Instead of writing a full-scale biography of Jesus of Nazareth, I want to focus on some aspects of the life and teaching of Jesus of Nazareth that are commonly overlooked by most Christians. Any attempt to reconstruct the historical Jesus (as distinct from the incarnate deity of ecclesiastical faith) needs to take into account all the recoverable data about Jesus, much of which has been ignored by many Christians because of its’ embarrassment to Christian orthodoxy. Jesus’ reported sayings in the Gospels are frequently subjected to tortuous exegesis by fundamentalist Christians to make them fit later church tradition. Paradoxically, the data has been critically examined by none other than Christian scholars themselves.
The Christians are fond of celebrating the death of their man-god (whom they claim to be Jesus, peace be upon him) every year, although it does boggle the mind as to why would someone accept the fact that their god can actually “die”. However as Muslims, we believe that the claim concerning Jesus (P) is false and full of conjectures. A mighty Prophet of God (as we believe Jesus certainly is) would never had to bear the agony of being crucified at the hands of his enemies. As it stands, we would also like to note that to substantiate our claims, there are various contradictions regarding the accounts on Jesus’ trials, death and resurrection which appear throughout the New Testament.
Was Sarah really Abraham’s sister? Ibn Hazm questions the status of Sarah as being Abraham’s sister, as accepting that viz., from the Biblical perspective would result in various disagreements with other passages in the Old Testament concerning moral and theological issues. This is in reference to the stories of Sarah’s seizure by Pharaoh and Abime’elech which was narrated in Genesis 12:10-18 and Genesis 20, Genesis 17:17 and Genesis 20:1-18. We cite the related passages on the story of the seizure of Sarah as follows.
Does God change or does not change His mind? According to Ibn Hazm, Exodus 32:10-14 and 33:3-14 ascribes al-bada’ (changing of mind) to God and hence this presents a problem to the nature of God and His characters with regard to His All-Knowing attribute. When one compares the above passages side by side, the internal contradictions between especially Exodus 32:10, 32:14 and 33:2-3 on the one hand and Exodus 33:14 on the other, clearly raises many problems of theological and moral concern from the Biblical context. In this case that was quoted above, in spite of God’s determination to punish the Israelites for their idolatrous conduct, He did not execute punishment due to the intercession of Moses who had “reminded” God of His promise made with Abraham and the patriachs for their descendents. This Biblical passage seems to implicitly suggest that this “reminder” had made God realise his “wrong” decision and have Him repenting for it. Such an obvious “error” or even to imply such a thing is hardly befitting any person of integrity, let alone God, the Almighty.
“Versions” are simply the translations of the New Testament into other languages. The New Testament writers originally wrote their books and epistles in the Greek language whereas the versions are translations of their writings into other languages. Naturally, non-Greek speaking Christians wanted the text of the New Testament in their own local languages and so the New Testament began to be translated into other languages sometime in the mid to late second century. An important point to remember is that no matter how many thousands of translations exist, it remains that they are in a different language from the original language (Greek) of the New Testament, thus their use and value will be limited.
The authors of the New Testament have often quoted passages from the Old Testament, claiming such statements to be prophecies fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ. The number of such quoted passages is actually very high. Among the evangelists, Matthew is the one having made this phenomenon characteristic to his Gospel. The prophecy carries a very important place in the Christian theology. Every Christian knows about the prophecies of the books of Psalms, Isaiah, and Daniel related to the childhood, life, mission, and death of Jesus. To every Christian, these prophecies are the clear evidence of the truth of Gospels and mission of Jesus in general. The problem is that according to the Bible, there exists true prophecies as well as false ones. Hence the question arises on the necessary criteria to distinguish a false prophecy from a true one.