‘The Qur’an’s Crucifixion Error’ – An Argument Beyond Resurrecting?


I have often disagreed with my fellow Christians on this point – I strongly welcome their interaction with this article – as a Christian, I would be quite happy to be refuted😉

Christians often say that Q 4:157, which is normally interpreted to deny the crucifixion of Jesus, is a massive historical blunder, and an embarrassment for the Qur’an. The crucifixion is one of the most certain facts of history. As skeptical scholar John Dominic O’Crossan says: ‘That [Jesus] was crucified is as sure as anything historical can ever be.’ [‘See John Dominic Crossan, Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1991), 145; see also 154, 196, 201.’]

Cited via Gary R. Habermas; Michael R. Licona. The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus (Kindle Location 400; 2787). Kindle Edition.

I would agree that there is indeed very good evidence for the crucifixion of Jesus, which I won’t go into here. Indeed, it is a ‘minimal fact’, that virtually every scholar in a relevant field would agree upon (Habermas & Licona, see below).

But Muslims are the only group with a viable alternative – God made it look like Jesus was crucified, when he actually wasn’t. This might seem far-fetched, but it does actually fit nicely with (at least the English translations of) 4:157:

Sahih International
And [for] their saying, “Indeed, we have killed the Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, the messenger of Allah .” And they did not kill him, nor did they crucify him; but [another] was made to resemble him to them. And indeed, those who differ over it are in doubt about it. They have no knowledge of it except the following of assumption. And they did not kill him, for certain. [Emphasis added]

Yusuf Ali

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:- [Emphasis added]

The translations differ in the middle of this verse,  but the common element is that there was some ‘resemblance’ or ‘appearance’ of Jesus being crucified. Thus it is not at all surprising that this is what the onlookers saw and what, later on, the written records tell us.

A Christian might respond: ‘Yes, but they are relying on faith! They have no evidence for this other than the Qur’an, written 600 years later, in a different language, in a different location. Plus, once you start allowing deus ex machina, ‘God-did-it’ solutions, history is over!’

My responses:

(1) Yes, they are relying on faith. That’s fine. On faith they accept this because the Qur’an tells them – the real issue is whether the Qur’an is a good source of knowledge, worthy of placing faith in. Is it trustworthy? Is it divinely inspired? That’s a whole different issue.

(2) History is not over. To have a theological reason for believing God acted in a certain miraculous, even misleading (some might say), way on one occasion when he had good reason to do so doesn’t mean he will do it all the time, when he doesn’t have good reasons to do so.

A stronger argument though, is that this suggests a moral deficiency in God – that he led people astray, and that he created the world’s largest false religion (Christianity) by mistake. These are good points, though I am not sure how problematic they really are within an Islamic framework. 3:54 (Pickthall) reads: ‘And they (the disbelievers) schemed, and Allah schemed (against them): and Allah is the best of schemers.‘ I would note that 3:55 seems to refer to the same raising up of Jesus as is envisaged in 4:157. If the Jews schemed against Allah’s messenger (Isa/Jesus), to crucify him, can not Allah scheme against them in return? See also – http://www.answering-islam.org/Shamoun/allah_best_deceiver.htm (for anyone interested, I am not condoning all of the things Sam Shamoun has said. But I stumbled upon this article via Google, and it may have some relevant Qur’an citations).

The fact that this divine intervention led to the founding of the false religion Christianity (centered upon the crucifixion and resurrection) is a bit difficult, but it is not insurmountable. Maybe intention is what counts – Allah intended only to save Jesus, not to start a false religion – thus he is not morally culpable, even though he was unfortunate as to the results of his actions. Additionally, the crucifixion may have laid the groundwork for Christianity, but it didn’t require it. Just because God made it look like Jesus died, doesn’t mean Christians (from the Islamic perspective) were then justified in making up the doctrine that this death in some way atoned for their sins. Anyway, maybe Allah had no choice – his concern for the righteous Jesus just meant he had to save him. The good of the individual was more important than the side effects that would effect many – after all the life of one is as valuable as the life of mankind (5:32).

Ultimately, maybe Allah does not want everyone to be guided rightly – 35:8  ‘Then is one to whom the evil of his deed has been made attractive so he considers it good [like one rightly guided]? For indeed, Allah sends astray whom He wills and guides whom He wills.’ (Sahih International)

In summary thus far, I have disagreed with my fellow Christians as to the degree to which this is a clear historical error in the Qur’an. There is no issue, to my mind, until we get down to the moral issue, which is not always made clear/present when Christians raise this issue to attack the Qur’an. As for the moral issue itself – it gives moment for pause, but I don’t think it is unanswerable or even particularly convincing when understood within the Islamic framework, in light of the suggestions I have given above.

Now that I have upset some Christians, allow me to upset some Muslims (I like making friends!). I do think 4:157 is a problem – not because of the crucifixion, but because of the resurrection.

If we interpret 4:157 to deny the crucifixion of Jesus (which I, and a minority of others, wouldn’t necessarily), then Jesus was not placed dead in the tomb. He cannot therefore have been resurrected. Yet there is, I believe, very good historical evidence in favor of the resurrection of Jesus: The Minimal Facts Approach.

This approach was pioneered and developed by Gary Habermas & Michael Licona, and I’m a huge fan. The below information is from the core of their book – I will give further details below.

This approach only uses ‘facts’ virtually all relevant scholars accept, even skeptical ones. It provides some of the arguments in favour of them too, but I don’t have time to go into that. The arguments are:

  1. Jesus died by crucifixion.
  2. Jesus’ disciples sincerely believed they had seem him alive again after his death.
  3. Paul, the Church persecutor, was suddenly changed
  4. The sceptic James, brother of Jesus, was suddenly changed

These facts are accepted by 90% of scholars, according to G. Habermas in a radio interview where he discussed his methodology (it was from his website, http://www.garyhabermas.com/audio/audio.htm, unsure which exact link).

A lesser ‘fact’, which I find good historical grounds to hold, is:

5. The tomb of Jesus was then empty.

This last one is only held by about 2/3-3/4 of scholars, so that’s why it is separated off.

According to Habermas and Licona, many non-resurrection explanations have been put forward for these facts, but they all have serious flaws. ‘Today, the prevalent view among sophisticated critics is that the disciples seem to have experienced something. But what it was may not be known, and the general bias is against resurrections.’ (Locations 705- 708) While they may not hold to the resurrection (I would argue for metaphysical reasons, not due to the historical evidence itself), they do not put forward alternative theories.

I strongly recommend reading the main core of the book (the rest is in response to objections) – it won’t take you long, maybe an hour. Read pp. 47 – 83 (Kindle locations 371-705) of Gary R. Habermas; Michael R. Licona (2004). The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus. Kregel: Grand Rapids, MI.

If it whets your appetite, try the awesome, but huge, Licona, M. (2010) The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach. IVP Academic: Downers Grove, IL.

Why is this important? Well if God saved Jesus from death, and if resurrection requires the death of Jesus, how come the earliest Christians, including the disciples of Christ, sincerely believed he had died and risen again? What had they seen?

One might respond that because Allah had saved Jesus from death on the cross (4:157), he permitted Jesus to appear to his disciples to show them he was alive. But this would produce belief in his non-crucifixion rescue – not a resurrection belief, which presupposes his death! I find it slightly hard to believe that Jesus, appearing to his disciples alive again, might not mention that Allah had saved him from death, and instead let them mistakenly believe uncorrected that this was Jesus resurrected from the dead who stood before them. Jesus would have known they thought he had died – for Allah had made it look thus. Surely Jesus would have clarified the situation?

PS: I wanted to clarify the title, so you can all appreciate how clever and witty I am. I have voiced my problems with the ‘crucifixion argument’, certainly in an un-nuanced form, and questioned whether it should be ‘resurrected’ to be used again, or whether it should be buried in the ground and laid to rest. But the reference to ‘resurrecting’ also proleptically hints at what I consider the stronger argument to be…

EDIT (22/09/2016)

Jonathan McLatchie has added an intriguing addition to the argument (my wording). Jesus, who was a prophet according to Islam, predicted his own death. If Islam is correct that Jesus is genuinely a prophet, then Islam is inconsistent, because a genuine prophet predicted something that contradicts Surah 4:157.

I personally think this argument has a lot of merit – that is because I, like Jonathan, agree with the arguments put forward that such ‘passion predictions’ were indeed put forward by the historical Jesus. Jonathan discusses some of the evidence for these ‘passion predictions’ – somewhere in this recent debate – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mF8sYIyE6cM (I don’t know the exact place I’m afraid). I was also very impressed by the arguments of C. A. Evans , “Did Jesus Predict his Death and Resurrection?, 86-96, in (Porter, S. E., ed.) (1999) Resurrection. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press.

But I should note in fairness, that I believe myself, Evans and Jonathan are in the minority on this matter. I am happy to be corrected.


Categories: Islam

37 replies

  1. ‘A stronger argument though, is that this suggests a moral deficiency in God – that he led people astray, and that he created the world’s largest false religion (Christianity) by mistake’

    This argument is reminiscent of the problem of evil except that instead of asking why God allows suffering the question asks why would God allow a false religion to appear.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Here’s some thoughts on the passage. It reads:

    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:

    but “they” killed him not

    but so it was made to appear to “them”

    for of a surety “they” killed him not

    “They” and “them” used in this verse refer to the jewish opponents of Jesus. This show of making Jesus appear to be crucified seems to have only been directed at Christ’s opponents and not his disciples.

    Something to think about.

    Liked by 3 people

    • An excellent point often overlooked in this discussion.


    • But then what does that mean for Christs disciples since they also believed it?


    • Did they? What is the evidence from eye witness sources?


    • It’s a bit strange that the Quran says that God will raise Jesus up to himself and that his followers were made superior over the disbelievers. Yet the prevailing Christian belief since its creation has been that Jesus died and was resurrected.
      The creed that Paul mentions in 1 Corinthians 15 is considered the earliest Christian creed that dates to only a few years after Jesus. Plenty of time for eye witnesses to have been alive.

      But since you don’t believe that, what are the alternatives that Muslims suggest?
      This would help Christians better understand your viewpoint or logic.
      I don’t think it’s enough to just say “if you believe this you are following a conjecture” because it’s a pretty heavy one that requires evidence if we are to believe something else instead.


  3. I just want to explain what this verse ( And they (the disbelievers) schemed, and Allah schemed (against them): and Allah is the best of schemers) means in I slamic theiology.
    In Islam, we believe that there are many enemies of Allah and his righteous servants. Those enemies are so arrogant, deceptive, unthankful, and etc.
    An example accordng to Quranis Pharaoh and Moses.
    In Quran, Phraoh ordered and plotted that all newborn among children of Isreal must be killed so that Pharaoh can keep his thrown.
    What happned? Allah made Phroah himself who raised that very infant who would destroy Pharaoh not the opposite.
    As you see, Proah schemed for something, but Allah schemed ( against) that eveil schemer ,and Allah has been the best.

    How could that belief affect on us as muslims?
    We feel comfortable and we rely on Allah becuse whatever those evil schemers try to do , Allah is the best .

    Liked by 3 people

    • This is my question which could be put in the margin of this topic. I hope to keep it in you mind, Richard.
      Notice, that I haven’t dealt with the objections that you made , especially this statement ” is that this suggests a moral deficiency in God – that he led people astray, and that he created the world’s largest false religion (Christianity) by mistake ” which is – I think- based on false assumptions regarding the long history & authenticity of the document you have. Alos, I think it’s based on lack of knowledge in Islamic theology, and what the real problem is with crucifixion according to Quran.( Hint, is there anything wrong to belive that a prophet got killed according Quran) ?

      My Q :
      We have noticed as muslims and many others who are not muslims (i.e jews and agnostic ones) that christianity, indeed, doesn’t rely on solid logic/ rational arguments rather it relies on (emotional) statements.
      Even Dr William Lane Craig have used some emotional arguments to confront Islam, and Dr Qureshi as well in his last book. They keep arguing, for example, that Christianity is true since it presents God as “All loving God”, and love is essential of Who God is, ” it’s a prat of his essence “(as Nabeel likes to phrase it).

      Based on that, I’m wondering…. !
      I mean that “all loving God” kept teaching his the most beloved people that he’s not a man nor son of man in such that they wouldn’t even imagine that their God is a man! ,yet he punished them severely because they didn’t believe he is a man dying!

      Also,the problem proceeds even further when we know that “all loving God” kept teaching his the most beloved people to keep the commandments to be holy/saved, and he would punish them severely if they didn’t ( and that happened many times to israelites ) while that “all loving God” had already known that no one can be holy/saved by keeping the commandments except by his death on the cross!
      It seems for me, that “all loving god” had shackled his the most beloved people for more than 1500 years, while he commanded them repeatedly to swim via vast deep ocean! ,and If they failed, he would punish them severely.
      So I’m just wondering what kind of love is that ?

      Liked by 1 person

  4. “The crucifixion is one of the most certain facts of history.”…..’A crucifixion took place, no doubt, but who was on the cross? It is possible that the one crucified resembled Jesus, and that the mob were duped into believing it was him. Don’t forget, it is said that Pilate and Pilate’s wife thought Jesus innocent, and it was certainly within their power to produce a figure of same height, build, hair-length etc, whose face was so badly swollen from the beatings and the crown of thorns, that ‘even his own mother couldn’t recognize him’.
    I’m not saying it’s a fact, I’m just saying it’s one possibility among many.

    You might say that ‘the victim’ spoke on the cross saying “Father, forgive them….etc”, and you might say the crowd witnessed him saying it. But here is a man flailed to a pulp, nailed to a cross, suffocating (crucifixion also causes suffocation), so we wonder how is he going to raise his voice to such an audible level?

    “The crucifixion is one of the most certain facts of history.”….maybe, but it’s also certain that the anecdotal ‘details’ of the event cannot be deemed historical facts.


  5. “……is that this suggests a moral deficiency in God – that he led people astray,…….”

    2 Thessalonians 2 11 For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie

    Liked by 3 people

    • “……and that he created the world’s largest false religion (Christianity) by mistake……..”

      What makes you certain that God created Christianity? And if He did, can it not be akin to the ‘powerful delusion’ mentioned above?

      Liked by 1 person

    • “Ultimately, maybe Allah does not want everyone to be guided rightly ……..”

      If, for example, you realized you were on the ‘wrong path’, it would be very easy to stop and turn around as soon as you wanted to. So God does not force us to any path, right or wrong. It’s all to do with choice. There is a mindset that thinks, “Yes, I know I’m not on the right path, but I don’t care!” (“Yes, I know smoking causes cancer but I’m going to smoke anyway!) Desire trumps reality.
      It seems that God knows us better than we know ourselves. He gives us guidance and then the mighty responsibility to accept His guidance, or ‘go our own way’. It’s very easy for any man to reflect on whether he has accepted guidance, or has gone his own way. God has only given us a choice, and when we choose badly we can rationalize by thinking ,
      “God has led me into this folly so that I might learn about it and know myself better, and therefore realize the futility of seeking other than the simple and straight path.”
      “Yes, He led me in, but I went willingly, so who is to blame?”
      We can easily answer that when we ask ourselves about the motives for our willingness to be led astray.


  6. I recommend this book by Gerd Lüdemann. He also gives a compelling explanation how the idea of “resurrection” came to be linked to the idea of “atonement for sin”.

    The Resurrection of Christ

    A Historical Inquiry

    Gerd Lüdemann

    Prometheus New Releases – October 2004 – Biblical Criticism

    In this thorough exegesis of the primary texts dealing with the resurrection of Jesus, New Testament expert Gerd Lüdemann (University of Göttingen) presents compelling evidence to show that the resurrection was not a historical event and further argues that this development leaves little, if any, basis for Christian faith as presently defined.

    Beginning with Paul’s testimony in 1 Cor. 15: 3-8, in which the apostle declares that Jesus “has been raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures,” Lüdemann systematically evaluates every reference to Jesus’ resurrection in the New Testament, as well as apocryphal literature. He examines the purpose of the text writers, the ways in which they reworked tradition, and the historical value of each account.

    Since the historical evidence leads to the firm conclusion that Jesus’ body was not raised from the dead, Lüdemann argues that the origin of the Easter faith must be sought in the visionary experiences of Christianity’s two leading apostles. From a modern perspective this leads to the inescapable conclusion that both primary witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection, Peter and Paul, were victims of self-deception.

    In conclusion, he asks whether in light of the non-historicity of Jesus’ resurrection, thinking people today can legitimately and in good conscience still call themselves Christians.

    Gerd Lüdemann (Göttingen, Germany) is professor of the History and Literature of Early Christianity at the University of Göttingen and formerly a visiting scholar and associate professor of New Testament at Vanderbilt Divinity School. He is the author of many books and articles on the origins of Christianity including Paul: The Founder of Christianity, Jesus After 2000 Years, and The Great Deception: And What Jesus Really Said and Did.

    250 pages (illustrations) ISBN 1-59102- 245-2

    Liked by 1 person

  7. “One might respond that because Allah had saved Jesus from death on the cross (4:157), he permitted Jesus to appear to his disciples to show them he was alive. But this would produce belief in his non-crucifixion rescue – not a resurrection belief, which presupposes his death! I find it slightly hard to believe that Jesus, appearing to his disciples alive again, might not mention that Allah had saved him from death, and instead let them mistakenly believe uncorrected that this was Jesus resurrected from the dead who stood before them. Jesus would have known they thought he had died – for Allah had made it look thus. Surely Jesus would have clarified the situation?”

    This is the crux of the argument. I fail to see the deceit issue here. Allah saves Jesus and the companions think he has died. He then appears to them and says do not worry I alive and I shall return (obvious summary !)

    From the Islamic point of view this would be enough to let the companions continue to preach monotheism (sort of a boost)

    How was Jesus saved ? Well the companions may have thought he was resurrected or that he was raised to heaven while on the cross.

    Whatever the mechanism, he was saved. How would a personal understanding of a mechanism lead to deceit if Jesus did not correct them. Why would he have to theologically correct them?

    Like you said thinking that he was raised from the dead or that he he didn’t really die on the cross (“swoon theory”) or that he was replaced by someone (say by the Romans who realized he disappeard when Allah raised him) etc… so many possibilities. We must remember we have the empty tomb theory in the synoptic gospel tradition only (Paul’s letter isn’t that clear). Surely that is not enough to claim a unanimous early acceptance of that view. The early historical documents are too sparse for this.

    This is where Sidney Griffiths argument comes into play. It is not an issue of intention but an issue related to what we would expect an author to know. Are we really to believe that author of the Quran did not know that the Christians believed that Jesus was crucified in their gospels ? This is in light of the extensive interaction with many a late antique text. It is naturally possible but surely unlikely that an author who engages subtlety with the details of texts does not know the main them of texts! Your criticism bypasses this point

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Without getting into the historical question of whether the disciples believed Jesus(as) was crucified and resurrected or whether they believed he was rescued.

    A quick thought on the supposed “moral deficiency” i.e. Why did God allow the notion that Jesus had died to spread? If you read the entirety of the Quran from beginning to end, God does not hold people accountable for things they had no knowledge about. Only after evidence is established would He hold them accountable.

    In the Quran, the beliefs and practices that are condemned as far as Christians(not all of them since the Quran mentions they are not the same and divided into sects etc) are-
    1)Worshipping Jesus as God
    2) Viewing him as a divine Son
    5)Taking religious leaders as lords in derogation of God i.e. viewing their commands on permissions and prohibitions instead of following God’s law etc
    6) Religious leaders that hoard up wealth unjustly

    The above list is not exhaustive. I just took wrote it from memory.

    I am not aware of a verse that condemns Christians for believing in the crucifixion before the Quran was sent down.

    Now that the Quran has been sent down and there are good reasons for viewing it as true(this would be another discussion), they are held to account for what is contained in it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think an even bigger question is if Christians who lived before the Quran was revealed believed that he died on the cross they have even more reason for rejecting the idea that he was God.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. The argument of that by saving Jesus God created a religion based on a deception is based on two false premises.
    Firstly, that Christianity was sanctioned by God.
    Jesus was sent exclusively to the lost sheep of Israel. He was a Jewish prophet who was sent to the Jews.
    Second, that Jesus taught the doctrine of vicarious atonement. Jesus never said that he was sent to neutralise the curse of Adam by dying on the cross.

    So if God never sent Jesus to the gentiles and if Jesus neverpropaunded the teachings of original sin and vicarious atonement why should we blame God for a religion which people later on formulated for themselves?

    Liked by 4 people

    • “Jesus was sent exclusively to the lost sheep of Israel. He was a Jewish prophet who was sent to the Jews.”

      But here’s the problem, Jews don’t accept Jesus as a Jewish prophet.
      If the Jews didn’t accept Jesus it makes sense for Gentiles to have accepted his message. Otherwise by that logic, Jesus’ teaching had been completely frozen until the Quran came along. And in that case, the Quran wouldn’t acknowledge Christians (or Nazarenes) as people of the book. Christians wouldn’t be an actual group of people if that were the case.
      Why are we called people of the book if we have no book since it belongs to the Jews?

      These assumptions only add more questions to Islam’s case and makes things more confusing. Like why did the Jews accept every prophet except Jesus? Even John to a certain degree is given more acknowledge in Judaism than Jesus, though also not as a prophet either. But there’s nothing about John that challenges Jews so they ignore him. Yet something about Jesus causes them to reject him. If Jesus was sent exclusively to the lost sheep of Israel then he failed his mission, unless you concede that those lost sheep are the ones who became Christians, and in that case Christianity was clearly not supposed to be limited to Jews either.


    • Hallo Opps.
      I’m sorry , but you have gone completely off track.

      I fail to see the connection between what you said and the question of the crucifixion event and its consequences.


    • Muse Gele,
      Yet you’re the one who says that Jesus was sent exclusively to the lost sheep of Israel and now deflect my question back to the topic.

      By the way, did you know that the Quran actually disagrees with you? According to the Quran Jesus was not exclusive to Jews only:
      Surah 21:91 (in different translations):
      And We blessed the woman (Maryam), who guarded her chastity, We breathed into her of Our Spirit and We made her and her son a sign for the whole world.

      AND [remember] her who guarded her chastity, whereupon We breathed into her of Our spirit and caused her, together with her son, to become a symbol [of Our grace] unto all people.

      And (remember) her who guarded her chastity: We breathed into her of Our Spirit and We made her and her son a Sign for all peoples.

      So much for being sent only for Israel. You need to understand the reason behind why Jesus even said that in the first place. Salvation was to begin through the Jews first then spread to the Gentiles. Don’t believe me, well the Quran itself says that God favoured the children of Israel over the rest of humanity for a time and sent the majority of prophets to them.


  10. Hello Richard. I don’t mean to mix two different topics, but since you seem to accept that the Quran provides its own “prophetology” when it comes to Jesus’ crucifixion (or lack thereof), does that not provide proof that it did regard its own version of events to be the true version, and thus does it also not prove that it does not accept the reliability of the previous scriptures?

    The story of the crucifixion was well-known, as you said (albeit with contradictory versions, as we see in the Gospels), so why would the Quran go against that by claiming that Jesus was not actually crucified?


  11. Richard,

    I was hoping you’d bring this up; I remember you argued that it was one of the best evidences for your personal conviction in Christianity, I’m keen to push this forward so that we can see how the minimal facts approach stands up in a real cross-examination.

    “The first to put forth his case seems right, until someone else steps forward and cross-examines him.” Proverbs 18:17.

    So my first question is to ask whether or not the minimal facts should be determined by a democracy, if tomorrow a survey is done in which 90% of Near Eastern Historians argue that there did not exist a figure named Moses and that there was no exodus, would there opinion mean anything to you? Likewise, if they gathered and concluded that Jesus was the son of Joseph or worse the son of Pandera (We seek refuge in God from both accusations) would this now be a meaningful means of ascertaining truth for yourself?

    2) If we focus firstly upon minimal fact 4, the conversion of James, the brother of Jesus.

    The Gospels as has been pointed out by several, are not consistent on whether the family of Jesus were sympathetic to his mission, John 7:5 and Mark 3:21 portray Jesus’ family as not agreeing with his ministry. In comparison to Luke 8:19-21 which rejects Mark’s earlier tradition and has the family portrayed as being supportive of the ministry.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, we do not have any original writings of James (the epistle attributed to him in the New Testament is argued to be Psuedo) we don’t know what James’ position was towards Jesus prior to his death, the later non-Canonical hagiographies, written by unknown authors who probably did not witness the events, tell the story in opposing and contradictory ways (not too useful for a protestant like yourself)

    The Historical Jesus scholar Dale Allison rightly states the problem as follows:

    “Most of the past – surely far more than 99 percent, if we could quantify it – is irretrievably lost; it cannot be recovered. This should instill some modesty in us. Consider the weeks following the crucifixion. We have only minuscule fragments of what actually transpired. What, for instance, do we really know about the resurrection experience of James? First Corinthians 15:7 says that he saw the risen Jesus. And that is it. What Jesus looked like, what he said, if anything, where the encounter took place, when precisely it happened, how James responded, what state of mind he was in, how the experience began, how it ended – all of this had failed to enter the record. Almost every question that we might ask goes unanswered … Yet they are the sorts of questions historians often ask of old texts. The fact that we cannot begin to answer them shows how emaciated historically – as opposed to theologically – the Gospel narratives really are. Even if we naively think them to be historically accurate down to the minutest detail, we are still left with precious little. The accounts of the resurrection, like the past in general, come to us as phantoms. Most of the reality is gone … Even if history served us much better than it does, it would still not take us to promised land of theological certainty.”

    (Resurrecting Jesus, Allison, p.337-339)

    3) If 90% of New Testament scholars argued for the fact of the Synoptic dependence, would you accept that?

    4) Do you trust the field of Historiography over revelation- that is to say, given that you feel that:

    a) The Historical Evidence (Minimal facts) is the best evidence for Christianity

    b)and as you note above, provides a difficult position for Islam (due to its contradiction with the minimal facts)

    Then will you also embrace historical evidence consistently and reject the inerrancy of the New Testament and the truth of the Old in areas where they violate the agreed upon voted facts of modern historians?

    Liked by 4 people

  12. With the name of Allah the Gracious the Merciful

    Hi Richard,


    Thanks for your opinion.

    First I am glad that there are intelligent christians like you who admit there is flaw in the argument that there is a case against the historicity of Jesus crucifixion in the Qur’an. Many christians use this argument to undermine the credibility of the Qur’an. It is wrong to accuse that The Quran denies the historicity of Jesus crucifixion. The Quranic expression “subbiha lahum” *شُبِّهَ لَهُمْ*  means, “it” or “he” “seemed to them as if” or “he was made similar for them”.  The emphasis then lies on the word wamā qatalūhu *مَا قَتَلُوهُ* “they slew him *not*”  The mainstream muslim position understand this passage (including myself) that  Jesus did not die by the crucifixion and he was saved  afterwards by God.

    Now as for “The Minimal Facts Approach” for the resurrection of Jesus , I still find this argument unconvincing. First the whole list hinge on the presupposition that the Gospels can generally be trusted while historically speaking  the Gospels can not be counted as trustworthy document as it came long after Jesus’ death, written by people who never saw the man. Secondly even if, for argument sake, the gospels can be assumed as truthful historical document, from the plain text reading alone I don’t think we can establish  a case for Jesus death and resurrection as a result of the crucifixion any stronger than the mainstream Islamic alternative that of Jesus survived the crucifixion and was alive when he appeared to his disciples and others or even possibility that Jesus died on the cross and his body was eaten by wild animals, there was no ancient post mortem document confirming Jesus death, on the contrary the gospels talk about Jesus who was alive after the crucifixion not  ressurected. Thirdly I am rather sceptical  how Habermas got his that 90%  stats drawn for those scholars who affirmed that Jesus died by crucifixion and I suspect he may well be guilty of selection bias.

    Now for the moral issue , I dont understand how  muslims position that God saved Jesus from the torment of the cross and was miraculously taken up from this humiliating way of defeat and death can be an issue.

    After all prophet Jesus uttered  his cry for  help  to his God in his native language, Syro/Aramaic as recorded in Mark 15:34,


    Elahi, Elahi lamna shabaktani  ܐܠܗܝ ܐܠܗܝ ܠܡܢܐ ܫܒܩܬܢܝ

    or in Arabic

    Ilahī,Ilahī Limādzā taraktanī إلهي إلهي لماذا تركتني

    My God my God why you have left  me?


    It is impossible to believe that Allah has left his prophet/messenger

    as in Psalm 22 it says:

    יִרְאֵ֤י יְהוָ֨ה ׀ הַֽלְל֗וּהוּ כָּל־זֶ֣רַע יַעֲקֹ֣ב כַּבְּד֑וּהוּ וְג֥וּרוּ מִ֝מֶּ֗נּוּ כָּל־זֶ֥רַע יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃

    You who fear the LORD, praise Him! All you offspring of Jacob, honor Him! Be in dread of Him, all you offspring of Israel!

    כִּ֤י לֹֽא־בָזָ֨ה וְלֹ֪א שִׁקַּ֡ץ עֱנ֬וּת עָנִ֗י וְלֹא־הִסְתִּ֣יר פָּנָ֣יו מִמֶּ֑נּוּ וּֽבְשַׁוְּע֖וֹ אֵלָ֣יו שָׁמֵֽעַ׃

    For He did not scorn, He did not spurn the plea of the lowly; He did not hide His face from him; when he cried out to Him, He listened.

    Far for being a moral issue the Islamic position that  God take his prophet up , saving him from terrible ordeal   رَّفَعَهُ اللَّهُ إِلَيْهِ is a more elegant scenario than Jesus being ridiculed, humiliated and killed , knowing that  Jesus himself begged not to die and cried for help. Although neither of this position can be  validated solely by using historian methods nevertheless you  and I may agree as believer in God that both scenario requires supernaturalistic presupposition.

    As for why God seems to allow some christians to mistakenly believe that Jesus died on the cross and then was resurrected from the dead who stood before them. I do not think this is accurate, gospel account in John 20: 25-27 do suggests that Jesus had tried to clarify the situation that he was alive not resurrected from the death.  He showed his hands and feet to his disciples, proving and arguing them, that he was alive physically.

    My contention is  simply  Jesus’ original jewish followers did not expect to suffer humiliating death instead believe him as a warrior messiah who would liberate the jews  from Roman occupation. Only  long after supposed Jesus crucifixion and his re-appearance generation later started to call themselves christians began to think more and more highly of Jesus, and developed even more exalted views eventually they argued that Christ was the second member of a trinity, a being fully equal with God, co-eternal with him, consisting of the very same “substance” or “essence” from all eternity with God the Father and try to make sense of that  with the idea the “resurrection”.  From muslim this is not a dilemma the fact that God seems to allow this deviation happened  is a striking demonstration of the fact there is the need for the final messenger and the Qur’an whose central Christology is against the doctrine of trinity and the elevation of Christ to the level of God, as part of God’s plan for guarding future generations from this mistaken belief. Alas many people reject clear signs.


    Liked by 3 people

  13. Why should a bodily resurrection be of such significance? I feel it is overrated, important only for conservative Christians. For most Christians a bodily resurrection seems irrelevant.


  14. I just recalled these verses in the Bible.

    Proverbes 21 :18
    ” The wicked is a ransom for the righteous, and the traitor for the upright ”

    Proverbs 11:8
    ” The righteous is delivered from trouble, and the wicked walks into it instead. “


  15. Just read your article Richard: well reasoned and honest, though there are 1 or 2 little points I disagree with🙂


  16. Problem is that the Qur’an also says that Allah made the disciples of Jesus the victorious ones, uppermost, superior until the day of resurrection.

    Surah 3:55 – in the same context of the Allah scheming better of Surah 3:54, verse right before.
    Surah 61:14

    Surah 3:55:
    Behold! Allah said: “O Jesus! I will take thee and raise thee to Myself and clear thee (of the falsehoods) of those who blaspheme; I will make those who follow thee superior to those who reject faith, to the Day of Resurrection: Then shall ye all return unto me, and I will judge between you of the matters wherein ye dispute.

    إِذْ قَالَ اللَّهُ يَا عِيسَىٰ إِنِّي مُتَوَفِّيكَ وَرَافِعُكَ إِلَيَّ وَمُطَهِّرُكَ مِنَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا وَجَاعِلُ الَّذِينَ اتَّبَعُوكَ فَوْقَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا إِلَىٰ يَوْمِ الْقِيَامَةِ ۖ ثُمَّ إِلَيَّ مَرْجِعُكُمْ فَأَحْكُمُ بَيْنَكُمْ فِيمَا كُنتُمْ فِيهِ تَخْتَلِفُونَ

    فوق = “Foq” = uppermost, above, “superior” (Yusuf Ali)

    Surah 61:14:
    O you who have believed, be supporters of Allah , as when Jesus, the son of Mary, said to the disciples, “Who are my supporters for Allah ?” The disciples said, “We are supporters of Allah .” And a faction of the Children of Israel believed and a faction disbelieved. So We supported those who believed against their enemy, and they became dominant.

    يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُونُوا أَنصَارَ اللَّهِ كَمَا قَالَ عِيسَى ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ لِلْحَوَارِيِّينَ مَنْ أَنصَارِي إِلَى اللَّهِ ۖ قَالَ الْحَوَارِيُّونَ نَحْنُ أَنصَارُ اللَّهِ ۖ فَآمَنَت طَّائِفَةٌ مِّن بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ وَكَفَرَت طَّائِفَةٌ ۖ فَأَيَّدْنَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا عَلَىٰ عَدُوِّهِمْ فَأَصْبَحُوا ظَاهِرِينَ

    ظاهرین = “Zahereen” = the most obvious, clear, manifested, seen, “dominant” (Sahih International”)

    Those that believed Christ was crucified and dead and resurrected wrote 27 books, all in first century and we have 5 centuries of the writings of the early church fathers before Islam to prove those disciples who believed in the cross, atonement, resurrection, Deity of Christ, Trinity were the dominant, manifest, clear, uppermost ones.



    • Allah was talking about 2 parties among (children of Israel)
      Disciples of Jesus were victorious among jews with argument and they kept preaching in the temple ,and they kept the law . No one could force them to leave.
      Allah didn’t name those disciples, first.
      Second, Even if they belived that Jesus died and got resurrected which you cnnot proven by the corrupted bible , that by itself doesn’t prove anything.
      Did they belive that Jesus was god man ?
      Did they believe that Jesus died for their sins or they belived that he was prophet killed as many prophets of Israelites?

      Liked by 2 people

  17. Jesus’ disciples became the victorious and manifest ones and believed in His atonement and resurrection; that He was the Messiah, eternal Son, and God in the flesh (John 1:1-5; 1:14) – they discipled the next generation who clearly taught the Deity of Christ – like Ignatius in 107 AD, Justin Martyr, etc.
    Yes, they believed Christ died for their sins and rose from the dead.
    They affirmed the doctrine of the Trinity in basic form in Matthew 28:19; 2 Cor. 13:14; Matthew 3:13-17; Ephesians 1:3-14, 4:4-6; 1 Peter 1:1-3

    Richard, I hope you are looking here.
    What do you with Surah 3:45-55 and 61:14 in relation to Surah 4:157 ?

    Can you explain what your “general Calvinism” is?

    How can you be an annihilationist? ( in light of texts like Mark 9:47-48 – “. . . hell, where the worm does not die and the fire is not quenched” ?
    and “day and night they suffer torment ” – Revelation 14:10-11
    and Matthew 25:41 – “eternal fire” ?


  18. Richard, for me one question is what is meant by “resurrection”? Is your understanding the same as Mike Licona’s?
    Are we talking about a physical resurrection after a period of days as a historic event? A dead body is revived, a resuscitated corpse? Is that what you believe happened as a historic event?

    I’m asking because there are other ways of explaining and understanding a “historic” resurrection of Christ amongst his disciples. Explanations that don’t involve such highly unlikely miraculous drastic unnatural events. Explanations every reasonable person including Muslims can comprehend. I’m sure you are aware of that.


    • “Explanations every reasonable person including Muslims can comprehend. I’m sure you are aware of that.”
      Can you expand on one or a few examples?


    • Explanations given by liberal & mainline Christian scholars and secularists like Bart Ehrman or Gerd Lüdemannn.

      Liked by 1 person

    • The Quran says Jesus brought the dead back to life and created birds out of clay by God’s power in him. If you consider that to be historical, it shouldn’t be difficult to consider Jesus being resurrected by God as historical either.


  19. It’s funny how Richard never seems to reply to the comments on his own post. Does his silence imply defeat?🙂



  1. My Purpose in Blogging… – Blogging Theology

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