2010-06-03

Muhammad mythicism and the fallacy of Jesus agnosticism

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by Neil Godfrey

Muhammad 6
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I used to say I did not see myself as a Jesus mythicist. That was because I thought the idea of Jesus’ existence or nonexistence was less important than being able to explain the evidence we have for the origins of Christianity — wherever that explanation might lead. The interest, surely, is in understanding how Christianity happened. (Many Christians may want to investigate a “historical Jesus” but that sounds to me more like a faith interest, not a historical one.)

R. Joseph Hoffmann describes himself as a Jesus agnostic because he has concluded that “the sources we possess do not establish the conditions for a verdict on the historicity of Jesus”.

That sounds reasonable to me.

(The essay by Hoffmann, and my reply to it and Hoffmann’s rejoinder, that prompted this post, can be found at Did Jesus Exist? Yes and No on Hoffmann’s New Oxonian blog.)

We have primary evidence to corroborate the existence of people such as  Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great and George Washington.

Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm acknowledged the advisability of not assuming the historicity of a narrative of a particular Robin Hood type “social bandit” merely on the strength of narratives that lacked independent corroboration. Mere plausibility of a narrative, even claims of eye-witness memory, are insufficient without independent corroboration.

So thus far, given that “the sources we possess do not establish the conditions for a verdict on the historicity of Jesus”,  Jesus agnosticism is the only logical way to go.

So if someone like Doherty attempts to explain the origin of Christianity without a historical Jesus, and even sees the Jesus of that religion emerging over time as a mythical construct, as a Jesus agnostic I might express some interest in examining his thesis.

If the evidence is suggestive enough, I might even find myself leaning from agnosticism on Jesus towards the view that Jesus was always from the beginning a mythical construct, and not a historical person who was eventually buried beneath the later mythical overlays.

Muhammad mythicism

Hoffmann reminded me that serious scholarly work is being done that points to possibility that Muhammad himself was a mythical creation. I have not looked into these studies, but an initial look at some Wikipedia articles led to this interesting note on the historian John Wansbrough:

He caused a furor in the 1970s when his research on early Islamic manuscripts, including the analysis of the repeated use of monotheistic Judeo-Christian Qur’an led him to posit that the rise of Islam was a mutation of what was originally a Judeo-Christian sect trying to spread in Arab lands, rather than by simple cultural diffusion. As time evolved the Judeo-Christian scriptures were adapted to an Arab perspective and mutated into what became the Qur’an which was developed over centuries with contributions from various Arab tribal sources. Wansbrough’s research suggests that a great deal of the traditional history of Islam appeared to be a fabrication of later generations seeking to forge and justify a unique religious identity. Within this context, the character of Muhammad could be seen as a manufactured myth created to provide the Arab tribes with their own Arab version of the Judeo-Christian prophets.

There are some interesting synopses of the works of related scholars linked from that same article: Patricia Crone, “Christoph Luxemberg” and others.

I don’t know the details of these studies, but on the face of it, one must concede that the above portion I have highlighted in bold sounds plausible.

Even Jesus agnostic R. Joseph Hoffmann appears to regard this work on “Muhammad mythicism” as “serious” scholarship.

So why is “Jesus agnostic” Hoffmann so “prickly” (by his own admission) when the possibility of the nonhistoricity of Jesus is seriously raised in an effort to explain the evidence we have for the rise of Christianity? It seems somewhat ironic that a “Jesus agnostic” can find only words like “absurd theorists”, “musings”, “lack of profundity”, “frankly ridiculous” and “depressing” when he broaches the subject of Jesus mythicism.

It seems to me that for this scholar, Jesus agnosticism means effectively nothing more than that we can know nothing about the real historical Jesus behind the myths. And even though the evidence won’t allow for “a verdict on the historicity of Jesus”, you are “depressing” if you seek an explanation for Christianity that leaves no room at all for a historical Jesus in there somewhere.

He does pay passing remarks to accepting the possibility of the nonexistence of Jesus, but fails to explain what this might mean in any genuine attempt to explain Christianity. Reading Hoffmann’s post, one would almost be excused for thinking that there has been a steady stream of scholars, albeit a minority, who have been seriously questioning the existence of Jesus. If this is so, and if, as Hoffmann says, “Christianity” has benefited from them in some way, it seems odd that few if any can be found nominated for his “Jesus Prospect”. But he may well know of names that I am unaware of, of course.

Not knowing “who Jesus was or even whether he was”, Hoffmann argues, is a fortuitous outcome of the work of scholars of Christianity because, he writes, such uncertainty has spared Christianity from the propensity found in Islam to resort to extreme violence to defend its certainties.

This is a very bold claim. To be sure I understand it, however, I would like Hoffmann to define what he means by “Christianity” and “Islam” in this context. Is Islam, as distinct from the “Moslem religion” really a counterpart to “Christianity”? Do the biblical scholars who doubt the existence of Jesus really have any impact on “Christianity” at all? I can recall some very violent acts and threats by Christians in years past when blasphemous movies and stage plays were making their mark. Given the histories of Christianity and the Moslem religion, can a simple one-to-one comparison be made like this? Should not the fact that Christianity is the religion of the dominant powers who have extended their imperialism and waged monotonously regular wars against Moslem countries be considered as a factor in any such equation?

I think Edward Said would have thought so.

I can’t help but wonder — I sincerely would like to be proved wrong — if there is a certain amount of what Said might call “orientalism” at work here. It is “serious work” if scholars dismantle Muhammad as a myth. But the only ones allowed to “doubt” the existence of Jesus are “real scholars” — but only if they “do not doubt” the (hidden) historicity of Jesus! Anyone who seriously studies Christianity and concludes that the evidence suggests Jesus is a myth from the get-go is to be confined to the outer fringe of “absurd theorists”. But Muhammad is fair game. Why?

(Not that the “Muhammad mythicists” are necessarily culpable of “orientalism” in their scholarly exercise. But one has to ask why a Western scholar of Christianity cannot seem to countenance the genuine legitimacy of those who are engaged in similar inquiries into Christian origins. Is the answer related solely to the latters’ nonscholarly status? In my previous post on Burton Mack’s conclusion in his Myth of Innocence I alluded to another possibility I have been discussing for some time now. Even nonChristian biblical scholars seem to need a historical Jesus somewhere, even if irretrievably buried beneath the myth.)

I am all for Jesus agnosticism. I think it is probably the best way to go. But a genuine agnosticism on the question will not misrepresent Doherty’s work as a re-hash of Wells’. It will not idly suggest that serious Jesus mythicist arguments fail to comprehend the nature or function of New Testament religion itself. And it will not express intolerance of anyone who does suggest an explanation for Christianity that appears in some ways comparable to “serious” scholarly arguments for a mythical Muhammad.

There is a certain type of agnosticism that is intolerant of positions to its left and right. But usually they really mean intolerance against the left far more than against the right. That sort of agnosticism strikes me as close-minded as the fundamentalists that also sit on the left and right of the agnostic. There is such a thing as “fundamendalist” agnosticism, too, I have learned.

The essay by Hoffmann, and my reply to it and Hoffmann’s rejoinder, that prompted the above post, can be found at Did Jesus Exist? Yes and No on Hoffmann’s New Oxonian blog.

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50 Comments

  • TimVonHobbyhorsen
    2010-06-03 06:36:34 UTC - 06:36 | Permalink

    I read Mr. Hoffman’s post earlier today and found it quite interesting. So when you said that you’d responded to it, I eagerly went back to take a look. Imagine my dismay at reading the first sentence of his reply: “You use adjectivals too much…” Um… What? I thought you had asked him very directly why it is that (all?) Jesus mythicists are absurd, but (some?) Mohamed mythicists are doing serious scholarly work. His non sequitur rejoinder left me slack-jawed.

    To me, it isn’t so much a question of agnosticism but of deism. It now seems to be the “sophisticated” position to say that there must have been a Prime Mover that started the Christian Big Bang. I think it was Crossan who used the analogy of waves in the pond — we didn’t witness firsthand the rock that was thrown into the pond, but we know it existed by virtue of the concentric waves that ripple and splash upon the shore. Oh, to be able to write like that man!

    However, just like the Deism of the Age of Enlightenment, I have to think this wholly unknowable Jesus-as-Prime-Mover is simply a stage in historical development. We don’t need a God to explain the Big Bang that started the cosmos. And I think Price and Doherty are demonstrating quite convincingly that we don’t need a human Jesus to explain the start of Christianity.

  • 2010-06-03 09:46:07 UTC - 09:46 | Permalink

    My exchange with Hoffmamnn is continuing, or at least I’ve responded again in brief to his latest. Hoffmann calls himself a Jesus agnostic but what he means by that is soon seen to be very “nuanced” in one direction once one scratches the surface. I’m glad you noticed the irony of his reply. I think a statistical comparison of the number of adjectivals he and I use and count of the specific points of evidence he cites would be instructive.

    I suspect Hoffmann’s hostility towards me relates to my earlier post exposing the fraudulence of his derisive remark about Doherty’s work in his Preface to his recently published Goguel book. Maybe also to my attempt to expose, among other things, the circularity at the heart of Crossley’s work.

    There seems to be a certain esoteric disdain among many biblical scholars towards outsiders questioning their assumptions and the logic of their arguments. The fact that it is so damn easy for outsiders to notice that those emperors of intellect who think they are dressed in such finery are really standing there starkers indicates that their guild has gotten away with sham and shoddy scholarship (not all of it, of course, but far too much) for far too long.

    If these scholars really want to do something about improving society they would get real about their scholarly assumptions, push all their apologist peers back into seminaries and out of public universities, publicize what they really know and don’t know for the layman, and speak out against intolerance and ignorance at all levels. Instead, they mostly seem to be mere guardians or conduits of institutional power and privilege, and to that extent are responsible for the status quo and its the furtherance of a more general Western cultural ignorance and intolerance as far as religious and human understanding is concerned.

    His post does little to further intellectual honesty in the face of radical critiques from outside the guild, scrutiny of the roles of our cultural icons, or to promote western understanding of peoples of the Moslem faith*. It’s a shame because I really liked just about everything he had to say in his thesis on Marcion. And I had hoped a humanist would be more open-minded on certain issues.

    (* Note understanding “peoples” of the Moslem faith — that is the part that seems to be overlooked in so much western commentary.)

  • 2010-06-03 10:38:07 UTC - 10:38 | Permalink

    I am persuaded that Paul did not connect his dying and rising Christ to a recently deceased Jesus who was known personally to Paul’s contemporaries. Although Paul may have thought that Jesus walked the earth at some unidentified time and place, I think the Jesus found in the epistles of Paul and other first century Christian writers can be fairly characterized as mythical.

    On the other hand, I am agnostic about a historical Jesus because I don’t think the source material is sufficient to choose between two possibilities: (a) Mark simply historicized Paul’s mythical Jesus, or (b) Mark melded Paul’s mythical Jesus with an actual first century itinerant preacher. If the latter, I don’t think the sources allow us to sift out the mythology to identify anything that itinerant preacher actually said or did. On the other hand, I doubt that the mythicists can do any more than make the case for the possibility of the former; I don’t think they can establish its likelihood.

    • maryhelena
      2010-06-04 21:47:17 UTC - 21:47 | Permalink

      I can’t remember who – but some writer has placed a ‘Jesus’ figure way back to around 100 bc – thereby putting a considerable number of years between that figure and Paul. It seems to me to make more sense to put a gap between the gospel timeline and Paul. Somehow or another the timeline for Paul is accepted as being dependent upon dating in his epistles. But really, is that dating not a means to an end – the end being a follow on from the gospel storyline. From a mythicist perspective, with no historical Jesus, keeping the dating for Paul in relationship to the gospel storyline, seems truly nonsensical. However, the gospel timeline, a timeline that works around specific historical people, can stand on its own without the pseudo-history of the Jesus figure that has been inserted within it.

      So, rather than pushing back the ‘Jesus’ figure to so early a date as around 100 bc – maybe a better option is simply to consider the actual history of the gospel timeline. And, in which case, minus a historical Jesus, there is no need to have Paul dated as an immediate follow on to the gospel storyline. Anyway, the idea that early Christianity was based in Jerusalem is nothing more than a flight of fancy. Post 70 ce for ‘Paul’ a much better idea…Thus a gap – of at least 40 years between the end of the gospel timeline and ‘Paul’. In other words, ‘Paul’ has been backdated.

      An interesting thread on FRDB recently on the idea of a ‘double charisma’. The idea being that social movements often have two charismatic leaders – the second figure following the death of the earlier figure. Moses and Joshua, John the Baptist and Jesus in the gospels. And of course Jesus and Paul. The fact that, in these cases, mythology probably has an influence, does not negate the more social/political version of the idea of ‘double charisma”. The Moses and Joshua analogy is interesting in that whatever pre-christian movement was pre-Paul, that movement was re-arranged, re-developed by Paul and changed course. If such an earlier movement was centred around a charismatic, inspirational figure (which I think most likely) such a figure did not see the ‘promised land’. That achievement was in the hands of a secondary charismatic figure – Paul, or whoever it was that was writing under that name. (and that 40 year gap – wandering in the wilderness for the earlier movement until Paul rides in on his white horse…) Thus, rather than push a ‘Jesus’ figure way back when – keep the gospel timeline but bring ‘Paul’ forward to post 70 ce….

      TOWARD A THEORY OF THE ROUTINIZATION OF CHARISMA
      Michael A. Toth

      • TimVonHobbyhorsen
        2010-06-05 01:02:53 UTC - 01:02 | Permalink

        Vinny: “…some writer has placed a ‘Jesus’ figure way back to around 100 bc….”

        See Jesus: One Hundred Years Before Christ, by Alvar Ellegard.

        BTW, the author makes a good case for not trusting the circular arguments surrounding the dating of texts, especially those that rest on christology. Why is epistle “X” believed to be late? Because it has a high christology. How do we know higher notions of christology are late? Because epistle “X” is late.

        Consider how the mainstream scholars treat the Gospel of Thomas. Ehrman, for example, thinks it’s pretty late, basing his conclusion partly on the gnostic-sounding sayings found therein. How do we know Thomas is later than the other gospels? Because it contains elements of gnosticism. How do we know gnosticism is a later form of Christianity? Because the texts, like Thomas, are later than the canonical gospels.

        Oh, really?

      • TimVonHobbyhorsen
        2010-06-05 01:06:34 UTC - 01:06 | Permalink

        Sorry. That wasn’t a Vinny quote, but a maryhelena quote (Jesus figure back to around 100 bc). My bad.

      • maryhelena
        2010-06-05 02:42:25 UTC - 02:42 | Permalink

        Thanks, Tim, for the book title – at least I got the 100 year bit right!

        I don’t generally like to come down on NT scholars – but quite frankly, sometimes one just has to shake ones head with some of the arguments that are made. Sometimes I think they can’t see the wood for the trees…

        Regarding the christology issues re dating. No expert here – but I’d put the gospel of John right there at the beginning prior to the synoptics. Particularly from a mythicist perspective, a high christology from the get go makes more sense – rather than the historicists approach of a slow process of development. Paul and John look like a mutual admiration society…

      • maryhelena
        2010-06-05 03:03:48 UTC - 03:03 | Permalink

        Regarding the gospel of John as being the earliest gospel – it’s going to be interesting to keep an eye on a new research project, on Q, at the university of Copenhagen.

        http://news.ku.dk/all_news/2010/2010.1/new_testament/
        The fourth gospel

        “The mapping of the internal chronology of the gospels will also include the question of the fourth gospel – the Gospel of St. John – which according to Professor Müller is a difficult one:

        – “There seems to be points of contact between the Gospels of St. Luke and St. John but the direction of influence is not unambiguous. We will examine if it is possible to understand the book of John as another source for the Gospel of Luke which in that case is to be seen as the youngest of the four gospels”.

      • TimVonHobbyhorsen
        2010-06-05 03:35:58 UTC - 03:35 | Permalink

        I can be persuaded that parts of John’s gospel are early. The Signs Source could be very early indeed. However, I think its present edited form, with the Orthodox-friendly coda (Chapter 21) is a second-century work. I know reputable scholars such as Robin Lane Fox like to assert that John (or parts of it) go all the way back to the historical Jesus, but for the most part their arguments leave me scratching my head.

      • maryhelena
        2010-06-05 04:57:54 UTC - 04:57 | Permalink

        Thanks for the link to Doherty’s review of Ellegard’s book.

        I’ve not read the book, just remembered seeing the title. I think both Ellegard and Wells uphold, in different ways, the idea that a historical figure is relevant to an earlier, pre-Paul, proto-christian movement. Doherty ideas do not recogonize this possibility. In this I think Doherty is wrong. A mythicist position, no historical Jesus of Nazareth, does not negate the possibility that a historical individual was important, inspirational etc, to an earlier movement. Paul, after all, is a latecomer to the party!. I think Ellegard’s idea re the Teacher of Righteousnes is not on – way too early and no evidence, as far as I’m aware, that such a figure was historical anyway. Wells has an unknown Galilean preacher that was not crucified. What both writers uphold, contrary to Doherty, is the idea that there was a historical figure, a human figure, relevant to early christian origins. So – battle of the mythicists…

      • 2010-06-05 13:05:54 UTC - 13:05 | Permalink
      • maryhelena
        2010-06-05 17:37:13 UTC - 17:37 | Permalink

        Thanks for the links, Neil.

        You know, all this previous interest in 100 bc is probably nothing more than expectations re a messiah figure that are based on Daniel’s 70 weeks of years (variations of that numbering system). 490 years back from 100 BC and one gets to 590 ce – which is just 3 or 4 year prior to the destruction of Jerusalem in 587/586 bc.

        Since the name ‘Jesus’ means something like Yahweh saves or delivers, the name is nothing more than a title denoting that some figure or another was found to be relevant re whatever interpretations were doing the rounds. Likewise, with the Christ/anointed tag.

        So, whether there were earlier historical figures that fit the bill for that time and place, is of no real concern re the origin story of early christianity. That story is placing its interpretations of the OT within a timeslot running from Herod the Great to Pontius Pilate. Its these years – not 100 bc – that are of concern to the gospel storyline. Sure, the gospel writers were probably also using Daniel – but to get to their timeline would be using a different start date than that used by the 100 bc interpretations.

        All in all, a great Jewish pasttime – which if we want to get to the roots of christian history, we do well in taking notice of…

        (and of course, since nothing much seems to have been generated in 100 bc – and something lasting did develope from the gospel timeline – then perhaps the early christians just happened to strike it lucky…)

      • maryhelena
        2010-06-05 17:54:07 UTC - 17:54 | Permalink

        590 BC

        So, 100 BC did not generate much of interest – but never say never….By 37 BC the priests were at it again….

        Slavonic Josephus

        Immediately the priests started to grieve
        and complain to one another, saying among
        themselves in secret (things)they would
        not dare to say in public because of Herod’s
        friends.
        For they were saying: ‘The Law forbids us
        to have a foreigner (as) king, but we are
        expecting the Anointed, the Meek One, of
        David’s line. Yet we know that Herod is an
        Arab, uncircumcised. The Anointed One
        will be called meek but this (king) has
        filled our whole land with blood. Under
        the Anointed the lame were to walk,
        the blind to see, the poor to prosper,
        but under this (king) the hale have become
        lame, those who could see have gone blind,
        the rich are beggared.
        But is this (king)the hope of nations?
        We detest his misdeeds, are the nations
        going to hope in him?”
        Alas, God has abandoned us and we are
        forgotten by Him, and he wishes
        to commit us to desolation and ruin,
        not as in the time of Nebuchadnezzar
        or Antiochus! For them the prophets were
        teachers of the people and promised us
        captivity and return. But now there is
        no one to ask and no one to console (us)!
        In reply the priest Ananus told them:
        “I know all the Writings. When Herod was
        fighting in front of the city,
        I never imagined that God would allow him
        to reign over us. But I now understand
        that our devastation is at hand.
        And consider Daniel’s prophecy. For he
        writes that after the Return, the city of
        Jerusalem will stand for 70 weeks of
        years, that is 400 years and 90, and will
        lie waste after those years”.
        And they calculated the years and it was so.
        And the priest Jonathan answering, said:
        “The number of years are as I said, but
        where is the Holy of Holies? For
        (the prophet) cannot be called this Herod
        holy. (since he is) bloodthirsty and foul.”
        But one of them, Levi by name, wishing to
        appear wiser than them, said whatever
        occurred to him, not (quoting) the Scriptures
        but (repeating) fairy stories.
        They, being scribes, began to seek the time
        when the Holy (One) would appear,

    • Antonio Jerez
      2010-06-05 02:25:11 UTC - 02:25 | Permalink

      You must be thinking about “Jesus – One hundred years before Christ written” by my fellow swedish compatriot Alvar Ellegård. His thesis is so badly argued that it is doubtful that it would ever have been approved in a history department at a reputable University. Ellegård may have been an excellent professor in English but as a historian he is worthless. I had a public debate with him at the International Book Fair here in Göteborg many years ago.

      • TimVonHobbyhorsen
        2010-06-05 03:21:12 UTC - 03:21 | Permalink

        Lest anyone reading this blog who hasn’t read the late Ellegard’s book be tempted to dismiss it out of hand, I suggest reading Doherty’s review here:

        http://jesuspuzzle.humanists.net/BkrvEll.htm

        Professor Ellegard’s response appears below the review, followed by Doherty’s reply.

      • 2010-06-05 12:28:14 UTC - 12:28 | Permalink

        Would you like to share a few points to explain why you think it is so badly argued?

        Perhaps you’d also like to explain in a few words where I have failed to give any fair or reasonable critique of Crossley’s work, too.

  • rey
    2010-06-03 11:57:37 UTC - 11:57 | Permalink

    “So why is ‘Jesus agnostic’ Hoffmann so “prickly” (by his own admission) when the possibility of the nonhistoricity of Jesus is seriously raised in an effort to explain the evidence we have for the rise of Christianity?”

    I think the prickly comment was about the Jesus Seminar not mythicism.

    And as for Mohammed there is literally LESS evidence for his historical existence than for Jesus. There are no documents by his enemies that mention him even as a second-hand figure they heard a legend about. Not so with Jesus. We have references in Talmudic works, the Toldoth Jesu, and of cource Tacitus and so on mention him, perhaps not as someone they actually met and can truly vouch for the historical existence of, but they know about him as a figure they’ve heard of, even if they only heard legends. Now Mohammed if he actually existed should have had many enemies, seeing that he waged wars to convert cities and was so antagonistic to Judaism and Christianity. Yet, no Jew or Christian mentions him or the Koran until like 200 years after he supposedly lived and it was supposedly written. The guy obviously didn’t exist and the Koran was not written as early as the Muslim tradition claims. There is no question. With Jesus on the other hand, at least his enemies had heard of him within 100 years of the time he said to have lived.

  • 2010-06-03 15:38:39 UTC - 15:38 | Permalink

    As far as I am interested in “Jesus” I see his existence as a meaningless question until one uncovers some evidence for his existence. My interest is in the “Jesus” concept as it emerges and mutates in early Christian history.

    The reason I don’t accept Hoffmann’s so-called “agnosticism” is because it seems to me he is still thinking of some sort of entity for “Jesus” there somewhere, “whoever” or “whatever” it might be. This is like McGrath’s “unknown” entity that stands in place of the fundamentalist’s “miracle”.

    The a priori assumption at the root of early Christian studies is still the NT gospel-Acts model, but instead of “Jesus” or “resurrection” they simply substitute “blanks” or “question marks”.

    That this is so would appear to me to be supported by the “prickliness” with which “historians” like Hoffmann or McGrath respond when someone suggests an alternative and simpler model — perhaps not very unlike some mythicist proposal for Mohammad — that removes the need for those “agnostic” blanks and question marks. To suggest to them, especially as an outsider, that if they removed their blank entities then they would find a simpler and more plausible explanation, is to provoke them to show the less civil sides of their natures.

    • 2010-06-04 02:51:14 UTC - 02:51 | Permalink

      As far as I am interested in “Jesus” I see his existence as a meaningless question until one uncovers some evidence for his existence. My interest is in the “Jesus” concept as it emerges and mutates in early Christian history.

      Aren’t the mutations themselves evidence for the possibility that there was a historical person somewhere behind the form of Christianity that emerged? For some reason, a religion based on an ahistorical dying and rising Messiah mutated into a religion based on a figure grounded in a specific historical situation. One possibility is that the mythical figure was historicized by the gospel writers. Another possibility might be that the gospel writers commandeered the mythical figure and applied it to the deceased founder of their own cult who had in fact been an actual historical individual. If our sources are insufficient to choose definitively between two or more possibilities, isn’t the proper course to acknowledge those that are plausible and consider the implications of each one?

      • TimVonHobbyhorsen
        2010-06-04 04:18:20 UTC - 04:18 | Permalink

        Vinny said, “[I]sn’t the proper course to acknowledge those that are plausible and consider the implications of each one?”

        How could anyone argue for a different course? And yet we continually see supposed threats to the standard model met with derision, anger, ad hominem arguments, haughty disregard, and scorn. I’m still fascinated by Freke and Gandy’s theory that Gnosticism is older than most scholars think it is, and that the “outer mysteries” (the story and rituals) of the (Proto-?) Gnostics became historicized as orthodox Christianity. But if Doherty can’t get a fair hearing in the hallowed cloisters of NT academia, Freke and Gandy’s ideas surely won’t ever be considered worth pursuing.

        Anyone who steps out of bounds is soundly chastised and ridiculed. The very few scholars who dare rock the boat can expect at least one of the apologists masquerading as scholars to provide a rude psychological write-up. Surely, they claim, the only reason a scholar would even suggest these ludicrous ideas is that he has residual issues with the religion he has left. He must hate God, but who really he is hates himself, and he wants to take it out on Christianity. The poor, misguided soul!

        I wish what I had just written was hyperbole.

      • 2010-06-04 06:57:44 UTC - 06:57 | Permalink

        Tim,

        I am not sure that they are actually arguing for a different course, but Neal’s comment seemed to suggest that non-existence should be recognized as the default position whereas I would go with agnosticism.

  • mrRob
    2010-06-03 21:19:07 UTC - 21:19 | Permalink

    “Now Mohammed if he actually existed should have had many enemies, seeing that he waged wars to convert cities and was so antagonistic to Judaism and Christianity”

    if you read the seerah literature it says that Muhammads forces became dominant and governing body in arabia. why would Muhammad or his companions allow the “dhimis” to say anything negative about him or Islam?

    “The guy obviously didn’t exist and the Koran was not written as early as the Muslim tradition claims.”

    robert hoyland (non muslim) was pretisha crones student. he writes in his “new documentary texts and the early islamic state” that Qur’aan is dominant in early islamic politics and theology.early inscriptions mirroring the themes within the qur’aanic text.

    “Not so with Jesus. We have references in Talmudic works, the Toldoth Jesu, and of cource Tacitus and so on mention him, perhaps not as someone they actually met and can truly vouch for the historical existence of, ”

    how do you know “toldoth jesu” was created by jewish oponents? in the works you mention above where do they connect jesus with the jesus of the gospel accounts?

    “From the listings of the dated texts, it is clear that the name of Prophet Muhammad appears very early in the non-Muslim texts”

    so who is the mhmt if not the muhammad of islam?

    • rey
      2010-06-04 11:03:56 UTC - 11:03 | Permalink

      “how do you know “toldoth jesu” was created by jewish oponents?”

      Its in Hebrew. It says Jesus is a bastard. It features Judas Iscariot raping Jesus while they are both flying in the air. It claims that the Sanhedrin sent a wise man named Simon Cephas to go and mislead the Gentiles under the name of Paul in order to separate the Notzrim (i.e. Christians) from the Jews and save the day. I think that about covers it.

      And I stand by everything I said about Mohammed. Even if “Qur’aan is dominant in early islamic politics and theology” that doesn’t prove that the Quran actually existed yet (certainly not in the form that we know it) just as gospel-like material in Justin Martyr and earlier writers doesn’t prove that the canonical gospels existed yet. And as for Mohammed, there is no more reason to assume that because the Quran was “dominant in early islamic politics and theology” that he really existed any more than that because the ‘orthodox’ Christian tradition says Luke and Acts were written by Luke a companion of Paul that there must really have been a Luke who was Paul’s companion and he must have really written these books. The evidence points to a second century date for Acts composition, so the attribution to a fictional Luke is just a ploy, as the retroactive attribution of the Quran to a fictional Mohammed is.

  • mrRob
    2010-06-03 21:44:53 UTC - 21:44 | Permalink

    The 8th century BL Add. 14,643 was published by Wright who first brought to attention the mention of an early date of 947 AG (635-6 CE).[26] The contents of this manuscript has puzzled many scholars for their apparent lack of coherence as it contains an assembly of texts with diverse nature.[27] In relation to Islam and Muslims, there are two important dates mentioned in this manuscript.

    AG 945, indiction VII: On Friday, 4 February, [i.e., 634 CE / Dhul Qa‘dah 12 AH] at the ninth hour, there was a battle between the Romans and the Arabs of Mụhammad [Syr. tayyāyē d-Ṃhmt] in Palestine twelve miles east of Gaza. The Romans fled, leaving behind the patrician YRDN (Syr. BRYRDN), whom the Arabs killed. Some 4000 poor villagers of Palestine were killed there, Christians, Jews and Samaritans. The Arabs ravaged the whole region.

    AG 947, indiction IX: The Arabs invaded the whole of Syria and went down to Persia and conquered it; the Arabs climbed mountain of Mardin and killed many monks there in [the monasteries of] Kedar and Benōthō. There died the blessed man Simon, doorkeeper of Qedar, brother of Thomas the priest.[28]

    It is the first date above which is of great importance as it provides the first explicit reference to Muhammad in a non-Muslim source. The account is usually identified with the battle of Dathin.[29] According to Hoyland, “its precise dating inspires confidence that it ultimately derives from first-hand knowledge”.[30] This means that the time period between the death of Muhammad (June, 632 CE) and the earliest mention of him (4th February, 634 CE) is slightly over a year and half!

    http://www.islamic-awareness.org/History/Islam/Inscriptions/earlysaw.html

    • 2010-06-03 22:27:13 UTC - 22:27 | Permalink

      mrRob,

      This blog is a space for a critical discussion. Merely quoting others who disagree is not critical discussion. You are welcome to present your own arguments for or against anything posted here. But mere quotations from other texts will be removed — as I remove them when they relate to Christian and Bible texts, too.

      This is not an anti-Christian or anti-Muslim blog, but a place for rational and critical thought.

      In one of the passages you quote it is said that the precise dating inspires confidence that the event was recorded from first hand knowledge. This is the same sort of argument used by apologists to “prove the gospels” are true. It is a meaningless argument. Even fiction includes precise dates to create the impression that the make-believe world is real.

      You are welcome to discuss your reasons for believing the things you read, but do not just quote texts or repeat what you believe without a rational and clear justification. Otherwise they will be removed as spam.

    • rey
      2010-06-04 11:09:06 UTC - 11:09 | Permalink

      “The contents of this manuscript has puzzled many scholars for their apparent lack of coherence as it contains an assembly of texts with diverse nature.”

      In other words the text was interpolated by Muslim apologists and cannot be relied on any more than Josephus’ mention of Jesus as the Christ and saying “if it be right to call him a man.”

  • mrRob
    2010-06-04 23:08:38 UTC - 23:08 | Permalink

    > a “Saracen Prophet” from Arabia is mentioned in a dated manuscript to
    > 634 CE (two years after Muhamamd’s death). that establishes his
    > historicity. early Syriac sources give his name as “Muhammad”. there
    > is also the curious undated inscription in Arabia saying “I am
    > Muhammad son of Abdullah” together with the names of other companions,
    > that tradition says hunkered down before a battle in that place. the
    > inscription is not regarded as a forgery.

    toledot jeshu seems to be taking the piss out of jesus. does toledot jesu have a date on it? analysis of the hebrew takes it back to 1st century galilean hebrew? who is the “saracen prophet” if not muhammad? what other “saracen prophet” united the arabs? if muhammad was mythical don’t you think there would be an early marcionite version of islam in competition with other sunni and shite sects?

    • 2010-06-05 11:35:39 UTC - 11:35 | Permalink

      An author of fiction can write any date he wants on a story. A date written on a document proves nothing. Even some books of the Jewish bible and Christian gospels mention dates, but these dates are very likely fictitious.

      You are repeating arguments from ignorant authority when you write: “analysis of the hebrew takes it back to 1st century galilean hebrew.” Whoever made up that sentence did not know what they were talking about, and obviously believed that whoever reads it will immediately believe it. It is a false claim.

      If Muhammad was mythical, this is no reason at all for there to have been an early Marcionite version of Islam.

      The Koran, like the Bible, teaches people to accept the words of authority on faith and without question.

      • maryhelena
        2010-06-05 14:11:33 UTC - 14:11 | Permalink

        Neil wrote: “Even some books of the Jewish bible and Christian gospels mention dates, but these dates are very likely fictitious”.

        The dates are not fictitious, how could they be? The dates reference historical details. Probably you mean the gospel storyline that has been linked to these dates. But for that that label to be applied to the gospel storyline one would have to assume that the gospels were written to entertain, written for amusement. And that, I think, is something that would be very difficult to establish. The intent that is more readily observed from the gospel writing is that its authors believed what they were writing to be ‘truth’, that their writings were transmitting theological beliefs, spiritual insights. Sure, we can label it all nonsense – but to label it ‘fictitious’ would be doing those writers an injustice that I don’t think their writings merit.

        To label Jesus as ‘fictitious’ misses the thrust of the gospel writings. That figure is not of no consequence to the gospel writers. It’s not something they dreamed up for our entertainment. The Jesus story is a theological construct with meaning for its creator, or creators.

        If one wants to throw the baby out with the bathwater – ie Jesus storyline not historical – therefore – the historical context in which that storyline is set has no relevance to early Christian origins – then, methinks one has lost an important element in the search for Christian origins.

        And if one is throwing out dating because it has no perceived relevance – then where does that leave Paul? Why should his dating be acceptable – just because he had no virgin birth and did not walk on water? Surely, because the Paul story, in and of itself, has no theological relevance, then it is Paul’s story, more than the Jesus story, that more clearly can have a casual throw of the ‘fiction’ ball aimed at it.

        So where would all that leave us? On arbitrary dating of early NT writings – which dating itself is most probably achieved by a priori ideas re early Christian history. (and who can demonstrate that what we have are not copies of copies of copies of even earlier writings?) Thus, round and round in circles we go – instead of going back to square one and checking our premises!

      • 2010-06-05 14:43:34 UTC - 14:43 | Permalink

        Your point is fair enough.

        What I was thinking of specifically, and what I should have clarified, were those instances where Amos or some prophet dates his words in the reign of some king of Israel or Judah who may not have existed except in later literature, or a date matched against some fairy tale census by Augustus.

        I agree words come with all sorts of value assessments attached to them. Though the final author/redactor of Luke-Acts was surely writing for some serious theological intent, he also does so with many flourishes of Hellenistic rhetoric that did serve to entertain at the same time.

  • mrRob
    2010-06-04 23:21:31 UTC - 23:21 | Permalink

    “The contents of this manuscript has puzzled many scholars for their apparent lack of coherence as it contains an assembly of texts with diverse nature.”

    In other words the text was interpolated by Muslim apologists and cannot be relied on any more than Josephus’ mention of Jesus as the Christ and saying “if it be right to call him a man.”

    “AG 945, indiction VII: On Friday, 4 February, [i.e., 634 CE / Dhul Qa‘dah 12 AH] at the ninth hour, there was a battle between the Romans and the Arabs of Mụhammad [Syr. tayyāyē d-Ṃhmt] in Palestine twelve miles east of Gaza. The Romans fled, leaving behind the patrician YRDN (Syr. BRYRDN), whom the Arabs killed. Some 4000 poor villagers of Palestine were killed there, Christians, Jews and Samaritans. The Arabs ravaged the whole region.

    AG 947, indiction IX: The Arabs invaded the whole of Syria and went down to Persia and conquered it; the Arabs climbed mountain of Mardin and killed many monks there in [the monasteries of] Kedar and Benōthō. There died the blessed man Simon, doorkeeper of Qedar, brother of Thomas the priest.[28]”

    you think “arabs of muhammad” is an interpolation?

  • mrRob
    2010-06-04 23:28:30 UTC - 23:28 | Permalink

    “In other words the text was interpolated by Muslim apologists and cannot be relied on any more than Josephus’ mention of Jesus as the Christ and saying “if it be right to call him a man.”

    why didn’t the arab muslim apologists edit out all the bad bits attributed to them? do you think they deliberately added a date close to muhammads death?

    • rey
      2010-06-05 13:08:43 UTC - 13:08 | Permalink

      [Edited by Vridar]

      There are scholarly theories out in the wild today that the Koran began as Christian liturgical material, like prayer book and was later modified into a new religion long after the supposed time of Mohammed, which they use to explain why one fifth of the Koran makes ZERO sense and reads as pure jibberish. It isn’t real Arabic. They’ve shown that certain words and statements make more sense in Aramaic. With this revelation, it is obvious that Mohammed is not historical unless he was a Christian priest who wrote a prayer book in Aramaic that was later twisted to make a new religion that he never dreamed of. In which case all the ‘historical’ information we are fed about him by Muslims is fake.

  • mrRob
    2010-06-05 20:44:38 UTC - 20:44 | Permalink

    “You are repeating arguments from ignorant authority when you write: “analysis of the hebrew takes it back to 1st century galilean hebrew.” Whoever made up that sentence did not know what they were talking about, and obviously believed that whoever reads it will immediately believe it. It is a false claim.”

    i am asking “does the analysis of the hebrew…”
    your friend rey wrote the that the toledot is a hebrew document, i am asking is it a hebrew contemporary to jesus’s time? or is it a document attacking christianity decades after jesus’s death?

  • mrRob
    2010-06-05 21:34:06 UTC - 21:34 | Permalink

    “There are scholarly theories out in the wild today that the Koran began as Christian liturgical material, like prayer book and was later modified into a new religion long after the supposed time of Mohammed, which they use to explain why one fifth of the Koran makes ZERO sense and reads as pure jibberish. It isn’t real Arabic. They’ve shown that certain words and statements make more sense in Aramaic. With this revelation, it is obvious that Mohammed is not historical unless he was a Christian priest who wrote a prayer book in Aramaic that was later twisted to make a new religion that he never dreamed of. In which case all the ‘historical’ information we are fed about him by Muslims is fake.”

    funny thing is that this guy does not mention the arabic words which make “more sense in aramiac”. i am currently inquiring about the arabic word “furqaan” at soc.religion.islam

    http://groups.google.co.uk/group/soc.religion.islam/browse_frm/thread/226b24cf25ee8f33?hl=en

    • 2010-06-05 23:12:16 UTC - 23:12 | Permalink

      The following is from the Wikipedia article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christoph_Luxenberg#Responses

      It gives one example of an Aramaic word for ‘white raisins’ being mistranslated as ‘virgins’.

      A March 2002 New York Times article describes Luxenberg’s research:

      * Luxenberg, a scholar of ancient Semitic languages, argues that the Koran has been misread and mistranslated for centuries. His work, based on the earliest copies of the Koran, maintains that parts of Islam’s holy book are derived from pre-existing Christian Aramaic texts that were misinterpreted by later Islamic scholars who prepared the editions of the Koran commonly read today. So, for example, the virgins who are supposedly awaiting good Islamic martyrs as their reward in paradise are in reality “white raisins” of crystal clarity rather than fair maidens. . . . The famous passage about the virgins is based on the word hur, which is an adjective in the feminine plural meaning simply “white.” Islamic tradition insists the term hur stands for houri, which means “virgin,” but Luxenberg insists that this is a forced misreading of the text. In both ancient Aramaic and in at last one respected dictionary of early Arabic hur means “white raisin.”

      In 2002 The Guardian newspaper published an article which stated:

      * Luxenberg tries to show that many obscurities of the Koran disappear if we read certain words as being Syriac and not Arabic. We cannot go into the technical details of his methodology but it allows Luxenberg, to the probable horror of all Muslim males dreaming of sexual bliss in the Muslim hereafter, to conjure away the wide-eyed houris promised to the faithful in suras XLIV.54; LII.20, LV.72, and LVI.22. Luxenberg ‘s new analysis, leaning on the Hymns of Ephrem the Syrian, yields “white raisins” of “crystal clarity” rather than doe-eyed, and ever willing virgins—the houris. Luxenberg claims that the context makes it clear that it is food and drink that is being offered, and not unsullied maidens or houris.

    • rey
      2010-06-06 08:59:30 UTC - 08:59 | Permalink

      Sura 4.157 “That they said, We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger 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 knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not — (158) Nay, God raised him up unto Himself; and God is Exalted in Power, Wise; (159) And there is none of the People of the Book but must believe in him before his death; and on the Day of Judgment he will be a witness against them.”

      Although conjectural, I am sure that the original meaning of “they killed him not” is that he didn’t stay dead. Here the context is about the Jews claiming to have killed Jesus, but even in Christian language they didn’t for he says “I lay down my life for the sheep; no man takes it from me.” And in the sense that he didn’t stay dead, they didn’t kill him. That’s why the writer here connects Jesus’ not being killed to the resurrection: “They didn’t kill him; God raised him up.” In other words, he didn’t stay dead, he was resurrected. Then because of his resurrection he is tied to the Day of Judgment as the Judge, as in Christianity. For example in Acts 17:31, Paul is presented as saying that God “has appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained, of which he has given assurance to everyone by raising him from the dead.” This passage of the Koran even teaches that you have to believe in Jesus before the Day of Judgment or you’re in trouble.

      The Koran at this point is teaching Christian theology. Only a total misinterpretation can make this into a claim that Jesus did not die on the cross and get subsequently resurrected. I agree, therefore, with the judgment of those scholars who assert that the Koran is a collection of Christian liturgical material from Syriac or Aramaic that was misinterpreted and misused to create a new religion.

  • Theman
    2010-06-06 01:40:57 UTC - 01:40 | Permalink

    mr godfrey first look at all the places where the qur’aan has used the word “hur” http://corpus.quran.com/wordbyword.jsp
    you can clearly see the qur’aan describes what this “hur” is.
    replance “hur” plural “houri” with “white raisins” and then see how idiotic the guys theory is.

    a muslim apologist writes:

    So MY methodology in REFUTING Luxenberg is as follows:

    1) Let it be known that Syriac did NOT beget Arabic, but Arabic came
    from Nabataean (called “an-NabaTîyyah” in Arabic) which is an entirely
    different language. This is testified to thoroughly in competent
    scholarship and in the Arabic lexica both classical and modern. The
    similarities between Arabic, Syriac are matters of COGNATES and not
    Syriac parental etymons which trickled into the Qur’ân. An example of
    a cognate is the English “petrify” which comes from the Greek “petros”
    for stone, but NOT from the French “petrifier”! The French did not get
    it from Anglo-Saxony, nor did the Anglo-Saxons get it from the French.
    They both got it from Greek. What if I were to postulate that the King
    James AV 1611 Bible was originally a French romance due to these
    COGNATES? What if I said Shakespeare was actually a French
    revolutionary writing perverted stories to destroy the rival England?
    It would be utterly preposterous. The difference between cognates and
    etymons MUST be understand or else you fall victim to a fancy
    imagination. Luxenberg remains absolutely clueless in this issue.

    2) Refute Luxenberg ANYWAYS using his OWN methodology. This is
    achieved by proving that his usage of Syriac words is absolutely
    erroneous. The words he claims have a different meaning in Syriac than
    as used in the Qur’ân mean the SAME THING in BOTH Syriac and in the
    Qur’ân. I’ve done this above by showing that the Qur’ânic “qaswarah”.
    So even though the entire foundation of his theory is linguistically
    and historically absurd, for the sake of argument I can destroy his
    theories regarding the vocabulary of teh Qur’ân ANYWAYS using Syriac
    (even though it’s erroneous to use it). Had Luxenberg known Syriac
    beyond a layman’s level none of this would even be necessary to begin
    with.

    Either way, Luxenberg, Luling, Mingana, etc, all lose.

    • 2010-06-06 10:50:16 UTC - 10:50 | Permalink

      “you can clearly see the qur’aan describes what this “hur” is.”

      In other words, not only was the Syro-Aramaic word misinterpreted by the compilers of the Koran but they enlarged the text with their misunderstanding. Remember that concept you learned about in the critical study of Christian text, a fancy word used to describe what Romans 1:2-6 is, interpolation?

    • 2010-06-06 10:56:44 UTC - 10:56 | Permalink

      What concerns me most about posts like this is not the argument, but the tone. Posts sprinkled with words like ‘idiotic’, ‘absurd’, ‘absolutely clueless’ and words in caps do not suggest a calm, rational inquiry into all sides of the question. I have spoken often enough about this sort of language that is used by Christian apologists, and even by nonchristian scholars of the bible.

      When this sort of language is used, my first response is to think that the author is not being fully open and honest with the evidence. Christian or Moslem or any other apologist who has sound, evidence-based arguments will have no need for such language. The language in your post is the same as we find in posts from Christian apologists.

      If evidence and reason are on one’s side, there is no need for insult and abuse. Let the facts speak for themselves and win the day.

  • Theman
    2010-06-06 20:36:06 UTC - 20:36 | Permalink

    mr godfrey, i agree with you.

  • mr Rob
    2010-06-06 20:59:27 UTC - 20:59 | Permalink

    etymology fallacies

    Example:

    Formal logic fails us because of its assumptions. The postulates from which the mechanism springs are normally abstractions of a high order, words rather than things. The finest of automobiles will not run on a road of air; it must have solid ground under the wheels. The Greeks, with their assumption that words were real things, naturally enough soared into rarefied regions. Human thinking has been short of oxygen ever since. … “Logos” is Greek for “word”; “logic” is the manipulation of words.

    Source: Stuart Chase, The Tyranny of Words (1938), Chapter 13, p. 226.

    Analysis

    Exposition:

    The etymology of a word is an account of its historical derivation from older words often from a different language. An older, usually archaic, word from which a current word is historically derived is called its “etymon”. The term “etymological fallacy” is applied to two types of error:

    1.Semantic: The etymological fallacy as a semantic error is the mistake of confusing the current meaning of a word with the meaning of one of its etymons, or of considering the meaning of the etymon to be the “real” or “true” meaning of the current word. If one’s goal is to communicate, then the “real” or “true” meaning of a word is its current meaning. Since the meanings of words change over time, often considerably, the meaning of an etymon may be very different from the current meaning of the word derived from it. The fact that a word historically derives from an etymon may be interesting, but it cannot tell us the current meaning of the word.

    2.Logical:The etymological fallacy as a logical mistake results when one reasons about the etymon as if the conclusion applied to the current word. This is a logical error similar to equivocation, which involves confusing two meanings of the same word; but it differs from equivocation in that the etymological fallacy involves the meanings of two different words, though those words are historically connected.
    Source:

    Robert J. Gula, Nonsense: A Handbook of Logical Fallacies (2002), pp. 48 & 161.

    • 2010-06-06 21:37:45 UTC - 21:37 | Permalink

      The fallacy the above address is not the same as the claim by a scholar that an Arabic word came to be used as an erroneous substitute for an Aramaic word. The passages you quote refer to imputing an original derivation of a word to its modern-day usage. For example, “idiot” derives from a Greek word meaning a private person, one unconcerned with civic affairs. It is not valid to use that original derivation to explain what the word “idiot” means to us today. This is a completely different fallacy from the one originally addressed about the origin of certain words in the Koran.

  • mr Rob
    2010-06-06 23:32:07 UTC - 23:32 | Permalink

    why not accept the simple explanation?

    in the torah god rests after he made the heaven and the earth
    in the qur’an No fatigue touched god after he made the heave and the earth

    one can argue that for muhammad god taking a break or resting is a human attribute not befitting the god, so he changes what he does not like.

    for paul, jesus’s crucifixion means that you are not responsible for your sins.

    in the qur’an every human is responsible for his sins and no human inherits the sin of adam
    one can argue that muhammad’s denial of crucifixion of jesus was because it did not agree with his theology. there is no need to take the luxemberg stance. second argument is that muhammad investigated the earlier sources and found that the crucifixion is based on heresay.

  • mr Rob
    2010-06-06 22:32:53 UTC - 22:32 | Permalink

    “Although conjectural, I am sure that the original meaning of “they killed him not” is that he didn’t stay dead. ”

    i’ll conjecture that he did STAY DEAD and the jews did kill n crucify him. i’ll also conjecture that the “aramayk qur’aan” mocks christianity.

    “SHAKIR: Therefore, for their breaking their covenant and their disbelief in the communications of Allah and their killing the prophets wrongfully and their saying: Our hearts are covered; nay! Allah set a seal upon them owing to their unbelief, so they shall not believe except a few”

    NOTE THE WORDS “KILLING THE PROPHETS” ?WE now conjecture that the Jews crucified jesus and this lead to his DEATH and he STAYED dead.why?

    Qur’an in other places says God RAISED jesus when he was DEAD!

    When God said: ‘Jesus, I shall cause you to die and raise you up to Myself.

    Aal Imraan 3: 55
    [www.understanding-islam.com/related/text.aspx?type=article&aid=37&sscatid=111 — link no longer works, Neil, 13th August 2015. Try one of these articles from the Understanding Islam site instead.]

    so jesus = a DEAD guy according to the Qur’aan.

    summary: the “aramayk koran” says that not only were the jews SUCCESSFUL in killing the prophets, but they also NAILED jesus and killed him. God caused all of this to happen and then raised his dead body to himself.

    “SHAKIR: And for their unbelief and for their having uttered against Marium a grievous calumny.”

    we will find cognate for “buhtanan 3dhema” in syriac and aramaik and twist it to mean something positive. we can play luxembergs game.

    the arabic is “WA MA QATALU HU WA MA SALABU HU”

    how much do you know about semetic parallelism?
    if they got him on the cross they nailed/killed him.
    do us a favour and look up how the qur’aan has used the negation “wa ma” in other verses also the words “qataluhu” and “salb” .
    Allow the Qur’aan to tell you how it HAS USED its words.

    “…and on the Day of Judgment he will be a witness against them.”

    i will remind you that the qur’aan says Muhammad , muhammad’s ummah , the angels will be a “WITNESS” against thier ppl. jesus’s being a “witness” on DOJ is not UNIQUE at all.

    “This passage of the Koran even teaches that you have to believe in Jesus before the Day of Judgment or you’re in trouble. ”

    i will remind you that the Qur’aan says that you have to believe in every prophet (nabi) and ANGELs (malaaika) or else you are in trouble.the Qur’aan has no obsession with jesus, but the qur’aans claim is that jesus and every prophet taught the islamic message of tawheed.

    mr paul a williams wrote,

    “The Qur’an’s focus is its Message from God to mankind, acknowledging ALL the prophets of God. So B’s comparison is misplaced.”

    • rey
      2010-06-08 13:26:20 UTC - 13:26 | Permalink

      Are you a Muslim?

  • muhammad
    2011-01-17 02:06:15 UTC - 02:06 | Permalink

    peace be upon you

    Arabic is the _OLDEST_ living Semitic language. Aramaic and Hebrew do not even come remotely close to being as archaic and well preserved a Semitic language as Arabic is. Some Jews and Christians have tried to attack the language of the Qur’an when their attacks on the Qur’an have failed, but the simple fact is that Hebrew & Aramaic were much more evolved 3000+ years ago, than Arabic is till this day. It is completely impossible for Arabic to have evolved from Syriac or Hebrew, because those languages are like simplified forms of Arabic, not the other way ’round.

    The proof of this is very simple. Arabic preserves 28 of the original 29 Semitic letters, modern Hebrew only preserves about 20 (Ancient Biblical Hebrew only preserved 25), modern Aramaic (e.g Syriac) only preserves 22. Arabic preserves the case inflection system, dual markers etc. all things which disappeared from Aramaic and Hebrew at least 3000+ years ago. The idea that Arabic could be a descendant of these languages, or could have evolved from them is just ludicrous. The idea they could’ve descended from Arabic (or it’s direct ancestor) though is quite plausible.

    Hebrew and Aramaic have undergone many simplifications in their sounds. As an example the word “bint” (girl) in Arabic is said as “bat” in Hebrew. It is the same word, but due to the noon saakin in this word, they lost the noon from it thousands of years ago. In plural form they still say banot (banaat, as long alef became ‘o’ in Hebrew), but in singular form they lost the noon altogether from the word. The same for “ins” (human) which became “ish” in Hebrew, again the noon has been completely removed from the word. Another example is their word kharash (meaning: plough a field and also to be silent), which doesn’t initially seem to match any Arabic words. But if we know they merged Haa & Khaa into Khaa and Sin/Shin & Thaa into Shin, then we can realise this is actually two words that have merged into one. Haratha (plough/harvest a field) and Kharasa (be silent). Aramaic has also undergone many simplifications like this.

    If Arabic were descended from Hebrew or Aramaic or even heavily influenced by them, then we’d expect to see these simplifications carried over into Arabic, yet we do not. Arabic is almost completely free of such simplifications. Apart from the letters Sin & Samek having merged together in Arabic sometime just before the Islamic period for almost all dialects, there are very few simplifications in Arabic.

    So the idea that the language of the Qur’an is the simplified and corrupted language of Aramaic/Syriac is just ridiculous. The Arabic language of the Qur’an and it’s pristine Semitic features predates Aramaic’s corruptions by thousands of years. Anyone who knows a little of both languages would know this instantly.

  • vw
    2011-07-20 07:02:12 UTC - 07:02 | Permalink

    Muhammad would appear, at least in theory, to be a far more apposite
    subject for historical inquiry than the founder of Christianity.
    The most abiding and forbidding obstacle to approaching the historical Jesus is undoubtedly the fact that our principal sources, the documents included in
    the New Testament, were all written on the hither side of Easter; that is, their authors viewed their subject across the absolute conviction that Jesus was the Christ and the Son of God, a conviction later rendered explicit in Christian dogma. There is, however, no Resurrection in the career of Muhammad, no Paschal sunrise to cast its divinizing light on the Prophet of Islam. Muhammad is thus a perfectly appropriate subject of history: a man born of woman (and a man), who lived in a known place in a roughly calculable time, who in the end died the death that is the lot of all mortals, and whose career was reported by authorities who share the contemporary historian’s own conviction that the Prophet was nothing more than a man.

    3:144″And Muhammad is no more than a messenger; the messengers have already passed away before him; if then he dies or is killed will you turn back upon your heels?”.

  • 2013-04-26 08:23:20 UTC - 08:23 | Permalink

    No doubt Muhammad existed. For example: A greek text (“Doctrina Jacobi nuper baptiazi”) mentions him in the year 634 and a armenian historian (“Pseudo-Sebeos”) identifies him by name in the 660:s and gives a brief overwiew about his teachings. A “Chronicler Of Khuzistan” calls him a leader of the Saracens in the 660:s and John bar Penkaye calls him a “teacher” in ca 687

    Heres a complete list:
    http://www.islamic-awareness.org/History/Islam/Inscriptions/earlysaw.html

    Those who deny the historical existence of Muhammad are really making fool of themselves.

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