"The Christianity of history is not Protestantism. If ever there were a safe truth it is this, and Protestantism has ever felt it so; to be deep in history is to cease to be a Protestant." (-John Henry Newman, An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine).

"Where the bishop is, there let the people gather; just as where ever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church". -St. Ignatius of Antioch (ca 110 AD)a martyr later thrown to the lions, wrote to a church in Asia Minor. Antioch was also where the term "Christian" was first used.

“But if I should be delayed, you should know how to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth.” 1 Timothy 3:15

"This is the sole Church of Christ, which in the Creed we profess to be one, holy, catholic and apostolic." -CCC 811

Friday, January 1, 2016

The Qur'an: A Book Full of Conjecture and Doubt

Posted by Anthony Rogers

"Jesus ressurecting [sic] and dying on the cross is a mere legend. The people who 'saw' him THOUGHT they saw him, but it was someone who looked similar to him, . There;s [sic] no evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus (as), and the Quran refutes that, and the Quran has plenty of evidence on its side." - Muslim Kangaroo (See here [the link is dead])

No doubt Kangaroo has the following passage of the Qur’an in mind here:

And their saying: Surely we have killed the Messiah, Isa son of Marium, the messenger of Allah; and they did not kill him nor did they crucify him, but it appeared to them so (like Isa) and most surely those who differ therein are only in a doubt about it; they have no knowledge respecting it, but only follow a conjecture, and they killed him not for sure. S. 4:157 Shakir

As will be shown, only in a kangaroo court would the verdict come down against the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus in favor of the Qur’anic account of what happened. (For a good example of just such a court, see here.)

What Muslims "see" in the Quran and THINK is a refutation is actually just a bad argument substituted for and made to appear like a good one. Actually, it doesn't really bear much of a resemblance to a good argument; at best all we can say about it is that it is an apparently good enough counterfeit for many people to be convinced (read: deceived) by it. In fact, this passage doesn’t even represent an argument at all; it is simply a claim that contradicts what the Bible and history say about these matters. So calling it a refutation isn’t even accurate.

It has been said on this blog before (see here), but it bears repeating, especially in the context of a discussion of Surah 4:157, every time that we think of the "refutation" supposedly given in the Qur'an the one thing we should be struck with above all else is how many errors the author(s) of the Qur'an were able to make in such a short space, and Muslims really should be encouraged to add this to the list of evidences of the supernatural authorship of the Qur’an, for surely no one person could make so many mistakes AND yet still manage to dupe so many people. A supernatural being is clearly involved with both the composition and reception of the Qur’an; unfortunately, that being is most certainly not God, but is merely a being that masquerades like Him or an angel that pretends to have been sent by Him. This being made it appear to the author(s) of the Qur’an (and those who follow him/her/them) that the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ are mere legends, but they are really only following a satanically inspired conjecture. This point will be made in a myriad of ways over the course of several posts, beginning with the following:

1. This verse represents the Jews as boasting: "We killed the Messiah…."

Contrariwise, the speech attributed to the Jews here is a clear error. The Jewish leaders wanted Jesus crucified precisely because they rejected His claim to be the Messiah, for no Jew would boast of killing the Messiah.

All the author(s) of the Qur'an would have had to do here to accurately reflect what the Jews would or could have said along these lines given their actual beliefs is either drop the word “Messiah”, as the following (mis)translations of the Qur’an, likely out of a recognition of the problem that exists in the Arabic text, do:

and their statement that they murdered Jesus, son of Mary, the Messenger of God, when, in fact, they could not have murdered him or crucified him. They, in fact, murdered someone else by mistake. Even those who disputed (the question of whether or not Jesus was murdered) did not have a shred of evidence. All that they knew about it was mere conjecture. They certainly could not have murdered Jesus. S. 4:157 Muhammad Sarwar

They [proudly] spread a rumor that: “We killed Jesus, son of Mary.” For sure they did neither kill Jesus nor crucify him. Their wishful thinking has created so much confusion in account of the lack of [historical] proof for their saying. Know for sure that they did not kill him. S. 4:157 Bijan Moeinian

Or, add words to the effect that they killed Jesus for His CLAIM to be the Messiah. Indeed, this is exactly the sort of thing the Jews did do in opposition to the sign made by the Romans which called Jesus "the King of the Jews". In protest, the Jews clamored for the sign to be changed so it would read that He SAID He was/is the King of the Jews.

Therefore when Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out, and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called The Pavement, but in Hebrew, Gabbatha. Now it was the day of preparation for the Passover; it was about the sixth hour And he said to the Jews, "Behold, your King!" So they cried out, "Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him!" Pilate said to them, "Shall I crucify your King?" The chief priests answered, "We have no king but Caesar." So he then handed Him over to them to be crucified. They took Jesus, therefore, and He went out, bearing His own cross, to the place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha. There they crucified Him, and with Him two other men, one on either side, and Jesus in between. Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It was written, "JESUS THE NAZARENE, THE KING OF THE JEWS." Therefore many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, Latin and in Greek. So the chief priests of the Jews were saying to Pilate, "Do not write, 'The King of the Jews'; but that He said, 'I am King of the Jews.'" Pilate answered, "What I have written I have written." (John 19:13-22)

In fact, this is just what some other Muslim translations do, unwittingly showing that they see (part of) the problem with how this passage was worded by the author(s) of the Qur’an:

And because of their (falsely) claiming, `We did kill the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, the (false) Messenger of Allah,' whereas they killed him not, nor did they cause his death by crucifixion, but he was made to them to resemble (one crucified to death). Verily, those who differ therein are certainly in (a state of) confusion about it. They have no definite knowledge of the matter but are only following a conjecture. They did not kill him, this much is certain (and thus could not prove the Christ as accursed). S. 4:157 Amatul Rahman Omar

and their boast, "Behold, we have slain the Christ Jesus, son of Mary, [who claimed to be] an apostle of God!" However, they did not slay him, and neither did they crucify him, but it only seemed to them [as if it had been] so; and, verily, those who hold conflicting views thereon are indeed confused, having no [real] knowledge thereof, and following mere conjecture. For, of a certainty, they did not slay him: S. 4:157 Farook Malik

and their boast, "Behold, we have slain the Christ Jesus, son of Mary, [who claimed to be] an apostle of God!" However, they did not slay him, and neither did they crucify him, but it only seemed to them [as if it had been] so; and, verily, those who hold conflicting views thereon are indeed confused, having no [real] knowledge thereof, and following mere conjecture. For, of a certainty, they did not slay him: S. 4:157 Muhammad Asad

The worst part is that the added words of the translators are not part of (nor are they implied by) the Arabic text, which means the Qur’an is in error at this point. Nevertheless, it is still worth mentioning, particularly because it shows just how much the Qur’an reduces its devotees to conjecture and doubt about the clarity and actual wording of the Qur’an, that the above translations, for all the effort of the translators, are still in error. The translation of Muhammad Sarwar says that the Jews called Jesus “the Messiah”, but it still, if we follow the natural reading of this translation, ends up saying that the Jews called Jesus “the Messenger of Allah”. The translations of Muhammad Asad and Farook Malik parenthetically add the words “who claimed to be” to reflect that the Jews rejected Jesus’ claim to be an apostle of God, but they fail to add such parenthetical remarks to the earlier part of the verse, and, therefore, still end up representing the Jews identifying Jesus as the Messiah whom they have slain. The translation of Amatul Rahman Omar parenthetically adds “falsely” to the text in two places, but puts the first instance of the word “falsely” too early in the verse for it to even correct or modify the statement that the Jews called Jesus “the Messiah” and so ends up saying that what was false is their claim to have killed one who is in fact the Messiah.

In response to this, Muslims typically reply that the Jews were being sarcastic when they said that Jesus is the Messiah. But the claim that they were being sarcastic is hardly clear from the Arabic text; hence, the reason Muslim translators have to add such words to clarify that this was their (assumed) meaning. And the fact that the Qur’an is unclear on this point leads to two further problems:

1) This strikes at the heart of the recurrent claim that the Qur’an is a clear and fully detailed book, which in turn also undermines the foremost argument of the Qur’an that it is inimitably eloquent, such that it cannot be imitated and couldn’t have been produced by other than Allah:

O followers of the Book! indeed Our Apostle has come to you making clear to you much of what you concealed of the Book and passing over much; indeed, there has come to you light and a clear Book from Allah; S. 5:15 Sher Ali

And the day We shall raise up from every nation a witness against them from amongst them, and We shall bring thee as a witness against those. And We have sent down on thee the Book making clear EVERYTHING, and as a guidance and a mercy, and as good tidings to those who surrender. S. 16:89 Arberry

And indeed We know that they (polytheists and pagans) say: "It is only a human being who teaches him (Muhammad)." The tongue of the man they refer to is foreign, while this (the Qur'an) is a clear Arabic tongue. S. 16:103 Hilali-Khan

He sets forth for you a parable from your ownselves, - Do you have partners among those whom your right hands possess (i.e. your slaves) to share as equals in the wealth We have bestowed on you? Whom you fear as you fear each other? Thus do We explain the signs IN DETAIL to a people who have sense. S. 30:28 Hilali-Khan

A Book, whereof the verses are explained IN DETAIL; - a Qur'an in Arabic, for people who understand; - S. 41:3 Y. Ali
2) It also leads to a devastating incongruity, for Surah 4:157 claims that those who do not follow the revelation of the Qur’an are following nothing but conjecture and doubt, but the different ways Muslims attempt to supplement the lack of sufficient detail in the Qur’an to make what it says clear shows that Muslims themselves are full of conjecture and doubt on the matter. Notice, for example, that Sarwar’s translation, in dropping the words “the Messiah” from the verse to make it accurate, is directly contradicting the view that the Jews were calling Jesus the Messiah but only in jest. This is rank confusion. It is interesting to observe in this regard that non-Muslim translations do not recognize that this idea is embedded or in any way evident in the text. Neither do they show the temerity (or apologetically driven zeal on full display in Muslim translations) to add to the text words that are not there in order to alter the clear meaning of the passage so as to make it jive with well known historical contingencies:

and for their saying, 'We slew the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, the Messenger of God' -- yet they did not slay him, neither crucified him, only a likeness of that was shown to them. Those who are at variance concerning him surely are in doubt regarding him; they have no knowledge of him, except the following of surmise; and they slew him not of a certainty -- no indeed; S. 4:157 Arthur John Arberry

and for their saying, 'Verily, we have killed the Messiah, Jesus the son of Mary, the apostle of God'.... but they did not kill him, and they did not crucify him, but a similitude was made for them. And verily, those who differ about him are in doubt concerning him; they have no knowledge concerning him, but only follow an opinion. They did not kill him, for sure! S. 4:157 Edward Henry Palmer

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, S. 4:157 John Meadows Rodwell

and have said, verily we have slain Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the apostle of God; yet they slew him not, neither crucified him, but he was represented by one in his likeness; and verily they who disagreed concerning him, were in a doubt as to this matter, and had no sure knowledge thereof, but followed only an uncertain opinion. They did not really kill him; S. 4:157 George Sale

If the Arabic text that the above non-Muslim translators were working from, without recourse to tafsirs or other Muslim sources that try to explain this verse, actually is clear that the Jews were saying this in jest, then why did none of them recognize this or in any way reflect this in their translations? Furthermore, it is not only not clear from the text that the Jews were being sarcastic when they called Jesus “the Messiah”, but this explanation, to all appearances, actually goes against the text. The full statement attributed to the Jews is: “We killed the Messiah, Isa the Son of Marium, the Messenger of Allah”. Since the Jews knew Jesus was the son of Mary, it is evident that this statement is not saying that the Jews called him “the Messiah, Isa the son of Marium, the messenger of Allah” in mockery. If Muslims want to say that the mockery applies only to the first part of the statement attributed to the Jews but not to the rest of it, then they are reduced to arbitrariness in order to defend the Qur’an, for there is no textual justification for using this excuse to explain the first part of the Jews’ statement and then stopping short of saying the whole statement was one of mockery. If Muslims can apply the “mockery” explanation to explain one part of the verse, it may just as arbitrarily be extended to the whole of the verse. And, of course, since it is not clearly said in the passage that the Jews were mocking in the first place, then both explanations may be dismissed as, well, arbitrary.

This is the first of many evidences from this passage that the Qur’an is not the word of God, that the author(s) of the Qur’an were only following conjecture (just like their followers at the present time), and that this passage cannot credibly be considered a refutation of anything, much less a refutation of the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ who lives and reigns as Lord at the right hand of the Father. Many more evidences will follow.

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