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Difficult Questions for the Church
Compiled by Abdullah Smith
we find immediately after
Jesus' death that the leader of the Jerusalem Church is Jesus' brother James. Yet in the
Gospels, this James does not appear at all as having anything to do with Jesus' mission
and story. Instead, he is given a brief mention as one of the brothers of Jesus who
allegedly opposed Jesus during his lifetime and regarded him as mad. How it came about that a brother who had been hostile
to Jesus in his lifetime suddenly became the revered leader of the Church immediately
after Jesus' death is not explained, though one would have thought that
some explanation was called for. Later Church legends, of course, filled the gap with stories of the miraculous conversion of James after the death of Jesus and his development into a saint. (The Problem of Paul, Hyam Maccoby)
Where did Paul get the
authority if not from the High Priest, who was a Sadducee? The Pharisees and Sadducees
vehemently opposed each other!
The next thing we are told about Saul in Acts is that he was 'harrying
the Church; he entered house after house, seizing
men and women, and sending them to prison' (Acts 8:3). We are not told at this point by what authority or on whose
orders he was carrying out this persecution. It was clearly not a matter of merely individual action on his part, for sending
people to prison can only be done by some kind of official. Saul must have been acting on behalf of some authority, and
who this authority was can be gleaned from later incidents in which Saul was acting on behalf of the High Priest. Anyone
with knowledge of the religious and political scene at this time in Judaea feels the presence of an important problem here:
the High Priest was not a Pharisee, but a Sadducee, and the Sadducees were bitterly opposed to the Pharisees. How is
it that Saul, allegedly an enthusiastic Pharisee ('a Pharisee of the Pharisees'), is acting hand in glove with the
High Priest? The picture we are given in our New Testament sources of Saul, in the days before his conversion to
Jesus, is contradictory and suspect. (ibid, Hyam Maccoby)
We know from other sources about Gamaliel, who is a highly respected
figure in the rabbinical writings such as the
Mishnah, and was given the title 'Rabban', as the leading sage of his day. That he was the leader of the whole Pharisee
party is attested also by the New Testament itself, for he plays a prominent role in one scene in the book of Acts
(chapter 5) -- a role that, as we shall see later, is hard to reconcile with the general picture of the Pharisees given in the
Gospels. Yet Paul himself, in his letters, never mentions that he was a pupil of Gamaliel, even when he is most
concerned to stress his qualifications as a Pharisee. Here again, then, the question has to be put: was Paul ever really a
pupil of Gamaliel or was this claim made by Luke as an embellishment to his narrative? (ibid, Hyam Maccoby)
On the face of it, Paul's doctrine of Jesus is a daring departure from
Judaism. Paul was advocating a doctrine that
seemed to have far more in common with pagan myths than with Judaism: that Jesus was a divine-human person
who had descended to Earth from the heavens and experienced death for the express purpose of saving mankind. The
very fact that the Jews found this doctrine new and shocking shows that it plays no role in the Jewish scripture, (ibid,
As a Pharisee, Paul was strongly opposed to the new sect which followed
Jesus and which believed that he had been
resurrected after his crucifixion. So opposed was Paul to this sect that he took violent action against it, dragging its
adherents to prison. Though this strong picture has emerged, some doubts have also arisen, which, so far, have only been
lightly sketched in: how is it, for example, that Paul claims to have voted against Christians on trial for their lives
before the Sanhedrin, when in fact, in the graphically described trial of Peter before the Sanhedrin (Acts 5),
the Pharisees, led by Gamaliel, voted for the release of Peter?
What kind of Pharisee was Paul, if he took an attitude towards the early
Christians which, on the evidence of the same
book of Acts, was untypical of the Pharisees? And how is it that this book of Acts is so inconsistent within itself that it
describes Paul as violently opposed to Christianity because of his deep attachment to Pharisaism, and yet also describes
the Pharisees as being friendly towards the early Christians, standing up for them and saving their lives? (ibid, Hyam
Obviously, Paul himself was not a Pharisee but Gentile convert from paganism.
At the same time, a Jew reading the Gospels is immediately aware of
aspects which do not seem authentic; for example,
the accounts of Pharisees wanting to kill Jesus because he healed on the Sabbath. The Pharisees never included healing in
their list of activities forbidden on the Sabbath; and Jesus's methods of healing did not involve any of the activities that
were forbidden. It is unlikely that they would have disapproved, even mildly, of Jesus's Sabbath-healing. Moreover, the
picture of bloodthirsty, murderous Pharisees given in the Gospels contradicts everything known about them
from Josephus, from their own writings, and from the Judaism, still living today, which they created.
(Hyam Maccoby, Revolution in Judea: Jesus and the Jewish Resistance)
Gospels are false because they say Jesus died in three hours. According to Christian
tradition, the disciple Andrew
was martyred by crucifixion, but it took him several days to die. Therefore Jesus could not have died on the cross, he
must have been ALIVE.
According to the system in vogue, no man could die by crucifixion in so
short a time which means that even if he was
fastened to the cross he was ALIVE!
PILATE "MARVELS" TO HEAR THAT JESUS WAS DEAD.
He knew from experience that no man can die so soon by crucifixion. He
suspected that Jesus was ALIVE!
(Source: Ahmed Deedat, Crucifixion or Crucifiction?)
Some early Greek manuscripts of Matthew present Barabbas' name twice as Jesus bar Abbas: manuscripts in the
, the Sinaitic Palimpsest, the Palestinian Syriac lectionaries and some of the manuscripts used
by Origen in the 3rd century, all support the fact that Barabbas' name was originally Jesus Barabbas, though not all
modern New Testament translations reflect this. Origen deliberately rejected the reading in the manuscript he was
working with, and left out "Iesous" deliberately, for reverential considerations, certainly a strongly motivated omission.
Early editors did not want the name Jesus associated with anyone who was a sinner.
older Catholic version of the Bible, namely the Vulgate, uses the word cohort in the Gospels, which was one tenth of
How can Jesus die so fast? He was given a sponge full of vinegar (Matthew 27:48) Scientifically, the vinegar has stimulating effects on the body, yet the Gospels say Jesus immediately died after drinking the vinegar.
Vinegar is often considered to have a stimulating effect, rather similar to smelling salts. Why, in Jesus case, did it suddenly lead to his death? John 19:29,
(1) The name of Jesus did not exist before the 17th century, the letter J was added by the Church.
Christians and others assume that the Greek name Jesus was the original
name of the Saviour. This was impossible. The
name Jesus did not exist, and would not have been spelled with the letter J, until about six hundred years ago. There was
no J in any language prior to the fourteenth century in England. The letter did not become widely used until the
seventeenth century. The Encyclopedia Americana contains the following on the letter J: The form of J was unknown in
any alphabet until the 14th century. Either symbol J or I used initially generally had to be the sound of Y as in year.
Gradually the two symbols of J and I were differentiated, the J usually acquiring consonantal force and thus becoming
regarded as a consonant, and the I becoming a vowel. It was not until 1630 that the differentiations became accepted in
England. In the 1611 King James Version of the Bible, there was no J letter because it did not exist. James was spelled
Iames and Jesus was spelled Iesous. In the ancient Latin and Greek languages, Jesus was spelled with the letter
I. (Tom Harper, The Pagan Christ, p. 219)
Jesus is translated Eshoo in Aramaic and Isa in Arabic, and IESUS in the Gospel of the Nazorenes.
(2) The doctrines of Christianity were borrowed from the pagans:
That which is known as the Christian religion existed among the
ancients, and never did not exist, from the beginning of
the human race until the time when Christ came in the flesh, at which time the true religion, which already existed began
to be called Christianity." (St. Augustine, Retractationes 1.12.3)
The religion published by Jesus Christ to all nations is neither new nor strange For though, without controversy we are of late, and the name of Christians is indeed new; yet our manner of life and the principles of our religion have not been lately devised by us, but were instituted and observed .from the beginning of the world, by good men, accepted by God; from those natural notions which are implanted in mens minds. (Eusebius of Caesarea, 260-340 CE)
The Christian religion contains nothing but what Christians hold in common with the heathen; nothing new (Greek philosopher Celsus)
The parallels between the life of Krishna, as recorded in the sacred books of India, and of the life of Jesus Christ, as related in the sacred anthology of the Christians, is so close that some scholars have believed that the Christian writers copied their account from the Hindus. (John G. Jackson, Christianity Before Christ, p. 79)
(3) Jesus is the Sun of God?
The history of the sun, I repeat, is
the history of Jesus Christ. The
sun is born on the 25th of December, the birthday
of Jesus Christ. The first and greatest of the labors of Jesus Christ is his victory over the serpent, the evil principle, or the devil. In his first labor Hercules strangled the serpent, as did Krishna, Bacchus, etc. his is the sun triumphing over the powers of hell and darkness; and, as he increases, he prevails, till he is crucified in the heavens, or is decussated in the form of a cross (according to Justin Martyr) when he passes the equator at the vernal equinox. (ibid, p. 200)
In reading the New Testament we must cease to think of the man Jesus,
and even of the Son of God, and think of him
rather of the sun of god, for this is a solar myth, and its dying hero, a dying sun. (Lloyd Graham, Deceptions and Myths
of the Bible, p. 361)
The divine teacher is called, is tested by the
adversary, gathers disciples, heals the sick, preaches the Good News
about Gods kingdom, finally runs afoul of his bitter enemies, suffers, dies, and is resurrected after three days. This is the
total pattern of the sun god in all the ancient dramas. (The Pagan Christ, p. 145)
When the Council of Nicea took place, the Emperor Constantine
- Declared the Roman Sun-day to be the Christian Sabbath
- Adopted the traditional birthday of the Sun-god, and the twenty-fifth of December, as the birthday of Jesus;
- Borrowed the emblem of the Sun-god, the cross of light, to be the emblem of Christianity;
- And, although the statue of Jesus replaced the idol of the Sun-god, decided to incorporate all the ceremonies which were performed at the Sub-gods birthday celebrations into their own ceremonies.
(Jesus, The Prophet of Islam, Muhammad Rahim, pp.101)
The cross symbol was not used until the 4th century. The symbol of Jesus hanging on the cross was not used until the
The cross, like all Christian paraphernalia, is but an appropriation of
pagan mythology. What is more, this appropriation
did not occur until about three hundred years after the alleged crucifixion. (ibid, 352)
It needs to be better known that the true sign of Christianity for the
earliest centuries of Church history was not a
crucifix---a cross bearing the figure of Jesus---but either a bare cross or one with a lamb fastened to it. In the entire
iconography of the catacombs, no figure of a man on a cross appears for the first six or seven centuries of the
era. It will come as a surprise to many that the first known figure of a god on a cross is a likeness of the sun god Orpheus
from some three centuries B.C.E. The crucifix on the amulet on the cover of The Jesus Mysteries, by Freke and Gandy,
clearly depicts this image. Not until 692, in the reign of Emperor Justinian, was it decreed by the Church (through the
Trullan Council) that the figure of the historical Jesus on the cross should supersede that of the lamb, as in former times.
(Tom Harper, The Pagan Christ, pp. 45-46)
This was also the calendar that those Jewish people
who were the first Christians continued to follow. Therefore it was against this calendar and in
terms of these festivals that...the Gospels of Mark, Matthew, and Luke were
- John Shelby Spong, Liberating the Gospels, p. 60, 63
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