Mohammad on the Crucifixion of Christ                                                                                                                                  by Jack Kettler

The Koran has as its foundation, the Bible. In it Mohammad referenced both Moses, the Torah and Jesus and the gospels. The Koran would be completely unintelligible without its appeal to earlier Judeo-Christian revelation. A principle that is relevant is, new revelation should be judged by older established revelation. Does the purported new revelation contradict previous established revelation? The problem for the author of the Koran is that it repudiates earlier established revelation by nothing more that making assertions about the unreliability of the Judeo-Christian Scriptures, without any kind of proof.

One glaring example of this is the Koran's denial of Christ's death:

And for their saying, 'Verily we have slain the Messiah, Jesus the son of Mary, an Apostle of God.' Yet they slew him not, and they crucified him not, but they had only his likeness. And they who differed about him were in doubt concerning him: No sure knowledge had they about him, but followed only an opinion, and they did not really slay him, but God took him up to Himself. And God is Mighty, Wise! - (Surah 4:156-57)

According to this passage in the Koran, “they did not really slay him.”

Does this assertion have any merit?

Secular history confirms that Christ died. For example, Josephus, the Jewish historian, refers to Jesus’ death:

About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man. For he was one who performed surprising deeds and was a teacher of such people as accept the truth gladly. He won over many Jews and many of the Greeks. He was the Messiah. And when, upon the accusation of the principal men among us, Pilate had condemned him to a cross, those who had first come to love him did not cease. He appeared to them spending a third day restored to life, for the prophets of God hadforetold these things and a thousand other marvels about him. And the tribe of the Christians, so called after him, has still to this day not disappeared. - (Jewish Antiquities, 18.3.3)

In addition, the Roman writer, Tacitus, said that Christ was “executed” by Pilate:

All human efforts . . . of the emperor, and the propitiations of the gods, did not banish the sinister belief that the conflagration was the result of an order. Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus , and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their center and become popular.
Tacitus, Annals, translated by Alfred John Church and William Jackson Brodribb, accessed 11-26-03, http://classics.mit.edu/Tacitus/annals.11.xv.html.

Historically, the evidence for the death of the Lord is absolutely overwhelming. Only someone wholly incognizant to history would deny this.

What about evidence from the words of Christ himself in the New Testament and eyewitnesses recorded in Scripture?

Jesus said he would be killed:

From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. (Matthew 16:21)

Jesus said his body would be in the grave:

For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. (Matthew 12:40)

Muslims may claim these are not really the words of Christ, but the insertions of impostors who perverted the word of God. Muslims may claim many things, but claiming something is a far cry from proving it. A claim like this is nothing unless backed up by textual evidence. Who changed the text? When and how? A Muslim statement like this is simply an argument by assertion which is a logical fallacy. It is invalid to argue a point by merely asserting that it is true, without supporting textual evidence. An observation; it seems that Muslims have no knowledge of established historical standards by which ancient literature is evaluated.

Eye witnesses of the crucifixion in Scripture:

And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree: (Acts 10:39)

Many of Christ's disciples and apostles went to their deaths by torture rather than contradicting their testimony of Christ's death and resurrection.

A Scriptural Creedal Statement:

For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve. (1 Corinthians 15:3-5)

If a Muslim wants to assert that these texts are corrupted, the burden of proof is on them. Fallacious assertions will not do.

The Reliability of New Testament:

There are over 5 thousand Greek manuscripts of the New Testament. How do they compare with other literature from antiquity?


Author

Date
Written

Earliest Copy

Approximate Time Span between original & copy

Number of Copies

Accuracy of Copies

Lucretius

died 55 or 53 B.C.

 

1100 yrs

2

----

Pliny

A.D. 61-113

A.D. 850

750 yrs

7

----

Plato

427-347 B.C.

A.D. 900

1200 yrs

7

----

Demosthenes

4th Cent. B.C.

A.D. 1100

800 yrs

8

----

Herodotus

480-425 B.C.

A.D. 900

1300 yrs

8

----

Suetonius

A.D. 75-160

A.D. 950

800 yrs

8

----

Thucydides

460-400 B.C.

A.D. 900

1300 yrs

8

----

Euripides

480-406 B.C.

A.D. 1100

1300 yrs

9

----

Aristophanes

450-385 B.C.

A.D. 900

1200

10

----

Caesar

100-44 B.C.

A.D. 900

1000

10

----

Livy

59 BC-AD 17

----

???

20

----

Tacitus

circa A.D. 100

A.D. 1100

1000 yrs

20

----

Aristotle

384-322 B.C.

A.D. 1100

1400

49

----

Sophocles

496-406 B.C.

A.D. 1000

1400 yrs

193

----

Homer (Iliad)

900 B.C.

400 B.C.

500 yrs

643

95%

New
Testament

1st Cent. A.D. (A.D. 50-100)

2nd Cent. A.D.
(c. A.D. 130 f.)

less than 100 years


5600           99.5%                  


The above chart was adapted from three sources: 1) Christian Apologetics, by Norman Geisler, 1976, p. 307; 2) the article “Archaeology and History attest to the Reliability of the Bible,” by Richard M. Fales, Ph.D., in The Evidence Bible, Compiled by Ray Comfort, Bridge-Logos Publishers, Gainesville, FL, 2001, p. 163; and 3) A Ready Defense, by Josh Mcdowell, 1993, p. 45.

*This chart was copied from the article: Manuscript evidence for superior New Testament reliability by Matt Slick at: https://carm.org/manuscript-evidence#footnote2_jutwh4u

Regarding punishments by death in history and Scripture. We learn the following from Easton's Bible Dictionary:

A common mode of punishment among heathen nations in early times. It is not certain whether it was known among the ancient Jews; probably it was not. The modes of capital punishment according to the Mosaic law were, by the sword (Exodus 21), strangling, fire (Leviticus 20), and stoning (Deuteronomy 21).

This was regarded as the most horrible form of death, and to a Jew it would acquire greater horror from the curse in Deuteronomy 21:23.

This punishment began by subjecting the sufferer to scourging. In the case of our Lord, however, his scourging was rather before the sentence was passed upon him, and was inflicted by Pilate for the purpose, probably, of exciting pity and procuring his escape from further punishment (Luke 23:22; John 19:1).

The condemned one carried his own cross to the place of execution, which was outside the city, in some conspicuous place set apart for the purpose. Before the nailing to the cross took place, a medicated cup of vinegar mixed with gall and myrrh (the sopor) was given, for the purpose of deadening the pangs of the sufferer. Our Lord refused this cup, that his senses might be clear (Matthew 27:34). The spongeful of vinegar, sour wine, posca, the common drink of the Roman soldiers, which was put on a hyssop stalk and offered to our Lord in contemptuous pity (Matthew 27:48; Luke 23:36), he tasted to allay the agonies of his thirst (John 19:29). The accounts given of the crucifixion of our Lord are in entire agreement with the customs and practices of the Roman in such cases. He was crucified between two "malefactors" (Isaiah 53:12; Luke 23:32), and was watched by a party of four soldiers (John 19:23; Matthew 27:36, 54), with their centurion. The "breaking of the legs" of the malefactors was intended to hasten death, and put them out of misery (John 19:31); but the unusual rapidity of our Lord's death (19:33) was due to his previous sufferings and his great mental anguish. The omission of the breaking of his legs was the fulfilment of a type (Exodus 12:46). He literally died of a broken heart, a ruptured heart, and hence the flowing of blood and water from the wound made by the soldier's spear (John 19:34). Our Lord uttered seven memorable words from the cross, namely, (1) Luke 23:34; (2) 23:43; (3) John 19:26; (4) Matthew 27:46, Mark 15:34; (5) John 19:28; (6) 19:30; (7) Luke 23:46.

An informative article on the Koran:

How The Qur'an Came To Be

http://www.chick.com/information/religions/islam/quran2.asp

An in depth article on the crucifixion:

Proof for Muslims of the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus

http://www.muslimhope.com/Crucifixion.htm

See also:

Bible Answers for Muslims Verse by Verse

http://www.muslimhope.com/BibleAnswers.htm

Mr. Kettler is the owner of http://www.Undergroundnotes.com where his theological, philosophical and political articles can be read.