary already universally accepted: a heavenly figure becomes incarnate as a man and the son of a deity, enters the world to perform saving acts, and then returns to heaven. (Randel Helms, Gospel Fictions, p. 24)

Each of the four canonical Gospels is religious proclamation in the form of a largely fictional narrative. Christians have never been reluctant to write fiction about Jesus, and we must remember that our four canonical Gospels are only the cream of a large and varied literature. (ibid, 11)


No part of Jesus’ life was exempt from legendary accretions. (Resurrection: Myth or Reality? p. 221)

 

You are treating the crucifixion of Jesus like any ordinary crucifixion. Just because we don’t have records for all 5,000 crucifixions, doesn’t mean they didn’t take place.

Why are you comparing Jesus’ crucifixion with others? The 5,000 crucifixions (for example) were all rebels and thieves, but you claim Jesus’ death was miraculous!


The Gospels say Jesus was very popular (Matt. 4:25), casting out devils and performing miracles.

 

Pilate may well have died a proud, prosperous self-made man without realising that one execution out of the hundreds he had ordered was going to make his name live down the ages. Historically, Pilate was exiled to Vienne in Gaul where he is supposed to have died or, some say, committed suicide, in poverty. (Warning: atheist website [1]

 


You wrote:

Which "Roman records of Pilate"? Where are they? Has Smith seen and examined them? These questions are related to my above mentioned challenge to Abdullah Smith. As it stands, this is merely a wild claim without any evidence.

Regardless of whether the Roman records of Pilate survived, the passage in Josephus and Tacitus are problems.