Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Was Jesus Really Crucified?

The death of Jesus Christ on the Cross is important to Christians since it reminds us of the greatest gift given by God as forgiveness for the sins of mankind. However, this is denied by our Muslim friends because they do not believe that Jesus died on the cross.



What is our strong evidence that Jesus was Crucified?

First, Publius Cornelius Tacitus provides very strong evidence outside the New Testament on the death of Jesus. Tacitus is one of the greatest Roman Historians.

Tacitus described the great fire that swept through Rome in AD 64 and he mentioned that Nero blamed it on Christians.
“To dispel the rumor, Nero substituted as culprits and
treated with most extreme punishments, some people
popularly known as Christians whose disgraceful lives (he
claimed) were notorious. The source of their name, Christus,
has been executed when Tiberius was emperor by
order of the procurator Pontius Pilate
.” (Annals 15:44)

Second,  Lucian of Samosata (ca. 115-ca.200) talks about Christ in the context of his attack on Christianity. Lucian accurately reports several things about second-century Christianity. 
"...He knows that Christians worship a god who was a man, and one who was crucified in Palestine. They have a strong belief in life after death which affects their present life. (Jesus Outside the New Testament: An Introduction to the Ancient Evidence (Studying the Historical Jesus), Robert E. Van Voorst, Wm. B. Eerdmans-Lightning Source (April 13, 2000), p.60)


Third, the oldest copy of our New Testament manuscript (Papyrus 52) proves there was a Pontius Pilate and that Jesus was brought before him for judgment. That is why we mention in the creed, “For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered died and was buried."

The manuscripts in images were taken from The Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts
You can visit their website at csntm.org.

The papyrus is written on both sides. On one side is John 18:31-33. On the other side is John 18:37-38. 

This was written in the early 2nd century (ca 100-125). This can be found in Manchester, England at the John Rylands University Library. 

This is what is written in the manuscript and the translation in English:


The Jews replied, “We are not permitted to put anyone to death.” 32 (This was to fulfill what Jesus had said when he indicated the kind of death he wasto die.) 33 Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?

I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” 38 Pilate asked him, “What is truth?” After he had said this, he went out to the Jews again and told them, “I find no case against him.

The greatest value is its early date!
"Its greatest value is its early date, for it testifies to the fact that the autograph of John's Gospel must have been written before the close of  the first century."(The Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts, Edited by Philip W. Comfort and David P. Barrett, p. 365)



How True is the Muslims' Claim that Jesus did not Die on the Cross? 

Islam apologists often use Surah 4:157.
And because of their saying (in boast), “We killed Messiah
‘Iesa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary), the Messenger of
Allah,” – but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but the
resemblance of ‘Iesa (Jesus) was put over another man
(and they killed that man), and those who differ therein
are full of doubts. They have no (certain) knowledge, they
follow nothing but conjecture. For surely; they killed him
not [i.e. ‘Iesa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary) ]: (Surah An-
Nisa’ 4:157)

For me this verse is a weak basis for some reasons:
  • As a matter of fact the verse does not deny that Jesus was crucified or that he died-it only denies that the Jews killed him. 
  • Islam defenders do not have the same interpretation. Some say it was Judas who replaced Jesus while others say it was Simon of Cyrene.
  • Why is there no commentary from Hadith (Sahih al-Bukhari) about this?

In the Arabic text of Surah 3:55, we can read clearly the Arabic
word Mutawafikka which according to Islam scholars means Jesus
did not die.

A robust study of the Qur'an shows that mutawaffika means to "make you die." 

Here is what we can read in the statement of a professor of Islamic studies and theology, Dr. Gabriel Said Reynolds in the book – The Quran and the Bible (Text and Commentary):
"3:55 Our translator has God here say to Jesus: "I shall take your soul." The Arabic term  (tawaffa) behind the translation in regularly used in the Qur'an to refer to the manner by which God separates soul from body at death, that is, His taking one's life (note, for example, the prayer in 7:126: "Lord! Pour patience upon us, and grant us to die [tawaffana] as muslims.") (The Quran and the Bible (Text and Commentary), Gabriel Said Reynolds, Yale University Press (June 12, 2018), p.124)



A book written by one Muslim scholar entitled The Qur’an and Its Interpreters: The House of ‘Imran Volume 2 will show here what we can read on page 170:
This view is reported on the authority of Ibn 'Abbas and
Wahb b. Munabbih who said, “God caused Jesus to die for
three hours of the day, during which He raised him up to
Him.”





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