In the post below, Robert Spencer ably refutes a sly article which seeks to assimilate Jesus Christ into the Islamic tradition. I'd like to augment Mr. Spencer's comments with a few of my own:
The main absurdity in the Philip Jenkins article (reproduced below following Mr. Spencer's comments) is that the author presents supposed sayings of Jesus taken from non-canonical Christian sources, mixed in with supposed sayings of Jesus taken from Islamic sources. Jenkins states:
This degree of similarity is amazing given the chronology. All the Christian examples date from the second or third centuries, none of the Muslim examples is recorded before the ninth century. Yet they breathe exactly the same atmosphere.
Actually, there is nothing amazing about such similarity at all. In a very real sense it is the comparison of fabrications and heresies in order to imply a link between Islam and the real Jesus. The non-canonical "Christian" texts are non-canonical for very good reasons. Yet the unwitting Jenkins appeals to their ancientness, dating them to the second and third centuries. That puts them anywhere from 100 to 250 years older than the Gospels in the New Testament, and rejected by the Christian Church as outside the Apostolic tradition. (Spencer has more to say on this below.)
Further, Jenkins and the Muslim author he is deriving his thesis from appeal to similarities between sayings of the Islamic Jesus and the Synoptic Gospels: "In perhaps 30 cases, the resemblances to the Synoptic gospels are overwhelming."
But such "overwhelming similarities" in no way help his thesis, as one can also find tight parallels and even direct links between the Quran and Zoroastrian texts, or between the Quran and the Jewish Talmud.
Such similarities rather reveal the Quran as a syncretistic patchwork of snippets from numerous spiritual traditions. When one looks behind Jenkins' assumptions, one finds that Islam is a fraud, Muhammad borrowing for the Quran from whatever struck his fancy. This also explains why the Quran so completely scrambles every Old Testament character and event which it recapitulates (most famously confusing Miriam the Mother of Jesus with Miriam the sister of Aaron, even though they are separated by centuries).
In filling in the gaps of his incomplete understanding of the Hebrew scriptures and traditions, Muhammad made things up, or rather, the demon which attended him fed the illiterate "prophet" lie after lie, distorting and confusing every Biblical account, from the Creation to Abraham to Noah to Moses to Jesus and so on. When subsequently rejected as a false prophet by the Jews and Christians of his day for his incoherent fables, Muhammad turned in pride and fury on them, accusing them of corrupting their scriptures, and unleashing the global jihad which continues to this day.
Significantly, Jenkins resorts to the thoroughly discredited "Q Theory" to make his case:
Scholars agree that the earliest records of Jesus took the form of sayings, or sequences of sayings, with very little of the narrative that we know from the canonical gospels. One such (hypothetical) sayings collection was “Q,” which was a critical source for both Matthew and Luke.
Actually, scholars "agree" on no such thing. For an in depth discussion of the post-modernist "Q" theory and the related question of early Christian oral tradition, all of which applies to Jenkins' exercise in mythmaking, see my 2013 article: Refuting Reza Aslan’s ‘Zealot - The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth’.
Ultimately, the question, posed by Jesus in the Synoptic Gospels, remains unchanged: "Who do men say that I am?" Since Peter's divinely inspired response, the Church has been established on the rock of his confession that Jesus is "the Christ, the Son of the Living God." Those who deny Jesus Christ, or seek to twist and appropriate Him for their own agenda, will use every subterfuge, academic "proof," and sophistry to do so. Some even resort to claiming direct revelations from God. We are never surprised nor thrown off balance by the deceits of the enemy of mankind. For we know that our life is in Christ, and that "no one comes to the Father but through Him."
The Muslim Jesus?
|Another exercise in mythmaking.|
Aleteia has published an extraordinarily irresponsible piece by Philip Jenkins, entitled “The Muslim Jesus.” Jenkins is the politically correct professor who has claimed to have found
that “the Islamic scriptures in the Quran were actually far less bloody and less violent than those in the Bible.” In this new piece he claims that the Islamic tradition has preserved some sayings of Jesus that could be authentic — basing his argument on the fact that they sound rather like other sayings attributed to Jesus, particularly in their exhortation not to value this passing world. He produces six sayings to support this, three from Islamic tradition and three from Christian non-canonical sources, claiming that the impossibility of distinguishing them from each other supports the authenticity of the Islamic sayings.
This is, of course, palpably absurd. Otherworldly sayings can be found in all manner of non-Christian traditions. The fact that they’re otherworldly doesn’t mean that Jesus said them. What’s more, his own argument cuts against itself, for he says: “Such words would have been treasured by Eastern Christian monks and hermits, in lands like Syria and Mesopotamia. We also know that from earliest times, some Christian monks and clergy accepted Islam. The Koran reports how their eyes filled with tears, as they prayed, ‘We do believe; make us one, then, with all who bear witness to the truth!’” If such words were treasured by Eastern Christian monks and hermits, and only some but presumably not all Christian monks and clergy accepted Islam, why is there no trace of these sayings in Eastern Christian traditions? It just happened that all the Christians who had preserved these sayings converted to Islam?
And even if these are authentic sayings of Jesus that have been preserved only in Islamic tradition, what are we supposed to get from that? What is Jenkins’ point? There is nothing in the supposed Islamic sayings of Jesus that he quotes that adds anything to our understanding of Jesus, or to the font of the world’s wisdom. Also, significantly, Jenkins does not bother to inform his readers that the Qur’an says that those who believe in the divinity of Christ are unbelievers (5:17, 5:72), or that Jesus was not actually crucified (4:157), or that those who say Jesus is the Son of God are accursed (9:30), or that Muslims should wage war against Christians until they submit to Islamic hegemony (9:29). He makes no mention of this notable hadith:
Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s Apostle said, “By Him in Whose Hands my soul is, son of Mary (Jesus) will shortly descend amongst you people (Muslims) as a just ruler and will break the Cross and kill the pig and abolish the Jizya (a tax taken from the non-Muslims, who are in the protection, of the Muslim government). Then there will be abundance of money and no-body will accept charitable gifts. (Bukhari 3.34.425)
Breaking the cross and killing the pig signifies abolishing the false Christianity, the Christianity that holds that Jesus was crucified and does not keep food laws. By abolishing the jizya, this Muslim Jesus is destroying the dhimma, the “protection” that Christians have when they submit to Islamic rule, thus leaving them with the choices only of converting to Islam or being killed.
This supremacist and violent vision is at the heart of the Islamic idea that Christianity in all its forms, Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant, is a twisting and hijacking of the original religion of Jesus, which was and is Islam. This is replacement theology par excellence, and renders all current forms of Christianity renegade and illegitimate. This idea is at the core of the Muslim persecution of Christians worldwide, from Nigeria to Libya to Egypt to Syria to Iraq to Pakistan to Indonesia. But Jenkins makes no mention of that escalating persecution, either. The thrust of his piece appears to be that sure, they’re killing Christians and dismissing Christianity as a mutant version of the teachings of Jesus, but look, they have some of Jesus’ original sayings! It thus appears as if his article is designed to render Christians uncritical and complacent in the face of the advancing jihad.
The Muslim Jesus: Jesus sayings we never thought we had
by Philip Jenkins, Aleteia
, June 30, 2014:
Around the year 1600, the Indian emperor Akbar built a splendid ceremonial gate at Fatehpur Sikri, and on it he inscribed words attributed to Jesus, son of Mary: “The world is a bridge: pass over it, but do not build your house upon it.”
It’s an evocative saying, one of many attributed to Jesus in the Islamic tradition. But is there any chance that such words might have any authenticity, any connection with the historical Jesus? Actually, the chances are greater than you might think, and like a good professor, I am going to illustrate that with a short quiz.
The Koran includes a good deal of material about Jesus. [None of it accurate.] More relevant for present purposes are the many stories and saying gathered by Muslim sages over the following centuries, which have been collected by modern scholar Tarif Khalidi in his book The Muslim Jesus: Sayings and Stories in Islamic Literature. Khalidi argues that together, these constitute a whole Muslim Gospel.